Could this be the ultimate Serato 3.0 controller?
Serato 3.0 is officially released, and if you still aren’t sold on the new Stems feature, its launch partner, the RANE FOUR, is the controller to convince you!
The new four-channel device, RANE’s second to market, features a crazy amount of powerhouse functions, including the ability to automatically split Stems over the channels or instantly create an acapella or instrumental of a track with a single button press!
These enhance the already awesome Stems feature and make Serato DJ an even more attractive platform for performance, routine, scratch and open-format DJs wanting to push their creative capabilities to the next level.
- STEMS SPLIT button – instantly divides a track into instrumental and acapella sections and automatically places each section onto its own channel. This is the stand-out feature giving groundbreaking creative possibilities for new DJ techniques and routines.
- 22 customisable hardware effects, of which 6 are accessible at a time by dedicated hardware buttons
- Full Stems control with its own Performance Pad Mode and stems effects.
- Accapella and Instrumental buttons instantly transform a track without splitting it across two channels
- Combination Performance Pad Modes allow two Pad Modes per deck to work at the same time, one mode occupying the top row of pads and the other the bottom.
- Mini OLED screens beneath the Performance Pad Mode buttons display crucial data about the mode or modes in play.
Serato’s original premium partner
RANE equipment is known for having premium build quality and rock-solid performance. In their many years of manufacturing, they’ve had relatively few product launches, yet the company enjoys a powerhouse reputation on the DJ scene.
The RANE FOUR makes no exception to their well-established tradition of releasing nothing but the finest equipment at the perfect time. It has been eagerly anticipated by enthusiasts, signposting the start of a new era in DJing.
Although Serato DJ 3.0 takes centre stage as the lead in this new chapter, RANE are quietly adding to the legacy here. This being the first professional four-channel controller to release with a battle-style influence signals an even bigger change to the industry!
Thanks to the Stems feature, routine and battle DJs may now be inclined to use four channels to mix with, changing the traditional two-channels-only formula that has been widely practised since the dawn of battle DJing!
Build, design and features
Whilst most of RANE’s recent lineup is made from premium metal, the RANE FOUR is entirely plastic but with a reassuringly sturdy build.
It applies the standard layout of two decks with a mixer in between that has become expected of recent Serato DJ Pro controllers. This emulates two standalone units and a battle-style mixer rather than employing the design typical of original Serato gear where one side of the controller mirrors the other.
The battle-style mixer is where things take an interesting turn with 4 channels to play with rather than the usual 2. Although this offers the potential to mix 4 decks at once, the additional channels are clearly intended for deeper control of the Stems feature.
The outstanding feature of Serato 3.0’s additions and upgrades is undoubtedly the ability to split a track into Stems. Automatically creating and splitting an instrumental and an acapella between two channels with one button push is currently a RANE FOUR exclusive!
By splitting a track and placing its instrumental onto one channel and its acapella onto another, it is now possible to apply effects very precisely to part of a track and leave the other part dry, or to scratch a vocal whilst the beat continues to play unaffected.
Stem Split is implemented by grouping the channels into 2 sets of 2:
- Channels 1 and 3 are grouped together, with the instrumental going onto channel 3, the furthest channel to the left, and the acapella onto channel 1, the channel directly next to it in the centre.
- Channels 2 and 4 are grouped together, with the instrumental being sent to channel 4, the furthest channel to the right, and the acapella to channel 2, the channel sitting next to it in the centre.
With this set-up, it is quite easy to be mixing just two tracks whilst using all four channels. The added level of control over the mix that this opens up is totally game-changing!
Performance Pads and Their Mini OLED Screens
Underneath each deck are 8 performance pads with 8 modes. Each Performance Pad Mode button now has a mini OLED screen beneath it, which displays data about the engaged mode. This can be anything from the title of a track in the Scratch Bank to a Loop Roll’s beat length. The addition of being able to view this information directly on the controller frees up important computer screen real estate, handy if 4 decks are in use as the computer screen can look busy.
The addition of Performance Pad Mode Combination means two performance pad modes can be engaged at the same time per deck. The top row of pads controls the first mode, and the bottom row controls the second.
Hot Cues and Stems are a particularly powerful combination! This enables the jumping around of a track whilst simultaneously being able to quickly take out, or add elements from the track back in!
Hardware Effects, Serato Software Effects and Channel Effects
The RANE FOUR includes 22 built-in hardware effects which have been engineered from the ground up to complement Serato 3.0’s software effects.
This addition is very welcome by the DJ community at large, who found that it was a crucial missing element from RANE’s first controller.
Each effect has full customisability, with 6 of them being easily accessed at a time on dedicated FX SELECT buttons which sit above the effect levers.
The factory default effects, which are printed above each button, can be replaced by holding down an effect button and scrolling the inbuilt list, which displays on the central MAIN FX screen.
This is an exciting addition to the controller elevating its appeal as many find Serato’s standard effects to be a little underwhelming.
The effects levers are typical of battle mixers as they are a quick and convenient way to apply effects to a track whilst in a routine or performing some technical tricks.
