Review & Video: Reloop Beatpad DJ Controller For iPad & djay 2

Review Summary:

Well made, high performance, and almost perfectly integrated with the software (which is very capable in its own right), this is quite possibly the best iOS DJ controller yet.

Beatpad
  • Beatpad
  • Rating: 4.5
  • From: Reloop
  • Price: US$599
  • Reviewed by:
  • On January 8, 2014
  • Last modified:November 20, 2014
Reloop Beatpad

The Reloop Beatpad is the most professional, well made and deepest integrated DJ controller for Algoriddim's djay 2 and the iPad yet made.

Review: Reloop Beatpad DJ Controller For iPad & djay 2

The iPad is a premium device, right? So why does it seem like most DJ controllers made to work with it are little more than flashy, plasticky toys? It's always puzzled me, because to me, the iPad is pretty much the perfect DJing platform; small, light, powerful, more durable than a laptop, and just - well - cool! I know not everyone shares my point of view, but to me, iPad and DJing are a natural fit.

Which is why we were excited to try the Reloop Beatpad at the BPM Show last autumn. Here's a controller that in looks, feel and performance (we ran an impromptu scratch test on it, and it passed with flying colours), seemed to tick all the boxes as a serious, pro controller for DJs who want to use an iPad rather than a laptop for their DJing,. And coupled with the big improvements made to Algoriddim's djay software in the latest version, djay 2 (which this controller is made for), we really couldn't wait to get our hands on one for a review. Well, that time is now!

First impressions

It's a well-made, good locking, black box with two gorgeous, low-slung jogwheels and very typical Reloop styling. (Leave it alone without touching it for a bit though, and it throws a light show at you that somehow doesn't fit its sober looks...) A little narrower than, for instance, the Reloop Terminal Mix 4, but also a little deeper than many (it has a slot at the back for the iPad to sit firmly in place when in use, which is why), it looks and feels solid and up for the job. The edging is plastic, but the chassis and top-plate are metal, all the knobs are bolted down properly. The crossfader is nice and loose, the faders are long-throw... basically, it looks ansd feels awesome.

It's a two-channel controller, with the full gamut of lo/mid/hi/gain for each channel, and master, headphones, cue mix and aux knobs down the middle of the mixer section. The usual load, cue and track selection controls are right there in the middle, and four rubberised transport buttons sit underneath each of those big, low-slung jogs.

The FX/goodies area above each jogwheel is customised for Algoriddim's software, with "bounce loop" and "instant FX" accompanying the more usual cue, sampler, FX and looping functions (although again, the FX are a little different in Algoriddim software to the others). Four slightly unusual but pleasing square rubber backlit pads/buttons are employed to trigger these functions, and each channel has a two-knob effects section, a dedicated filter knob, and a loop size knob.

the back has balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA master outs, and a single Aux input switchable for phono/line

The back has balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA master outs, and a single Aux input switchable for phono/line.

On the front of the unit are a mic thru with a level control and a dual socket headphones section, and the back has balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA master outs, and a single Aux input switchable for phono/line (rather unnecessarily seeing it doesn't go through a mixer channel, in my view). The usual connections for USB, iPad and power plus a shift lock switch and an LED dimmer control round off the inputs and outputs, and there's a Kensington lock hole, presumably to deter those who aren't content to just swipe your iPad! :)

As well as the Beatpad, the box contains a pretty large generic power brick with adaptor for EU, US and UK power; a utility CD containing a PDF manual and PC drivers; a standard PC USB cable; and the all-important iPad cables, with both Lightning and 30-pin variants present and correct - and no need for messy Apple camera kit USB hacks or anything like that.

Setting up

Clearly as a self-respecting reviewer I'm not going to read any pesky instruction manuals before testing, so I simply plugged it in, connected up my iPad (which immediately began to charge: First test passed...) and hit the App Store to get djay 2. While this unit comes with the option to download an "LE" (read: cut down) version of djay 2, frankly for the pennies the software costs, if you've bought the controller, you should buy the software in its full-strength glory. DJing with an iPad is a little different from DJing with a laptop, but as long as you've got your iTunes collection on your iPad, it's also ridiculously simple to get going. The software instantly recognises the controller, and a tap on the big library button brings up your music. Hit the correct deck load button and the first track starts playing. So far, so good...

