Check these decks! The S8 is Native Instruments' Flagship Controller!
Native Instruments S8 controller provides a new look for the industry and boasts the “perfect fusion of hardware and software."
Let us begin with a moment of silence for the jog wheel...
With the addition of the oh-so-sexy on-board LCD displays where the jogs used to be, the S8 takes immersion to a new level. Before the recent release of the S8, Traktor provided us with a teaser, which showcased its cutting edge design, stand-alone mixer, and hi-res LCD displays that would perfectly interact with the controller’s hardware.
Does the S8 live up to the hype? You decide! Listed below are some features worth mentioning...
Displays! - The boldest move we’ve seen from any controller in a long time, Native Instruments benches the jog wheels and subbed them for the LCD screens. Browse your library, monitor effects, improvise in real-time, or hop into Browse View and navigate your playlists easily, all with the touch of a button, and it’s all right on the decks.
The Back Panel - The S8’s got an ass that would put Kim Kardashian back in a booster seat. The back panel looks more like the patch bay on a 1st generation MOOG than a port bay. With more inputs than any DJ would know what to do with, the S8 realizes its limitations without the jog wheel, so it encourages you to plug in your own. In a world of planned obsolescence and brand dependency (i.e controllers that only work with Serato or specific hardware add-ons), it’s nice to see everything right there in the back. (Including two XLR inputs for professional sounding mic response).
Remix - The Remix Deck lets you capture loops from a running track in perfect sync and layer them for advanced track edits/layering on the fly.
Freeze Mode - Unless you’re a complete Traktor noob, you’re probably familiar with Freeze mode. Now you can take a snapshot from a running track using the Freeze Button. A loop will appear on the deck display ready for you to slice up with the 8 performance pads.
Touch Strips - Hardly an innovation, the touch strip has been in the game for a while, but controllers have been finding new ways to utilize them. The S8’s two wide touch strips allow for pitch bending, track seeking, and vinyl scratch emulation. How organic the scratch emulation is has yet to be determined, but thankfully the S8’s rigged with every input/output known to man (and probably extraterrestrial beings), so if you want to scratch, simply plug your old decks right in.
The S8 is designed to draw focus away from the laptop, and towards your controller. Jon McGiverin from YourEDM.com wrote “I had planned to go cold turkey on using my computer’s screen... It was not long before I ran into a problem.” What seems to hang people up about the S8 is it doesn’t accommodate for large playlists, and that it’s functionality is limited the EDM regime, with the exclusion of jog wheels in favor of a sexier and more functional design. The state of the industry is focused on EDM. It doesn’t make it any less of an all-inclusive experience. While the shift is undoubtedly towards EDM, the options are still available to you!
The S8 retails for $1200 on their website, and considering that's only a hair less than one single XDJ deck, the S8's retail price is VERY affordable. Check it out here!