The Reloop Terminal Mix 2: Close to the perfect Serato two-deck controller, but factor in the cost of the Serato DJ software upgrade. For a beginner who wants something that they can get going with quickly and that will last, this is a good choice. For the experienced DJ who focuses more on tune selection and basic mixing rather than controllerism tricks and four-deck wizardry, again this would be a smart controller to go for. While I’d put money on an upgrade option appearing soon enough, it hasn’t happened yet, and nobody knows what it’ll cost.
First Impressions / Setting up
It’s a quite large, metal, pro-built device. It is similar in build quality to the recently reviewed Stanton DJC.4 Virtual DJ controller, but everything about this is one step bigger – the faders have more travel, the knobs are larger. The jogs in particular are streets ahead, being big, smooth (although my review sample did have a bit of mechanical noise when you span one of them), and overall some of the best in the business.
Despite some early issues with the buttons on its Digital Jockey 2 series, in general Reloop’s controllers are well made, and this one is no exception – from the pleasing, round rubberised transport controls to the loose crossfader to the faceplate-bolted knobs, it feels built to last.
Unlike some other two-channel controllers such as the Traktor Kontrol S2 or the Vestax VCI-380, the Reloop Terminal Mix 2 does not innovate by adding prominent performance buttons or rearranging a typical controller layout to suggest new ways of working with it; it is laid out exactly as you’d expect a DJ controller to be laid out. That means big jogs front left and right, FX top left and top right, and controls for cues, loops and samples somewhere between the two, finished off with the mixer, library and monitoring controls right up the middle. For straight DJing, this kind of layout makes good sense (most controllers are this way for a reason), but it does mean the Terminal Mix 2 has an almost over-familiar feel to it.
That’s not to say it isn’t modern: the spec is good, with hi-res jogs and pitch faders (meaning finer control); filter knobs separate from the effects right where you need them most (under the EQs); separate booth and master (RCA unbalanced and TRS balanced) outputs; and a tone control on the headphones, to name just some of the things that stand it apart from entry-level controllers.
Front and back
The front panel has a mic input with level and tone, a level control for the one external input (it can be a line or a phono, but is routed straight to the output, ie not through the mixer section), a crossfader curve, and 1/8″ and 1/4″ headphones sockets.
Apart from the features we’ve already mentioned, round the back you get a big on/off button and a little button to affect the way the shift key works, making it toggle or momentary. There’s also a DC-in socket (no adaptor in the box, though; it’s not necessary as the unit should run fine off USB power, although that does mean you can’t rely on the external input as an emergency through, as if your laptop crashes and needs rebooting, the unit goes off).
The mixer section has a gain for each channel plus three-band EQ and filter, and down the middle of the two channels are controls for master, booth, headphones volume and headphones mix, plus an overall sampler volume control knob. A really nice weighted metal encoder takes care of library browsing, with lots of buttons for browse and view functions, plus the usual headphones cue select and load left/right buttons.
The channel faders are, as is convention, stiffer than the crossfader, which is nice and loose, the former having a bit of a scratchy feel, as do the long-throw pitch controls far left and right of the unit. Overall they’re all good.
Above the aforementioned super-large jogs are two sets of small, hard backlit buttons, one for sample triggering and one for hot cues. Above that are two knobs and two buttons for looping, and above that four knobs to control three effects and a beat sync tie-in, whereby the effects can be timed to oscillate to a fraction or multiple of the current BPM. A few other buttons to control pitch range, keylock, jog behaviour (scratch/nudge), Midi layer (ie shift) and deck layer (for four-deck software) complete the spec.
Although it also has Virtual DJ LE in the box and can be mapped for Traktor (mappings on the Reloop site), this is sold as a Serato controller, and we’ll review it as such; if you want some insight as to how to works with other software, go and read our Terminal Mix 4 review, where we covered these areas for that controller; most of what we wrote stands for this one too.