Once you're all plugged in, the Beatpad kind of complements the ultra-violet/cool blue colour scheme of djay 2, with pleasing and rather subtle backlighting as well as a really useful rotating LED ring to show transport. The lighting gets less subtle when you start to trigger FX, as you'll see in my video below! It's worth pointing out that this is a class-compliant Midi device and audio interface too; with the supplied USB cable you can plug it in to any PC or Mac and use it with other DJ software if you wish, mapping dependent of course, However, it is clearly designed for iPad use; it has a big fat slot at the back to make that clear, and that's what we're going to review it with.

And indeed, the iPad holds really very firmly in place in that slot, so using the onscreen touch controls for various software functions is fine; not as stable as the flat set-up at the heart of Numark's iDJ Pro, but nonetheless perfectly fine.

In use

This isn't a review of djay 2, but suffice to say that especially when the software is in waveform mode (which looks a lot like the vertical waveforms beloved of Serato users) its styling and functions complement this controller pretty well, and overall it's become an accomplished piece of DJ software.

The controller has been designed to take advantage of many of djay 2's distinctive functions. So hitting "instant FX" triggers four macro-style FX combos; pressing "sampler" take control of four sample slots (hold "shift" as well and it opens the sampler window, giving you the chance to trigger them from the screen too); and touching "bounce loop" turns the pads into a slip/loop roll function.

There are also the more usual cue points (four per side on the pads) controllable from here, as well as options to turn the jogwheel from standard nudge to nudge/scratch and to jog seek. For many of these functions, the jogwheel lights up for effect/indication of function. It's not subtle! There are no channel VU meters on the unit, but each channel has six-point on-screen monitoring with peak indicator.

The jogs are as fantastic in use as you hope when you first peel off their protective plastic cover on opening the box, and scratch performance is tight, sounding convincing. Physical movement of the jog and waveform movement onscreen appear tightly tied; no wooliness going on as with some software / hardware combos. Combined with the customary smooth animation of the iPad, and it all feels very slick.

Sound quality is generally excellent. I could make the music "click" slightly using the filters, but it's not hugely distracting. The headphones were loud if not overly so; for anything but the biggest, loudest nightclub I think you'd be fine.

Reloop Beatpad

The hardware controls are adapted to work with the djay 2 software, although you can't do everything from the hardware by any means.

There's a bit of a learning curve in order to get used to what you can do from the hardware and what you need to use the screen for, but overall it's pretty intuitive. Just now and then you find yourself wishing you didn't have to go searching for a small screen button when maybe some method of achieving the same thing could have been found on the hardware. But overall the controller has got lots of goodies going on; there are key combos for things like censor, brake (a pseudo-vinyl effect), slip mode, fader start, beat jump and more. It's worth taking the time to work out how to use these functions to get the best from it.

You get a few choices when it comes to configuring the library, which is good; you can have it as a small popup, or a full screen, and you can alter the background colour to suit your environment.Unless you have more modern iPad, though, there's no way of displaying key information / analaysing harmonic info, which is a shame. A record button right there in the middle of the hardware lets you instantly record your sets, though, which is great.

Conclusion

There's lots to like here. The hardware is great; really well made and definitely good enough for playing out on. The iPad thing of course is its selling point, and if you (like me) are sold on the idea of using an iPad for DJing on, you'll probably need little persuading of its merits.

The very best desktop / hardware combinations have become so slick as to feel like they're made for each other (and in the case of Native Instruments's gear and software, they are), and the combination of djay and the Reloop Beatpad, while good, isn't 100% there; having a virtual crossfader mimicking your movements on the screen feels like an oversight, and while the screen is useful for controlling the X/Y FX options (similar to Traktor DJ), those X/Y pads weren't actually that big for clumsy fingers. But in an afternoon's mixing I didn't find any real dealbreakers; more a learning curve than anything else. Seasoned DJs will probably prefer the waveform view to the admittedly eye-candy "vinyl" view, though, as I did.