The levers lock an effect in play with a toggle up, or temporarily engage an effect with a toggle down. When toggled to the down position, the lever instantly springs back to the central off position once let go of, so effects can be cleanly stabbed in with minimal effort.
The levers are used to apply both the hardware and Serato software effects, which are switchable by tapping the HW/SW FX button sitting underneath the central MAIN FX screen.
The levers can affect up to two channels at a time each, with the left lever being able to affect channels 1 and 3 and the right lever channels 2 and 4.
The channels affected are selected with the FX ASSIGN buttons, which sit directly next to the levers. Its implementation is incredibly intuitive, so it is easy to get used to.
Effect parameters are displayed on a mini OLED screen that sits dead centre of the mixer section next to the dedicated effect buttons.
The screen is very clear and all of the information needed is displayed, taking away the need to look at a computer screen.
Each channel also has an additional 4 effects, which are high pass, low pass sweepable with a giant pot that sits underneath the EQ controls for each channel.
These are typically referred to as the FILTER pots but can also have NOISE, FLANGER, and FILTER ROLL assigned to them with the dedicated FX selection buttons, in line with club-standard gear.
The controller has line level and phono input connections, so can be used as a stand-alone mixer for turntables and multi-media players like CDJs. All of the built-in effects can be applied to plugged-in sources. Great for DJs who want to expand their set-up in the future.
The jog wheels are static but feel great for scratching. They feature a central display, a highlight addition found on competitor devices. This device is no different, the screens effortlessly handle waveform overviews, time elapsed or remaining, BPM and playhead markers with clarity.
With a nod to battle DJs, the rims of the jog wheels are designed like the platters of classic turntables, featuring strobe dots rather than finger grooves or dimples, as found on most other static platters. This is not quite as practical for nudging and pitch bending but is not a deal breaker as it doesn’t hinder performance.
There was some speculation that this unit would be motorised like the RANE ONE, but we can confidently say that it needn’t be. Its plastic construction and lack of heavy motors make it much lighter, so its portability gives it a more universal appeal.
The included crossfader is the battle-worthy, tension-adjustable MAG-FOUR, also found in the turntablists’ favourite, RANE ONE controller!
Contour controls are found on the front panel of the unit, cut-in time is set by software accessed within a menu displayed on the controller’s central MAIN FX OLED screen, and the tension adjustment is set by unscrewing the faceplate that houses the crossfader and upfaders.
Perfectly satisfactory to DJs who are constantly cutting and capable of creating a new standard for scratch and open-format DJing.
In line with other professional controllers, the RANE FOUR plugs into most sound systems with a solid I/O
- 2x Headphone TRS jacks, a 1/4″ and a 3.5 mm one. Featuring a split cue switch which allows DJs to monitor both the master feed and cue feeds in separate ears.
- 2x combination TRS/ XLR microphone jacks on the rear allow two microphone feeds at once. MIC 1 has two-band EQ, and dedicated echo control pots on the top plate of the unit/ MIC 2 has two-band EQ pots, but no echo, on the front plate of the unit.
- 2x line/ phono switchable RCA sockets allow external sources to plug into the 2 outside channels, 3 and 4. Plugging in some Denon DJ LC6000 controllers could be a cost-effective way to gain full tactile control over 4 jog wheels rather than toggling between 2!
- XLR Master out feed for professional hook up to PA system
- RCA Master out feed for domestic hook-up to a sound system, the master out feeds are both switchable between stereo and mono should there be issues with the stereo sound
- TRS Booth out feed for a professional monitoring system
- 2x USB-B sockets to plug laptops in means 2 DJs can perform simultaneously
- IEC connector for AC power, a convenient universally sourceable detachable cable for convenience
A celebration of Stems
The RANE FOUR is proving to be the perfect launch partner for Serato DJ 3.0 and absolutely nails the implementation of their outstanding new STEMS feature!
The feature is in its early days, yet RANE have demonstrated an amazingly original way to use it. DJs now have instant precision over sculpting their sound, with the ability to boost or quiet down the vocals or instrumentals of their tracks with the upfaders, EQs and effects, much like being in a recording studio!
The controller feels like a step into the future, ushering in the next generation of DJing. Four-channel mixing is set to become the norm for Stems, and the depth of control DJs have gained over their music will undoubtedly sprout some amazing new ways of working.
Many DJs, including seasoned professionals, may take some time getting used to playing on the RANE FOUR, but this is mainly down to the change in practice that Stems brings rather than the controller itself.
The reaction Stems has had has been monumental and it is set to absolutely dominate the DJ scene! With this new device, RANE have given the industry its first bespoke equipment to take full advantage of this feature.
Watch The Review
Do you want to learn everything you need to know about this controller. Jamie Hartley takes a hands on deep dive into it’s features in this detailed walkthrough.
See it in action!
Watch as Lawrence James shows us how the new RANE FOUR can be used creatively in a DJ set highlighting the new Stem Split feature!
Learn How To Level Up Your Mixing!
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