Between the two bundled pieces of software, Virtual DJ LE is much more feature-ful, despite having the LE designator. It offers four decks, more hot cues and samplers (eight of each,) a couple more effects, and it makes use of the cross-fader assign switches (which do nothing in DJ Intro since it only has two decks.) As a result of all of this functionality, the interface feels a bit crowded. Serato DJ Intro has a very elegant and simple interface, but it’s limited to two decks and four samplers. It is also geared specifically toward using a controller in that a number of on-screen items cannot be manipulated with the mouse.
On the plus side, its filter sounds correct for how the knobs are labeled (lpf/hpf) and scratching performance is better with it. So if you’re just getting your feet wet with DJing, I recommend starting with DJ Intro until you get the basics down, then moving to Virtual DJ LE to take full advantage of what the controller offers, provided you don’t do alot of fast scratching. A full list of differences between the two bundled applications is given in the manual which can be found on reloop.com.
That said, you might have some frustration switching between the two because the way they handle the loop controls is noticeably different. I blame this on the odd labeling of the loop buttons*: the left one reads as “Loop halve” when un-shifted and “Loop In” when shifted. The right appears to be “Loop double” un-shifted, and “Loop Out/Disable” when shifted. That seems backwards to me, since as labeled, the buttons will do nothing if a loop isn’t currently set, and good user interface design says to avoid no-op controls in the average/default case. So each provided application took some liberties and mapped the buttons as they saw fit. To make matters worse, Virtual DJ changes the function of the un-shifted buttons depending on whether you’re in a loop or not. Another UI design faux pas, though I can see that it was a compromise to try to match the labeling but avoid the no-op un-shifted button issue. So looping is not intuitive as things stand currently. It’s all spelled out in the button reference in the manual, but it’s still confusing. If Reloop simply moved the white shifted highlight to the top of the two loop buttons (and the software was changed to match,) everything would make sense. I’ve gone ahead and mapped it this way in Mixxx since it’s the most intuitive and familiar.
* Making a controller work with every piece of software be it past, present or future is a real problem in this day and age. Reloop have had to make compromises to get the buttons to make sense but we’re pretty confident that once you start using them with your preferred software, then the labelling won’t matter.
I achieved 4-5ms of latency on my Intel Core i5 M 520 (dual-core HT) 2.4GHz laptop running Windows 7 with the Terminal Mix 4 on a USB 2.0 bus and the provided ASIO driver. Scratching performance on the device is very good, as you might imagine from such large, high-resolution wheels. I found it to be significantly better in Mixxx and DJ Intro than Virtual DJ, as the latter seemed not to take advantage of the higher resolution, especially noticeable during uzis. And since the wheels are at most half as tall (8 mm) as those on many other controllers, there are no issues with accidentally hitting them when going for the nearby sampler buttons.
During my testing, I found that the unit has a built-in soft-takeover feature on the pitch sliders when you change the virtual deck that either side controls using the deck buttons at the bottom. When the Offset light is it, it means the unit will not send pitch events until the slider matches the previous position. It’s nice that they’ve handled this in hardware, but I also found that it can miss if you move the slider too quickly past the target value. Hopefully a future firmware version will tune this up, or at least allow it to be disabled so the software can handle it. (I’m quite familiar with soft-takeover algorithms. They’re a bit tricky to get totally right.)
If you don’t use the pitch fader or mixer controls and the software doesn’t send any LED updates since powering up the unit, it starts doing this Knight Rider-esque scanning light show, presumably to tell you “Hey, I’m still on!” What’s weird is that it doesn’t stop doing this unless you move a mixer control (or the software sends an LED message.) Moving an encoder or jog wheel or pressing buttons doesn’t help. It’s really annoying when you’re trying to use MIDI learn because pressing the shift button has no effect while it’s doing this, so when you think you’re pressing a shifted button, you’re actually mapping the un-shifted version, so you have to remember to move a mixer control every so often to prevent this.
One bad thing I found about the mic and line/phono inputs is that when they’re set to go to the master output, go straight they do: they can’t be previewed in the headphones unless routed to software and it provides the ability. (Neither of the provided applications does.) This is suitable for the intended emergency/panic use case, but it would be nice to be able to smoothly mix in an external source by being able to preview it beforehand without having to involve the software or unplug the headphones. (If you have a need to mix external sources with any regularity, you would be much better served by a combo mixer/controller like the American Audio VMS series.)
The adjustment knobs on the front (for mic, external input and headphone volumes and tone) all retract, preventing any hip-check mishaps.
Though you can adjust the LED brightness setting, the brightest one is still too dim for outdoor gigs like many of us have in the summertime. (Forget about direct sunlight.) It’s significantly worse if you’re off-axis (not standing directly above the unit.) The only buttons that are adequately bright are the white scissors and the red Deck 3 & 4 ones. Plugging in a suitable power supply had no effect on the brightness either. Hopefully Reloop will improve this in a future iteration of the controller.
The quick-reference poster mentions a “Cut’n’Loop performance mode” when the scissor button is activated that I was looking forward to trying out, but it seems it isn’t implemented in either of the provided software packages, nor is it described in the manual. That button just accesses four additional banks of hot cues and samplers in Virtual DJ and does nothing in DJ Intro. I wish I had more information on how that mode was envisioned to operate so I could implement it in Mixxx. I’ll have to contact Reloop and ask.