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Everybody wants to be a DJ. It’s true. Most people associate the word DJ with someone standing in a raised booth pumping their arms in the air and being cheered on by an ecstatic crowd. This is what the media have slowly been defining the DJ as over the years. Films and TV have left behind the cheesy wedding disco DJ, they’ve forgotten the radio DJ, and glamorised the Pete Tong wannabes. Stereotypes aside we can all relate to being at a house party pushing your friends out of the way to put the next CD on. Then each track lasts about 2 minutes before someone else plays their next all time favourite song or tune to the dismay of those finding the constant change of music a little annoying. Home computers, laptops, and iPods are changing this with playlists that go on for years, but we all still miss being in control of the music. You don’t have to be a music fanatic to know what you like to listen to.

This is where companies like Hercules step in with a DJ console under their arm. You still have your thousands of mp3s available, but you also now have a dedicated DJ. The idea of the DJ Console is to allow people to mix and scratch their mp3 collection to their heart’s content. By providing an external box you nearly have 2 decks and a mixer rolled into one. Without the need of a setting up a complete sound system, total control of the music can be achieved with little more than a computer with a soundcard, a stereo to connect to, and a selection of mp3s. It seems so easy. The question is who is this really targeted at, and how easy is it for them to use.

When I first heard about and saw this piece of kit I was a little excited. I have been watching technology evolve in the music industry for a long time, and I am beginning to wonder if I should have begun using CD decks earlier. So upon seeing an all-in-one bundle for mixing mp3s I jumped at the opportunity to give it a go.

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Installing the software should be easy. In fact, it’s rare to find software that is difficult to install these days, but for some reason there was no option to install anything on the menu. This was quite clearly an oversight because a little rummaging around revealed the software to be on the CD. I was not impressed, but fortunately something like that will not get left unresolved for too long.

Once you install the software Virtual DJ, which comes bundled with the console you are very much up and running. Configuration is kept down to a minimum and the interface is quite intuitive. Loading up tracks is super easy and achieved by dragging and dropping music files into the window with a progress bar below the decks displaying how far into the track you were. Effects like looping are useful and the beat match an excellent idea, although it did not always work. You can apply sound effects and samples for that extra touch, which is great since more and more DJs are being creative with their sets these days.

The virtual decks themselves were very responsive and simply grabbing it with the mouse allowed me to scratch and beat match as I normally do with a real set of decks. I immediately found myself mixing within minutes of loading up Virtual DJ, which was a positive sign.

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The immediate benefits are obvious as everything is available at the click of the mouse. This is perfect for me as I am very passionate about a software’s ability to be driven purely on mouse.