In last weeks post, we covered the basics of what can be done with scratching on Traktor Kontrol s2 / s4. Today I thought it would be beneficial to dive in a little deeper with true master of scratching DJ Happee, who has hands on experience of scratching on the s4.
We saw DJ Happee cutting it up on the s4 last week and he has very kindly agreed to answer some questions to give us more insight to help those trying to decide if the s2 / s4 is right for them.
For those of you who have been scratching for some time, DJ Happee needs no introduction. I personally used to spend hours scratching to Happee and Dinoh’s Smoke Breaks record.
So let’s get into the interview…
Welcome DJ Happee!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your history with scratching.
I learned how to skratch when I met DJ Dinoh (after he DJed my 7th grade dance). He was showcasing his mixing / skratching during the dance… it was like watching a DMC routine for 2 hours! Our tools of choice back then were the Technics 1200s, DMC, Realistic, or Gemini mixer.
What does the s4 feel like if you are used scratching with vinyl?
The Traktor S4 definitely takes a lot of getting used to at first. It’s like a mini CD-J. For one, the platters are a lot smaller than a 12″ record.
Did you have to change the way you scratched?
Yes. It’s a much different beast compared to vinyl.
Which scratches were easy?
Anything where your hand stays gripped to the platter.
Which scratchers were harder?
Any skratches that involved lifting your hand off the platter.
What was different?
No rotating platter.
What was similar?
Compared to vinyl? Probably nothing.
What did you like about it?
My favorite thing about the Traktor S4 has to be the remixing capabilities (loops, hot cues, etc.) and the portability (size). The best part? I can hook up my turntables to it and use the S4 as a mixer.
What did you dislike about it?
I wish the platters were a little bit bigger.
How was the crossfader?
I wish it was easier to open up and lube (if needed). It would be a plus if the fader didn’t make any noise when clicking against the side… but that’s just my preference.
Do you think you will you always use vinyl?
For basic mixing? I can use the S4 solely for that. For skratching…yes..I still prefer vinyl.
Do you think vinyl will ever be replaced with digital solutions and equipment?
For mixing applications, maybe. Some guys still use vinyl for the sound quality. Some use it for “shock value” at events. I don’t miss carrying crates of records at all. I like the convenience of making remixes in the studio and being able to play it immediately.
What advice do you have for people just getting started with scratching?
My only advice would be to try skratching on midi controllers, vinyl or CDJ just to get a feel for what you like most. One size does not fit all… so choose accordingly.
Do you think you need to use vinyl before you move onto digital?
Need? No. Should? Maybe! It helps to understand how much technology has helped with DJing over the years. For instance, when using Serato… you can simply look at the 2 wav files on your computer screen and line them up as you’re mixing. With Traktor? You actually have to use your ears to make sure it’s perfectly matched (because the wavs do not run parallel with each other on the screen).
I mean, not only is there a sonic / sound difference between digital and analog… but, if you’ve ever remixed a song that wasn’t recorded digitally (ie: adat, reel tape, etc.), you’ll notice that the song’s timing varies and does not stay perfectly on time with the tempo!
What is your favourite scratch or scratch combo?
Stabs are to me, the holy grail of skratches. They’re simple, but hard to master. If you can master it, your mixing skills will be more on point.
For a DJ that has a very low budget and cannot afford a vinyl setup, do you think this option is a good one for scratching?
Personally for skratching in general… I would recommend buying the cheapest direct drive turntable you could possibly find. Only because I feel the S4 platters and a 12″ vinyl record are two completely different beasts. But, if an aspiring DJ was on a budget and wanted to DJ for the sole aspect of just mixing songs… then I would recommend trying out a midi controller of some sort.
If you could change anything about it, what would it be?
For the Traktor S4 in general, I would like a bigger platter / jog wheel, post fader effects, booth monitor output/control, and an XLR output.
What advice would you give control manufacturers to make it more appealing to vinyl scratch DJs? what could be improved?
Definitely a larger platter / jog wheel. If that means making the unit a little larger… so be it.
Are you using the s4 regularly at home or in gigs? Tell us more!
I mainly use the Traktor S4 for mix tape / studio applications. It’s the ultimate LIVE remixing machine when you’re DJing.
Anything else you would like to add to help readers?
Experiment and try everything before you make a final judgment about any type of gear. I was against midi controllers for the longest time… until a friend of mine (who worked for Traktor) stopped by with a prototype version of the Traktor S4 and demo’d it for me and some friends. Once he demonstrated the LIVE remixing capabilities…that was it for me. I was convinced that MIDI controllers were the future of mixing.
Where can we find you? (site links and products etc)
Thanks Happee for joining us today and answering those questions!
Summary of DJ Happee’s thoughts:
- For scratching, the S4 takes a lot of getting used to i.e smaller platters and no rotating platters.
- The S4 is Really great for mixing and remixing (loops, hot cues, portability) etc.
- The S4 allows you to hook up a turntable and be used as a mixer to get the best of both worlds.
- You can install an Innofader into the S4 / S2. It’s just more involved as opposed to just lifting a face plate. (It voids the warranty – Short-E).
- Try vinyl, CDJs and midi controllers to see which you prefer.
- Stick with vinyl for scratching.
So although it is totally possible to scratch with Traktor S2 / S4, the better option for the majority of scratch DJs is still a traditional turntable setup (turntable, vinyl / DVS system and mixer). For mixing and remixing, midi controllers offer a whole new world of possibility that are extremely lightweight portable and versatile.
I love vinyl. Will that ever change? Probably not. I did initially resist DVS systems like Serato for scratching, until Torben helped me set it up properly with the correct settings, and now I love it and even make my own digital scratch records! Maybe one day some equipment will be developed that has the technology and features that are suitable for scratch DJs. In the meantime, I’m still very keen to try out the S2 and let you know how it goes.
So there you have it. Will you be switching over to the midi controller realm, or will vinyl always hold a special place in your heart? Let us know in the comments below.
Once again, big thanks to DJ Happee for being so helpful. Why not go look him up and show him some love!
– DJ Short-E
Next time on Studio Scratches…
Another insightful Traktor s2 Scratch video for you to check out.