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Beginner Tutorial: How to connect your S2/S4 to Speakers and Headphones

Discussion in 'KONTROL S2 / KONTROL S3 / KONTROL S4' started by tmccoy, Jan 6, 2013.

  1. tmccoy

    tmccoy Forum Member

    This thread was originally written using the S4 Mk1 but the concepts apply to the S2/4 Mk1 and Mk2.

    NEW!! Download the PDF Guide: http://djtmhire.com/doc/TraktorS2S4SpeakerConnectionGuide.pdf [2.7MB]

    Quick Things to Know
    • You should connect your speakers and headphones directly to the S2/4 and get that working first before attempting any other configurations. This means a cable from the S2/4 to your powered speakers or amplifier.
    • Traktor has a separate CUE VOL knob in the software that needs to be checked if your headphone level is too low. This software knob IS NOT controlled by the CUE VOL knob on the front of the S2/4.
    • Traktor has a separate MAIN level knob in the software that needs to be checked if you have output volume or clipping issues. Generally the software knob should be in the 2o'clock position. This software knob IS NOT controlled by the MAIN knob on the top of the S2/4.
    • The S2/4 rear Main Outputs work in pairs of each type (1/4" TRS Balanced and RCA). You need to use BOTH outputs of the same type (e.g. BOTH RCA outputs) to get normal stereo sound.
    • The S2/4 Outputs are NOT amplified and need to be connected to powered speakers or an amplifier.

    Understanding Traktor Output Routing and Audio Devices

    The S2 and S4 are combined MIDI controllers and a high end external sound card in one unit. You can use either the S2/S4 hardware or your internal PC/Laptop soundcard to process and output sound. The major disadvantages of using your PC/Laptop's onboard sound card is that you will almost always disable the onboard speakers when you plug in headphones, making it impossible to play one track through the speakers and prepare and sync your new track using the headphones before bringing it into the mix.

    Your PC/Laptop's onboard sound card also doesn't have the industry standard connections and is unlikely to provide Balanced Outputs which have more resistance to noise and interference. While you won't necessarily need Balanced Output in a basic home studio setup, it is of course possible to solve the connection issue with adapter cables - but further causing and noise susceptibility in the process.

    Use your S2/S4 device as the output hardware whenever possible, and only use your onboard soundcard when you're preparing tracks away from your studio and controller.

    In this screenshot, I have dropped down the options for the device which show my S4 and the Macbook's Built-in sound card in the Audio Setup Configuration.

    Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 9.09.58 pm.png

    The further thing to understand is how to configure Traktor to use the S2/4 and configure the output channels correctly. On an S2/4, use the following Output Routing configuration:

    Mixing Mode: Internal
    Output Monitor
    L: Monitor Left
    R: Monitor Right

    Output Master
    L: Master Left
    R: Master Right

    Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 9.07.34 pm.png

    The internal mixing mode option is used because Traktor is responsible for mixing the sound - not some external hardware mixer. This is a little counter-intuitive, as you might expect the S2/S4 to be the "mixer" but actually the software is the mixer in this case.

    The "Monitor" settings are for normal stereo headphones to the left and right channels that will be connected to the front of the S2/4.

    The Master (or Main) output is assigned similarly the left and right channels accordingly - but will be connected at the back of the S2/4.

    Note that the option for "Mono" here allows the software to combine both Left and Right signals and output this on each of the outputs as a combined Left+Right signal, but at the sacrifice of no longer having separate Left and Right channels (such as a guitar solo that plays in the left ear and drums in the right ear).

    Quick Connection Types Overview

    The S2/S4 have a small number of common connection types, and some posts in the forum have confirmed people are getting them confused.

    The Front Headphone and a pair of Rear Main outputs use 1/4" Jacks that are of very different types. The 1/4" Front Headphone jack on the front of the S2/4 is a three conductor "Tip Ring Shield" (TRS) Stereo connector. This is extremely similar to the common 3.5mm used in most portable audio device in the last 20 years, except it is the larger 1/4" size that is stronger and more robust.


    The rear Main Outputs use the same 1/4" physical connector, but a very different audio signal. The 1/4" outputs generate the Balanced Outputs mentioned before, and use the TRS connector for a Positive, Negative and Shield (ground) signal. You can not plug in your 1/4" headphones to the Main Outputs on the rear of the unit as you will only get sound from one side. I'll touch on this more below when I describe the outputs in more detail.

    Headphone Connection

    This is as simple and as obvious as it seems. On the front of the unit, you need a 1/4" Stereo plug for your headphones. If you have mid or high end headphones, they usually come with a 1/4" adapter or jack.

