When it comes to tech, the spotlight of attention tends to fall on the latest and greatest high-end DJ technology with the cost of ownership often in the thousands of pounds range. But not everyone can afford to spend a king’s ransom, and not everyone needs or even wants the high-end features that come with that high-end price tag.
While professional DJs may turn their nose up at products found in the budget end of the market, it is worth remembering that there are plenty of DJs taking their first steps in the world of mixing — along with music fans who fancy getting their feet wet by mixing at home — without spending a fortune or dealing with the complexity of a professional product, not to mention the headaches that can often come with getting a new controller installed and working on their computer.
This is where the Hercules DJ Control Air+ steps up to the plate, offering the chance to get up and mixing with the least amount of fuss and money spent.
The DJ Control Air+ is a two-channel DJ controller complete with DJ software and in-built audio interface. It manages to pack an awful lot of features into a compact package while also offering great value for money. The size of the Air+ is similar to the Traktor Kontrol S2 or Vestax VCI-380 which — combined with the light weight of the unit — makes it very portable and perfect to throw into a bag to take to parties, or friends houses to have a jam.
Everything needed to get up and mixing is included in the box, with a set of speakers and an amp being the only additional items needed to get a party rocking — even if that is a party of one rocking in their bedroom for one of those 'live in my underpants' mix sessions!
The software included with the Air+ is called DJuced 40, which once installed on a computer makes this controller completely plug-and-play. This neatly sidesteps any potential installation headaches, which is exactly what the doctor ordered for those brand new to the world of digital DJing.
At the heart of the DJ Control Air+ is a two-channel mixer with each channel featuring a three-band EQ, channel fader, cue button and three segment LED level meter. Interestingly, each channel also has a gain control knob, but rather than being at the top of the channel as one would expect, the gain knobs have been placed on the deck control sections along with a button that toggles between gain and filter control.
While this arrangement is not ideal, it works well enough in practice and is only likely to irk DJs who are used to a conventional mixer layout. At the centre of the mixer is a large browser encoder knob, along with buttons to load the currently selected track into either deck A or B.
All of the channel faders and knobs have metal shafts, which is an unexpectedly high quality feature for such a budget controller. However, while the faders are perfectly serviceable they feel cheap when in operation, and the crossfader’s performance leaves more than a little to be desired when attempting battle-style scratching and cutting.
A microphone input can be found on the front panel along with its own gain control knob sitting next to the headphone controls which feature both small and large headphone sockets, a headphone volume control, and a button which toggles between cue and mix-style monitoring.
DJs looking to connect other input sources such as CD players or vinyl decks are out of luck as the Air+ has no external input sources available.
Each of the two deck sections that sit either side of the mixer are surprising well appointed, with nicely-sized pressure-sensitive jog wheels which perform admirably thanks to low latency performance and rubberised tops which make them very easy to grip. However, the stiffness of the platters detracts from an otherwise well-executed design.
Sitting above the jog wheels are four buttons used to trigger either FX or loops, with two dedicated buttons which can be used to switch between banks. At the edge of each deck section are small pitch-faders which are usable but frustrating when it comes to accurate tempo control during beat mixing.
This, though, is easily remedied when mixing by using the Sync button to tightly-match beats. Each deck also has four pad-style buttons than can be used either for hot-cues or to trigger samples.
Given the very reasonable price of the DJ Control Air+ there are a lot of cool features packed into this controller, some of which are surprisingly advanced, like the Air Control function that allows DJs to tweak FX by waving their hand. This controller is absolutely perfect for new DJs and casual mixers looking to have some fun without breaking the bank.