Reloop Beatpad

On the screen here you can see the sampler pads, four for each deck of which can be duplicated on the physical pads.

The thing that I realised irked me most (apart from the lack of a key info in my older device), was the fixed iPad position. I am really particular about how I have my laptop positioned on its stand when DJing (it turns out), and not being able to alter than angle or position of the iPad at all felt restrictive.

If you have the controller at a decent height in the first place it's not so bad, and that's basically it; when controller and screen are fixed together as these are, it's important to have the controller at exactly the right height and position not just for your hands on its controls, but for your eyes on the iPad. The leads supplied aren't long enough for you to liberate the iPad from the dock and plonk it on your own stand, in any case. Just something to bear in mind.

Overall, I think this is an awesome controller / software combo. If you've been holding out for a pro-built iPad DJ controller, with a decent built-in iPad stand, good features and functions, and tight integration with a capable DJ program, this is it. Especially if you buy into the Apple/iTunes ecosystem, it's a mighty smart way to take the best of all of that (you can even buy tunes directly from iTunes from within the software), and combine it with high quality controller DJing, done properly. From scratching to mobile DJing, I can see many iOS-lovin' DJs completely falling in love with the Reloop Beatpad.

Product Summary

Review Summary:

Well made, high performance, and almost perfectly integrated with the software (which is very capable in its own right), this is quite possibly the best iOS DJ controller yet.

Beatpad
  • Beatpad
  • Rating: 4.5
  • From: Reloop
  • Price: US$599
  • Reviewed by:
  • On January 8, 2014
  • Last modified:November 20, 2014

 

Video Review

Are you a Reloop Beatpad owner? How has your experience been of it so far? Is this the way you'd like to go with your DJing, or do you think the iOS thing is a dead end? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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Comments

  1. Paco Loco says:

    Thanks for the great review.
    Did you try mapping the controller for use with DJ Player on the iPad? Would be really interested to hear how well they work together.

    • Sadly we don’t usually have the time to o stuff like this, we test “out of the box” in the way most users will use a product.

      • Paco loco says:

        Fair enough Phil – there are only so many hours in the day!
        Would be interested to hear from anyone else who had tried it though…

  2. That Boy Went Wild says:

    Got one of these for Christmas (thanks babe – got the hints after all)
    Absolutely love it – clearly laid out and very very tight with djay2 software
    The unit feels very solid and the buttons / sliders are very good quality
    A few functions need a button combination to get working which need learning but generally it’s quite simple to use ( although it’s not short on functions)
    I’d got to grips with it sufficiently to play confidently play couple of hours on it at a friends NYE party only a week later
    I like the fact that the deck / iPad combo are small & light enough to transport easily (carried them with me in a cab to NYE party) but still feels like a “real dj unit”
    I’m madly happy with it and think iPad combo is the way to go – especially for parties etc
    I think the review above is pretty spot on from my 2 weeks of playing around with it
    My tip would be to keep the button / jog wheel lights turned down to subtle coz the unit can go a bit “70s disco” at times ( especially if left to go into standby mode)
    A easy 9 out of 10 for me and good value at the price

  3. Thanks for the review and video Phil.

    I’ve been DJing with the iPad more and more since I started to move out from CDs some 2 or 3 years ago. Was using it along a controller + laptop but for the past yr or so I stopped taking and even practsing on my regular setup, relying only on the iPad with a Spin2 for my gigs. Never crashed, never failed on me, now I got. New iPad Air and it’s even faster powerfull and reliable, imho it’s worth it for DJs considering to go the iPad way for good

    Ever since I first read about the Beatpad I’ve been trying to get me one, maybe now it’s really out. I like the Vestax, it’s a capable controller and performs excellently with djay2. I don’t mind the kinda “consumer look and feel” as it’s really smooth (and it’s indeed possible to do more on it than I see most DJs I share booth with do on their 4-deck-100-button wonder controller and software). And though 99% of the time I use it connected to a mixer (still play a CD or two), I miss some pro features like more outputs and controls, which the Beatpad has.

