Review & Video: Gemini G4V DJ Controller

Review Summary:

Well made, well featured, fun to use and decently priced, the Gemini G4V for Virtual DJ does a lot of things right. It's not as refined as the Serato high-end controllers that have similar feature sets - but then again, it's half the price. If you're a Virtual DJ fan looking for a bargain, you'll almost certainly love this controller.

G4V
  • G4V
  • Rating: 4
  • From: Gemini
  • Price: $399
  • Reviewed by:
  • On October 29, 2013
  • Last modified:August 19, 2014
Solid metal, with great jogwheels, a wide range of outputs, four channels, performance pads, pro VU metering and much more, the Gemini G4V belies its price tag. But how is it in use? We find out in today's Gemini G4V review...

Solid metal, with great jogwheels, a wide range of outputs, four channels, performance pads, pro VU metering and much more, the Gemini G4V belies its price tag. But how is it in use? We find out in today’s Gemini G4V review…

Review: Gemini G4V DJ Controller

Full Gemini G4V review: The Gemini G4V and G2V are the latest brace of digital DJ controllers from this long-established company. Certainly on the face of it, these two controllers appear to be Gemini’s best efforts to date by quite a long way. Coming in solid metal cases, with a modern layout and lots of pro features, the G4V (reviewed here) and the G2V fill a hole in Gemini’s product range, appear to offer decent quality for semi-professional or professional use, but without the price premium often commanded by such gear. Question is, has Gemini pulled the feat off? Let’s find out.

First impressions

First impressions are good. The four-channel G4V unit is in sober dark grey painted metal, with lots of screws indicating a solid construction, and black paint behind the mixer section to break the facia up nicely. Pull off one of the knob caps and you can see that everything is bolted to the casing, which is the superior way of attaching controls, because it puts less strain on the circuit board within.

It’s quite a large controller (about an inch wider than the Reloop Terminal Mix 4, a device it shares a lot in common with, features-wise), and you’d struggle to carry it very far in a bag, due to its weight as much as anything else. Having said that, it would be nowhere near as difficult to transport as the Pioneer DDJ-SX or of course the humungous Numark NS7II.

The tempo faders are long throw which is promising for easy manual beatmatching, and the pads, while being simply on/off switches rather than velocity sensitive, nonetheless feel responsive, with a subtle click on pressing. The other buttons are hard and have a louder, hollower click; they’re not the best feeling buttons out there, but they’re not too bad.

The jogwheels are large and weighted, with a mechanical top plate in the style of the Traktor Kontrol S4.

The jogwheels are large and weighted, with a mechanical top plate in the style of the Traktor Kontrol S4.

The Gemini G4V has large, weighted jogwheels with the same style of mechanical switched top plates that the Traktor Kontrol S4 has, although these jogs are bigger, shallower and heavier. They have a lot of inertia too, unlike the Traktor Kontrol S4 or the DDJ-SX, both of whose jogwheels stop moving practically the second you take your hand off of them.

My only real criticism on initially inspecting the unit is that the four feet on the underside are simply stuck on with glue; I managed to easily knock one of them off when putting the unit onto our testing bench. It’s no big deal as you can buy packets of dozens of these feet for next to nothing in any hardware store, but it lets it down. Screw-on feet would have been far better.

Setting up

Setting up is a case of registering it online, installing Virtual DJ LE (the supplied software) from the included CD, plugging in (there’s a supplied power supply but its use is optional), and opening the software… in theory, at least. Things are rarely this simple in practice…

It’s not actually necessary to register (step one of the above), however, if you’re using a MacBook Air or other computer without a CD drive, you’ll definitely want to take advantage of the offered Virtual DJ LE download instead of using the CD. Unfortunately, the URL didn’t work for me, taking me to an empty page on Gemini’s website. (UPDATE: Gemini has apparently fixed this now.)

Once I had the software installed, though, and the serial number entered, things got better. Gemini speak ominously about setting sample rate and bit depth, and getting Midi and audio settings right, but – on a Mac, at least – I plugged the controller in, opened the software, and everything just worked. Although Gemini says this is a “plug and play” device, no additional software necessary, I did notice PC audio drivers on the CD, so I am guessing some users may need these too.

In use

Because of the nice size and the overall good quality of the controls, I found this a fun DJ controller to use. The jogwheels especially are excellent: I loved their weight, and the mechanical action of the top plate (rather than the more usual capacitive functioning) feels good. All the knobs are sure and smooth, the line faders have just the right tension. The crossfader – while certainly not perfect – is reasonably loose, if a little scratchy.

