WHY do so many people here use and suggest the S2/S4??
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  1. #1
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    Default WHY do so many people here use and suggest the S2/S4??

    I've been meaning to ask this for a while... This isn't a rant, I'm really wondering here.
    Just about every time anyone makes one of those "which controller should I buy" posts, the majority of the responses are NI controllers, and I don't see why. For every NI controller, there are a great many controllers that will fit the same purpose, but much better.

    On the hardware side, S2/S4 is are two of the worst all-in-one controllers I've ever used (I made the mistake of buying an S4.) The build quality of these is very slightly above that of a Mixtrack. The faders are all of a very low-quality. The "touch" system for the jogwheels is a joke.... They literally just made them a giant button, because good touch technology was apparently too expensive. The rubberized buttons are average at best, even if you ignore their sad travel distance. The plastic toggle buttons (including the VERY important deck-switching buttons) are absolutely god-awful, and often just don't connect, when you think you've pressed them. The controllers themselves are entirely made out of cheap plastic. I really don't get why people think of them as being high-end controllers, as they're actually very close to the bottom of the totem pole as far as quality goes.



    Then there's the part which makes them inexcusable, and we should all be furious at NI for: The "software integration". This system is absolutely terrible for the consumer, and exists solely for the benefit of NI. They claim that this propriety system is superior, but it is VASTLY inferior to even simple 14-bit midi, as well as any open HID system. They claim that this system allows special functionality not available with midi, which is completely untrue. NI intentionally developed these "exclusive features" to work with the S2/S4 but not other controllers. I can't stress this enough:


    Every single feature/advantage of the S2/S4 could have been done more easily and better with 14-bit midi, if NI hadn't wanted to market their proprietary system.


    It would have taken less work to make these features available to other controllers, than it took to make them exclusive. Plus the cost of what came out of their intentional extra work to make these features exclusive, is a massive loss in versatility. Because of this proprietary system, you cannot remap the S2/S4 in any way (except for a couple of minor tweaks they give you, and a few very minor and specific "hacks" that we've figured out). NI included a crappy 7-bit midi system in the S2/S4 which you CAN map, but you lose all of the functionality they meant to be exclusive to the S2/S4. This means you cannot use the loop length displays, the "on air" and other indicators, and you lose all high-resolution controls like the pitchfaders and jogwheels.

    People talk about how it gives them better "integration" which is complete unquantifiable silliness. They say that they want to just plug it in and go, they don't want to mess with mappings.... But almost every single other controller out there comes with a factory mapping for traktor which installs JUST as easily as the S2/S4... Actually in most cases, more easily, because of the constant S2/S4 driver bugs and total failures with each new version of traktor.

    Yes, the S4 has a traktor-certified soundcard inside, which allows you to use timecode. That is the ONLY bonus I've ever been able to see... But so few people use it, and even the ones who do would be better (and more cheaply) served by just getting a traktor sound card and a couple of modular controllers.

    So what does that leave for good qualities of the S2/S4...? The stock mapping being good? So you're willing to permit ALL of the other failures, because you like the mapping that the S2/S4 comes with (and is completely limited to)? Even if you're a total noob, or just hate mapping... You're willing to pay the extra money for inferior build-quality and function, because you don't want to hit "import mapping" from the CD that comes with most controllers? I'm really honestly wondering here... Now that I've explained the failures of the S2/S4... What is left that you think makes the S2/S4 worth using, over superior controllers? All I can picture is ignorance to what is out there that is so much better than the S2/S4...
    Last edited by Saurus; 08-07-2012 at 10:00 AM.

  2. #2
    DJTT Ninja Mod tekki's Avatar
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    NI must be doing something well enough, I guess.
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  3. #3

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    Sir, HID is what they use which is more responsive than midi
    Think your mouse for instance, it's HID, it moves when you move it.
    Midi suffers from latency issues at times and more midi send/receive and it will be more apparent.
    Also the jogwheel switch is the same type of switch pio cdjs use.
    I do agree it's casing is a pretty junk plastic but its never meant to be an expensive controller
    TP2=$200
    Sound card=$120+
    Controller=rest

    An S2 at $500 breaks down to the actual controller only being worth $180 but you can also find them cheaper at some places for likr $400


    Though losing HID when going with a custom mapping does kinda suck

  4. #4
    RGAS Guru Xonetacular's Avatar
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    some valid points.

