Traktor Vs. Pioneer (Picking the BEST DJ Controller for You in 2022!)

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You could have the coolest playlist, the most cheerful, responsive audience, and the craziest, most hip setup, but if your sound quality or DJ equipment is poor quality, it is all worth nothing.

Apart from focusing on the type of music you play, ensuring that you use modern and versatile DJ equipment is essential. Let’s find out why!

If you are planning to become a DJ or would only like to upgrade your DJ equipment, you have come to the right place.

And if you are looking for specifically Pioneer by Noritsu or Traktor by Native Instruments, this article is about to make things a lot easier for you.

In this article, we will be talking about the two widely used DJ controllers, Traktor and Pioneer.

Both the Traktor and Pioneer DJ controllers have several types, including the Pioneer DDJ-400 and Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3.

Take a look at all the features both these DJ controllers offer, such as the build quality, control layouts, mixer sections, pitch faders, jog wheels, performance pads, and much more, to see which one is an ideal pick for you.

Traktor Vs. Pioneer- The Ultimate Comparison

Both these DJ controllers are among the best you would find in the musical equipment market.

But some features set them apart, giving them various advantages like beginner-friendly, ideal for nifty practice, more aesthetically pleasing, and so on.

We will compare both in terms of their features, telling you about the differences and similarities. So, let’s begin!

Build Quality and Control Layout- Traktor Vs. Pioneer

The Pioneer DJ controller performs quite similarly to the one from flagship Pioneer DJM mixers and DJ CDJ players. Both series are considered standard club DJ players at numerous popular clubs and bars worldwide.

If we talk about the control layout on the Pioneer DDJ-400 DJ controller, it resembles the 2 x CDJ x 1 DJM mixer setup.

Therefore, it may transition from the entry-level DJ controller to an entire modern club-like setup DJ controller, but only easier to use.

The other model here that we will talk about is the Traktor Kontrol S-2 MK-3 DJ controller, which has its own layout not too different from the Pioneer DDJ-400 DJ controller.

A few differences are evident, such as the former having a separate library browser knob for each of its decks and a simple one-knob FX solution rather than the Beat FX strip or classic FX section.

The DDJ-400 features a DDJ-400 has classic audio loop control buttons that you probably have also seen on the Pioneer CDJ players, like the S-2 MK-3.

The latter, S-2 MK-3, also allows you to control the loops with a loop knob present on the controller’s decks.

The Native Instrument’s Traktor S-2 MK-3 DJ controller’s loop solution is quite fun to use. However, it just may be the opposite for those who prefer the simple in/ out or re-loop button schemes.

Most DJs go for the traditional in/out button schemes because they are more common, so the players are more used to this setup.

Another thing to point out here is the Traktor Kontrol S-2 MK-3 DJ controller comes with RGB performance pads.

In contrast, the Pioneer DDJ-400 DJ controller features the usual red-edge backlight for the same function. So, you can pick out whatever design suits you best.

The build-quality and control knobs for both the Traktor and Pioneer DJ controllers are fine and get the specific function done without much hassle.

Moreover, you do not have to prepare yourself for the overly sturdy or fancy mixing knobs that are a pin to wiggle around or cause similar outer case reinforcements.

The build and controls are easy to understand and manage and worth their affordable price tag. However, if you want even fancier controls or a wider control range, you will have to go for the more expensive models.

Mixer Sections- Traktor Vs. Pioneer

Both the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 and Pioneer DDJ-400 come with two mixer channels, both not allowing the user to control virtual decks 3 and 4 easily.

On the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3, you will have to use the 3rd party MIDI mappings for this. However, for the Pioneer DDJ-400, the Rekordbox DJ software will have you no access to decks 3 and 4.

If you are looking for a DJ controller that grants you access to deck 4, we recommend checking out the full-fledged DJ controller with four physical mixer channels.

To sum up, the mixer channel differences in the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 and Pioneer DDJ-400, let’s take a look at their FX sections:

Audio FX Controls

The Pioneer DDJ-400 showcases a simple and classy version of the Beat FX strip, mostly found on the hi-fi Pioneer DJM mixer series. Using this Beat FX strip, the user can activate one effect at one time on the audio channel of their choice.

Apart from the Beat FX strip, the user gets access to the high-pass and low-pass filter knobs present on the mixer (one for each channel on the mixer).

Furthermore, you get two customizable Rekordbox Pad FX preset pages that you can access through the performance pads.

The Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 has an entirely different approach to the FX controls as compared to the Pioneer. You will not see the common FX control section on the Traktor Kontrol.

For applying any effects on your tracks with the S-2 MK-3 controls, use the FX knobs on the mixer section and the four customizable preset selection buttons.

This FX handling feature might be off-putting for several users since it makes the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 quite limited. The user has every little freedom when applying effects to the tracks as compared to the Pioneer DDJ-400.

Pitch Faders- Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 Vs. Pioneer DDJ-400

Another important feature is the pitch traders on both the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 and pioneer DDJ-400.

The model features small-sized pitch faders with sufficient accuracy, enabling the user to set their track’s tempo to 0.01 BPM with little to no trouble.

It must be mentioned here that in this price range, most DJ controllers do not feature full-size pitch faders at all.

However, there is an exception, the Numark Mixtrack Platinum FX. The users who cannot compromise on the pitch faders but have a limited budget can check this out.

Performance Pads and Pad Modes- Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 Vs. Pioneer DDJ-400

Let’s talk a bit about the performance pads and pad modes on the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 and Pioneer DDJ-400.

Relating to the performance pads, the primary difference is the number of features that the performance pad lets you control.

The Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 has lesser controls than the Pioneer DDJ-400, another feature that makes the latter a better option if performance pads are your main requirement.

However, the performance pad’s feel and size are similar to the models. The Pioneer DDJ-400’s pads, as well as Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3’s pads, are made of rubber and produce a distinct ‘click’ sound when you press it down, so no significant sound differences are present.

As mentioned earlier, the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 has RGB backlit performance pads, while the Pioneer DDJ-400 has a red edge backlight only.

The Pioneer DDJ-400, when combined with the Redkordbox DJ software, allows you to use eight performance pad models in total.

When the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 is used with the Traktor DJ software, there are only two basic performance pad modes that you can use.

Here is a list of the performance pad modes on the Pioneer DDJ-400 DJ controller:

  • Hot cue – a standard hot-cue pad mode that allows the user to set hot-cue points that the software remembers.
  • Beat loop – this is a set of subordinate loop controls.
  • Beat jump – a function that gives you access to a reasonable set number of beats backward or forwards throughout a track.
  • Sampler – a standard sampler utility that comes with 8 sample slots.
  • Keyboard – a mode allowing the user to easily pitch-shift set points in a track for all types of tone-play routines.
  • Pad FX 1 – fully customizable Pad FX presets.
  • Pad FX 2 – the second bank of customizable Pad FX presets.
  • Key shift – plain track pitch-shifting utility.

Here is a list of the performance pad modes on the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 DJ controller:

  • Hot cues – a standard hot-cue mode, same as that on the Pioneer DDJ-400 DJ controller.
  • Samples – a sampler utility that gives you control over decks 3 and 4 in the form of Traktor software Remix decks. A great feature for all the DJs that incorporate a lot of audio samples or song stems into their mixes.

Jog Wheels- Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 Vs Pioneer DDJ-400

Next, we will discuss the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 and Pioneer DDJ-400 Jog Wheels. They have a similar size without many substantial differences.

Most users agree that the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 controller’s jogs feel a bit sturdier than the Pioneer DDJ-400 ones.

However, the jog wheels on both the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 and Pioneer DDJ-400 serve the same and are almost similar to the feel.

It may be important to some that these devices do not work on motors, as may expect due to their price point.

Inputs and Outputs- Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 Vs. Pioneer DDJ-400

The inputs and outputs on the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 and Pioneer DDJ-400 are pretty much what you would expect on a standard, entry-level DJ controller. But they do offer a USB port that can run them entirely.

Let’s see what inputs, outputs, and other ports are present on the Traktor Kontrol S2 DJ controller:

  • Inputs: 1 x microphone input (1/4″ TS Jack)
  • Outputs: 1 x master output (RCA), 1 x headphones output (1/8″ stereo mini jack)
  • Other: 1 x USB B port (for laptop connection and power)

Here are the inputs, outputs, and other ports on the Pioneer DDJ-400 DJ controller:

  • Inputs: 1 x microphone input (1/4″ TS Jack)
  • Outputs: 2 x master output (RCA and 1/8″ stereo mini jack), 1 x headphones output (1/8″ stereo mini jack)
  • Others: 1 x USB B port (for laptop connection and power), 1 x USB A port (for iOS devices connection), 15 V/1.2 A optional power adapter input (power adapter not included), 1 x Kensington security slot

This shows that while the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 can run on dedicated power only, it also fully functions with a USB connection.