    Screenshot from 2014-03-29 06:18:06.png

    If you have the common 3.5mm headphones jack used on most earbud headphones, the most common mistake here seems to be accidentally getting a 1/4" Stereo to 3.5mm Mono adapter, which results in sound in only one ear. You must get a 1/4" Stereo Jack (Male) to 3.5mm Stereo Plug (Female) adapter, like this one:

    http://www.amazon.com/3-5mm-Stereo-Jack-Female-inch/dp/B004EFMP4G/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1357441465&sr=8-8&keywords=1/4" stereo to 3.5mm stereo

    Note that if you only connect the S2/S4 to a USB port and not to the external power as well, the power level and thus volume of the Front Headphones output is also reduced. Use the external power supply whenever possible.

    Speaker Connections

    One important thing to understand about the S2/S4 is that although there are 4 outputs (2x RCA and 2x 1/4") they are intended to be used in pairs, and unless the Mono option is selected (described earlier in this post), then each of the connectors in the pair carry one signal.

    To make it clear, RCA Output 1 is the Left Speaker Signal, RCA Output 2 is the Right Speaker Signal, 1/4" Output 1 is the Left Speaker Signal, 1/4" Output 2 is the Right Speaker Signal. Those models with a dedicated MAIN/BOOTH switch let you use that output as a DJ Booth Monitor speakers and change the volume independently of the Main Outputs.

    You must connect either both RCA outputs OR both 1/4" outputs for a normal stereo speaker setup!

    Option 1: PC Style Speakers with 3.5mm Input

    If you are just starting out, chances are you might be using PC speakers for now which probably have a 3.5mm "Aux" input. My recommendation here is to use the RCA outputs of the S2/S4 using the appropriate Dual RCA to 3.5mm Single Male Jack connector.

    http://www.amazon.com/Belkin-Audio-Cable-Splitter-1-Mini/dp/B00004Z5CP/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1357441869&sr=8-1&keywords=RCA to 3.5mm

    Screenshot from 2014-03-29 06:06:19.png

    Option 2: External Amplifier or Amplified speakers with RCA Inputs

    If you are connecting to something like a HiFi Stereo system (to say use the Auxiliary input channel), or dedicated amplifier (with connected speakers) then there's a good chance this is a nice and simple RCA to RCA connection.

    Screenshot from 2014-03-29 06:06:39.png

    Connect the S2/S4 RCA Output 1 to the Left (White) input channel on the speakers/amplifier and also connect the S2/S4 RCA Output 2 to the Right (Red) input channel on the speakers/amplifier.

    http://www.amazon.com/Hosa-Cable-CRA202-Dual-RCA/dp/B000068O0W/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1357442881&sr=8-1&keywords=RCA to RCA

    Option 3: Amplified Monitor or Performance Speakers with XLR or 1/4" TRS Input

    If you have gone and specifically bought dedicated studio monitor or performance speakers (good on you!) you'll find these will have slightly higher connection quality and let you use the 1/4" Balanced Outputs of the S2/S4 for their purpose.

    Screenshot from 2014-03-29 06:07:04.png

    As an example, the Behringer B1030A Active (Amplified) Monitors, these have XLR, 1/4" and RCA inputs. The 1/4" TRS offers the easiest connection. For this you need two cables of 1/4" TRS to 1/4" TRS (one for each output channel).

    http://www.amazon.com/SEISMIC-AUDIO-SATRX-10-Patch-Cable/dp/B0052QBTJI/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&qid=1357443524&sr=8-16&keywords=1/4" TRS to 1/4" TRS

    It is of course also possible to alternatively buy two 1/4" TRS Jack to XLR Cables

    http://www.amazon.com/Monoprice-Premier-Series-4inch-Plated/dp/B001UJEKZ6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1357443646&sr=8-1&keywords=1/4" TRS to XLR

    But again remember that you need to use two cables (for a basic setup, keep it simple and use either RCA or XLR) - one connected to S2/S4 Output 1 and another connected to S2/S4 Output 2 and each end going into their respective speakers.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 29, 2014
  2. tmccoy

    tmccoy Forum Member

    Keeping out of the Red

    One of the most important audio setup components is to ensure that you keep each element from clipping or distorting, and thus keeping out of the red is critical. You will need to set your speakers and amplifier to a level that gets the volume you need without clipping, as well as ensuring the S2/4 itself doesn't clip.

    If you see any red, reduce the channel gain to bring it just under or only occasionally touching the red zone. Also look at the Traktor Main level to ensure it isn't red and clipping. Orange is ok and indicates you have a good input level but may be near to clipping if you push too hard.

    Your First Gig

    The situation is going to vary dramatically! If this is an organised gig, talk to someone looking after the DJ Booth and ask them what they want you to connect to. They will already be using a mixer and distribution system of their own, and will probably expect you to hook into their mixer, often by RCA.

    Screenshot from 2014-03-29 06:07:37.png

    If this is your own first gig, and you've hired or bought amplified speakers, then talk to the shop to confirm your options, but getting two long 1/4" TRS Jack or RCA leads will get you by. For a simple two speaker external backyard-style gig, you're like to have only the two speakers and no monitor. So your S2/S4 Output 1 (either RCA or 1/4") will drive the left speaker, and the S2/S4 Output 2 (either RCA or 1/4") will drive the right speaker.

