July 25, 2012

Reloop Terminal Mix 4 Review

I first got my hands on the Reloop Terminal Mix 4 back at Winter NAMM and I was stoked to demo it in the studio to really see what it was all about. After many months of waiting on the controller to finally be released it is here so sit tight and I’ll give you a rundown of Reloop’s answer to the S4: The Terminal Mix 4.

First off the outside of the controller is solid metal which immediately scored points with me. Currently I am mixing on a S4 and although I do indeed love it to death the plastic build leaves much to be desired. Plastic cracks and ages poorly so it is nice to see a company that will invest in the build of their controller. We saw this back in the Reloop Digital Jockey III but this version feels a little lighter, not quite as light as an S4 but not the ship sinking brick that was the Digital Jockey III. This controller is definitely built for pros but what makes it so remarkable is that it is priced for anybody that wants a good piece of gear.

On the front of the controller the things that stood out to me the most were actually the jog wheels. I remember back at NAMM getting to scratch a little on the Terminal Mix 4 and being really impressed with the quality and feel in the jogs.  All too often manufacturers make jog wheels that just don’t feel like vinyl and although these are not exactly vinyl replicas they have a nice ridged surface that looks like vinyl and makes it easy to get a grip on the platter. When you try to scratch the first thing you’ll notice is exactly how tight the track responds to the movements of the jog wheels. The scratching feels great and if you remember back to the Digital Jockey III some folks derided the jog wheels for having proximity sensors in it that would enable scratching without actually touching the surface of the platter. Although this was only happening because he had the sensitivity jacked up it created a negative vibe around the controller and Reloop answered with the Terminal Mix 4 which might as well be called the “Reloop Redemption 4”. Onboard, the controller carries none of the issues the older Digital Jockey series controllers had and it feels like Reloop is seriously going after the more popular four deck controllers out there. The bottom line is that the jogs feel great and if you are new to the game then you will be able to practice scratching on this, hop on vinyl and carry over the skills you perfected in your bedroom. Conversely, if you are an older school DJ and are worried whether or not your vinyl skills can be handled by a controller, no need to worry because the Terminal Mix 4 definitely can hang.

As far as the rest of the build goes the line faders feel great and have just enough resistance.  The crossfader is a nice loose situation with curve controls right on the front of the mixer. This is great because sometimes you just want to do some long crossfaded blends but when it comes time to hop back into the sharp crossfader Reloop makes it easy to make the switch. The transport buttons feel awesome, like big rubber moonbounces for your fingers.  I could sit here and press them all day and they even have a nice satisfying click to let you know that they have been completely depressed. On the other hand I would have really liked to see similar quality buttons on the rest of the controller, the other buttons for shift, cue points, samples and deck changes are all a hard plastic and they’re quite small so really jamming out cue point style can be a bit of a problem. I love using cue points to mix and to really get crafty with my tracks, the little buttons feel a lot like the Pioneer DDJ-ERGOv and although they are a bit larger than the ERGOv they are just as uncomfortable to play on.

In the middle of the controller you will find a big endless rotary controller for manipulating your software and browsing through tracks. It too is made of metal and feels really nice when twisted and pushed. Everything on this controller is designed to be used over and over again by real DJs playing out and that ethos is apparent in most every design feature, and I like that! Just above the center knob is your sample volume knob and above that your headphone related knobs and booth knobs with your master volume knob located right on top and in the middle. As a DJ this is really where you want these controls to be and it’s nice to see this in the design as well as an overall mirrored layout. Mirrored layouts are more and more popular these days as DJs move away from CDJs and onto controllers. Mirrored layouts make it easy to use controllers because everything is opposite, it is no fun accidentally hitting an incorrect button because your decks are laid out like two CDJs and Reloop knows it.

All of that awesome stuff aside the Terminal Mix 4 does fall flat in one of the most crucial aspects of the DJ Controller game: the software. Out of the box the Terminal Mix 4 comes with a specially designed version of Virtual DJ as well as Serato DJ Intro software. With these two software options come two major downfalls in each program, Virtual DJ because it’s a software that is rather amatuer and Serato DJ Intro because it only allows the Terminal Mix 4 to use two of the four decks. Yes, you read that correctly, the Serato software that comes in the box will only allow you to control two decks even though the controller can handle four. You might be fine with using Virtual DJ on four decks but VDJ just doesn’t have the same feel/seriousness as Serato and it’s mighty hard to get taken seriously in DJing if you are using a software that’s stigmatized for beginners. The bummer factor is compounded when you actually get to get your hands on the amazing piece of hardware the Terminal Mix 4 actually is. The Terminal Mix 4 really stands to take ground away from Native Instruments’ Kontrol S4 because it’s of a better build quality and it is priced at a much more affordable level without sacrificing quality. That being said until the software situation gets sorted out the end users may find themselves having a hard time getting maximum usage out of their new sexy controller.