However, the power brick does not come with the USB, so it has to be purchased separately if you plan to run the DJ controller on a USB.

You must note here that you get higher brightness levels if you power the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 on a power supply instead of a USB. The device’s dials seem more vivid, and the headphone’s output ceiling is also higher.

Software Compatibility- Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 Vs. Pioneer DDJ-400

Software compatibility is one of the most vital factors when getting a DJ controller.

The main difference when it comes to software compatibility between Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 and Pioneer DDJ-400 is that they are basically designed keeping in mind two separate DJ software.

The Pioneer DDJ-400 DJ controller is dedicated to the Rekordbox DJ controller system, while the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 is best compatible with its native Traktor DJ ecosystem software. So, both give you access to various features and controls.

The Pioneer DDJ-400 DJ controller enables you to take full advantage of all the Rekordbox software features while plugged into the PC.

On the other hand, the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 allows you to explore all the features of the Traktor Pro 3 software.

This means that regardless of which DJ controller you get, you have access to modern DJ software without paying an additional amount for software or a license upgrade.

The Pioneer DDJ-400 also supports the Djay Pro software (also available in a mobile version compatible with iOS devices) apart from the Rekordbox.

Additionally, you can use it with the Virtual DJ software, Traktor Pro 3, and Mixx software. However, all of this is only possible if you have an appropriate MINI mapping. 

The Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 supports the Virtual DJ software, Traktor Pro 3, and ideally should work with any software that works via MIDI communication.

Pros and Cons- Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 and Pioneer DDJ-400

Let’s wrap this up with a list of pros and cons of the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 and Pioneer DDJ-400:

Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3

ProsCons
Clean and simple design and control layoutOne knob FX control and only a few presets may be inadequate for some users
Sperate VU meters for the mixing channelsNo access for virtual decks 3 and 4
Traktor Pro 3 has greater controller customizations than the Rekordbox softwareLacks some features, such as a few basic features, performance pad modes, and audio effect handling.

Pioneer DDJ-400

ProsCons
Great value for the priceIt doesn’t come with a key lock on the device
Unlocks access to all the Rekordbox software featuresNo access to the virtual decks 3 and 4
Club control layout
Considerable options, such as the audio FX, Pad FX, Beat FX strip, mixer channel filters
Useful performance pad modes

MIDI Mode on the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3

Since we have mentioned the MIDI mode, let’s talk further about it on the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3. To use your Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 DJ controller for creating your custom mappings, start with entering the MIDI mode.

Active the MIDI mode by pressing and then holding the FLX button on the left while you connect the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK-3 to your computer.

Once you do this, the Traktor Kontrol will begin sending the MIDI signals to any type of 3rd party software.

Pioneer DDJ-SR or Traktor S-2

The Pioneer DDJ-SR seems to be performing better than the Native Instrument’s Traktor Control S-2 for the following reasons:

  • It has 14 more buttons, 54 vs. 40
  • Features a frequency filter
  • It comes with the Serato DJ software
  • Has 16 pads, 16 vs. 0
  • Adjustable sensitivity of the jog wheel
  • A higher number of headphone ports, 2 vs. 1
  • 2 RCA connector input ports, two vs. 0
  • Does not need a power adapter
  • More affordable

Conclusion

The Pioneer DDJ-400 has better pricing, gives access to all the Rekordbox software features, has an excellent club control layout, and has useful performance pads. Moreover, it is also compatible with Audio FX, Pad FX, Beat FX strip, and more.

On the other hand, the Traktor Kontrol S-2 MK-3 gives access to all the Traktor Pro software 3 features, separate VU meters for each channel, and better customizable controls. However, it is more expensive than the Pioneer DDJ-400.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Traktor better than pioneer?

The Tracktor series is easier to follow and has more proprietary controls. However, the Pioneer series has more functions and better pricing.

Both do not offer access to virtual decks 3 and 4 but are compatible with software that can help you get access to other features.

Can I use Traktor with Pioneer?

Traktor can be used with Pioneer with a USB connection present at the device’s back.

Is DDJ 400 compatible with Traktor?

The DDJ-400 is fully functional with the Traktor Pro 3. However, some functions are not available, but you can do the mapping to make up for this.

Which one is better, Traktor Kontrol S4 vs. Pioneer CDJ 900?

The Traktor Kontrol works better for more users who have had both. The former also has the convenience of being used from mobile.