Sep 29, 2013
[Review] Hercules DJ Control Air+ DJ Controller

The new DJ Control Air+ is the latest digital DJ controller offered by Hercules and an update on last year’s Hercules Air model. The DJ controller is an affordable two-deck/two-channel mixer aimed at beginners and casual users interested in “Bedroom DJing” or for entertaining small parties. Check out the full breakdown below.

Appearance & Features

Despite being the biggest DJ controller in their inventory, the Hercules DJ Control Air+ is still small and light and can easily fit into a regular backpack for transportation. In comparison, it’s about the exact same size of the Traktor Kontrol S2, and only about half the price.

Compared to last year’s model, the DJ Control Air+ offers new features and a better button layout. The majority of the rubber-coated buttons on the Air+ are surrounded by a bright blue ligh, which allows the user to know what feature is being used. Not only is it helpful, it looks damn sexy too. An LED Beats counter in the middle of the controller moves at the same timing as the beat, which is a great help to beginner users who are just getting used to mixing.

The crossfader feels shaky on first use, but I encountered no problems when mixing. That being said, if you’re interested in some serious scratching, the crossfader’s accuracy is lacking. On the other hand, the line faders feel much more professional. An oversized knob in the middle of the controller allows the user to select tracks to load onto the decks without having to touch the computer.

Strangely, the controller does not have a Main Volume knob, and the Air+ doesn’t have any LED displays for volume levels. Although the Air+ does have gain knobs for each deck, a master volume knob would have been greatly appreciated. The individual gain knobs also serve as filter controls if the “Filter” button is pressed, which is fun to mess around with.

The job wheels, which are relatively large considering the size of the controller, offer a rubber grip for scratching/cueing. A “Vinyl” button allows the jog wheels to alternate between scratching (vinyl) to beatmatching (jog). All the other standard buttons are here: “Microphone,” “Record,” as well as a “Magic” button, which allows the user to create and split up loops.

8 Velocity Drum Pads are used for both samples and hot cues. With the push of a button, users can switch from triggering samples to setting up cue points. Since the pads are touch-sensitive, you can change the volume of the sample depending on how hard you push the button. The only problem with the pads is the lack of a click to let you know that you’ve actually hit the button properly, but it’s a small matter.

The newest feature is the Air Control infrared sensor. By moving your hand up and down over the sensor you can adjust the FX. LED gauges on each side of the IR sensor show how the effect is being used. What I originally assumed was a throwaway effect is actually both both accurate and extremely fun to use.

Setting Up The Controller

Setting up the Hercules DJ Air+ Controller is easy. The user simply has to put in the installation CD and follow the on-screen wizard. Once the software is installed, all you have to do to get started is plug in the controller to your computer using the USB connection and then attach it to speakers using the RCA outputs on the top of the controller.

DJ Software

The controller comes equipped with DJuced, which offers a similar layout to popular DJ software such as Traktor, Virtual DJ, or Serato. “DJuced 40” has all the standard effects, loops, cue points, and samples to please casual users. The best part is, while most DJ controllers come equipped with only a trial version of software, the Hercules DJ Control Air+ comes with the full version of DJuced. For more information on the DJuced software, click here.

Although the controller is fully customizable and is said to work with any DJ software on the market, there are unfortunately no mappings available for either Traktor or Serato on the Hercules website. Should you want to use these popular DJ programs you will have to manually map the controller. For this review, only the DJuced software was tested.

The Bottom Line

The Hercules DJ Control Air+ is a relatively inexpensive controller that is perfect for beginner or casual DJs. The controller is well made and offers a plethora of enjoyable features. The bundled DJuced software is easy to use and comes with the full version out of the box, which is a definite plus. The Air Control infrared effects are highly enjoyable, and the velocity-sensitive pads are also fun to use.

Problems encountered with the controller were the lack of a master volume knob and no LED volume displays. Aside from that, the Hercules DJ Control Air+ is a solid upgrade to last year’s Air controller and is perfectly suited for its target audience.

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