Guest post by Paul Chambers
Are you a Traktor user looking for a compact, mid-priced controller to match it with? The Reloop Digital Jockey 2 is one of many such controllers from the likes of M-Audio, Numark, Hercules and Behringer – but how does it measure up? The version reviewed here is the Controller edition which omits the sound card. This is suitable for people who already have a DJ or similar sound card (I use the Novation NIO 2/4).
Reloop also offers the Interface Edition which includes a sound card, and a Master Edition which not only includes a sound card but can operate as a standalone mixer. Also, only the Interface and Master editions have touch sensitive platters.
First impressions/setting up
The chassis is made from metal with plastic edges. It feels pretty solid, so as long as it ain’t being chucked around there should be no problems. The controller is a nice dark shade and doesn’t look as toy-like as some of the cheaper DJ controllers.
The knobs that control effects and looping are different to the EQ controls in that you have a click-through motion to them, so when you turn them they have a stepped action rather than turning smoothly. This I feel was implemented on purpose, as when you are using the effects from Traktor they offer better control – for example, the beat slicer works more precisely. I appreciate this when I use it in my Ableton Live sets. The pitch faders are not as long as say a 1210 turntable, probably about 2/3s the reach. The faders and especially the crossfader feel smooth, so no stiffness for scratch DJs.
The unit is adorned with buttons that control everything from looping to effects assignments and parameters. You also have 2 shift buttons which mean that you effectively get near enough double the functions from the same buttons. They included two shift buttons when I think one would have done, but I’m just being picky here!
The knobs and dials can be pressed as well for yet another function. For example, the kill switches are accessed by pushing the EQ knobs instead of a separate button, which is a nice feature.
The jogwheels feel nice but for me, they are too sensitive when it comes to scratching – although I’m not a scratch DJ so that may have a little part to do with it! This may be due to them not being touch sensitive, I’m not sure, maybe someone who has had hands-on use of the other controllers in the range can offer some insight into this.
Again as with the buttons, the jogwheels can be used for many other functions apart from cueing and scratching. For example, a search button turns the wheels into a type of scrub wheel, pitch bend does just that (there is also separate pitch bend button for each deck) and the effects utilise the jogwheels to control how “wet” (or “on”) the effects are.
Arcade buttons and Traktor dials
Underneath the jogwheels are the usual cue/cup/play functions. These are basically a bit like the arcade buttons that you find on the modded Vestax units as championed by DJ Tech Tools. Reloop may well have copied this feature after seeing the modified Vestax version, and they do feel good to use.
If you are using Traktor, at the top you have a larger dial which when pushed brings up the full Traktor browser. You can then use this dial to locate your tracks. Using the jogwheels for the same function, you’ll find that the left jogwheel moves through your folders & the right wheel moves through the tracks of the folder that you are in. The knobs do have a slight looseness to them compared to a standalone DJ mixer which may put some people off: In fact, this would be my main gripe with this unit.
For me, none of the controllers on the market are “there” quite yet when it comes to one main feature: the decks/jogwheels. If someone would implement a jogwheel more akin to the better Pioneer CDJs (for example) then I think controllers as a whole would be taken a lot more seriously.
But for the price, the Reloop range is good pieces of kit. Well made, not too large, and well worth considering if you want something more than a “toy” but don’t want to spend really big bucks.
This was a guest post by Paul Chambers, a DJ/producer from London who recently got back into DJing thanks to digital, having sold his old kit a while ago. He uses Traktor, Reason and Ableton Live, and his tastes range from acid/deep house/detroit techno right through to drum & bass. Check his music out at http://calitron.podomatic.com/.
Do you own one of the Reloop controllers? What do you think of it? What controller would you go for at this price point, and why? Let us know!