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Hercules DJControl Inpulse 300 MK2 review

Updated and completely redesigned, the second-generation Inpulse 300 remains an excellent option for anyone wanting to learn how to DJ.

Freshly updated for 2023, the Hercules DJControl Inpulse 300 MK2 is a new version of the original Inpulse 300, a popular entry-level DJ controller which offered features to help beginners learn to mix. Designed to compete with affordably priced rivals like the Pioneer DDJ-200 and Numark Mixtrack Platinum FX. The 300 MK2 has a few features which set it apart from its rivals.

​The MK2 model proves to be a comprehensive reworking of the original version. The basics are similar but there are changes and improvements all over, from the jog wheels to the new LED level meters in the mixer section. The four performance pads per deck on the original version have been upgraded to eight each, which does make things slightly more cramped around the cue and play buttons but it’s a compromise worth making for the improved performance options. Overall, it’s a solidly built little unit with a nice feel to the controls and a logical layout. Hercules might not be as well known as other DJ brands like Pioneer or Denon, but if you learn to DJ on this controller you’ll easily be able to transfer your skills to other hardware.

Setting up the 300 is a simple case of connecting it to your computer, hooking up a suitable pair of speakers and plugging in your headphones. At this point you have the choice of software, either Djuced or Serato DJ Lite, which are both included. Serato is probably considered a slightly more professional option, but Djuced has the advantage of giving you access to Hercules DJ Academy video content within the app. If you opt for Serato, there’s plenty of tutorial content on the Hercules YouTube channel (and elsewhere). In use, the Inpulse 300 MK2 is very good; there’s a nice positive feel to all of the controls, responsive jog wheels and a good spacing to the most frequently used controls, such as the three-band EQ in the mixer section and the filter knobs below. There are no hidden surprises, which is exactly what you want when you’re getting started.

The Inpulse 300 has a couple of selling points which set it apart from other controllers in this price range. When selecting tracks, you can use the controller’s Assistant button to activate Djuced’s Intelligent Music Assistant. This will refine your music selection down to tracks which roughly match the BPM, key and energy of the track currently playing. Dialing the rotary knob changes the colour of a multi-coloured backlit ring behind it, allowing you to adjust the energy level. With the track loaded, hitting the Beatmatch Guide button activates mixing assistance, showing you which direction you need to adjust the tempo and which way you need to nudge the jog wheel via red arrows, helping you learn to beatmatch and mix tracks. It’s worth pointing out that all of these options can be switched off if you don’t need them, but they’re nice to have if you’re just getting started.

The improvements over the MK1 model are substantial here, especially with the increased options that you get from eight performance pads per deck. With that said, owners of the MK1 model may be more tempted to upgrade to a mid-range controller rather than making the step to the MK2. Instead, the MK2 will most likely appeal to complete newcomers to DJing, and in that respect it hits the mark perfectly.

Greg Scarth

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