Hercules' DJ Console is designed to replace a conventional set-up with a small USB-powered box that includes a mixer and a couple of turntable-like wheels similar to those on CD-based DJ decks. The idea is good... but the implementation has limitations.
In terms of handling signals the DJ Console has loads of input and outputs to get music in and final sounds out. These include MIDI, 5.1 audio, and S/PDIF. There is also a front-panel of RCA line-in ports, plus a 0.25-inch phono plug, mic-in port and 0.25-inch headphone jack, each with level controls.
The Console's controls are similar to those on conventional CD turntables. For manual beat matching, the Console features easy-to-use Pitch Bend buttons. Mixing aficionados will love the FX buttons that enable the Console to emulate some sweet voltage-controlled effects, identical to those found on the Allen & Heath Xone professional-grade mixers.
Bundled with the Console is a custom version of Traktor DJ Studio, the industry leader in DJ software - and it's easy to use. Traktor finds all the playable media files on your Mac and loads them into its library. It then enables you to select songs via the Console's handy joystick and song select buttons. It's a bit like iTunes on steroids.
When it comes to scratching, the latency of the jog wheel - even when minimised in Preferences - is so far behind what it's playing that it makes scratching impractical. In time you can learn to factor the lag into your scratching, but it really doesn't provide the instant feedback a seasoned DJ would need.
The other drawback is the absence of a cross-fader that enables a hard cut from channel to channel, something that is essential for scratching. We also found the buttons were extra sensitive and we often triggered the Play/Pause button twice instead of once. However, we still prefer it to traditional decks. Noah Tsutsui