    I agree about the wave thing though I get myself playing with the “eye candy decks” layout quite a lot. The grids on djay2 are not super accurate, I beatmatch by ear anyway but I really like having the cover (or artwork) of my tunes. It gives back some of the feeling and feedback and a more reassuring feel (or memory, association, whatever) I so loved about vinyl and so missed when using CDs. I’ll sure give the Beatpad a try it looks serious and complete.

  4. Nice controller and thanks for the review Phil. :-) The ‘click’ you heard using the filters is being heard by other users too (mostly while using the LPF): http://community.algoriddim.com/algoriddim/topics/strange_noises_while_playing

  5. Phil thanks for the review, if no new interesting IOS DJ units are going to be presented at the NAMM 2014 I will go for the Reloop Beatpad.

    Best regards,

  6. Seem like a kool gear. But it’s a little pricey they want $599 US dollars. I’ll just wait for numark to come out with one. They have decent price. But good review on it!

  7. Andy Nixon says:

    Great review Phil thanks.
    Had one of these on order since just before Christmas so glad to know my choice was correct. Just have to wait for it to arrive now!!

  8. DJ Flotech says:

    Very nice review Phil, very complete.

    I want first apologize about my “almost english”…

    I own the beatpad since the first day of its aviability, I was waiting for this controller maybe thanks to your first article about it when it was anounced at the last BPM show.

    I was a french local hip hop beatmaker back in the 90’s and also vynil addict and beginner Technics SL1200 DJ at this time (I still own one).

    I stopped my musical activity because of working and family life, but last year, the djing virus hit me again by playing with a free version of the Algoriddim’s DJAY App on my Ipad.

    I was buying a Numark’s IDJ Live to begin my new digital DJ career. Good to begin but even If I have à lot of fun with, it was a toy like restricted controller.

    I choose to buy the beatpad for several reasons :

    – Finish quality and semi-pro looking
    – Aux input who allows to plug external source like a turntable
    – XLR output (and buit in soundcard of course)
    – Large Jogwheels for scratching (very responsive)
    – Already owner of an Ipad (iTunes library) with the very good DJAY 2 (for me)
    – Direct access of the cue point, effect, loop with cools Led backlighted pads
    – Last but not least, the possibility in the future to use the beatpad via USB with another software (Mac or Pc) trough a mapping.

    I haven’t been disapointed by the Beatpad. I really love it, I think it is really awesome and run perfectly with the Djay 2 App.

    I had my first gig for the new year party, non-stop mixing over 7 hours with a lot of fun and good reacts from the crowd (about 100 peoples).

    Next gig this weekend during a muay thaï boxing show.

    I like the idea that to go djing outside, I just need my Ipad, my headphone, my controller and that’s it !

    To finish, here is some littles negative points with the Beatpad:

    – Only 2×4 pads to control a 2×6 sampler pads on Djay 2 :(
    – The lenght loop rotative button is a litlle bit much sensitive and sometimes you can miss a value (for example : 1=>1/4 instead of 1=>1/2=>1/4)
    – Some bugs as you can read on reloop’s or Algoriddim’s forum

    I really recommends this controller for a beginer DJ who want to go to the upper speed.

    Please visit my Youtube Channel with my Reloop’s beatpad video :

    m.youtube.com/channel/UCR47lNYbaZP5SP_yVhYO00w

    Leave your comment.

  9. Hi Phil.

    If someone where to have no preference of Djay2 over Traktor DJ, would you recommend this to them over a Kontrol S2 mk2 and Traktor DJ combo?

  10. I have been trying to buy one here in USA and also UK but is out of stock or not available, may someone share information about where to buy this item?

