Compact with bling-bling
If you are a beginner or a hobby DJ looking for a small and compact DJ controller for at home or on the go, you might also like the Hercules DJControl Starlight. The device is designed for Serato DJ and costs a whopping € 79.99. In addition to various controls for the mix, the controller is equipped with an integrated audio interface and would like to support its use by its special RGB underbody lighting when placing it …
Hercules DJControl Starlight Details
Hercules’ new lighting design DJControl Starlight addresses aspiring DJs and hobbyists. The “biplane” is delivered in a colorful cardboard box containing information on device functions and information on the system requirements. The controller measures 34 x 10 centimeters, weighs barely 500 grams and should fit into popular laptop bags and messenger bags. Installation media are not included with the device, but a USB cable, a multilingual quick start manual, the installation and operating instructions are and the usual leaflet with safety and warranty information.
Despite its lightweight and compact design, the “kleene Hercules” has a lot to offer and comes loaded with Serato DJ Lite, which can be upgraded to the Pro version on request or at face value. Beforehand, you can try Serato’s flagship software confidently for two weeks. However, Starlight does not fish alone in the entry-level waters, because Numark also serves the Serato clientele with the DJ2Go2 controller bar and Hercules itself has low-cost solutions in its range with the Compact (test here) and its siblings.
Hercules Starlight: sleek design and yet all-round on the pan
Controller, cable, leaflet – that was in the box
Layout and connections
Hercules DJControl Starlight has a built-in 4-channel audio interface (0/4) that provides the DJ with both master and headphone output. These are designed as a mini jack and are located on the respective outer edges: headphones right, Master left, where the mini-USB socket sits. The interface works with 44.1 kHz and 24 bit. Let’s take a look at the control panel. Each deck features a touch-sensitive jogwheel, along with transport buttons (Sync, Cue, Play / Pause, and Shift: Sync Off, Stutter, Back) and multi-functional, blue-lit effect pads for hotcues, loops, FX, and samplers. The mode is selected with two dedicated keys and the Shift key.
The 40-millimeter short pitch sits on the outside next to the initially somewhat stiff jog wheel, which can be used for pitch-bending and via vinyl button also for scratching. The crossfader also measures 40 millimeters and can be adjusted in the software – “scratch or mix”, as it is popular. 65 millimeters is the diameter of the plate. That’s enough for babyscratches.
The sound is adjusted via a smooth bass / filter control (the mode determines the corresponding radio button), is leveled with the somewhat sluggish volume knob. Two more pots with higher rotational resistance determine the volume on the sum output and the headphones. What you hear there is determined by the headphone buttons in combination with the previously set mode “Cue + Mix” or “Cue Master”. Turning the Starlight upside down reveals the underbody lighting in the form of four LEDs behind a milky semi-transparent plastic disc. Four rubber feet give the controller a grip on the table.
Hercules DJControl Starlight in practice
The test subject feels properly processed and quite valuable. Due to its elongated construction, it takes up little space in front of the laptop and the cables run sideways. That fits.
Hercules DJControl Starlight fits great on and off the 15.4-inch MacBook Pro
Serato DJ Lite is available via download from Serato’s website. Furthermore, there is a driver package on Hercules website, which suggests that you might be able to operate the Starlight with the new Hercules DJUCED software, but that’s not the case. That’s a pity, because the sibling controllers work very well with the program according to the list.
Serato DJ Lite version 1.05 is now installed on my MacBook, the controller is connected and set up after a little bling-bling. Since there is no navigation encoder or any charging buttons, which I find very unfortunate, is to fill the decks always the handle to the notebook required. When music is playing, the DJControl Starlight lives up to its name and starts flashing, with a few explanations later.
Within the Serato-Preferences can be known to make only a few settings, which should be very accommodating especially beginners. All the more surprising that there is a panel for the seven different light control modes: Off, On, Beat Fade, Beat Flash, Master Volume (Strobo Effect) and Waveform Color, and Cuepoint Countdown, explained below:
- Beat Flash: The LEDs light up red during the first beat of the track and turn blue in the following beats and go off between the individual beats.
- Beat Fade: The LEDs turn red at the first beat of the track and turn blue at the following beats without extinguishing.
- Master Volume: The LEDs light up white depending on the volume (strobe effect).
- Waveform Color: 2 LEDs reproduce the wave color of the respective tracks.
- Cuepoint Countdown: 2 LEDs light up in stages, depending on the color of the next cue point.
Whether you actually want to define this as a visual mixing aid for yourself, is at your own discretion. It’s always nice to see a little bling-bling. I personally like the blue-red alternating flashing (red on the 1/4-stroke) quite well. On-top, various RGB colors can be switched via shortcut on the device (Bass / Filter button + pad 1), but Serato Lite always sets this back to blue and red.
The jogwheel is small but functional
In practice, Serato and Starlight are doing well together. With the pitch and handwheel, the tracks can be well brought into lockstep. Since the tempo fader with 1/10 percent dissolves, you may not get the pieces of music one hundred percent equal pitched and they run apart at some point, until then, the transition should be completed, some musical genre Beatmixing not anyway. Speaking of which: Since Serato DJ Lite does not output a beatgrid, here you have only “Simple Sync”, ie Transients + Tempo. Serato should be wrong, but that is with the jog wheel and the Vorhöroption on the perhaps not very loud, but correct enough for hobby use sufficient headphone output. A pitch correction is also on board, so it does not come to “Mickey Mouse effects” when pitching.
Hotcues, FX, Loop and Sample Pads in Personal Union
The combi filter sounds respectable and is a welcome effect when transitioning via filter mixing or during runtime. Four hotcues can be defined, deleted and played by the user, autoloops can be captured in sizes from 1 to 8, four freely assignable sample pads (default: horn, chord, drop, sweep) are triggered. In addition there are three button-switchable effects plus FX-Timing-Durchschaltung, only in one direction, the intensity of which you can set in the software beforehand. This can already do something. The idea of declaring a bass sink and a filter for the transitions and as a sound FX is not a bad one. Maybe in some eyes better than taking a two-band and giving up the Gains, although Serato DJ also offers autogain.
Conclusion (3.5 / 5)
Hercules DJControl Starlight is a low-cost, entry-level DJ controller that directs Serato DJ Lite with its built-in USB audio interface and more than two dozen controls. The device is equipped with a headphone and master output for the desktop boxes and is powered via USB. For the mix session, the transport section, the jog wheels, the mixer, a pitch and the “Tone control” are all basic tools for playing, syncing and fading in addition Hercules has on top of that two multifunctional pad sections for creative deposits such as FX (only on / off) and loops integrated. One could criticize that the jog wheels are quite small, Due to the lack of navigation elements for each new track the grip to the notebook is required and the Starlight (still) does not work with Hercules DJUCED. If this is not an exclusion criterion, you get with the Starlight a nice tool for the party in the circle of friends or on the go on the hand. The attractive price is another plus.
- compact, lightweight controller
- integrated audio interface
- proper command palette for Serato
- Serato Intro included
- neither browser encoder nor load buttons
- is not (yet?) running with Hercules DJUCED
- Jogwheels pretty small
- Effect control only on / off
Hercules DJControl Starlight Test
- integrated audio interface with master and headphone output
- touch-sensitive jog wheels
- 4 pads with 4 modes (Hot Cue, Loop, FX, Sampler)
- Cruise control for pitch adjustment
- Bass EQ / Filter buttons and Deck Volume controls
- Overall level controller
Price: 79 euros