Being 100% targeted at Traktor, it makes sense for the 4MidiLoop to closely follow the on-screen layout of Traktor – well as close as is practical anyway without compromising usage. Practicality is enhanced by the shiny red shift button, that gives access to lesser used features on the same buttons.
I’m not going to get into the nuts and bolts of every single feature and button – you can get all that kind of info in the manual. This is after all a review of the controller and not the finer points of Traktor.
Starting at the top are the 4 effects controller sections. This gives you full control over all parameters, on/off/, wet/dry as well as direct access to your favourite effects presets too. This also works with Traktor’s chained (3 different effects per channel, less control) and advanced (4 global effects with more control over parameters) modes. The one thing that the 4MidiLoop can’t handle is send effects – everything is an insert, so no post fader delays with this. Unless I’m missing something fundamental.
Sandwiched between the effects sections are master and browser. Master mimics Traktor’s on-screen global layout middle section layout, giving access to snap, quantise, CD mode, LFO reset, cruise and tap. This is where you control master and cue volumes.
The browser section achieves quite a bit from 4 buttons and a rotary. Shift does come into play a little for the fullest experience, but you get to navigate tracks, tree, favourites as well as loading into the preview player. The actual loading of tracks is done further down in the crossfader section. Makes sense rather than having some focus based effort of 4 extra buttons.
A quick note about System Mode – while the 4MidiLoop handles Traktor features easily, System Mode handles a few things at a hardware level. Pressing Load and Prev will allow you to change MIDI channels, line fader and crossfader curves as well as LED brightness. It’s nice that these little things can be adjusted.
Back to business – the EQ section. For those that don’t know, Traktor offers not just 3 band but also xone 4 band EQ. So if 3 band is enough for you, there’s a spare knob for you to map. But you also get the key lock and filter controls, as well as FX selector buttons. Add to this a gain control and a quite small LED meter and you have a complete mixer section.
Below this is a crossfader section. It’s small but quite important as it defines the crossfader assign (either A, b or not at all), loads tracks and also switches the channel to cue. As mentioned previously, the left and right buttons are essentially fader reverses too – just the crossfader though. Perhaps System Mode could also do line fader reverses too at some point.
Next up – 2 big knobs (oooeeerr) that aim to emulate controls that are quite different to standard convention. The seek knob does just that – scrolls through the currently loaded track. Fairly normal practice really, but when you press it, it technically becomes the smallest jog wheel in the world. You’ll appreciate that it’s not exactly accurate or capable of anything more than baby scratches with heaps of practice, but for people using the 4MidiLoop without decks, it does at least mean a modicum of cueing is available.
The pitch control works just like a pitch fader – turning adjusts plus or minus to the Traktor preset, and pressing and turning adjusts in smaller amounts. This however conflicts with the latest v2 TSI that zeros the pitch when you press the button. Having no zero point on the pitch control makes the zero press mandatory, so I hope this can be addressed in the next TSI file. Or you could add pitch bend to a shift control. Speaking of which, shift and pitch gives you a master pan control.
Now we get to the real nuts and bolts of creative usage. Auto looping is activated with the blue button and defaults to whatever Traktor is set to. You also get the usual expanding and crunching controls and can also move the loop around too. Shift gives access to manual looping as well as being able to shift the loop in much smaller amounts.
Hot cues are where the real fun is at in Traktor. The 4MidiLoop gives you access to all 8 cue points as well as the means to define the cue point type (yes Traktor has types of cue points) and delete them, and to switch between different modes as well. And importantly, all this happens with no apparent latency too. You press a cue button and it triggers immediately. Just like it should do.
Finally, it’s the transport controls – you know, play and all that. Play, cue and a stutter mode called cup are catered for, as well as being able to load the playing track into any of the other decks perfectly in sync. Speaking of which, you engage sync here and also have a sync meter to give you a visual reference for beatmatching – if you need such a thing that is. Software will never replace my ears thank you very much, although it gets me there quicker.
So without analysing the hell out of each and every function and shift button combo, the supplied TSI file works extremely well with the 4MidiLoop. It’s not perfect yet, and I’m sure many different TSI files for different purposes will appear in time. But the great thing is that is can be changed to suit your needs, unlike a regular analogue mixer.