As we are all very aware, the DJ marketplace has been changing over the last few years. Some legendary brands are slowly fading away, or just rehashing old product over and over, while newer brands are starting to take the spotlight. These days, more than ever, software integration is the most hyped piece of the DJ product bubble. Reloop has spent the last year shaking up the DJ market with their products, and with the release of the Beatmix line they are hoping to solidify their name in the controller market.
Reloop was kind enough to provide DJWORX with a Beatmix 4 to review. To go over the quick stats that everyone is always interested in, it includes a 16-bit 48 kHz audio interface with a RCA stereo out on the back. The front panel has a mic in and gain as well as a 1/4” and 1/8” headphone out. It hasn’t be released in the states yet, but at last check it should be available in August. While the Beatmix 4 is designed and tailor-made for Serato Intro, it will include a full license of Serato DJ for a limited time (but we aren’t sure how long that is quite yet). When that deal runs out it will still include a 4 deck version of Serato Intro and retails for €299 and $399.
There is very little in the box, thankfully. Reloop didn’t waste any space with marketing material or manuals, including just a quick and easy guide for the basic controls in 4 languages (English, German, French and Spanish), a USB cable and a Serato DJ license. The guide is a good walkthrough for anyone who has never used Serato before, but it does cover the features integrated specifically for the Beatmix 4.
The Beatmix 4 has a very obvious lifestyle design, geared toward bedroom DJs, but is built so well it can easily be at home in any mobile or club DJs rig. The body is all reinforced plastic, but it doesn’t suffer for it. It is sturdy and has weight to it, resembling the higher end controllers on the market as opposed to something made of cheap plastic. Design wise, it reminds me of entry level controllers like the Pioneer Ergo with its curved edges as opposed to the sharp corners we are all used to on more expensive gear. Each side of the deck has large shiny silver capacitive jog wheels with a rubber border, 8 multi-color performance pads (not velocity sensitive) and the standard Reloop transport section (Sync, Cue Play, Cue and Play). I just want to state my sadness at the CUP button not being a little mug icon like on the Terminal Mix series. I just always loved that.
All of the buttons have their function printed directly on, with the shift function on the silk screen. Almost every button and command has a shift function, and it is kind of frustrating trying to parse what the performance pads functions are. The LEDs, though, are beautifully bright. They are easily visible in a fully lit room, and experience almost no bleed from their neighbors giving a really pretty display. The buttons and pads are extremely responsive. No matter how far into the corners you go the button responds quickly and accurately with a noticeable click assuring you it’s been triggered.
The performance pads resemble the pads on the Gemini G4V controller, which I was a huge fan of. There’s no click, and they respond evenly across the entire pad. I do wish the LEDs were a little brighter to match the hard plastic buttons, but since that’s the biggest complaint I can come up with it is a pretty big vote of confidence.
The line faders feel… okay. They have the same action of almost every single budget DJ controller, and I’d be concerned about their lifespan over the years. The crossfader, though, has a much smoother response and feels like it could take the beating it will most likely receive. On its sharpest setting in Serato DJ I found around 3 millimeters of cut in delay on each side, which is completely acceptable at this price. The line faders, at their sharpest setting, had a little bit more delay but I can’t see that being something anyone is going to get really hung up on in use.
What I’m missing more than anything is any kind of VU meter. While Serato has on-screen VU meters for each deck and a master output I am a huge proponent of all controllers having them.
The pitch fader has around 6mm of dead space on either end, unfortunately. While at an 8% range it gives you just about everything you need, but if you prefer a larger range you can run into some difficulties. Granted, you can always use sync, but just saying that risks a flame war in the comments about the END OF DJING OMGZ0RZ!
The jog wheels are large and accurate, but the covering material attracts finger prints with love and affection. After just a few minutes of use the otherwise shiny wheels became cloudy. This is more of an aesthetic issue, though, because the jog wheels respond very well. The 15 segment LED that spins around the wheel is very accurate, and works as a great marker for position. As I’ve said before, I’m not a scratch guru by any stretch of the imagination, but the LED made finding sample positions a whole lot easier.
I want to be completely clear here: the Beatmix 4 is a really good controller for the price. It is $50 more expensive than the Numark Mixtrack Quad, but I am a much bigger fan of the Beatmix’s design compared to the Mixtrack. It is the same price as the Gemini G4V which only includes VDJ LE, $300 cheaper than Reloop’s Terminal Mix 8 and the Denon MC6000MK2 while still including Serato DJ, for now at least. Most of my complaints with the Beatmix 4, unfortunately, have to do with its integration in Serato DJ more than with the hardware itself.
The Beatmix 4 is directly integrated and geared for Serato Intro. With Intro you get easy and convenient access to everything you need: 4 hotcues, 4 samples per side, and an Auto loop section. The effects are integrated exactly as you’d expect and everything works fine.
As far as I’m concerned, upgrading to Serato DJ should open up access to the tools included in the software. I get an upgrade from 4 hotcues to 8, more looping functions, the slicer mode, and a bigger sampler. The Beatmix 4 does not give me access to any of those things beyond the basic Intro functions. I can still use Pitch ‘n Time and the various effects expansions if I purchase them, but I can’t access all of my hotcues, any more than four samples, nor any of the manual looping functions from the controller. I can integrate a secondary controller, but that isn’t exactly the easiest thing to manage in Serato correctly, and I still wouldn’t have access to Slicer mode. There’s a part of me which would recommend sticking with Serato Intro while using the Beatmix 4, since the layout of both the controller and the software are just perfect.
Much like the higher end controllers, the Beatmix 4 offers a split mode with its pads. In Intro this works just fine, as split mode gives you hotcues and samples at the same time. If you hold shift you can delete hotcues or stop your sampler, which is a really functional method of giving you access to more tools at once. I would think that Looping would go with Sampling better, however, and allowing you to load those loops to your sampler would be a fantastic feature. That is more of a preference, though, it’s a preference that I should be able to select.
Once again, and I can’t stress this enough, almost all of my concerns are not with the actual controller Reloop produced. It’s a strange situation because its integration with Serato Intro is fantastic, but the integration with Serato DJ leaves a lot to be desired. It’s a solid piece of kit that feels like it can take a beating. The sound is loud and crisp, the controls all feel sturdy and reliable, and the only serious complaint I could come up with was the delay on the pitch faders. The LEDs are bright, the buttons are responsive, the pads feel like they will last a while, and all the knobs are consistent. If you get in on this now, with the inclusion of Serato DJ, you are getting a good controller with great software at a fantastic price.
In conclusion, if you want a simple and well-built 4 channel controller to use with Serato Intro and take advantage of its small but powerful feature set, then the Beatmix 4 is a fantastic option. Both the design and the price point are directed at beginners and bedroom DJs, and I think that Reloop has hit every single mark, making a great low price controller that sounds great and is sturdy enough to survive the rigors of the DJ world.