The bottom line is that I really love the Terminal Mix 4 as a unit but the lack of software support makes it feel like driving a new Porsche 911 Turbo with a restrictor plate on it that won’t let you go above 60. That being said the Terminal Mix 4 is a great overall controller and if you are looking for something in its price point then do not purchase anything without taking the Terminal Mix 4 into consideration or you will be utterly remiss in your purchase.

DJ Zack Rocket

Video Transcript:

Hey what’s going on guys my name is DJ Zack Rocket with, and today I’m in the studio with the Reloop Terminal Mix 4. Now this is a 4 deck DJ controller from Reloop. It’s got some really really cool features, and I can’t wait to show them to you so let’s check it out!

So right off the bat you’ll notice that this is a good solid metal construction. It feels great, it’s got a nice little bit of weight to it, and I love that it’s built out of solid metal because it’s definitely made for the road and professional DJ’s. The layout is really really logical. It’s definitely built for controllerists, because everything is mirrored and you’ll find that everything you do on one side is just exactly the same on the other side and makes it really easy to figure out how this thing works. As far as the mixer section goes, down here we have a nice loose crossfader, which is nice and loose, you can do some really good cuts. You’ve got your line faders that have a nice little bit of resistance to help with your mixing, and you actually have these little buttons right here that let you load up tracks once you’ve selected them with this rotary encoder quickly to each deck. Just above that we have our headphone ques then we have our filter knob, lows mids and highs, and these all actually act as kills so if you want to dial that mix in it makes it real easy, and we have gain knobs at the top of every channel. In the middle here you’ll find sort of like our view button, our ability to go back to our crates, browsing and our sample volume control. Just above that you have your que mix for your headphones, your headphone volume, and you have your booth volume and your master volume right there in the middle so you know exactly where they are and never have any confusion.

Down here at the bottom you’ll find we have these big nice gooey rubberized buttons. I absolutely love these. They’re really soft to the fingers, but they have a nice little click on them, so you definitely know when you’ve pressed them. Some really, really nice buttons. You have a shift button just to the right and left of that and right above that you’ve got these big beautiful platters. I absolutely love these things. They’ve got a good weight to them. They’re not too heavy though and nice little ridges on them so that… it just has a great feel. It feels a little closer to vinyle than a lot of controllers out there. Just above that we have this button that you can actually hold to jog through your tracks which allows navigation to be really really simple, and right above that you’ll find that we have our sample play buttons, our hot cues, our looping controls, and then of course our effects up here at the top. Now the effects sort of mirror the software so if you’re running Serato DJ Intro, or the Virtual DJ LE that comes with this, it makes it really easy to know what effect goes where, what does what because it is laid out exactly like the software. We’ve got our pitch bend off here to the right and the left and it actually has a little light that locks in right when you get that on the dot, so you know exactly where you’re at.

As far as in’s and out’s goes, this is a pretty standard mixer. You’ve got your two ¼” TRS outs right here as well as and unbalanced RCA out and a booth out and you even have over here an RCA in, which is pretty cool if you want to run an iPod in or something like that. Over here on the front of the controller we have our mic in with some tone controls as well as our buttons to assign decks to the right and left side of the crossfader, as well as our crossfader curve, so you can adjust how sharply this crossfader cuts, right here on the controller, you don’t have to go into the software, it’s really nice. And I really love the fact that this thing has two headphone outs, one at an eighth inch and one at a quarter inch so that if you forget your converter it’s no problem, whatever headphones you’ve got you can plug them into this thing and get going, and even mix down with a friend, which is really really cool.

So overall I really love this controller. It’s really high performance, definitely pro quality but it’s laid out simply enough so that the beginners, you guys are going to love it too. And it’s at a really really good price point. A couple things to note, though is that the software that it comes with – Serato DJ Intro – only supports two decks so you really have to get a better version of Serato and upgrade if you want to use all four. But if you do decide to go the four deck route you can go into Virtual DJ LE which it also comes with, and it has a custom skin that mirrors everything on this controller and makes it really easy to figure out what each one of these functions do within the software.

There it is guys, that’s the Terminal Mix 4 from Reloop it’s a really really good solid 4 deck DJ controller. For the best price on this controller and every other DJ controller and piece of gear that you can possibly imagine, be sure to checkout and my name is DJ Zack Rocket, I’ll catch you guys on the flip.