Once you get past the way it looks, you can focus on the way it works – DJUCED 40 is really simple to use, and you’ll be surprised at how much you can do with the Sampler decks despite the limited feature set. It’s not the greatest DJ app out there, but there’s no mistaking that this is the best version of DJUCED yet.
First Impressions / Setting up
DJUCED 40 is a free download from the DJUCED website, and it works with two of Hercules’ latest controllers which we’ve reviewed: the Hercules Universal DJ and the Hercules P32 DJ pad controller. It also works with older gear such as the Hercules DJControl Rmx2 and DJControlWave.
I just downloaded the DJUCED 40 installer from the website, installed it on my Mac, hooked up my Hercules P32 DJ controller (I’ve got the Hercules Universal DJ handy too), and got to work.
The interface looks a bit like a cross between Traktor and Virtual DJ – the layout is a little bit cramped even in two decks mode, and looks quite dated. Switching to four decks adds two Sampler decks in the middle of the screen as decks C and D, and while they don’t look as complicated as Remix Decks in Traktor Pro 2, they also don’t look as slick.
Not the best in the looks department, and this alone could turn some DJs off, but stick with me here…
There are two different kinds of decks in DJUCED 40: track player decks, which is where you drag your music files onto, and Sampler decks, which is where you can add loops and samples for triggering. There are eight different types of waveform colours to choose from (I just keep mine at default). Each of the normal decks has all the usual looping controls, cue and cue play, pitch faders, and tempo/beat grid adjustments.
The Sampler decks have 4×4 grids populated with loops or samples that you can trigger. If you’re using the Hercules P32 DJ controller, you can launch them using the pads themselves. There’s a sync and quantise option, which ensures that the clips launch in time with what’s going through the Master output.
I was quite pleased with the way they worked – it was all pretty effortless, and the DJUCED team really did a good job of distilling just the essentials needed for this type of performance workflow (start / stop clips, volume adjustment for an entire column of clips instead of individually, effects for the entire deck, etc).
That’s tricky, because choosing what to leave out in this scenario is harder than just going the whole hog, which is what Traktor’s Remix Decks are and often the reason why DJs pass on it – they’re just too capable. Not so with DJUCED 40: Drop the loop / sample / one shot in, trigger it, done. Not a lot of parameters to fiddle with there.
DJUCED 40 comes with a standard three-band EQ, crossfader, headphone cues, and volume faders per deck. You can assign each deck to the crossfader, or bypass it entirely if you want. The crossfader curve can be adjusted, along with the curves of the EQs in the settings menu. Nothing special here.
There are two effects modules in DJUCED 40, and you can assign any of the four decks to them. There are three effects slots per module, each with on/off and dry/wet controls. There are 16 effects to choose from (the usual suspects like flanger, reverb, delay, filter, and so on), and there’s a “macro” control that lets you turn all the modules on/off as well as control their dry/wet knobs.
The browser section contains the music in your DJUCED 40 library and hard drive. There’s a list of all the music folders, recordings, playlists, and sound libraries (the loops and samples you’ve imported into DJUCED 40), plus your iTunes library too. Analysing a track in the browser reveals its musical key, which is displayed in Camelot notation, and the browser also has a “Match” column, which gives you a rating of how well a track you have in your library will go to the most recent track you’ve dropped in one of the track decks.
The My Party feature found in the browser lets you add songs to a playlist that guests can vote on before your DJ set even begins. DJUCED 40 does this by uploading all the artist and track names to a server, the address of which you share with folk who you’ve invited to your gig. When they click on it, they’re brought to a page where they can vote on the tracks.
It’s a fun little gimmick for house parties, not essential (you can do the same by posting your tracklist on Facebook and creating a poll, for instance) but if it gets people involved and talking about your upcoming gig, surely that’s a good thing.
On that page guests can also send you messages which you can view on the DJUCED Master app on your phone or tablet, which again is just a fun quirk (people can just tweet you).
Once you get past the way it looks, you can focus on the way it works – DJUCED 40 is really simple to use, and you’ll be surprised at how much you can do with the Sampler decks despite the limited feature set.
It’s still a ways away from being at the forefront of digital DJing, but it’s making big improvements in stability and usability, and for the first time I think I can actually consider using it in a gig setting, especially with the Hercules P32 DJ controller. It’s not the greatest DJ app out there, but there’s no mistaking that this is the best version of DJUCED 40 yet.