    • Andy Nixon says:

      I was told by the company I’m getting mine from that the UK distributor have been messing suppliers about. They are supposed to be getting new stock at the end of this week.

  11. Chuck "DJ Vintage" van Eekelen says:

    I won’t go into not wanting to use DJay 2 (although a big improvement over the previous version), but I keep being amazed by the way almost all controllers hook up the iPad the way they do. It sits in what probably is a less than strong (not sure about stability as far as touching it is) position upright at the back of the unit. Although this will no doubt work fine in a bedroom setting or in a venue with, say, a glass divider behind your gear. But in the world of mobile DJ-ing where you (well me for sure) are often just about ON the dancefloor, this position is just way too risky for my taste. It doesn’t much for someone to knock the iPad of it’s holder (best case) or half lean on it and break off the entire construction (not only tossing the iPad too but also ending the career of your controller as those are usually pretty non-repairable breaks).

    I already worry about that with my laptop sitting on a sturdy laptop platter above my controller!

    Regardless of it’s obvious flaws, omissions and trade-offs, I’ll stick with my iDJ Pro. If only MixVibes would give us portrait option in Cross DJ Pro, I’d be a very happer camper :-).

    Greetinx.

  12. Hi Phil
    I haven’t got the unit,but have it on order.

    This review states there are no VU Meters on the hardware, but from the YouTube videos I’ve seen it looks as they are laid out horizontally either side of the iPad slot.

  13. Great review! I’m a happy owner for à couple of weeks now and I am very impressed. It’s solid, well layed out and most important latency free. The only downside for me is that the rotating leds (aka virtual needle position) is only available in scratch mode. Maybe fixable in an update? And as you state; the cable should be longer for more flexibility in Ipad positioning.

    I would recomment this unit to any mobile DJ, this is the future, forget laptops!

  14. I want a Dj device that u can use with ipad mini as the connection lead is to big our do I solve this problem can someone help me wife got me a igo dj2 but it don’t work as the lead won’t fit my ipad mini or my iphone 5 s

  15. Anyone care to offer thoughts on this unit now that we are in May 2014 and it’s been awhile since it’s release. Any issues come up? I’m thinking about purchasing this although I have the Numark IDJ Pro. Any compassion/contrast you can offer me between this and IDJ Pro? Can you hook up a usb mixer to this unit? Thanks in advance!

  16. I got my BeatPad last week after using a Behringer BCD3000 before that – I love the BeatPad, and it allows me to use Traktor Pro 2.6 with my laptop (although admittedly the mapping needs a bit of work – but the essentials work well). The DJay2 app for the iPad is a tight fit, so now I can go to gigs and run with a fully digital setup (laptop with iPad and iPod for backup).

  17. Since this article was written it’s worth noting that DJay 2.5 incorporates Spotify integration. I think that makes the Reloop Beatpad even more of an impressive unit – this is something you can DJ on with your regular library, but hook it up to wifi (yes, it can cope with Offline playlists too) and you’ve got tight hardware control through a proper DJ controller for everything on Spotify.
    My regular controller was messing me around last party I played, and I used my iPad as backup (always be prepared!) using DJay 2.5 in anger for the first time. Having the Spotify integration was really, really fun – I realised that there’s loads of music I don’t own that I would like to play at a certain time. But I really missed the hardware controller, it’s too fiddly just DJing on the screen I find. This Reloop Beatpad could be absolutely perfect for this… I’ll pop it on the wish list :)

  18. erikvanderneut says:

    Hi,

    I would love to buy one of these units (been waiting for it), but a must-have for me is split cue functionality over the headphones. Does anyone know whether this unit has that built in?

    Thanks so much,
    Erik

  19. [email protected] says:

    Hi Phil and Erik,

    In looking at the pictures of the Beatpad it appears to have both a headphone volume knob and a Cue Mix knob.

  20. Where can I find a longer 30 pin cable? The cable that comes with the reloop beatpad is extremely short.

  21. How does the iPad Air fit physically into the mount? Any experiences?

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