G4V pads

The G4V pads are nice to use, but only backlit on one colour, which is a shame.

The eight pads for each deck are not RGB, or even two colour – they’re just blue when lit. This is a shame, as having each of their four functions colour coded would have made it easier to see at a glance which you have selected. However, they’re brightly lit at least, and the functionality is spot on, which counts for a lot. So, to those pad functions. Firstly, the hot cues are easy to use, and as with most controllers, holding down “shift” when pressing one deletes it. Eight per deck is generous. Next, auto loop sets the eight pads up to loop from 1/8 of a beat up to 16 beats. (But, no 32 beats, and no way of halving/doubling loop length to get a 32-beat – eight bar – loop either. That’s a shame in my book.)

Next, the sample option lets you trigger the first eight samples in Virtual DJ’s sample bank, and apparently you can use select sample banks too to multiply this up, though I couldn’t see how. And finally, loop roll uses the same loop lengths as auto Loop, but is momentary (ie it only works when you’re holding a pad down), and it also exhibits “slip mode” behaviour, with the track continuing to play underneath, ready to kick in again when your finger leaves the button. It’s really nicely implemented and fun to use.

There actually is a bona fide slip mode too (it’s called “flux” by Traktor, and it’s the same thing – the track “playing on” underneath your controllerism efforts, ready to play on when you’re done messing with it. Again, great to see that included. Having big chunky filter knobs per channel is a good thing, too, although the actual sound quality of the filters is not great. They’re software filters and it’s Virtual DJ’s limitation, not the controller’s. It would have been good if holding “shift” and turning the filter knobs could have controlled Virtual DJ’s “key” knob – as it is, if you want to use that function you have to use the mouse pointer.

One good thing is that the four crossfader select buttons, perilously close to the crossfader for those who like to attempt heroic scratch routines, actually require “shift” to be held down in order to work: A wise move by the mapping designers.

Gemini G4V VUs

I liked the metering, with four VUs, one for each channel, making gain staging easy.

I liked the metering – the channels each have their own 5-bar VU so you can visually trim the gains to balance tracks before including them in the mix. There’s a master VU as well to check your mix isn’t pushing into the red. Too few controllers, including some from names that really should know better, have partial or non-existent metering; not so the Gemini G4V.

Other functions that I liked? Loop Move is on its own knob, which is nice. The long-throw tempo controls are pretty accurate (they’re not hi-res though). Both FX parameters have their own knobs, although Virtual DJ’s inbuilt effects are poor. I enjoyed have CUE and CUP buttons, a function only slightly let down by the fact that the transport buttons overall could have been higher quality – for such important controls I found them a little small and hard.

Like the aforementioned Reloop Terminal Mix 4, you can’t feed the single Aux input through any of the channels, nor feed the mic into software either. Instead, these inputs have their own volume controls on the front and that’s it, so no EQing them, for instance. For occasional voice use and for a back-up “thru” in case of laptop failure these external inputs are fine, but if you’re looking for proper standalone mixer capability, or the ability to add a couple of record decks or CDJs, or a decent EQed mic channel for those long wedding speeches, the G4V falls short.

Gemini G4V VUs

The back of the unit, showing the available connections (Click to enlarge.)

The unit fares better on the output side, though, with properly balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA outputs for the master out, and a separate booth output (RCAs). This could equally be used as a record output, letting you set a separate recording level than the volume in your studio or venue, should a booth output not be required.

Speaking of recording, Virtual DJ LE as provided can record, which is always good to see in LE software (“LE” means “Lite Edition”, by the way), and is often not the case (stand up, Serato and Traktor). But there are limitations, such as no way to adjust the jogwheel sensitivity in software as you can with the “Pro” version, no way to adjust the crossfader curve (again, possible in the pro version), and no way to add FX plugins to replace Virtual DJ’s sub-par selection. If you get serious and decide you like Virtual DJ (and many DJs do), you’ll want to look to buying the upgrade. It’s not cheap, though.

Alternatively, you can use this controller with other DJ software such as Traktor, although there don’t appear to be any mappings available officially for this. Gemini is missing a trick here; get a decent Traktor mapping done with half-decent jogwheel control (always the sticking point with non-Native Instruments Traktor-mapped controllers), and get it prominently displayed on the website, and the G4V could win a lot of fans from people who don’t want to use it with Virtual DJ. (Of course, no Serato mapping would be possible due to that software’s closed architecture.) (UPDATE: Gemini says this is coming.)

