First Review: Is The New Hercules DJ 4Set a Mixtrack Pro Killer?

The Hercules DJ 4Set is the cheapest 4-deck DJ controller there is.

The Hercules DJ 4Set is the cheapest 4-deck DJ controller there is.

Review: Hercules DJ 4Set

The Numark Mixtrack Pro was the big hit of the Christmas 2010 season, selling by the bucketload and setting the bar for affordable entry level DJ controllers. Now coming in at exactly the same price is the latest offering from DJ controller pioneers Hercules, the DJ 4Set, as leaked last week on Digital DJ Tips. But it has a feature up its sleeve that might well make it a "Mixtrack killer" for the French audio tech firm.

On show at the CES in Las Vegas this week, the DJ 4Set is priced at a competitive US$249, and offers much the same beginner-friendly feature set as the Mixtrack Pro (consumer build quality but great jog wheels and a built-in sound card) but with one crucial improvement - 4-deck mixing out of the box. The DJ 4Set is the same size and shape as the Hercules DJ Console RMX and Steel DJ controllers, and once this and the previously announced DJ Console 4-Mx hits the streets, Hercules will have both entry-level and more pro modern 4-deck controllers in its range.

As stated in our DJing predictions for 2011, this year looks set to be the year of 4-deck DJ controllers, and I can't see any manufacturer launching any new controller from here on in without that capability.

Hercules DJ 4Set review

The unit has the same size and shape as the current Hercules DJ Console RMX and Steel controllers.

Better jogwheels

The main advantage of these newer controllers (from all manufacturers, not just Hercules) is the vastly improved jogwheels. Jogwheels are the "touchy-feely" part of DJ consoles, and you can forgive much if a console's jogwheels are responsive, touch-sensitive and well-made.

The much-touted new Hercules jogwheel design, as featured on both this controller and the more expensive 4-Mx, has double the resolution of previous ones. This means the wheels send more information back to the software when you do something on them, making for tighter control, more realist scratching and so on. They're also considerably bigger - the same size as many CDJs' jogwheels (5" / 12cm).

The wheels are also also touch-sensitive and weight sensitive, meaning pushing harder on them has different effect to touching them softly, a feature also available on the much more expensive Traktor Kontrol S4.

4-deck mixing on the cheap

The recently reviewed Reloop Contour and the new Vestax VCI-100 Mk II both have built-in 4-deck capability, but the supplied software with both of these - Traktor LE - doesn't. For that you'll have to shell out extra for the Pro version. However, the DJ 4Set - similar to the Denon DN-MC6000 (of which we're expecting a review model very shortly), comes with Virtual DJ 7, that while still a cut-down version (no full-screen video recording, no broadcasting your mixes, no recording your mixes), is nonetheless 4-deck capable without you paying any extra.

At US$249, this is easily the cheapest 4-deck DJ hardware/software combination out there.

Hercules DJ 4Set

The Hercules DJ 4Set viewed from above - the controls are well spaced out despite it being smaller than the Mixtrack Pro.

Other notable features

The controller is pretty simple out of the box - of course everything is mappable as with nearly all controllers, so you can set it up how you wish - but it does have some nice additions.

One feature that stood out to us is the 2-colour LEDs, that can be lit green or red. We've not had a chance to play with one of these units yet so we don't know if these LEDs show two states of the same control, or are used to help you differentiate between the decks you're playing on (eg red for decks 1/3 and green for decks 2/4) but either way, they're neat.

Apart from that everything else is exactly as you'd expect for an entry-level controller. There's a microphone input, which is a nice addition, and there are rudimentary effects controls so you can add some icing to your mixes, but there's nothing you wouldn't expect, and nothing missing that you would.

Conclusion

Like the Mixtrack and Mixtrack Pro did for Numark in 2010, the DJ 4Set has upped the game for Hercules at this end of the market, and looks set to do well for them on launch in April 2011.

Video from the CES

• See spec and press release at the Hercules website.

What do you think of the Hercules? Are you at CES? If you've had a chance to have a play on it, please let us know.

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Comments

  1. I’d miss the fx controls…

  2. Oh man, they only matched the price? it should be less expensive.

    And in general, can you use multiple midi controllers with, say, traktor or vdj or serato? like in addition to a jogwheel controller, have a nanokontrol for fx or pad controller for hotcues?