Overall, with Serato DJ Intro it works well, and that’s due in no small part to the software itself. If you want a DJ controller to get in front of other people and just start playing music with no fuss, the combination of Serato DJ Intro (simple, easy to use, plug and play software) and the Reloop Terminal Mix 2 (reliable, well made, high performance controller) will give you what you need.
The software is a stripped-down version of Serato’s more powerful ITCH, but there’s not too much that’s vital missing. For the beginner it’s fine, and even for the experienced DJ, it does the job. You lose some bells and whistles, and some finer adjustments, and the big omission is that you can’t record, but as I say, it does the job.
Some weaknesses of the software? Looping is too limited (you are limited to loops of between 1 beat and 8 beats, when you really need at least 1/4 beat to 32 beats); the sampler has few options; and when you stop a track it slows down, vinyl-like, which sounds good but may not be what you want yet you can’t adjust this.
In use, the EQs and filters are excellent, the jogs highly responsive and extremely tight, the transport controls assured, and the effects, while limited, sound great.
The crossfader curve means you can adjust the crossfader to your style of play, booth outputs give you the option of adding a monitor speaker, and both balanced and unbalanced master outs mean you can plug into mixers, PA systems – whatever you find at your gigs.
Four hot cues per side is fine, there’s an onboard sampler to trigger four samples per side (Traktor sample decks it ain’t, as they’re strictly one-play slots, but for DJ drops and even backup tracks, it works).
The VU meters only monitor master output, which is a shame it is best to be able to set the channel gains using the VUs, and while Serato has a limiter to show you if you’ve pushed it too far, this is not the best level of control. This will worry some DJs more than others, but I’m in the former group.
I’m happy to report that, as with the Terminal Mix 4, the sound quality is excellent. Clear, loud, good bass, and comparable with any other controller in or around the unit’s price bracket.
The hardware and software together
There are some weaknesses the way the unit interacts with the Serato DJ Intro software. Specifically, there is stuff on the controller that is mentioned in the instructions, and labelled on the surface, but that just doesn’t work.
For instance, buttons in the looping and cueing sections don’t do what they should, and there is talk of fader start, jogwheel browsing, “slicing” and effects selection in the manual, none of which currently works. There are others.
To cut a (very) long story short, a worst-kept-secret is that an option to upgrade to a better version of the software is imminent, but delayed, which is why there are these inconsistencies. For now they won’t stop you DJing, but they will have you puzzled and cause you to learn by trial and error, as the manual will tell you one thing whereas using the unit will show you another.
For a beginner who wants something that they can get going with quickly and that will last, this is a good choice. For the experienced DJ who focuses more on tune selection and basic mixing rather than controllerism tricks and four-deck wizardry, again this would be a smart controller to go for.
Of course, you’re buying a controller for software, so you need to be happy going down the Serato route, or alternatively committing to using Virtual DJ (there’s an upgrade cost from LE, but at least you get the option) or buying Traktor and setting it all up yourself.
If you stick with Serato, which is the obvious choice (after all, the controller has “Serato” written all over it), you’re taking a leap of faith; while the limitations of Serato DJ Intro are less blatant here than with the Terminal Mix 4, you still have features here you can’t yet use. While I’d put money on an upgrade option appearing soon enough, it hasn’t happened yet, and nobody knows what it’ll cost…
But even as it stands, the Terminal Mix 2 does a lot of things right. Worried about getting set up? Don’t be – honestly there is no easier DJ software that Serato to get going with a new controller. Want clear, easy to understand workflow? Again, it’s clean, simple and you’ll pick everything up fast. Concerned about having a plastic box that doesn’t have a decent level of control, and looks cheap and toy-like? Don’t be – the Reloop has pro-level controls, and looks the part.
Looking back just a couple of years, it’s amazing how controllers have come on. For a reasonable amount of money, here you get a huge level of control over your music. Despite the software issues at present, it’s a good controller, and hopefully soon will be even better.