Finally, I’ve no idea what the audio spec of this is, but pushed through a pair of Reloop Wave 5s loud, or listened to through a pair of AKG / Tiesto K267s, the base sound quality was fine. Filters and FX let it down, but as I stated earlier, this is a Virtual DJ thing, not a Gemini G4V thing. As an aside here, Virtual DJ 8 is surely due soon, and that software has improved in all fo these areas, so while these aren’t big issues today, Virtual DJ 8 will make the G4V even more attractive.

Conclusion

The Gemini G4V looks the part. Really nicely built, with great hi-res jogwheels, sold metal construction and decent knobs, pads and finish, only only slightly let down by hard, clicky buttons. It is also well specified. The pads control hot cues, autoloop, loop roll and sampler, and alongside flux mode and various other refinements, overall it offer a genuinely impressive level of control over the software. Four full channels, with decent VU meters, add to the impressive spec.

The budget nature of this controller does show, though, despite this: The pads are only one colour, there is no standalone mixer capability, and Virtual DJ LE is creaking a little as we wait for Virtual DJ 8 to drop. A Traktor mapping would really have been nice and I suspect widened the appeal of the unit considerably.

Gemini G4V top

the Gemini G4V has a great spec for the price, and despite some limitations, will be very tempting, especially to people who already own Virtual DJ Pro software. (Click to enlarge.)

But let’s level here: This thing costs US$399. That’s around half the price of Traktor or Serato controllers offering a similar spec. Sure, you’ll want to upgrade the software. But if you’re already a Virtual DJ Pro user, this is likely to look like a complete bargain. The Mixtrack Quad – another four-channel Virtual DJ controller, but a complete world apart in build quality – appears to be retailing for $349. You’re getting an awful lot more for your $50 with the Gemini G4V.

Overall, we liked it. Factor in the Pro software if you’re serious, which will add a whopping $299 to the price, so you’ll need to be sure Virtual DJ is the software for you in this case. Otherwise, prepare to map it yourself to your software of choice. But in terms of pure hardware, it’s a really good controller for your cash. If you’re a Virtual DJ fan who has jealously eyed the features available to Serato users with their DDJ-SXes and their VCI-400s, here’s your “in”.

• Update: Gemini G2V & G4V Traktor Pro Mappings are now available, you can get the G2V mapping here and the G4V mapping here.

Product Summary

Review Summary:

Well made, well featured, fun to use and decently priced, the Gemini G4V for Virtual DJ does a lot of things right. It's not as refined as the Serato high-end controllers that have similar feature sets - but then again, it's half the price. If you're a Virtual DJ fan looking for a bargain, you'll almost certainly love this controller.

G4V
  • G4V
  • Rating: 4
  • From: Gemini
  • Price: $399
  • Reviewed by:
  • On October 29, 2013
  • Last modified:August 19, 2014

Video Review

Are you tempted by the Gemini G4V or G2V? Do you already own one, and if so, how do you find it? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Comments

  1. Great review! It’s good to see Gemini really rolling up their sleeves recently.

    This gives me hope for the GMX/GMX Drive. Speaking of, does anyone have any idea on what happened with those units? Gemini announced them forever ago, then said they were redesigning them and they’re still listed as “coming soon” on their website.

    Anyways, the price is amazing. It really does make you wonder how much other companies are marking up their prices.

  2. Nice review but two quick points.

    Products shipped with Virtual DJ LE offer a discount when upgrading to Pro.

    Secondly, the Vestax VCI-400 was selling for $399 at my local store a few weeks ago & the VCI-380 sells for less than $450 online. Both better & proven choices.

  3. I have a question about the tempo faders: do they lock/snap at 0 or are they a smooth transition the whole length?

    Thanks!

  4. So glad you guys did a review! Is it safe to assume that what is said here would carry over to the G2V?

  5. I will say it’s tempting. I wonder if there’s a mapping for Traktor, and if anyone’s tried the pads with Remix Decks?

  6. DJ SpecializED says:

    Gemini is hit or miss on quality, Ive had good luck and bad luck. do you know if quality control has been improved on ?

    • We have instituted a double 100% inspection model at the source. This means that we have two teams of Gemini employees checking production. One team checks for any issues during production and the other team checks the finished goods before shipment.

      • that’s new or? My source could not sell me a good working cdmp7000 — in fact the abandoned it completely after gettng the fourth time an unit.

        I could then upgrade to CDJ850′s and a cheap mixer (numark) — the latter I’ve swapped for a DJM850.

