The first thing we noticed is how little has actually changed on the hardware’s top panel. One of our original criticisms was that the interface was very crowded – the pitch nudge buttons were too small and the jog wheels could too easily be bumped accidentally. Well, unfortunately, these problems remain.
Hercules tell us that there is a little more space to the layout now, but frankly, we just think the unit is too small. It could be argued that this is for reasons of portability, but in their own FAQ section, Hercules point out that this is a consumer product, which presumably means it won’t do that much travelling anyway. So why not make it bigger?
At the very least, the jog wheels should be recessed rather than sticking out, and since they’re several orders too small to be used for scratching (any radius smaller than that on a CDJ1000 just isn’t big enough, we’re afraid), we think that they might as well have been much smaller. This would have eased all that panel congestion, yet retained the ability to scrub through tracks to find start points.
Also carried over from the original Console is the joystick and dual button combo that’s supposed to enable mouse-style control on the front panel. However, as we pointed out in our previous review, this just isn’t very efficient, and using a real mouse is much quicker. A touchpad (like you’d find on a laptop) would be more useful – this could replace the one on your PC as long as the DJ Console is in use.
Another negative is the feel of the buttons, on our test unit at least. With no discernible click or stopping point, they almost feel more like drum pads on an Akai MPC than they do buttons on a DJ product. When you’re concentrating on mixing you really do appreciate having some definite physical feedback so you know that you’ve pressed a button successfully.
These problems are particularly unfortunate when you consider that, in terms of features, this new version of DJ Console is admirably equipped. Most of the parameters you might wish to control from the front – such as looping points, monitoring, source switching, volume and EQ – are in place. In fact, despite one or two additions (most notably some new headphone monitoring options) the interface is practically identical to that of its predecessor.
The biggest change is in the area of connectivity, where it’s a case of give and take. Given is the ability to run either a turntable or a line level input into both channels – this can be mixed either in software or routed back to the outputs for external mixing. Taken is the original’s curious facility for 5.1 surround sound – it’s been replaced by more logical dual stereo outputs (facilitating the aforementioned external mixing).
Technically, the build quality of the DJ Console Mk2 is good. The whole thing does feel a bit plasticy, but reasonably durable nonetheless. There’s a nice touch in the form of an alternative knob for the monitoring section (easier to handle but more prone to being bumped) and the original (but not critical) system of having a base that doubles as a transportation lid remains.
One highly useful feature of DJ Console is that the controllers all spit out MIDI messages, and these can be mapped to any functions you wish. But of course, this is only as useful as the interface itself, about which we’ve already expressed concerns.
So, who should buy this new product? Well, it’s hard to say. If you own the original, there really is very little incentive to buy this updated version, and if you already own some DJing software – such as Native Instruments’ Traktor – then we’d recommend that you wait for Behringer’s forthcoming B-Control Deejay BCD2000, as this looks to be a little more practically laid out.
And if you don’t currently own any DJing gear? If this is the case, there’s a bit more to recommend about Hercules’ system, but we still wouldn’t say that it’s the best option for beginners in today’s market.