Hercules DJ MK2 Console review
A few years ago Hercules launched the original DJ Console for PC and MAC. dancevibes.be now reviews the successor, the DJ Console MK2!
Official pricing is around 249 Euro in Europe. This price makes it an attractive alternative to the more expensive mixer/turntables/cdplayers/FinalScratch combination.
Installation / Package
The DJ Console is a fully integrated hardware and software solution. This means that instead of using your mouse to manipulate the DJ Software (Virtual DJ, Traktor DJ, …), you’ll use the more intuitive buttons, sliders and wheels on the external console.
When you open the package, you’ll find the DJ Console (including a shoulder strap), a CDROM with software/drivers and a manual. The DJ console is connected to your PC via a USB2 cable – allowing easy installation. No AC power adaptor needs to be plugged in 🙂
The DJ Console has two equal sets of knobs, sliders and a wheel – allowing separate manipulation of two tracks. (eg. Play one song through your main speakers, while pre-listening to the next track through your headphones).
The most important controls are of course the play buttons, the pitch knobs (to speedup/slowdown a song) and the cross-fader. These allow a novice DJ to start his DJ experiments. Also very important are the 3 equalizer knobs: Treble, Medium and Bass can be set per track allowing for an even more seamless transition to the new track.
In the middle of the console there is a “joystick” that can be used to select the tracks in the DJ software. We didn’t use it much as we found using the mouse to be much quicker.
More advanced functions are also present: Setting Cue points allows you to choose starting points for playing back a track. (together with the fast forward / rewind buttons you’ll have found the right position in the track in no time). Loops allow to repeat parts of a track while the Fx button applies special effects to your output.
All the controls on the Console light up in the dark – this enables its use in darker rooms (eg. Student party, bedroom, …)
On the frontside you can find a headphone input, together with a volume knob and a selection knob. This allows you to hear Deck A, Deck B, Mix (simultaneously hear deck a & b) or Split (left side deck A, right side deck B) on your headphones. A microphone input allows you to talk-over the music.
On the backside we noticed that the digital outputs from the first Hercules DJ Console are gone.
They have been replaced by 2 analog inputs (RCA plugs) which can be used to attach your cd or dj deck as inputsource for your DJ Console. You can switch between MP3 and inputsource via the new “Audio source” button on the console. If you’re using the inputsource though, you can’t use the mixing functionalities (eg. bass, treble, etc. are disabled) except the crossfader of course.
The analog outputs can be used to attach your speakersystem. Attaching an external mixer is also a possibility. This allows you to do the mixing on the external mixer and just use the DJ Console to play the MP3’s on eg. your laptop.
The DJ Console itself is quite small and thus very portable. (if you take your laptop’s mp3 collection, you’ll be setup in no time).
Besides for being used as a DJ console, you can also use the console as a 5.1 external soundcard but we didn’t really use this feature.
The DJ Console MKII is bundled with Atomix Virtual DJ 3. After installation we were notified that a new release was available on the internet: v3.2. Nice!
Included with the DJ Console drivers is the DJ Console MKII control panel which allows you to change the output levels/input sources. It also displays the version information of the drivers.
As with the Virtual DJ software we found an updated 2006.01 driver/firmware package on the Hercules site which we also installed before we started our tests. It’s nice to see that Hercules cares for their customers with frequent driver updates. (even the old DJ Console received these stability updates!)
The Virtual DJ 3 software default user interface shows two vinyl decks, a play list and the necessary buttons, knobs and sliders. Starting a song is as easy as drag ‘n dropping the song from the play list onto one of the vinyl decks.
Once two tracks are playing at the same time you’ll see at the top of the screen the following bar:
The little green and red squares represent beats. Getting your mix right means aligning your beats to happen at the same time. You can do this by slowing down one song with the wheel. Of course if the two songs have a different BPM (Beats per minute), they will diverge again. The solution is to use the pitch control to slow down/speed up one or both of the tracks. Even easier is to use the automatic beat locking mechanism by pressing the AUTO BEAT buttons on the DJ console.
You can then use the cross fader to mix between the left and right channels and the equalizers on both sides to control treble, bass and medium. Meanwhile it’s also possible to load effects or program loops.
Time coded vinyl
Time coded vinyls allow you to keep using your favourite dj decks when playing/mixing MP3s on your laptop. The most well known system working with this principle is Stanton’s Final Scratch. Unfortunately it is still rather expensive to buy. A good solution for people with limited budget can be the Hercules DJ Console though.
You’ll only need to buy 2 time code vinyls, the Hercules DJ Console MKII and Virtual DJ Pro software. (unfortunately the pro edition is not bundled with the console). Still you’ll be settled cheaper.
Although the DJ Console is only delivered with Virtual DJ, you can find a configuration file for the popular Traktor DJ 2/3 software on the Hercules site which will make it compatible.
Mixvibes v6.27 and later also support the new DJ Consle MKII. DJ Decks v0.72 or later offer support too.
Hercules DJ Console MKII is a worthy successor of the first version and will keep you busy DJing for hours and this for only 250 €. The possibility to connect an external mixer and your vinyl players is a plus for the new version. Using Timecoded vinyl is also possible but then you’ll have to buy Virtual DJ Pro which is a pity
Review written by Wim
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