DDJ-400 vs. Inpulse 500: Why Hercules Is a Better Option in 2022
Even though I acknowledge that Pioneer DJ is one of the most well-known brands on the market, I don't necessarily think their beginner DJ controllers are the best available.
And I'm not saying they're bad; on the contrary. There is a lot of competition in this industry, so businesses must find a way to stand apart.
The Hercules Inpulse 500 and Pioneer DDJ 400 are two of the most popular entry-level controllers in this market. They are not only very inexpensive, but they also have excellent sound quality and are simple to use for those just getting started.
Hercules makes an effort to be as user-friendly as possible for beginners. The Beatmatch Guide is a great idea, and the DJ academy built into DJuced is an excellent place to start.
Because I was purchasing one for my son, I did a lot of research on this. A nearly-purchased DDJ-400 was replaced by a Hercules Inpulse 500.
He is new to the field of DJing and this is his first controller, but it's really amazing for him! The performance pads have excellent tactility, the jog wheels are enormous, and the construction quality is outstanding.
Which, however, is the better option for you?
Choose the DDJ-400 if you want a more cheap controller and superior DJ software, such as the free Rekordbox DJ. But go with the Hercules Inpulse 500 if you want a great build, a better beatmatch helper, and a BPM tuner.
However, both are wise decisions, and neither is a bad choice.
In this article, I'll try to compare these two controllers objectively and perhaps help you pick between the two.
Why Hercules Is a Decent Competitor to Pioneer
In the DJ community, Hercules is regarded as an entry-level brand. You'll observe that the corporation grows more inventive and offers some extremely great equipment every year.
The only person more annoying than a liar is someone foolish enough to pay attention to him. (Killosophy, Criss Jami) You can enquire about the Pioneer enthusiast's experiences with the 500 and the Hercules controllers he's tried.
When Pioneer showed little interest in computer DJing in 2003, Hercules started the genre. Without Hercules, Pioneer zealots could still only utilize CDJs because they created the modern controller format (2 decks, central mixer, 2 x stereo out with 1 for master, 1 for preview).
Pioneer's gear lifespan is shorter than Hercules' because of longer driver support:
The first DJ controllers made by Hercules (DJ Console Mk2 (launched in 2005), Rmx (2008), 4-Mx (2011), etc.) are still supported by current versions of macOS thanks to annual driver upgrades.
In contrast, Pioneer's first controllers, the SEP-C1 (released in 2008), DDJ-S1 & T1 (2011), and DDJ-Ergo (2012), are incompatible with current versions of macOS. For more information, see Catalina's list of Pioneer DJ supported models with the notation "Models that are not noted below are no longer supported."
To reduce latency in Windows and safeguard users from Windows upgrades that could change the audio (such as disconnecting audio inputs when disabling Cortana, muting the second output, or virtualizing audio after games are setup), Hercules provides ASIO drivers for each controller with audio.
The DD-SB3 and 400 are examples of home controllers without ASIO drivers from Pioneer. Rekordbox's built-in ASIO engine prevents delay when used with the DDJ-400, however the absence of ASIO drivers causes latency and issues with WASAPI audio settings when used with other programs like VirtualDJ, Traktor, or Mixxx.
Comparison of the DDJ-400 and Inpulse 500
Why Did I Choose Inpulse 500 Over DDJ-400 for My Son
I ultimately opted for the Hercules for my child (16 y.o.) because it's a bit larger, and he preferred the feel of its metal cased knobs and metal construction. I saw that it has more inputs/outputs and offers more functionality for the money.
The Inpulse's build quality, foot risers, mic, and aux inputs all appealing to me. Those inputs are uncommon in this price range.
When we were looking, he favored its general layout over the DDJ-400, and the RGB pads and beat align light are excellent touches. Once you start using beat matching by ear, you might as well keep that going (just as a visual reminder).
The other controllers have been on the market for a while, although the Inpulse 500 is only a few years old. My son requested something modern and not out of date. I concurred.
Hercules' version of Serato, DJuced, is preinstalled on the Inpulse 500. Although DJuced is also quite good and comes with a full version out of the box, he uses it with Serato Pro. Serato Lite disables a number of features for the Hercules, thus you must either purchase Serato Pro or use DJuced.
DDJ-400 is a good machine, however Inpulse 500 is better made.
I'll attest to the fact that Pioneer equipment is really well manufactured as do the majority of DJs. I have a Pioneer DDJ-1000, and they all seem to be of extremely high quality and to be very well made.
The DDJ-400 is adequately constructed for an inexpensive controller, but because of the lower quality plastics used throughout the controller's shell, it lacks the sturdy feel that is typical of Pioneer DJ controllers.
In comparison, the Inpulse 500 is the more attractive starter controller because of its greater build quality, metal housing, and overall good looks.
The casing is strong and feels solid, and the sliders and knobs are entirely made of metal. The rubberized pads have a smooth, positive click. It sports larger jog wheels and performance pads made of rubber.
The colorful pads are also nice. They are a miracle for my son who struggles with dyslexia and gets a little confused when the pads are the same color. Typically, those are only available on expensive controllers.
Hercules Impulse 500 is still a budget controller, but its size and the metal plate behind the mixer section give the impression that it is well constructed considering its cost, which supports the redundant design.
