When even big-name DJs like Pete Tong and Sasha start dropping vinyl in favour of MP3s, you know that the era of the digital mixing desk is upon us. Hercules already offers the cheap and cheerful USB DJ Console Mark II, but that desk seems to be a mere plaything in comparison to the much more sturdy and professional looking Hercules DJ Console Rmx.
At £250, the Rmx is also double the price, so is it really all that much better than its sibling?
The Rmx is a DJ mixing desk that's designed to be connected to a PC or Mac via USB and used with DJing software to mix MP3 and other compressed music formats. Whereas Hercules's previous USB model, the DJ Console Mark II, was quite a plasticky affair designed more for bedroom DJs, the Rmx is housed in a solid metal chassis and really looks and feels like it's ready for life on the road or at least a life of grimy mixing down the local boozer.
Unlike a lot of rival USB desks, the console has a good range of connections on the rear for hooking up external kit. There are two pairs of phono connectors complete with ground terminals for connecting a set of turntables. These can also be switched so they act as line-in sockets for an external sound source like a CD player.
The front of the console houses all the main DJing controls, including a plethora of back-lit buttons and a smooth cross fader for mixing one track into another. It's the two large jog wheels that are going to attract most of the attention. As standard, these are set to allow you to easily cue up the tracks that you've loaded into the bundled Atomix VirtualDJ 5 software, but at the touch of a button, they suddenly transform into a pair of scratch wheels for some scratch-tastic action.
Most people are going to want to use this desk for beat mixing, seamlessly layering one track over another with the beats in perfect sync. Here, the Rmx's software attempts to lend a helping hand. It analyses the tracks you're currently trying to mix and provides visual markers on the screen for where the beats drop. This makes it a good deal easier to beat mix, but if you're still having trouble, you can turn to the sync button, which will attempt to automatically sync up the two tracks correctly.
You're not just limited to using the Rmx with its supplied software. The desk sends out MIDI controller information so it can be used with a broad range of mixing packages, including Native Instruments' popular Traktor DJing software. Another plus is that the desk also doubles as a USB soundcard. You won't need to unplug it when you simply want to watch a movie or listen to net radio.
It's good that most of the buttons on the Rmx are backlit, but it's a shame that the same attention hasn't been paid to the dial and sliders. It would have made them easier to read in dingy clubs and pubs.
Although the scratch wheels feel solid and have a nicely rubberised, easily gripped surface, they don't feel quite as accurate as actually physically moving a piece of vinyl. As a result, it takes a while to get used to how they behave when scratching or cueing up tracks.
Also, beginners will find that the supplied software doesn't take all the pain out of beat mixing tracks. This is because the Sync feature only really works well when the speed of the two tracks is already matched pretty closely.
The Rmx is a great piece of kit. Not only does it feel like it's built to last, but it also comes with good mixing software and has a wealth of top notch features. If you're serious about DJing, you'll find that the extra outlay over its cheaper sibling is money well spent.
Edited by Shannon Doubleday