We are fans of what Hercules does for the entry-level DJ market. They offer solid DJ gear, software, and speakers that are priced fairly and perfect for taking your first steps into DJing. Now they are taking aim at the more intermediate level DJs with their latest controller, the Inpulse 500.
If you are familiar with the brand, then you know most Hercules controllers are designed to work with Djuiced, their proprietary DJing software that comes free with their controllers. Still, they recently have started working with Serato, which comes with the DJControl Starlight and the beginner DJ Starter Set (which we reviewed here).
The Inpulse 500 is specifically targeted at the intermediate to prosumer DJ and also works with Serato with a list of features that brings significant value for the money. If you are looking for a well-balanced controller built well and have essential features to help you build up your skills, this controller is worth a closer look.
Construction / Interface
The first thing you will notice about the Inpulse 500 is that it's a pretty good size at roughly 21 inches across and a beautiful open layout to easily maneuver as you mix. The controller's body is constructed of plastic, but you feel the quality in the buttons and faders, as well as metal faceplate, to stand up to any type of wear and tear. They also added collapsable feet at each corner so you can pop them out and get some clearance for the controller and bring it up a little higher, it also helps protect it should anyone accidentally spill their drink in the DJ booth!
The jog wheels are a nice size at five and a half inches in diameter, and also feature touch-sensitive and smooth action in both directions. They can be used in either a "vinyl" mode for more control or more of a nudge mode. Of course, we prefer the vinyl mode. There is also a slip and quantize mode that function standard with D'Juiced, but you will need to upgrade Serato to use this functionality. The Play and Cue buttons are made of sturdier plastic rather than the spongy rubber pads, making for what seems to be a smart move, and they are quite responsive.
Pro tip - Upgrading to Serato Pro is absolutely worth it and will give you increased functionality and the ability to play like a pro with all the available features. It's also the industry standard for a lot of DJs, so there are a good number of tutorials on YT to help you learn.
The performance pads are RGB (Red, Green, Blue) and light up just enough in darker spaces but can be a little harder to see in a bright room. You can use the pads for Hot Cue, Looping, Slicer, and Sampler - but the assignment is determined by which software you are using. The pads are made of a semi-soft rubber, firm, and just right for quick taps, cues, etc. They feel like the pads on more expensive controllers and quite responsive across the pad's entire surface area.
The mixer itself is designed to be simple enough for beginners to get set up quickly and robust enough for intermediate level DJs to feel like they are on a piece of solid gear.
At the top of the mixer's two channels is the browse knob to quickly scroll through your software, along with two load buttons that correspond to each deck. Simply find your track, push the load button for the deck you want it on, and go. Need a little help mixing? Just below the browse knob, you will find a button for the mixing assistant (D'Juiced) or AutoMix (Serato).
Pro Tip - These mixing assists are ok when you are learning, and many DJs consider them to be training wheels. Use them sparingly.
Next to your two-channel faders, you will find a VU meter (LED) to ensure your levels are not clipping. In the vertical orientation next to the LED meters, you will find your three-band EQ knobs and at the top a gain control to help you add or subtract volume on the channel. The crossfader has a nice feel to it, with not too much of a throw from channels 1 and 2. The action is good enough here for you to practice and evolve your scratching skills, and you can also control the contour the crossfader - which is NEVER on controllers in this category.
You also get two large filter knobs that control a standard High/Low pass filter and can be assigned to other FXs available in your D'Juiced or Serato software. These are great for using to better sonically blend mixes, create tension or energy, and to change the overall vibe of a track.
The Inpulse 500 features some helpful inputs that are not usually found on a controller of this price.
TRS Mic Input - With a two-band EQ, and Trim Control with LED for level monitoring.
Aux: 3.5 TRSS or Stereo Line-Level Input - The Aux input has it's own trim control with LED for monitoring and a handy High/Low pass filter. Perfect for iPods/iPhones, Instruments, or even an external deck.
These inputs allow you to truly use this controller in a professional setting like a private party, house party, weddings, etc.
The unit features two ways to connect your speaker:
- TRS / Quarter-inch Balanced Outs
- Standard RCA Outs
If you are in the market for an intermediate controller that can accommodate beginners and bring all the value of more expensive controllers, the Inpulse 500 is very hard to beat. This is a controller that can grow with you until you are ready to jump to a more complex set up or CDJs/Prime professional players. It is built well, works with Serato, and can be used in the bedroom or club.
Build quality is fantastic for the price
Ability to use Serato
Innovative pop-up feet and tons of features
Beatmatch guide for beginners
If you are 100% dedicated to Serato, you might look elsewhere and spend the extra money as Inpulse has its limitations and is more geared for D'Juiced.
Specs from Hercules:
Built-in audio interface
Built-in Velvet Sound DSP from AKM: processing audio inputs and outputs
- Master output (speakers): 2 x 1/4” / 6.35 mm jack + 2 x RCA
- Headphones output: 1/8” / 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack + 1/4” / 6.35 mm stereo jack
- Auxiliary input: 2 x RCA + 1/8” / 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack
- Microphone input: balanced 1/4” / 6.35 mm jack
Audio resolution: 44.1 kHz / 24-bit
Controls Per Deck
Control per deck:
- Play, Cue, Shift, Sync
- 2 x 8 soft pads with RGB backlighting
- 8 pads x 8 modes (hot cue, loop, slicer ….)
- jog wheels with touch detection (diameter of jog wheels: 5.5")
- Loop: In / Out + loop encoder
- Modes: Vinyl, (+ Slip and Quantize in DJUCED and in Serato DJ Pro)
- Beatmatch guide
Controls On Mixer
- 1 crossfader with curve adjustment
- Master volume knob, headphones volume knob, and Cue/Mix knob
- Microphone volume knob with High EQ knob and Low EQ knob
- Auxiliary volume knob and filter knob
- 2 VU-meters + Master VU meter
- Filter/effects rack with 4 effects buttons and 2 filter knobs
Per deck :
- 1 filter knob
- 3 EQ knobs
- 1 gain knob
- 1 volume fader
- 1 VU meter
Music library controls: Rotary encoder + 2 Load buttons + Assistant button
Tempo guide: light guide alongside each tempo fader
Beat Align guide: light guide underneath each jog wheel
IMA (Intelligent Music Assistant)
– The Assistant in DJUCED suggests well-suited upcoming tracks to be played from your music library, and in Beatport LINK and Beatsource LINK as well. Enable the Assistant to launch Autoplay in Serato DJ Lite.
– The Energy feature in DJUCED helps you select tracks according to the energy level for your party