The controllers are all about the same size in terms of compactness. When it comes to weight and dimensions, there aren't many differences.
The Inpulse 500 (3.2 kg) weighs 0.4 kg more than the DDJ-400 (2.8 kg), but is somewhat wider. Again, the content on Inpulse is heavier and has a larger feel, so there are gains and losses throughout.
The DDJ-400 resembles CDJs more closely
The DDJ-400 might be a better choice if you want to make a career out of this and/or if you want to play in clubs or on professional equipment because it has a layout that is comparable to the flagship equipment and uses the same software.
All of Pioneer's controllers are made to resemble their CDJs, their top-of-the-line equipment utilized by the most well-known DJs in the world.
The DDJ-400 is excellent if you want a controller to get acquainted to the configurations that you may subsequently find in many clubs because it follows this trend by having a more club-oriented layout.
Although there are some differences, the Hercules controller and CDJs are still rather similar. The play and cue buttons are rectangle-shaped in contrast to Pioneer's circle-shaped button.
If you're only doing home parties or bars, the Hercules would be sufficient, and I don't think you'd feel confined with it by any means.
Superior DJ Software is Included with the DDJ-400 for Free
Software is Hercules' main problem. You receive the complete version of their proprietary software DJuced when you purchase it, albeit some users have occasionally found it to be a touch buggy. But recently, things greatly improved.
However, it's not that horrible. MIDI mappings for Virtual DJ, Traktor 2 and 3, and Djay Pro 2 are available for download.
Additionally, Inpulse 500 works with Serato.
Serato Lite is available for free download, although it lacks many of the functions of the Hercules controller.
Having said that, Serato Pro and the Hercules pair incredibly well, and my son currently utilizes that setup. It strikes me as being quite strong and stable.
He adores the music recommendation tool for in-the-moment mixing practice. In a nutshell, to paraphrase the 'balls'
Instead of DJuced or Serato Lite, the DDJ-400 comes with the fully-featured Rekordbox 6, saving you $100 alone on the upgrade cost. Additionally, it will probably retain its worth better for when you need an upgrade.
Pioneer made sure that this software is compatible with their players and controllers, and it has succeeded in this goal. Rekordbox DJ is praised by many DJs for being easy to use, intuitive, and equipped with enough capabilities to meet the needs of even the most discerning DJs.
Additionally, compared to Rekordbox, which supports a wide variety of controllers on the market, DJuced DJ software only supports a small number of available controllers.
The DDJ-400 may be a better option if you intend to mix with Rekordbox or Pioneer equipment in the future.
Hercules 500 Inpulse possesses the "Beatmatch Guide" feature
Both controllers are intended for the entry-level market, but the Hercules is unquestionably the winner in terms of which one is best for novices.
Beatmatching is one of the more straightforward things that novice DJs frequently struggle with, and this is where the Hercules Inpulse 500 really shines. It has a few essential components that will aid a DJ in several critical steps of the mixing process.
The "beatmatch guidance" feature is a feature of the Inpulse 500. When you're adding a track to the second deck, this sophisticated little feature consists of two arrows that direct you to crank the jog wheel.
A highly important function for anyone who has not yet learnt to beatmatch manually, and if this is your situation, you have to really consider this controller. Using the Beatmatch Guide is unquestionably preferable to being familiar with the sync.
Price Trends to 2022
There isn't much of a pricing difference between these two. The numbers that we can find on Amazon as of November 2021 are:
- Around $300 for a Hercules Inpulse 500
- Pioneer DDJ-400, which costs about $250
The difference is about $50, as we can see. We can see that Hercules is a little more expensive when professional software is factored in. However, you are not required to buy it right away. The included DJuced DJ software on the Inpulse 500 is more than adequate for starting started, and it gets better with each upgrade.
The Inpulse 500 Gold edition is a stunning controller with elegant, eye-catching gold marks that stand out and a gold-colored metal base plate for the mixer in the center.
Around $450 will get you the Hercules Inpulse 500 Gold Edition (which has a Serato DJ Pro license and more features, loops, and cue points).
The special characteristics of Hercules are difficult to find in any other controller, let alone one made by Pioneer.
Let Me Guide Your Decision
Both controllers are reliable and excellent for intermediate to advanced DJs. The Inpulse 500 was chosen by my kid for a few different reasons. The DDJ-400 doesn't feel horrible by any means, but it is undeniably a little more plasticky feeling, and to us, the Hercules just seemed better to use. He first and foremost favors the larger size and heftier build of the Hercules.
Though the DDJ-400 is what the majority of DJs recommend, I think the Inpulse 500 is a better choice for a beginner controller. If you incorporate the cost of a second DJ program, like Serato Pro, the 600 has far more functionality than the 400 does.
There are a ton of tutorials on the DDJ-400 you can watch online to learn how to DJ, but these videos never specify the exact same equipment. Additionally, during the learning period, having fun will be more important than studying every online instruction.
The DDJ-400 has received a lot of attention in recent years, and it is unquestionably a fantastic controller. It's only that the Inpulse 500s capability is being visibly shadowed.
I can promise that if you continue on this DJ journey with your Hercules Inpulse 500 and DJuced or Serato DJ Lite/Pro, you won't need to buy a new controller any time soon.