One of computer peripherals-maker Hercules' specialties is DJ software equipment that is easy to use and surprisingly affordable. That second part is particularly important when you consider that a top of the line product like Serrato's Scratch Live, though worth every penny, retails for around $600.00, not including the mixer you're going to have to buy on top of the software and hardware that comes with your purchase. Hercules's DJ Console series serves as a less pricey but equally buff alternative to Scratch live. However, it's their DJ Control series of DJing consoles that puts a seemingly professional-worthy rig within reach of people that aren't pulling down six figures every summer in Ibiza.
Hercules released the latest DJ Control controller, the DJ Controller Air, back in November and unsurprisingly, they've made it front and center of their CES booth (with a near-constant demonstration by Miami club dance scene Tai-pan DJ Supersede). I've long been somewhat skeptical about the Control's ability to deliver at its ultra low cost ($160), but after an all too short demo, I'm kind of in love. The controller is a multifunctional mixer and software package that offers a wide range of pro functionality that is super easy to learn, and though you're still going to have to put the time in to get good enough to use it in public, it's a hell of a lot less intimidating than Scratch Live's much more complicated setup.
Like the standard DJ Control, Air is a combination hardware/software product (it uses DJUCED) for use with PC and Mac. The controller has two jog wheels that allow you to 'scratch' an Mp3 as well as adjust the pitch, and browse tracks in your library. Scratching on the jog wheels isn't a substitute for a calibrated pair of real turntables ala Scratch Live, but it sounds fairly authentic and has the advantage of being easier to pull off. Among its many features, users can assign sound effects and loops to 4 pad buttons, easily create loops with the touch of a button and even play them over a playing track. The "Air" in the name means Adjustment by InfraRed and refers to the proximity sensor on the top middle of the device that allows the DJ to manage sound effects by hand, literally. The distance between your hand and the sensor is converted into a MIDI controller, which allows you to adjust effects like reverb wetness by swiping, slapping and waving over the sensor. Yes, it is pretty awesome.
The setup also looks slick, and the GUI interface is pretty simple. DJ Control Air isn't going to replace the beefier, more expensive products that offer a far greater range of options, but considering it's sold for $169.00, it's something of a miracle for people looking to get into the game without skipping out on meals.