  3. Phil Morse says:

    Generally you can, yes. In this case Virtual DJ is easy to program for multiple devices, but you’ll probably have to upgrade to the paid version as typically LE versions are tied to the hardware supplied.

  4. Looks pretty good. Nice features and he jogwheels are excellent. The build doesn’t look too bad either. 2011 will be interesting for controllers.

  5. Tom Duncalf says:

    I struggle to understand the point of a four deck controller without four volume and EQs. It wouldn’t take much more space.

    Maybe other people are doing different things with four decks, but if I’m layering 3 tracks (say one melodic with bass out, one drums with bass in, one drums with bass out), I want to be able to control the volume and EQ of each of them without having to press a “swap deck” button. It’s sort of OK to have to do this to access the transport controls as they aren’t used as often but doesn’t make sense to me for the mixer controls. Unless people just want to say “I’m using four decks” and just use two at a time really ;)

  6. I will still go with the 4mx.. this still lacks the gain knob like the mixtrack pro

  7. So I am at CES and i did use the unit. The jog wheels are definitely better. Personally I dont love that there is an actual 1mm area that you can push the jog wheels down. it feels kind of weird to me. but thats preference.
    the cue and play buttons on the other hand are terrible. you need to push them way too far down to get any response. This is definitely aimed at the consumer and not the pro dj. If you are a working dj i’d definitely find something else. ultimately the choice is yours.

  8. Phil Morse says:

    Hey Toast, thanks for the hands-on feedback!

    I think the fact that Hercules launched it at the “Consumer” Electronics Show reinforces what we said in the review and what you have said above – this is a consumer product, much the same way that the Mixtrack units are consumer products – it comes with the price point.

  9. This thing have a pro look, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t expect to feel like one though. But who am i to complain as i’m on mp3e2 currently, as a beginner! :)
    Seriously, i’m quite satisfied, because even the pro gear they made always come in a good price-quality value.
    That applies to a few other manufacturers ofcourse.
    Lastly, i do miss an extra deck so, when it comes to actually two extra, well…
    Keep up the good work guys!

  10. Orestis512 says:

    Hi could you tell me whether the RMX or the Dj4Set or the MixtrackPro is better for a beginner and later-on pro? i have already asked you for the Mixtrack Pro VS the Reloop DJockey2Controller, thnx for that part. So which one would you suggest?
    and lastly, is RMX a good controller for the price? could this be used for pro-djing?does it assist 4decks?thnx!!

    • Phil Morse says:

      DJ 4Set is the only 4-deck controller but is for beginners. The RMX is older but well built. the Mixtrack Pro is also a consumer controller but lots of semi-pros love it.

  11. when is it releasing?

  12. Polyrythmatic says:

    To be honest I dont really think that this could be any better, apart for the ability of mixing 4 tracks (which I wouldn’t ever use). I’m not sure of other shops but my local Dj shop is selling them for the same price as the VCI-300 :S I was considering this or the torq xponent but then he guy there said the mixtrack was good enough anyway…

  13. Earlier Tom inquired as to the purpose of a the extra two (virtual) decks. I dont truly see a practical purpose if you are looking at the extra two decks conventionally. Some DJs do amazing things with three but four…However, I did read an article that suggested these extra decks could be used for sampling and texture and that, I think, is VERY exciting.

  14. Andy Taylor says:

    Hey guys,

    Im looking at getting either this controller or the 4mx version. Any ideas which would be better?

    Thanks

  15. I am a semi-pro/beginner DJ. Want to try out MIDI controllers. I want to use it with Traktor.

    Which is the best pick.. Mixtrack pro or Hercules DJ 4 set?

    Does Hercules DJ 4 set has issues with buttons?

  16. from where i get this? is it available in india?

  17. Hello,

    I intend to begin mixing shortly and I want to choose the best controler. I am both into deep house and techno-jazz sounds, but I want to be able to scratch too.
    I hesitate between Hercules DJ 4Set / VirtualDJ or Vestax Spin / DeeJay.
    What would you recommand?

    Thanks in advance
    Hugo

  18. I’m a beginner but I can’t decide weather I should buy the Numark Mixtrack Pro or the Hercules RMX. I want one that i can use at a smaller club without being ashamed, if you know what i mean. Which one would you recommend?

    //Elin

    • Neither, Mixtrack Pro is not for club use and RMX is very old. Denon MC2000 is my current recommendation if you’re on a budget and you want something you can gig with.

  19. Could this device but used to play a club? Is there outputs to play a club?

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