    When the S4 first came out it was really cool and the level of integration and layout was unmatched by anything else then on the market. People were able to get over the build quality for the features, I briefly owned one and liked it but my time with all in one controllers was short lived as it just felt cheap. Having laid my hands on the vestax vci-400 and the higher end numark controllers they definitely blow the s4 away quality wise.

    I think it really just comes down to NIs marketing department and how big of a market share the S4/S2 have (if Zedd and Porter Robinson use it it must be great..). And since everyone has them people just recommend what they already own since it's what they know or to validate their purchases. And for what they go for now and used they are a good value if you are ok with the build quality.
    Last edited by Xonetacular; 08-07-2012 at 10:23 AM.


  5. #5
    Tech Mentor Emery's Avatar
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    is vci-400 > S4?
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  6. #6
    Tech Guru BFLY's Avatar
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    Totally agree with the OP. The only reason why I use NI hardware is because I like the software and want to use DVS. IMO there soundcards are a rip off as well.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by MelloState View Post
    Sir, HID is what they use which is more responsive than midi
    Think your mouse for instance, it's HID, it moves when you move it.
    Midi suffers from latency issues at times and more midi send/receive and it will be more apparent.
    Also the jogwheel switch is the same type of switch pio cdjs use.
    I do agree it's casing is a pretty junk plastic but its never meant to be an expensive controller
    TP2=$200
    Sound card=$120+
    Controller=rest

    An S2 at $500 breaks down to the actual controller only being worth $180 but you can also find them cheaper at some places for likr $400


    Though losing HID when going with a custom mapping does kinda suck
    Actually, midi is NOT inherently higher-latency than HID. Plus, even if that were true... the S2/S4 still manage to have pretty embarrassing latency.

    The jogwheels are not the same system as the Pioneer jogs at all... It's quite a bit different, and VASTLY lower quality than the Pio stuff as well.

    I do always forget about the price of the software... So that does add some value if you're planning on purchasing Traktor.... Fair. But that only makes the money you spend more worth it, it has nothing to do with the awful experience of using an S2/S4




    Quote Originally Posted by Xonetacular View Post
    I think it really just comes down to NIs marketing department and how big of a market share the S4/S2 have (if Zedd and Porter Robinson use it it must be great..). And since everyone has them people just recommend what they already own since it's what they know or to validate their purchases. And for what they go for now and used they are a good value if you are ok with the build quality.

    That's the only reason I've ever been able to come up with for them being popular: inertia... They were initially popular, because we hadn't figured out how awful they were yet.... and because of that, they've remained popular...


    Quote Originally Posted by BFLY View Post
    Totally agree with the OP. The only reason why I use NI hardware is because I like the software and want to use DVS. IMO there soundcards are a rip off as well.
    Yeah but at least we can't be mad at them for their soundcards.... They been taking advantage of their bullshit proprietary system on their DVS since they began... Can't really blame them for "changing" on that one.
    Last edited by Saurus; 08-07-2012 at 11:10 AM.

  8. #8
    Tech Mentor Emery's Avatar
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    So now that we know S4's aren't made (or priced) like Pioneer.. what do YOU recommend?
    13" Mbp i7 | TMA-1 | Tech 1200's | RANE TTM-57 | NI Audio 4 | Kontrol S4 | F1 | KrK Rokit 5s


  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by MelloState View Post
    Sir, HID is what they use which is more responsive than midi
    Think your mouse for instance, it's HID, it moves when you move it.
    Midi suffers from latency issues at times and more midi send/receive and it will be more apparent.
    Eh? Given that hardware midi has been around for nearly 30 years and been used in live performance for the entire time I don't know where you're getting this information. AFAIK the latency of a hardware midi device is about 7ms.

    Quote Originally Posted by MelloState View Post
    Also the jogwheel switch is the same type of switch pio cdjs use.
    Trust me it's not.

    Quote Originally Posted by MelloState View Post
    I do agree it's casing is a pretty junk plastic but its never meant to be an expensive controller
    TP2=$200
    Sound card=$120+
    Controller=rest
    Wow, just wow.


  10. #10
    Jack Bastard
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emery View Post
    So now that we know S4's aren't made (or priced) like Pioneer.. what do YOU recommend?
    Out of all the controllers I've used I like the VCI 400 best. Made to take a bashing and superconfigurable.

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