Anyone who has no idea about DJing and technology and feels overwhelmed when putting together the first setup seems to be well advised with the DJStarter Kit from Hercules.
The equipment consists of the compact DJControl Starlight DJ controller, the DJSpeaker 32 active loudspeaker boxes, and the new HDP DJ M40.2 headphones.
On top of that, Serato DJ Lite is available free of charge as DJ software that submits to the controller plug-and-play. With the exception of the headphones, which are currently only available separately in an older version, all components can also be purchased individually. Should you get this package as a newbie?
The DJStarter Kit advertises itself as an entry-level package for the beginner DJ. In order to hang up, all you need is a laptop to host the included DJ software and music. The level at which the hang-up ultimately remains depends of course on the options offered by this all-round carefree package:
The DJControl Starlight
On its compact area of 400 by 100 millimeters, there is not much space for features. The controller, which weighs just under 500 grams, thus concentrates on the essentials: The transport section consists of buttons for cue, play/pause and sync.
The jog wheel with its tiny diameter of 450 millimeters is used for searching, pitch bending and scratching (vinyl mode). Manual pitching is carried out using the pitch control, which is just 450 millimeters long.
The four performance pads operate the hot cues and loops in the first layer, the effects and the sampler in the second. The mixing unit is minimized to two space-saving line volume controls plus the 450 millimeter long crossfader, a bass control that acts as a filter at the push of a button, and a master control.
Both channels and the master as well as Cue + Mix can be previewed via the HDP DJ M40.2 headphones plugged into the mini jack socket.
The controller sends the master signal via a built-in sound card with 44.1 kHz and 24 bit to the DJSpeaker 32 connected via mini jack. The controller sucks the juice from the laptop via the mini USB cable. The black, inconspicuous plastic case pulls an ace out of its sleeve: The underside is transparent so that RGB LEDs flash in time with the music.
The DJControl Starlight unpacked
The DJSpeaker 32
The active monitors, which are 295 x 135 x 155 millimeters in size and made of 6 millimeter thick fiberboard, provide sound in two ways. The 3-inch bass driver with its eye-catching yellow membrane pushes the bass out of two bass reflex ducts.
The treble is generated by a dome tweeter. Since the loudspeakers have no tone control, but only level control, you have to come to terms with the sound of the 2×15 watt loud speakers. Only the active loudspeaker box has to be connected to the master output of the DJControl Starlight using the included mini-jack cinch cable.
The other is connected to the connection cable via the clip-push connections of both boxes.
The two DJSpeaker 32
The HDP DJ M40.2
The fact that the closed DJ headphones HDP DJ M40.2 differs from its predecessor can be seen from the new, eye-catching Hercules logo on the circumaural shells. In terms of color, it remains true to the chic matt black.
The temple construction differs from version 40.1 only in the details: The branding is missing on the temple covered with synthetic leather. The underside of the headband is very little padded against pressure.
Nice to look at from the side
The temple extension can be adjusted to the individual head size in eight locking steps. With the subsequent combi-joint you can fold the circumaural capsules inwards, so that the headphone “folded up” saves space in the pocket. On the other hand, the capsules can also rotate 90 degrees around the Y axis.
Thanks to the suspension, which can be moved by 180 degrees, the shells with the exchangeable, very soft foam-padded earpads covered with synthetic leather also adapt to the position on the ear. One-sided hearing is possible by holding a capsule in my hand. In contrast, the joint combination does not allow the capsule to be turned away from the ear as with the Sennheiser HD25.
… and so the headphones can be folded up to the smallest possible size
The two-meter-long spiral cable, which appears to be quite robust, ends at the left capsule and ends on a mini jack plug plus adapter with a 6.3 millimeter jack plug.
Exact information on the specs can only be found in the instructions for use, on the other hand, people keep a low profile on the web. Like the predecessor model, it is a 50 millimeter dynamic driver with a frequency response of 50 Hz to 20 kilohertz; compared to the predecessor model, it loses 30 Hz in the bass.
In contrast, its impedance is at a low 32 ohms (with the HDP DJ M40.1 it is 60 ohms) and its sensitivity increases from 95 decibels (HDP DJ M40.1) to 105 decibels.
The DJStarter Kit with all components
In addition to the individual components and the downloadable Serato DJ Lite, the scope of delivery of the DJStarter Kit includes a USB cable for the controller, the power cable for the active speakers, a cinch mini-jack and a speaker connection cable. The enclosed quick start guide shows briefly how everything is to be connected.
If you choose the Hercules DJStarter package, you will attach great importance to a simple, self-explanatory workflow and mobility. After all, you should be able to build and operate the coordinated setup quickly and without much prior knowledge. Since DJControl Starlight and DJMonitor 32 do not have many connections, the structure and connection are self-explanatory.
Connect the master output of the controller with the cinch input of the boxes, supply the active loudspeaker with power and link the two boxes with the appropriate cable. The headphones and the laptop are connected to the controller, Serato DJ Lite downloaded from the webpage, installed, then you can start.
