The Reloop Touch is a four-channel DJ controller for Virtual DJ 8 that comes with a large 7″ touchscreen onboard, two jogwheels, and four FX faders per deck. It’s fun to use and the touchscreen does come in handy when you’re beatmatching tracks and don’t want to stare at your laptop, but the interface can get a bit confusing if you plan on using the screen for more advanced features because you have to go through menus and windows. The plasticky build isn’t anything to write home about – the upside to this is that despite its size, it’s surprisingly light. Overall, a decent (if pricey) controller for Virtual DJ fans.
First Impressions / Setting up
The Reloop Touch is the first touchscreen-enabled DJ controller tailor-made for Virtual DJ 8. Controllers designed specifically for Virtual DJ are rare simply because Virtual DJ works with just about any DJ controller ever made. Though touchscreen controllers aren’t new (Numark started the trend with its Numark NV a few years back) it’s the first Virtual DJ 8 controller with an onboard screen capable of displaying up to four decks at the same time.
The Reloop Touch has a four-channel mixer with an EQ, trim and filter section per channel. It’s got two jogwheels that buck the trend of “bigger is better” and are closer in size to what you’d find on a Traktor Kontrol S4. Each deck has eight performance pads, transport controls, and a unique FX section that uses faders and buttons instead of the usual knobs.
The most notable feature is the 7″ high-resolution touchscreen that can display up to four virtual decks running in Virtual DJ 8. That means you can see what you’re playing without having to look at your laptop. The touchscreen can display video for when you’re mixing visuals or video clips. It can also be used for controlling effects, browsing through your library, and even managing playlists via drag and drop gestures. While it’s meant to work plug and play with Virtual DJ 8, it’s also compatible with other DJ software via Midi.
Setting up the Reloop Touch takes a bit longer than what you’d normally expect: You need to install a driver for the touchscreen display (even though I’m on a Mac), a program for the touchscreen gestures, plus you have to install a special version of Virtual DJ 8 that’s customised for the Reloop Touch (or download the special Virtual DJ 8 skin made for it). Skipping any one of these steps means the controller won’t work properly.
After getting everything installed and hooked up, I started testing the unit.
Screens on controllers are a “nice to have”, but they’re hardly essential – after all, your laptop already has one – but I’m always surprised by just how much having an onboard screen reduces laptop screen-gazing. Plus, the better the implementation, the more time gets cut from staring at your computer. I experienced this using the Numark NV and, more recently, the Denon DJ MCX-8000. The screen on the Reloop Touch is decent – its resolution and refresh rate are high enough so it feels like you’re looking at a contemporary screen instead of “last-gen” tech (Pioneer DJ’s CDJ-2000NXS2 screen comes to mind).
That said, the graphic interface does look a bit cluttered, especially when you use the touch capabilities to go through pages and menus of functions. You can access Virtual DJ 8’s Browser using the touchscreen, and you can scroll through your library and playlists. You can even search for tunes using the onscreen Qwerty keyboard though it feels clunky and slow, which is a shame because having a touch keyboard means less time spent hunched over your laptop looking for a track. This is easily remedied by a firmware update that would include usability tweaks.
The touchscreen excels at displaying the decks in Virtual DJ 8, and you can easily switch between two-deck and four-deck mode. Video mixing also looks decent on the screen, though unremarkable.
The RGB-backlit pads on the Reloop Touch can be used for seven different modes: Hot Cues, Slicer, Sampler, Cue Loop, Saved Loop, Beat Jump, and Key Cue. You can combine any two of these modes using the Split Mode feature, which divides the top and bottom rows for two separate modes. The pads themselves are nothing out of the ordinary and work as you expect them to.
Fader FX Unit
Apart from the screen, the Reloop Touch’s FX section is what makes it stand out from all the other controllers in the market: both decks have four faders that are used for controller FX parameters within Virtual DJ 8. Each fader has a button below it that allow you to further manipulate effect parameters, as well as scroll through the different Virtual DJ 8 effects. The FX faders themselves feel light and plasticky, not exactly the type that you feel you’d be able to use and abuse repeatedly while gigging.
You can also use the touchscreen to control Virtual DJ 8’s effects using an XY-axis touchpad, which is a useful addition for more performance-oriented DJs.
The jogs on the Reloop Touch are small by modern DJ controller standards: Pioneer DJ seems to be pumping out gear with jogwheels that are increasingly close to CDJ-style jogs (the DDJ-1000 is an example of that), and even Reloop itself has put out controllers with larger jogwheels. The decision to keep the jogwheels smaller on the Reloop Touch is a curious one, though It just seems to be nothing more than a design consideration because of the real estate occupied by the touchscreen and FX section. That’s the tradeoff of having those FX faders – knobs occupy much less space on a faceplate compared to short-throw faders.
The Reloop Touch has got just enough recent innovation to keep it competitive with other mid-tier gear on the market. The touchscreen is good, if not better than what you’d find on other DJ controllers, but it’s hardly an essential feature for most DJs. The performance pads can combine two distinct modes (not everyone needs eight hot cues all the time) which is cool, but again non-essential. The jogwheels feel like a throwback instead of a move forward in step with all the other contemporary features. The “plastic” build feeling is consistent throughout the Reloop Touch’s build – folk looking for a premium controller might be turned off by it.
All these reasons, plus the mediocre build quality keep the Reloop Touch from being a stellar standout. That said, it’s not all doom and gloom: It’s a fun controller to use, especially once you’ve found your way around the touchscreen’s menus and have got to grips with the advanced controls on the unit. A majority of users will be using the screen mostly for looking at their decks, beatmatching, and searching for tunes, and it’s good for those uses. VJs will also appreciate having the ability to view footage and control FX via the screen and FX section.
If you’re a Virtual DJ 8 user and you must have a controller with an onboard screen, the Reloop Touch should be on your shortlist. Otherwise, there are other controllers in the same price range that you could look at such as the Numark NS6II or the Denon DJ MC6000MK2.