Hercules makes great gear for the beginner to prosumer level DJs, and with the new Universal DJ Controller, you now have more options than ever for your source files and performance.
You are no longer just bound to your laptop; the Universal DJ Controller can be used on a laptop, tablet, or combination of both. It also has Bluetooth connectivity as well so you can use your iPad or iPhone wirelessly to source your music and software.
I tried out this two channel controller with both the proprietary DJuced 40 DJ software and DEX 3 from PCDJ, and it worked well with both but more on that later.
Let's get into the overall construction first. The unit is priced at around $199 which is on the high end for Hercules. The build quality is solid, and the knobs and faders are smooth and seem like they could take some abuse. What's great about this controller is that it's small and can easily fit on your desk if you just want to use it for Podcast mixing or live streams, it's also easy to throw in a backpack.
In regards to hooking it up, the Universal DJ has a stereo out, so it's easy to hook up speakers or connect it to a mixer which is nice if you are playing on someone else's system, you just plug and play.
Some DJs might not love that it only has two decks, but once you get the hang of it, you can use it with four-deck software like DEX 3. The controller also features eight launch pad buttons above each jog wheel that allow you to play sample loops on DJuced software along with the tracks you are playing. This is basically a prosumer version of what Native Instruments' Traktor software offers and it makes DJing a lot of fun.
Hercules has created the ultimate house party rocker DJ and software set up and what makes this whole system, so fun is utilizing the software functionality.
3 Ways To Connect and rock the party.
Hercules Universal DJ offers three ways to connect to the controller, and they are all pretty straight forward.
Laptop Mode - this is the most basic way to use the controller and pretty standard, you just hook up the USB to your Laptop and the stereo out to speakers or a mixer. Cue up your software and off you go, very standard.
Multiscreen Mode - This is where things get a lot more attractive to the house party DJ. You can hook up your laptop in the standard mode but also use the Djuced Master app on your smartphone as a remote control of sorts.
Yeah, you can actually leave your DJ booth (or kitchen table) to grab a drink, dance with that attractive stranger or just hit the bathroom without the fear of running out of track. You can loop, mix, drop effects and other cool stuff while you sip your Moscow Mule on the couch. The DJuiced Master app also warns you when the track is going to end and allows you to hit the PANIC button that immediately launches the next track in your playlist. You can also interact with party guests via the app, sharing playlists, taking requests (ugh, no!) and event getting likes on the tracks you are playing. This configuration offers full interactivity with guests, and if you are just slinging tunes at casual events, this is epic.
Hercules has created the ultimate house party set-up, hell these features would be great in a pro rig as well. Check the video out below if I've lost you here.
Tablet Mode - The third way to connect is tablet mode which uses the DJuced mobile app with your tablet and connects via Bluetooth. I'm not super into this type of connectivity, you sacrifice a lot and the software interface is just too cramped, but if you don't have a laptop at least you have this option, and it's super portable.
DJ Software - This controller does work with other DJ software but functions the best with the DJuced platform. The entire reason to get this controller is because of the "party" software interface, it just makes things more casual, and fun like a house party should be.
However, if for some reason you do want to use it with other software, it works just fine. I tested it out with PCDJ's DEX 3 software that also happens to work with the Pulselocker platform, which is ideal for working mobile DJs that are doing gigs at small clubs, weddings, special events, etc.
Final Thoughts - Hercules seems to have finally found a lane that they can thrive in and that's the house party / casual DJ aka the prosumer or enthusiast. The controller reasonably priced at $200 considering you get all the software, interactive functionality and loop decks option. If you are looking to get into DJing for fun or semi-professionally as mobile DJ, this is a great system. The ability to interact with the crowd is a lot of fun and quite handy in situations where you need to pay attention to requests.
More about DEX 3 from PCDJ another option if you want software that is a little more pro.