Numark may have announced this week that it’s shipping the Numark NV controller, adding two displays with a window on Serato. But Native Instruments, for their part, appear no longer to be satisfied letting you hear about their upcoming Traktor Kontrol S8 via leaks on forums and social media. (Yes, uh… some of you noticed that.)

No, this time, we get to see the Kontrol S8 in an official Native Instruments video.

And right away, you’ll notice a big difference between Numark’s and Native Instruments’ perspective on the future of the controller: the S8 ditches the big jog wheels.

Frankly, I think it’s about time. Turntables are wonderful. But pretending a big wheel is a turntable on a digital interface is mixing metaphors. it makes about as much sense as adding a food trough to your garage and driving your car with a pair of reins because you miss your horse. Okay, sure, it works on a CDJ – though even there, what if a CDJ had controls befitting the fact that it’s a digital deck, not an interface for manipulating a disc?

Or, as Back to the Future so wisely put it while sucking its wheels into the body of its car:

But the best reason to nix the jog wheels is to have space for something more useful. It frees up a layout that can add controls newly introduced by digital DJing, for manipulating Remix Decks and other parameters, as clearly seen in the video.

Now, I know I’m getting into some trouble here. Jog wheels mean that you can mix music manually, as with a turntable. But then, if you want to do that, don’t you want control vinyl? And if your software can sync music for you, then why not set yourself apart using other DJ skills?

About that video… yes, you have to wait through the agonisingly-long, cliché shots of slow-motion partying, and some fairly vacuous quotes of major artists repeating different takes on the Native Instruments slogan. “It’s like Schlesiches Str 28 10997 Ber– … oh, sorry, that’s the address. I mean, it’s like the future of sound!”

But when they actually get to the hardware, it leaves little to the imagination. You really see the S8 – and the absence of jog wheels. (They’re not hiding underneath, I don’t think.) And one thing they do say that’s relevant: you can use the hardware without looking at a computer screen, taking Traktor in the direction Maschine and now Komplete Kontrol have gone, too (as well as products like Ableton’s Push).

Let me speculate about this. Actually, let me not. I prefer to talk about things when we can go into actual details and hard specifics. Also, I think the NI legal department can actually see me when I take a lunch break, and they might poison my currywurst. (Or, worse, some food in which you might notice someone adding something toxic.) But if you aren’t satisfied freeze-framing YouTube, apparently this image, leaked broadly via image search a couple of weeks back, is now running widely in the press:


The teaser video … well, you won’t like it, but here we are. And we do have actual hardware coming soon to check out. Stay tuned.

But please, musical instruments industry, start making ads like this:

Car commercials from the 1980s were completely insane

The official site, now live: