Hercules Inpulse 500 Review – A Serious DJ Controller for Those on a Budget

by Anthony /

One of the most talked about DJ controllers on the market, the Hercules Inpulse series has made its mark across the world, providing a classic-style club layout that is affordable and easy to use. In this Hercules Inpulse 500 review, I’ll put the DJ controller through its paces whilst comparing it to its smaller sibling – the Inpulse 200, showcasing the benefits and differences between the two.

We’ll look at the pros and cons of the controller, discussing the feel, playability, build quality, built-in FX, performance pads, and all the features that make the Inpulse 500 stand out from the crowd. Its affordable price tag combined with its heavy feature set, make it perfect for beginners and professionals.

In a hurry? Here’s the verdict

With a build quality that surpasses expectations for its price point, the Hercules Inpulse 500 features sizeable, touch-sensitive jog wheels, RGB performance pads, and comprehensive input and output options, including a balanced mic input and auxiliary inputs – features not commonly found in entry-level controllers.

Its compatibility with both Serato DJ Lite and Hercules’ DJUCED software, alongside hardware elements like a two-channel mixer with effects, EQs, and a unique Beatmatch Guide, cater to a broad range of DJing skills and styles.

Particularly, its Beatmatch Guide is an innovative tool for beginners, making it a solid choice for those new to DJing while still offering the depth and flexibility needed for more advanced techniques and performances. For those who are just starting out, or for professionals who need a portable controller – the Inpulse 200 is a great choice.

Great build quality with a club-style layoutDoes not include 'Stems' functionality unlike the 200 MK2
5.5-inch touch-sensitive jog wheels feel great to the touchFour FX slots may be limiting to some DJs
Variety of onboard effects with dialable rotary controlsLacks a display for navigation


Master output (speakers)2 x 1/4” / 6.35 mm jack + 2 x RCA
Headphones output1/8” / 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack + 1/4” / 6.35 mm stereo jack
Auxiliary input2 x RCA + 1/8” / 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack
Microphone inputbalanced 1/4” / 6.35 mm jack
Audio resolution44.1 kHz / 24-bit
Jog wheel diameter5.5”
Weight7 lb / 3.2 kg
Dimensions21.3 x 11.7 x 2.8 inches / 54.2 x 29.6 x 7 cm

Hercules Inpulse 500 review

First impressions

Hercules DJControl Inpulse 500 and a pair of Hercules headphonesThe Hercules DJ Control Inpulse 500 has a solid build quality and thoughtful layout, designed to accommodate DJs of all skill levels. From the get-go, the controller feels premium with its sizeable, touch-sensitive jog wheels and well-spaced interface, ensuring ease of use and comfort during lengthy mixing sessions.

The controls, including RGB pads, EQ knobs, and effects buttons, are intuitively laid out and responsive, with each section of the controller clearly delineated for a smooth workflow.

Notably, the Inpulse 500 makes no compromises on connectivity, offering a range of inputs and outputs that exceed expectations for controllers in its class.

This attention to detail extends to its software compatibility, with support for both Serato DJ Lite and DJUCED, making it a versatile choice for both beginners and experienced DJs.

The controller’s clear, uncluttered interface and robust controls underscore Hercules’ commitment to quality and usability.

Build quality

Don’t be fooled by its price tag, the Inpulse 500’s build quality strikes a balance between durability and portability. Despite its primarily plastic construction, the controller feels solid and robust, designed to withstand the rigours of mobile DJing. The metal faceplate adds a touch of class and further reinforces its build, offering a sturdy platform for the myriad of controls.

Its size is conducive to both practice and performance, providing ample space for its features without feeling cumbersome. Additionally, the controller’s feet are designed to elevate it slightly, not only improving ergonomics but also incorporating subtle lighting effects that contribute to its aesthetic appeal.

This combination of thoughtful design elements – from the metal faceplate to the practical application of its built-in feet – demonstrates Hercules’ commitment to offering a controller that feels premium in hand and stable during use, catering to the expectations of both beginner and experienced DJs alike. Not only that but, both the Inpulse 500 and 200 models come with a braided USB cable for maximum durability.

The decks in use

Hercules DJControl Inpulse 500 decksThe first thing I noticed was the 5.5” jog wheels. They make up a touch-sensitive interface that feels responsive and precise, allowing for nuanced control over track navigation and scratching.

These jog wheels, combined with the controller’s intuitive layout, make for an engaging DJing experience.

However, it’s worth noting that certain features like Quantize and Slip modes are only accessible when using Hercules’ own DJUCED software, necessitating an upgrade to Serato DJ Pro for those who prefer that platform and require full functionality.

The light-up buttons add both a practical and aesthetic touch, enhancing usability in low-light conditions while contributing to the unit’s modern look.

There’s also a Beatmatch Guide feature which is particularly innovative, offering visual cues to aid beginners in matching beats – a clever addition that underscores the Inpulse 500’s suitability for DJs at the start of their journey, yet it retains value for more seasoned DJs honing their manual beatmatching skills.

Performance pads

The performance pads have a great tactile response and multifunctionality. These pads offer Hot Cue, Loop, Slicer, and Sampler modes, providing DJs with the essential tools needed for dynamic performances.

I found the pad’s responsiveness to be instant, with a satisfying feel under my fingers, which is crucial for precise cueing and looping. The RGB lighting not only makes these pads visually appealing but also serves a practical purpose, making it easier to distinguish between different modes during a set.

The sampler mode is great for triggering sound effects, as well as finger-drumming, allowing you to make remixes on the fly using drum/melodic samples.

Equipped with eight performance pads for each deck, the Inpulse 500 offers a huge range of possibilities when it comes to mixing. In comparison, the Inpulse 200 also features eight performance pads which are backlit, but without the RGB colour range – which can limit its visual feedback when constructing more complex mixes.

Despite how easy to use and responsive the jog wheels and performance pads are, the brightness of the VU meters and performance pads could be improved. If you’re DJing in bright environments or outdoors, these might be difficult to see. The VU meters, however, are a step up from the Inpulse 200, which doesn’t feature any – but you can check your levels using DJUCED or Serato for instant visual feedback.

One of the biggest differences between the two controllers is that the Inpulse 200 features built-in ‘Stem Separation’ technology, so you can remix songs live and extract instruments, drums, or vocals at the touch of a button.

Mixers, faders, and EQ

Hercules DJControl Inpulse 500 Mixers, faders, and EQThe mixer section is intuitively designed, catering to both novice and advanced DJs with its detailed features. Central to its functionality is the browse control, strategically placed for easy navigation through tracks, complemented by an innovative LED ring that assists in beat matching.

The mixer’s VU meter, equipped with nine LEDs, offers precise visual feedback on output levels, a feature that stands out for its clarity and detail, even though it shares the common challenge of visibility in bright conditions.

A critical component for DJs of all styles is the crossfader, which, on the Inpulse 500, is engineered for smooth transitions with hardware controls to adjust its behaviour – ideal for those looking to practise or showcase their scratching skills.

The three-band EQ on each channel allows for nuanced sound shaping, ensuring DJs can adjust the bass, mid, and treble frequencies to their preference, enhancing the overall mix quality.

This thoughtful arrangement of controls within the mixer section provides a user-friendly yet sophisticated experience, balancing the needs for performance precision and creative expression​.

Effects and transitions

The Hercules DJ Control Inpulse 500 boasts a comprehensive effects section, featuring a high/low pass filter alongside four dedicated FX buttons, facilitating creative transitions and sound manipulations. The high/low pass filter allows for smooth and nuanced adjustments to the frequency range, adding depth and variation to mixes​.

These filters, in conjunction with the FX buttons, open up a realm of sound effects that can be tailored to your preference, significantly elevating the dynamic of a set. The FX buttons are intuitively integrated within the mixer’s layout, granting easy access to apply and modify effects in real time.

This setup not only serves as a bridge for beginners to experiment with effects but also offers seasoned DJs the flexibility to craft more complex soundscapes​. It also gives the controller plenty of scope to perform in both studio and live settings. 

Inputs and outputs

Hercules DJControl 500 in useWith a versatile range of inputs and outputs that cater to various needs, the Inpulse 500 is a highly adaptable controller for practice sessions and performances.

It features balanced TRS microphone inputs and a 3.5mm TRRS auxiliary input, alongside a stereo line-level input, enabling DJs to integrate external audio sources seamlessly into their mixes.

Both 1/4″ and 1/8″ headphone outputs address the common issue of compatibility with different headphone types, offering flexibility for personal monitoring.

On the output front, the Inpulse 500 is equipped with line-level RCA outputs and unbalanced TS outputs, a thoughtful addition for DJs looking to connect to a variety of sound systems, including guitar amplifiers or audio interfaces.

The Inpulse 200 features streamlined connection options compared to the Inpulse 500, powered via USB and RCA ports for connecting your speakers directly to the controller.

It also features a standard 1/8-inch/3.5mm stereo mini jack connection for the headphones, giving you all the essential connectivity options you should need.

About Hercules

Hercules have built a reputation over 30 years for blending digital advancements with analog roots to deliver high-quality audio solutions.

Recognised for pioneering the first dual-deck mixing controller with a built-in audio interface in 2003, Hercules are a key player in the DJ equipment market, catering to beginners and professionals. They also offer DJ headphones, monitoring speakers, wireless audio speakers (WAE), multimedia speakers, and computer networking accessories.

Hercules Inpulse 200 and 500 DJ Controllers


Is the Hercules Inpulse 500 worth it?

The Hercules Inpulse 500 offers great value for its price, with features suited to both beginners and experienced DJs. Its intuitive layout, solid build, and versatile software compatibility make it a smart investment for those looking to enhance their DJ skills or perform live.

Are Hercules a good DJ brand?

Hercules are highly regarded in the DJ community for their innovative and user-friendly products. The brand have a long history of quality and commitment when it comes to DJ controllers, designed with learners and pros and alike, making them a great choice for any DJ.

What DJ software works with the Hercules Inpulse 500?

Serato DJ Lite and DJUCED both work with the Hercules Inpulse 500.

Final thoughts

Whilst I have DJ’d in the past using analog turntables and CDJs (a long time ago!), the Inpulse 500 was my first introduction to mixing with a DJ controller. Making the transition from the old tech was a breeze thanks to the in-depth tutorials and Beatmatch Guides, and the huge variety of controls on offer helped to stir up my imagination when it came to mixing.

The onboard effects and performance pads opened up a new world of ideas when it comes to mixing, allowing me to incorporate my own drum samples to create live remixes using my favourite music. Plus, the build quality and club-ready layout made the learning curve quick and easy, whilst the onboard effects provided a fun and creative way to mix and transition between songs.

When I first got my hands on the Hercules 500, I was wary that I wouldn’t be able to learn everything I needed to – but the DJ Academy tutorials and the intuitive controls made it incredibly easy. Overall, the Inpulse 500 and 200 are both game-changers for their price tags and usability, proving that quality DJ controllers can be affordable whilst retaining the bells and whistles you’d expect from a club-ready controller.

If you’re in the market for a new controller, I hope this Hercules Inpulse 500 review has helped!


High-tech web content specialist at Gear4music



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