While Serato, Traktor and rekordbox dj are arguably the ‘big three’ when it comes to DJ software at the top of the market, VirtualDJ – with over 150 million downloads worldwide – remains the most popular across the board. It is also still favoured by many gigging mobile DJs, which explains why Reloop have partnered with VirtualDJ to create their new TOUCH, a professional DJ controller that works ‘plug-and-play’ with VirtualDJ and boasts an impressive in-built 7” touchscreen.
Don’t Be Afraid To TOUCH...
This vibrant full-colour screen is undoubtedly the standout feature of the TOUCH. In fact it is arguably the most aesthetically pleasing and informative screen I have ever had the pleasure of using on any DJ controller. Being able to display all four decks at once – including track information, time remaining and waveform display – is especially useful.
This might sound trivial, but the slight tilt of the screen makes a huge difference when performing on the unit. The angle has clearly been carefully considered and makes actual touches to the screen feel assertive and precise. It also means that accidental interaction with clumsy fingers and suit cuffs shouldn’t pose a problem.
The touchscreen is the heart and brains of the Reloop TOUCH. It makes navigation through your music library on VirtualDJ blissfully easy and it’s clear that the VirtualDJ team have been heavily involved in the controller’s development. The workflow is quick, accurate and faultlessly integrated with the software. Although, if I’m honest, the information available via the screen is almost overwhelming at times! I occasionally found myself distracted by reminiscing over the year of release for certain tracks rather than concentrating on my DJ set!
The ‘drag-and-drop’ functionality from library to deck is a strong feature of the TOUCH. However, I should point out that you need to be a little more accurate with this and make sure you keep the pressure on, especially if the screen becomes greasy or dirty.
A feature of VirtualDJ that I particularly love is the ability to adjust the Beat Grid on your tracks live, even whilst they are playing. For the more lazy amongst us, this brilliant tool means that – with a little bit of emergency fiddling – our ‘synced’ mixes will always sound beautifully beat-matched despite the incorrect grid initially calculated and saved on the track prior to our live performance. This grid editing process is made much easier thanks to the large touchscreen.
Moving back to the subject of the screen, it can also be used for XY manipulation of effect parameters. This allows you to create a world of sonic mess, but can also be used to generate useful structured effect patterns to enhance your sets without compromising on sound quality or sounding ‘toy-like’. I must admit, this was something I really wasn’t expecting to be possible from either VirtualDJ or the Reloop TOUCH controller. Dare I say… I had a lot of fun with it!
Finally, the screen can also be used for video DJing – if this is something you currently include as part of your performances (or are thinking of possibly adding). In video mode, the touchscreen provides three vibrant, high-quality video previews (e.g. Deck 1, Deck 2 and Master), while dedicated faders in the unit’s Effects sections are provided for Video Transition and Video FX control. I really wasn’t expecting anywhere near as much visual feedback from the TOUCH as I was furnished with, and found it very easy to use the setup to create visually mesmerizing video mixes. It reminded me a little bit of the old Pioneer SVM video mixer that used to cost the earth a few years back!
A TOUCH Of Class?
As I’ve hopefully made abundantly clear, the TOUCH’s signature feature is a major success. But now let’s take a look beyond the obvious selling point at what else this 4-channel controller has to offer.
It’s always nice when reviewing any new product to find everything in the right places where you’d expect them to be, which was exactly my experience of trying out the TOUCH. At the centre of the controller you’ll find Master level and Cue Volume / Cue Mix knobs, while push buttons for cuing and track loading (as an alternative to the drag and drop method mentioned earlier) are provided for each channel.
As you would expect, each channel is provided with a dedicated Gain control and 3-band EQ. However, the Bass knob also doubles up as a Filter control. This means that if you configure the software to use the Filter function, your EQ is reduced to 2-band. Obviously, I’d have preferred to see separate Filter knobs – but I guess for a controller of this size / price, compromise is required somewhere. It’s by no means a deal breaker, but it is something to take into consideration.
The channel faders and crossfader have a good smooth feel and you can also adjust the curve settings within the VirtualDJ software. Large Pitch sliders are located next to nice-sized jog wheels, although these are slightly loose for my liking. The overall aesthetics of the unit are also good, with the impressive screen complemented by a plethora of multi-coloured backlit buttons.
The TOUCH features eight RGB-backlit pressure-activated Performance Pads to fire off samples and these work brilliantly, just as good as any of the high-end DJ controllers on the market. Better still, they can also be used to manipulate loop sizes and mess with the old favourite ‘beat grid’ effects which I adore dearly. You can, of course, use the pads simply for ‘Hot Cues’ as well as for more advanced Roll, Slicer and Key Cue functions. What’s more, using Split Mode, it’s even possible to combine two different pad modes on one button if you want to get really creative!
As you would hope from a controller at this price level, the TOUCH is robustly built and offers excellent reliability. It features a sturdy ultra-low latency, high-retention USB port which prevents the cable being pulled out accidentally and means no detectable latency between what you do on the controller and what you hear coming out of your speakers.
No, Please Don’t TOUCH!
I have to admit, I was impressed by the TOUCH and think for VirtualDJ users it ticks a lot of boxes. However, after spending some serious time trying it out, I did come up with a couple of grumbles.
First of all, despite its impressive touchscreen interface that effectively replaces your laptop screen, the TOUCH can’t operate as a standalone player. Now perhaps that would be asking too much of a £600 unit, but I think – based on other products on the market which feature large displays – you would be forgiven for hoping for such functionality.
More importantly, the lack of XLR outputs is upsetting. I know we can all use adaptors, and balanced ¼” jack as well as RCA Phono outputs are provided, but there’s really no getting away from the fact that locking XLR sockets are the professional standard.
This one is slightly more subjective, but I also didn’t like the location of the Effects faders. They are positioned directly between the jog wheels and performance pads, which is an extremely high use area. I can imagine accidentally catching the faders from time to time, mid-set, which would be annoying. I guess I may be a little bit biased here, as the effect sections on the controllers I’m used to using are up at the top, so it may just be that I’m used to it being that way round. Nevertheless, I thought it worth a mention as I wouldn’t want to be accused of not being thorough!
My final gripe is the lack of any line inputs, which means you can’t connect CDJs or even an iPod for background music! The TOUCH does have a single ¼ jack Mic input, with dedicated volume control, but other than that this is a Virtual DJ controller pure and simple.
That said, the unit is MIDI mappable, so if you did really want to use it with another piece of DJ software you could. But, since it is provided bundled with a full version of VirtualDJ 8 PRO which integrates with the controller so seamlessly, in my opinion, you would be stupid to do so.
Get In TOUCH
The Reloop TOUCH is by far the best VirtualDJ controller I have ever used. Its large touchscreen makes track navigation a pleasure, while it also helps with many other aspects of DJing by providing detailed information and also allowing hands-on interaction for things like effect manipulation. A clever, interesting and innovative product from an evolving brand, I’d certainly recommend this to any VirtualDJ user looking for a powerful and feature-packed 4-channel controller.
Pro Mobile equipment reviews are sponsored by insure4music.
The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 88, Pages 82-84.