I recently got the chance to review the Reloop Contour, a modular controller that simply blew my mind (you can read the review here). I was therefore unspeakably excited to get my hands on the Reloop Jockey 3 Master Edition, an all-in-one controller/MIDI-mixer/sound card which is essentially two Contours added together and given a mixing section as well as a whole bunch of extra features. Needless to say, I think this may be one of the greatest controllers of all time.
Everything about the Jockey’s construction feels extremely solid. The hard metal casing does weigh a lot, but the heft is worth it for the sturdy, dependable feeling lacking in more flimsy plastic controllers. All of the knobs are rubberized and very grippy, which I found really helpful in making sure my hand never slipped off and ruined everything at a crucial moment. The faders feel really great, too, with a buttery-smooth crossfader and satisfyingly resistive tempo faders. While it doesn’t feel quite as indestructible as my trusty American Audio VMS4, it feels just about as nice as the Traktor Kontrol S4, which is really saying something.
The controller also has a great layout. Because of each deck’s similarity to the Contour controller, almost all of the benefits carry over – large, fumble-proof buttons, satisfying capacitive jog wheel, and controls that, as a huge FX junkie, made me really happy. Two things really stand out about the Jockey’s FX controls in particular. The first is that the Jockey includes a button which triggers all three effects at one time if you’re using group FX in Traktor. Secondly, to help avoid the creation of some really awkward effect combos, the Jockey provides the ability to switch between multiple FX presets designed to be used together. Normally I’d just be satisfied to see standard FX controls represented properly in a controller, but these two standout features are simply above and beyond the call of duty. Bravo, Reloop.
Because the Jockey provides two decks of control on the unit itself, the four-deck switching capability present in the Contour is missing from the Jockey, replaced instead by a switch on each side that allows a change from deck A to deck C or deck B to deck D. Another change from the Contour is the ability to adjust the resistance of the jog wheels via a rotating wheel on the side of the controller. This works great, but only for a narrow range of resistance. Too tight and the wheel sticks every now and then, and after loosening the wheel for just a small time it becomes almost impossible to notice a difference in wheel resistance.
The jog wheels are also easy to assign to one of four functions thanks to a cluster of well-placed buttons. The jog wheel can be put in vinyl mode, pitch bend mode, search mode, or track browsing mode, though surprisingly the jog wheel does nothing at all by default. I’m confused as to why one of these (say, pitch bend) wasn’t assigned as default, and the others made accessible by choice. Nevertheless I appreciated being able to switch between any of these four functions; many controllers only allow for just one or two out of the box.
In addition to being a great controller the Jockey also includes a USB ASIO audio interface with both RCA and 1/4” master outputs and RCA monitor outputs with gain control for each. The front of the unit also provides a microphone input and two headphone cue outputs, one 1/4” and one 1/8”. One thing the Jockey does not have is internal mixing hardware: all mixing is left to MIDI control of software faders and EQ. As such, only master and cue channels are available for routing audio within your software. As someone who prefers hardware mixing, this was a sad but understandable omission. Most people won’t really mind this at all; in fact, MIDI-mixing is fairly standard among most of today’s controllers.
Just like its little brother the Contour, Reloop’s Jockey 3 ME was a dream to operate the entire time I got to play with it. If it seems like I’ve just pointed out a bunch of flaws, that’s only because I had to look really, really hard to find them in such an amazing controller. Everything I loved about the Contour has been adapted and improved in the Jockey, and the added benefit of having a mixing section makes this all you need to tear it up as a controllerist DJ. The superb FX controls, the giant and well-lit buttons, the attractive styling, the rugged build, and the tight integration with Traktor software make the Reloop Jockey 3 one of the very best controllers available on the market today.