REVIEWED: Reloop Ready
In recent months, my thoughts have revolved around how I can make my life easier when I return to working weddings on weekends – not least because hitting the summer season head-on with a backlog of bookings will no doubt be a baptism of fire.
After more than a year of early nights and the DJ gear gathering dust, the idea of returning to normal life and lugging over-sized flight cases around in the midday sun, whilst turning myself into a dripping mess before even the ceremony has taken place, isn’t an appealing thought.
In the past I’ve used my main playout – an all-in-one MIDI controller and mixer – throughout the whole day, as well as for the evening reception. In the daytime I would use a reduced-size DJ booth or screen to keep the mess of cables and gear hidden away during the ceremony, drinks reception and wedding breakfast. I had full control, it sounded fantastic and it all worked the way I needed it to. But I couldn’t help thinking it was all a bit overkill for what was really just an hour or so at a time. So, I started to consider how I could make it simpler. What could I do to make my life easier without compromising on the performance during these key parts of the day?
A potential answer came in the form of the Reloop Ready, a portable controller that I was tasked with reviewing. They say good things come in small packages, and this unit did not disappoint.
My initial thoughts straight out of the box were that the supplied USB cable looked robust but I couldn’t find a power supply. Then the penny dropped: the controller gets its power from your laptop via the USB cable. I was already seeing the benefits and I hadn’t even finished unwrapping it. The first plus point - less cables. I was immediately in love!
This controller is compact. I questioned the size at first. But in my quest to streamline my daytime setup, perhaps something this size was the answer? Then the next penny drop moment. With length and width about the size of a sheet of A4, the unit sits nicely on the keyboard of my 15” MacBook Pro (and even sits flush on 13” keyboards). Another plus point. The footprint is practically non-existent since it now takes up no more room than my laptop would on its own. And so there wasn’t much benefit in me exploring anything smaller.
The Reloop Ready is also super lightweight. Compared to my main mixer in a big flight case, it’s practically a feather. I balanced the controller on one finger for my own amusement. Better yet, I was able to slip it into my laptop bag without any fuss, meaning I could easily include it in my setup without making any difference to packing or weight. So far so good. Time to take it for a spin!
As expected it all worked straight out of the box – even my six-year-old found it easy to use. In its simplest form, you have sound coming from the laptop’s speaker and a solitary USB cable connecting the controller and the laptop, nothing else is needed to start playing. The controller is ‘designed for Serato’ which I don’t currently use, but I did have a play with Serato DJ Lite, which is free to use with the controller.
After a little warm-up I was ready to give the controller a real run out, so switched over to my usual DJ software. I had to invest some time in the MIDI settings to map the controls. Although time consuming, it was a straightforward process to get up and running. This time I used the RCA master output to connect to my home hi-fi system. Apart from the mains power for my hi-fi system, everything was still running from my laptop battery. Happy days!
Though small, the Reloop Ready is packed with features, including two full FX units and loop encoders, 16 large RGB pads giving access to nine different pad modes (as well as well-proportioned and conveniently placed play, cue and sync buttons), a full mixing section with standard-sized channel and cross faders, and gain and filter.
As you can imagine, this lightweight unit is an all-plastic construction. Like other DJs, I must admit that I’ve had reservations in the past about cost-effective controllers being too plasticky. But I was pleasantly surprised by the feel of the Reloop Ready once I got into using it. The rubberised RGB pads are as responsive as any I’ve used before and the sliders and knobs all had nice levels of resistance, so it doesn’t feel like a toy.
In the context of how I see myself using this controller, the advantages of using such a lightweight and simple-to-use tool – over and above my more comprehensive system – are clear. I couldn’t see it affecting my performance whilst delivering short and specific sets for a ceremony or drinks reception.So, will I be adding the Reloop Ready to my wedding day kit list?
In terms of fulfilling my goal to make my DJ life easier, the Reloop Ready more than meets my requirements as a back-up system or for ceremonies and drinks receptions. Less cables would save time during initial setup and when transitioning between different parts of the day. In addition, I could do away with my booth in favour of a more subtle podium or lectern. Adding in a battery-powered PA system could also open up the possibilities of outdoor ceremonies and a new level of go-anywhere portability.
With the full-size faders and all the features packed into this tiny box, the Reloop Ready makes a fantastic back-up system to your normal controller – lightweight and portable, practical and simple to use. Just plug it into your laptop and play! And at this price point, the Reloop Ready is a viable option to add to my kit list.
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 108, Pages 78-79.