Hercules 4-MX is the latest controller in the Hercules console range to be pitched squarely at the booths of the pro digital DJ market. With controls for up to four decks, a built-in audio soundcard and bundled Virtual DJ software, it’s a tidy package.
The first praise that we can happily bestow upon the 4-MX is the inclusion of a bespoke flight bag. It’s a very welcome addition and not only provides portable storage for the controller, but also snugly protects the unit whilst DJs hit the road.
A dedicated controller bag is now a must for any travelling DJ, and this one certainly ensures that everything will be kept nice and dent free on even the bumpiest of journeys to your crowd of adoring fans. And to be honest, turning up at the gig with it in a Tesco carrier bag loses some of the impact!
Initial impressions of the 4-MX controller were positive. The layout is simple and intuitive, and controls have been placed exactly where they would be expected. The standard array of knobs, faders and buttons are available with a total of 89 controls in two-deck mode and over 150 when controlling four decks.
With a faceplate crafted from aluminium and a metal bottom sheet, the controller housing feels weighty and solidly built. A quick flick of the two underside locking mechanisms enables the touch system of the generously sized 4.7-inch jog wheels to be used.
Each wheel is backlit and touch-sensitive, favouring a mechanical touch system instead of electrical to eliminate interference. The wheels are nicely weighted and satisfying to use. To stop playback, change tempo or scratch is as simple as applying pressure to the top of the wheel with a blue backlight circle providing feedback. The jog wheels can be used to control up to four decks, and switching between decks is kept clean and simple. The left console section controls deck A or C, and the right section B or D. One press of either deck switch button highlights the deck being controlled in the mixing console, and switches all relevant controls to that deck.
The overall impression of the 4-MX was slightly let down by the rather cheap plastic feel of some of the controls. Although perfectly functional, at this price, it would have been nice to have seen rubber rotaries or at least something that felt a bit more substantial when turned. Rubber would have also been the preferable material used for the buttons, which are also made of plastic and could be a little too angular for some tastes. We wouldn’t want to be too negative, as they do the job fine for the majority of functions such as browsing hard drive folders or pushing EQ kill switches. However, the more frenetic button-bashing actions, such as cue point juggling, could really benefit from a more tactile button than those on offer. The faders all offer a nice level of resistance when moved, but again, are slightly let down by the feel of the materials used.
The 4-MX offers a plentiful selection of audio ins and outs. Two stereo RC outputs allow connection to an external mixer and two stereo inputs allow you to plug in CD players, turntables or any other analogue gear. Additionally, four mono jack connectors are provided for connecting to a PA system. A ground lift switch ensures annoying hums often associated with some laptop set-ups are removed and headphones can either be connected via the top of the controller or the front panel. Finally, the obligatory microphone input is found on the top of the controller, with a dedicated level knob. Sound quality is good and Hercules has done an excellent job at providing connections for the majority of DJ set-ups.
Like many controllers on the market, the 4-MX is bundled with the perfectly usable Virtual DJ LE, a stripped-down version of Virtual DJ Pro that has been adapted to mirror the controls of the 4-MX. Installation is painless and integration with the controller works well. As is the norm, mapping templates for other popular DJ software such as Native’s Traktor are provided on Hercules’ website.
In a very saturated DJ controller market, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for manufacturers to stand head and shoulders above the crowd. Whether DJs choose the Hercules 4-MX over the competition will really come down to personal taste. It’s a generally solid controller that, as all-in-one solutions go, is reasonably priced and well-built.
|Ease of Use||7.0|
|Value for Money||7.0|
|Hype||Overall the controller is well-built with a great selection of audio inputs and outputs. It's great to see that the 'all-in-one' solution extends to the inclusion of a compact bespoke flight bag.|
|Gripe||The solidly-built housing and touch wheels are let down by the average build quality of the buttons, knobs and faders.|
|Conclusion||It's a generally solid controller that, as all-in-one solutions go, is reasonably priced and well-built. There's not much here that's going to change the world but not a great deal to complain about either, and we're sure it will meet the needs of many DJs so it's certainly worth checking out|