Reloop's newest controller, the Terminal Mix 8, has been out for a little while now. But, while I was in Detroit for Movement this past May, I had the opportunity to play a small gig at the festival in an area they call the “Technology Room”. I played on a Terminal Mix 4 (this controller's little brother).
So impressed was I at the build quality and feel of the TM4, that I decided I needed to review their flagship all-in-one controller. So now, I present to you, my review of the Terminal Mix 8… which comes with a copy of the FULL version of Serato DJ (a huge plus at this price point… $699 USD.)
Let's have a look!
When taking the TM8 out of the box for the first time, the thing I noticed most was how heavy it was. I mean that in the best way possible: it just feels really solid. The controller is metal in all the places that matter, with some sections in plastic for weight savings.
The TM8 is a good move for Reloop, as they seem to be slowly wedging their way in to the top-end of the controller market. The DDJ-SZ by Pioneer was announced at the same time as this one, and while the TM8 is not nearly so feature-rich, you're also talking about a HUGE price difference of about 1300 bucks. This unit is more comparable to the DDJ-SX, and the Reloop still beats its street price by around $300 USD.
Inside the box are the standard power and USB cables, a very thorough quick-start guide, and a voucher for the full version of Serato DJ. So, you get full 4-deck control and all the features of Serato right out of the box.
All of the knobs are a bit oversized and ribbed, so you have a good feeling of control during mixing. The upfaders are fairly stiff and the crossfader is quite loose… exactly how I like my controllers and mixers to feel. All the RGB backlighting on the unit is nice and bright, and has a dimmer switch on the back if you feel they are excessively so.
The jog wheels are huge (the same ones used on the TM2 and 4), giving you plenty of control whether you're using them to scrub, nudge, or scratch. I'm also happy to report that the pitch faders are nice and long, which makes manual beatmatching a breeze. I hate small pitch faders, so this was a relief to see.
I actually really appreciate the front and back of the unit. Up front, you have a set of metal toggle switches for selecting crossfader assignment. They really could've gotten away with plastic sliders or even software assignment for this, but their inclusion gives the controller just a touch of a classic mixer feel… and adds to the feeling of rigidity.
Despite lacking XLR outputs, the 1/4″ jacks cover your balanced output needs. Separate booth outputs and RCA master outs are also included. There's also a handy emergency “thru” auxiliary input, which is great for situations where someone's computer crashes or some other disaster happens. With this input, you can simply plug in any RCA device (like a phone, MP3 player, CDJ, some other controller, etc.) and use the front volume knob to control it. There are even dual headphones outputs on the front of the unit (1/4″ and 1/8″). Reloop's attention to detail is to be commended.
Setup was easy and nearly non-existent. Install Serato DJ via the download voucher (if you don't already have it), plug in the controller, and everything pretty much just works right out of the box. Just make sure you plug in the power adapter, since USB power is not sufficient and will not work.
The Terminal Mix 8 feels as good as it looks. The large jogwheels will make CDJ users feel right at home. They are not adjustable for tension, but they felt just right to me. Their size makes them ideal for scratching, and there is plenty of room to do so… since the pitch faders are up top, they won't get in your way.
The crossfader curve is adjustable via a knob on the front of the unit, by the way… which is a nice detail that is sometimes skipped on controllers. Headphones output was super loud, and the tone is adjustable right on the front of the unit (as is the tone of the mic input).
The integration with Serato is super tight, and everything you need is pretty much at your fingertips. The performance pad sections are worth particular mention. You can select which “mode” to put them in: Slice, Sampler, Cue, Loop, or you can select a dual mode between sample, cue, and loop. Dual-mode allows you to separate the top 4 and bottom 4 buttons' functions (in case the DJ wants to, say, use both cues and samples).
The TM8 gives really nice access to the Slicer mode. When activated, Serato will break your track into beat “slices” and each pad will light up in succession to show you which slice it's currently on. You can then activate these slices in different order, depending on when you hit the pads. Serato remembers where the track left off (like Slip or Flux mode) and continues playing the track where it would have normally been… unless you hit the Slice button twice. This puts it in a looping slice mode, so that you can keep “remixing” the same 8 slices until you decide to jump out of the loop.
The pads themselves feel great. They don't “click” (which is a matter of preference… personally, I think they feel great) and they have appropriate velocity sensitivity. The pads' various “modes”, and ability to split into dual functionality, puts all the control you want right at your fingertips without any unnecessary layering.
One thing that I did find a bit odd was the fact that there are only two VU meters, and in order to change between monitoring your cued tracks and your master output, you have to flip a switch on the back of the unit. This is something you can get used to, but I felt it could have easily been improved by having a separate Master Out meter, or by switching to cue monitoring when one of the cue buttons were pressed.
Another thing worth mentioning is that the TM8 cannot be used as a standalone mixer (or for DVS). These days, controllers in this competition bracket (that is to say, with this level of quality) tend to include a set of inputs for CDJs or Turntables. However, that is probably what places such a high-quality controller in such an affordable price bracket. For this controller's target market, it shouldn't be an issue.
If you're a Serato DJ and you like to mix “in the box” (that is, without incorporating a lot of external audio sources), the TM8 is a fantastic option. The build quality is top-notch, everything is laid out as expected, and includes a few little tricks to give the digital DJ easy access to a plethora of options.
Considering the fact that it comes with the full version of Serato, and has most of the amenities of the industry's higher-end controllers, the Terminal Mix 8 is a solid choice for the digital DJ.