The headphones are plugged in here
The DJControl Starlight
We tested the small Hercules controller some time ago. That’s why I’m concentrating more on the workflow and the interaction of the controller with the other components of the kit. If you adjust the expectations of the DJControl Starlight to its equipment and price, you will not be disappointed.
Because in principle you can hang up with the controller. The feedback from the transport and performance pads is too harsh for me, but they respond without latency in order to hit the beat exactly when mixing. Thanks to the sync button, it is child’s play to adjust the BPM.
On the other hand, it is like tinkering with matching the beats with pitch control and jog wheel. The short fader path of the pitch control makes precise adjustments difficult. Nevertheless, I can keep the phase quite well with the tiny jog wheel, so that even classic beatmatching by hand is possible.
Only from the seat I feel a bit tight between the pitch fader and jog wheel, my fingers occasionally hit the wheel on the fader while bending the pitch.
You also need practice to accurately drop beats in vinyl mode with the touch-sensitive jog wheel. The beat feels too spongy under the sensitive handwheel. I feel the latency even more when scratching.
The tiny cogs aren’t really designed for it. Especially since the cut-in of the crossfader on the hard curve is too big. That’s why you should switch to other more professional controllers or even better turntables in this discipline.
Thanks to the built-in sound card, both the DJSpeaker 32 and the HDP DJ M40.2 headphones produce quite good sound. Unfortunately, the master signal output is quite quiet, so that the two volume and master controls have to be turned up quite a bit so that what comes out of the speakers.
On the other hand, I hear a very crisp signal under the headphones, due to the low impedance and high sensitivity of the HDP DJ M40.2.
The HDP DJ M40.2
The circumaural headphones adapt to the individual head sizes quite well, but also have some limits. Because it is not suitable for very small heads. It sits quite well on my head with the bracket completely retracted, but it should be too big for smaller people and therefore wobble slightly.
Rather unsuitable for a starter kit aimed at young teenagers. With the bow extension, which can be extended in eight steps, the headphones can also accommodate very large heads, but the extended arms slide too easily over the notched positions. This makes it difficult to find the right attitude for the head.
Unfortunately, the temples slipped too quickly over the positions.
Nevertheless, the temple extensions stay in place even when headbanging. This is also ensured by the round driver recesses in the circumaural capsules, in which the ears literally click into place.
For my little ears like tailor-made, for larger eavesdroppers it should be tight. The very soft padding of the earpads cushions the pressure of the bracket very well, so that the headphones sit comfortably.
The same applies to the synthetic leather cover on the headband, which is not as lush as on the earpads, but still covers and cushions the plastic construction very well. If you like to monitor the monitoring with just one ear without holding the shell in your hand, you can simply slide a capsule behind your ear. The plastic bracket tolerates this slightly twisted position.
The HDP DJ M40.2 is particularly impressive in terms of its volume. The headphones can also take on less powerful headphone amplifiers. It is therefore ideal for pre-listening to the signal, even in a noisy environment. The closed capsules dampen background noises accordingly.
On the other hand, you should reduce your sonic requirements a bit. Because its sound lacks deep bass. Above 50 Hertz it transmits well, but I miss the warm carpet. On the other hand, it emphasizes the mids quite strongly, which impairs the naturalness and transparency of the sound.
I only find its heights well-measured and quite precise. This means that the HDP DJ M40.2 is definitely well suited for hanging up, but not for enjoyable listening.
The DJSpeaker 32
The loudspeakers were presented and tested in detail as part of the series test (32, 42, 32 Party). Accordingly, only a brief assessment of how the monitor boxes perform in the set. As already mentioned, the master output is quite weak and the controls have to be turned up quite a bit on the box.
At volume levels at which the loudspeakers already reach their limits, the level knob still has some room for improvement.
However, it rattles. That is why the boxes are only enough for the first DJ attempts, sessions for yourself and a few friends in the bedroom. Neither the monitors, the controller nor the headphones are designed for larger “appearances”.
The Hercules DJ Starter Kit lives up to its name. With its components, the DJControl Starlight DJ controller, the DJSpeaker 32 active loudspeakers and the HDP DJ M40.2 headphones, the French manufacturer has put together a package with which you can get started from the gut (even) without previous DJ knowledge.
The simple handling, but also the limited features speak for this. Mixing works quite well with the controller, even without sync. For scratching, on the other hand, you should get more professional equipment. So if you know in advance that you want to approach DJing professionally, you should better put together a setup according to your needs.
For the sound output, Hercules includes the rather loud HDP DJ M40.2 headphones, which sit comfortably, are well isolated, but unfortunately emphasize the mids too much. In contrast, the two active speakers transport the 44.1 kHz and 24 bit resolved sound of the controller naturally and transparently into your own four walls.
However, they are not sufficient for larger sound reinforcements. A budding DJ who initially gets an “overview” with the inexpensive entry-level setup does not expect that either. In the end, there is a complete package of boxes, controller, headphone and software for just under $170. A manageable investment to start DJing.