    Screenshot from 2014-03-29 06:08:13.png

    One Extra Step - Separate Booth and House Speakers

    If you have a large room, or your first performance, you might find yourself connecting everything up and more than you're used to. This same method can be used in your home studio if you have desktop monitor speakers and a much larger amplifier and many speakers in the room.

    Assuming you have a quality pair of dedicated Monitor Speakers, use the 1/4" Output of the S2/S4 to connect to each of your left and right monitor speakers.

    Then use the RCA Outputs of the S2/S4 to connect to your external amplifier or mixer to drive the house/room speaker system.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2014
  3. makar1

    makar1 Forum Member

    Nice work putting all this together!

    You might want to mention that the headphone output level is a little lower when running on USB power without the AC adapter. There's also the issue of ground loop interference which is quite common and easily fixable, and something about output latency might be helpful?

    Never hurts to remind people to stay out of the red too.
  4. tmccoy

    tmccoy Forum Member

    I had to make that second post as the first post is already running out of characters.

    I'll included a comment on the USB vs External power.

    I'm not the most experienced with ground loop interference correction - if you just have an S2/S4 is it very likely? Or do I just include a comment on connecting the S2/S4 grounding screw to your turntables?

    Regarding latency, do you think there should just be a simple comment to increase latency if the sound becomes glitchy or the CPU is overloaded?

    Thanks for your support and input!
  5. Abebe

    Abebe NI Product Owner

    tmccoy, very helpful tips!

    I know your post is about hardware connectivity’s, it is also useful to mention that enabling/checking Show Tooltips in Preferences > Global Settings > Miscellaneous helps to learn the short description of those traktor s4 knobs on the screen by pointing mouseover.
  6. makar1

    makar1 Forum Member

    Ground loop noise can be confirmed by using the S2/S4 on USB power without the AC adapter connected, and also running the laptop on battery power without its charger connected. If the noise disappears it's likely there's a ground loop problem with the setup.
    You can get ground loop isolators fairly cheaply and you can also try using a non-grounded (2 pin) charger cable for your laptop. Mac users should note that the included longer extension power cable is 3 pin/grounded while the small plug is 2 pin/not grounded, assuming you are using wall sockets with ground.

    Increasing latency is one way of eliminating skips and glitches in the audio, and decreasing latency will improve overall responsiveness. There are plenty of other audio optimisations around so you could just link to one of those guides.
  7. Count Zero

    Count Zero ModerAUtor Moderator

    Very nice post. Think I will make it a sticky. :)
  8. tmccoy

    tmccoy Forum Member

    AWESOME (and thankyou)! Hopefully it can become a thread of suggestions that people can also look through.

    EDIT - I just realised that I can't edit the posts prior to the sticky operation (makes sense, to prevent something getting stickied and then entirely changing the content). But we can still track suggestions in the thread comments :)
  9. Count Zero

    Count Zero ModerAUtor Moderator

    Actually no-one can edit a post as soon as there is another post after it anywhere in the forum. In other words you can only edit your post while it is still the most recent one. Has nothing to do with being a sticky.

    You will just have to keep making new posts to extend the thread.
  10. enrique1.6

    enrique1.6 New Member

    Using the Kontrol S4 - is it possible to use it in combination with the A6? My problem is, I can connect the speakers to the A6, but when I want to prelisten on my headphones I can only here the master output. Is there any way to connect the S4 to the A6 with being able to listen with the headphones to prelisten the tracks on the S4?
  11. makar1

    makar1 Forum Member

    Why would you need to use the A6 for your speakers when it has the same output connectors as the S4?
    You could aggregate the S4 and A6 into a single device and then be able to route the headphone channel to the S4, but the latency may be worse and the overall setup unreliable. You will also not be able to use timecode.
  12. mmarlon

    mmarlon New Member

    hi im completely new to this and i dont know how to start a post.. I just recently purchased my traktor s4 and my current headphones cannot fit the plug, is there a specific cable or plug i should get to connect to my speakers/headphones? PLEASE REPLY or better yet send a private message, im new to djing and would love to learn
  13. tmccoy

    tmccoy Forum Member

  14. mmarlon

    mmarlon New Member

    I just read it right now, I apologize lol btw I have the logitech z623 which of those 3 rca cable options you recommend me getting? I have two speakers and one subwoofer.
  15. makar1

    makar1 Forum Member

    RCA to RCA cables from your S4 to the Z623 Aux input.
  16. mmarlon

    mmarlon New Member

    so would that be the second option listed above?
  17. tmccoy

    tmccoy Forum Member

  18. kommi10

    kommi10 New Member

  19. raulpinkysantos

    raulpinkysantos New Member

    connecting powered speaker and sub

    Hello, pls help me how to connect my 2 behringer powered speaker and 1 cerwin vega powered subwoofer to my S2
  20. Ricky Woofer

    Ricky Woofer Account Suspended

    Hook youre sub up with the S2 and hook youre speakers up with the sub.