While there’s been a fair bit of upheaval at the premium end of the DJ gear industry, there are plenty of controller manufacturers at the budget end that have been quietly (maybe a bit too quietly) beavering away, bringing new models to customers.
One such company is Hercules, owned by French business group Guillemot. Once a graphics card and PC sound card maker, I owned one of each at the turn of the millennium. For a while now, they’ve put out decent entry-level DJ headphones, audio interfaces and controllers, like the shiny and space-age iPad controller, the DJControlWave.
Their latest pair of controllers sees a refresh of the original DJControl line, with the Air S and Air S+, aimed at amateurs and more advanced DJs. While both are fairly similar in functionality, the Air+ is bigger, with wider jogwheels and comes with a microphone input. While the Air only has 3.5mm TRRS phone connector for mix out and a built in USB cable, the Air+ has more professional stereo RCAs and uses a standard USB cable. Both controllers live up to their “air” moniker by featuring an infrared based gesture system to control your effects. You can also swap out the platters to suit your needs (though I wish you could replace them with something else too!).
You can watch the Air+ in action in this demo video, which is actually pretty neat.
As usual, here’s the press release:
New York, September 30, 2014.
Hercules, a leading brand in the field of digital DJing, has redesigned two of its flagship DJ controllers: the DJControl AIR and DJControl AIR+. The DJControl AIR S Series and DJControl AIR+ S Series will help you set your back-to-school parties on fire!
Keeping its finger on the pulse of the DJing community, Hercules has designed these new devices with amateur DJs (AIR S Series) and advanced DJs (AIR+ S Series) in mind; both still offer abundant functionalities, but feature a design delivering enhanced user-friendliness.
The S Series devices feature unique central mixing controls, boasting a cutting-edge scratch-brushed aluminium appearance. The upper section of the jog wheels has been redesigned to offer greater ease of use. The platters on the DJControl AIR S Series are interchangeable*, enabling users to customize their decks and turn their controller into a unique item! The pad sets have also been redesigned to offer a more intuitive use.
Unchanged and abundant features
Both controllers offer the same versatility and performance as their predecessors:
– Dual mixing decks
– 2 pressure-detecting jog wheels, including XL platters (15 cm / 5.9″ diameter for the AIR+ model) – ideal for scratching
– 8 velocity pads offering precise control of loops, samples and effects
– 2 stereo audio outputs for airing the mix or previewing tracks; the AIR+ model also features a microphone input
– And of course, the infrared sensor that makes these controllers so unique, enabling users to control effects without even touching the device!
– The DJUCED™ software combines performance and intuitive ease of use: DJUCED™ 18° is included with the DJControl AIR S Series, and DJUCED™ 40° is included with the DJControl AIR+ S Series.
The best features-to-price ratio
Announced at a suggested retail price of $169.99 and available from late September 2014, the Hercules DJControl AIR S Series is a digital DJ controller offering an unrivalled features-to-price ratio. Versatile and innovative, it will enable amateur and beginner DJs alike to mix using nothing more than their computer (PC or Mac®), headphones and speakers, for maximum enjoyment.
The DJControl AIR+ S Series continues to offer always more in its price category, with a suggested retail price of $249.99: more space, wider platters for more intuitive mixing, more creative features, more fun with AIR controls, more connectivity with RCA audio outputs and a microphone input. It will be available from mid-November 2014.
*Additional platters sold separately
The first thing you notice about these controllers is the “air” hand gestures and the ability to swap out the platters. What you have to remember is that Hercules knows its market. It says it right there in the press release:
“The DJControl AIR S Series and DJControl AIR+ S Series will help you set your back-to-school parties on fire!”
After initially rolling my eyes at the gimmick, the above sentence really made me understand. These controllers are aimed at the young, hip party crowd, and the Air hand gesture system should appeal to excitable younger people looking to get into DJing. And you don’t have to use it… Watching the demo video, the controller delivers a good performance, even with the included DJuced DJ software. I’ve been open about not really finding appeal in controllerist routines to demo new gear, but I enjoyed the whole routine. Kudos to DJ Spawn.
The ability to customise platters is something interesting to explore, not only to adapt to your DJ style, but with the potential to show off some flair with wacky designs. I couldn’t really find any information on what Hercules intends, but I’ve reached out to them to ask. At the time of writing, there didn’t seem to be any separate platters for sale on their site.
I have to commend Hercules on finding unique ways of differentiating between the controllers, rather than strip away some of the basic features of the workflow, they’ve opted to find ways to cut costs by using cheaper parts such as built in USB cable and a plastic headphone connector for mix OUT (along with making the overall controller smaller).
NOTE: I’ve taken the liberty to correct the spelling of “aluminium” from English (US) to English (proper English), in the press release. The periodic table spells it with an “i”. You’re welcome, Hercules. (Can of worms opened – Ed).
What do you think of the Air and Air+? Have you tried DJuced DJ software?