        I liked the CDMP7000 but the quality of the h/w and at that time s/w was not that well :-(

  7. Cheers for the review!
    I’ve been waiting for this one quite a while, and I’m hoping to get it ASAP!
    I’m assuming you could map it through midi to Traktor Pro, right?
    Hows the response on the pads? Could you compare them to something like the Maschine?
    Do the knobs on the unit have a lock in the middle? For example the EQ and filter knobs?
    Are the buttons on the unit plastic or rubber? Are there any pressing knobs and do the knobs on for the front press in so they don’t stand out?

    Thanx very much for the review, and all the other stuff you do, you are awesome :)

  8. Good review! However, I personally would love to see more from the controller. For example, more on that pads You mentioned and more of the overall controller behavior, its responsiveness etc.. I think that would make a full review.

  9. Unthinkable Chaos says:

    Hi,
    Does the rim of the jogwheels control pitch bend still?

  10. Hey,

    I just purchased this product and I’m having difficulty with this. I own Virtual DJ 7 (up to date) and Gemini G4V is not responding to anything….. Cna you point me to the right direction?

  11. I want to get into DJing and was curious whether it was best to get the G4V or denon mc3000? (unless there’s any others you think are superior in that price range) thanks.

    • Klaus Mogensen says:

      A big difference between the two is that the Denon is only a 2 channel controller and the G4V is a 4 channel controller.

      You CAN access 2 more decks on the Denon, using switch buttons, but the mixer-part will then be shared

      So you probably have to decide if you want/need 4 channels for your mixing

      Best regards
      Klaus Mogensen

      • Is that the only real difference as the small price increase of the G4V won’t be an issue so I might as well get that over the mc3000 if allows for 2 more channels.

  12. Klaus Mogensen says:

    How is the G4V in use compared to the Reloop TM4?

    Best regards
    Klaus Mogensen

  13. I can’t stress enough how important it is to buy the full Virtual DJ licence. It’s a fantastic program with so many options in the community for re-mapping and replacing any default effect that you may find lackluster. The vibrant community has a solution to every problem that you might have with the program’s defaults. It takes some dedication but once you have this beasty program dialed in, you won’t want to trade it for anything.

  14. Great review. I see everybody has followed in the way of the Novation Twitch with the pads,nice to see, love the Twitch.Good to see Gemini have upped their game, too bad no Traktor mappings out of the box though.

  15. Luke Morales says:

    Can I just add how top notch it is to see Gemini R&D adding in to the thread? Impressive

  16. SIZZORHANDZ says:

    I’ve purchased the Gemini G4V about a month or so ago, and I LOVE IT! The touch sensitive jog wheels are very responsive to scratching. I love the performance pads & Aux input for my CDJ backup. The only downside is the lack of pitch bend for quick, discreet adjustments & software the effects, Other than that the price + quality + creativity will make this one of your favorite controllers believe me I’ve had most of them.

    P.S. Controller works best with VDJ Pro

  17. Schildpadie says:

    What does the cup button do? The G4V looks really awesome!

  18. Can this be used solely with an iPad and without a laptop? Like, with djay or some app?

  19. Impressed by the review. Gonna have one and will map it Traktor. :) Full controllerism awaits!

  20. Julian Renne says:

    Hey guys,
    Just got my g2v and everything works fine exept the splip mode and loop roll. I’m using Virtual Dj 7 pro. It would be great if someone fould help me.
    Best regards

  21. Ive owned pretty much every low to mid end controller since 06 to now and i was pretty happy when i found out that unlike the mixtrack pro II this mpc pads actually are useful both top and bottom ones. i just purchased this from AMS and i cant wait to start playing around with this and might even use it for a NYE party here in niagara falls canada.

    This is the best bang for your buck and a very thorough review that makes as much justice as possible to this awesome and affordable controller.

  22. Pardeep Sira says:

    i got the gemini gv4 and i dont know how the lights turn on or how they are ment to but the start up vu meters work at the start can anyone help

  23. Jog wheels are not hard to map. On my contl 7 I got them to scratch & perform perfectly. Could even say it came close to my cdj 400 pioneers.. I got them to work very well after figuring out how to map the jog wheels perfectly.

  24. Kenroy Browne says:

    Nice Controller however there is limited reviews on the use of the controller the review on the overview features is in french can someone who has it upload a youtube video on the features scratching,loops,cues,samplers etc thanks

  25. Akshay Mody says:

    Hey this is Akshay here from India,Mumbai.Great review.But i got a big problem here.I am waiting to buy this product from past 4-5months.But the thing is gemini isn’t supplying the g2v nor g4v product where as other gemini products are easily available.please gemini.help me buy the product.If possible please give contact details of nearby distributor.wating fot the reply :D

  26. Armando Montanez says:

    So I just recently contacted Gemini and learned an interesting bit of information. Despite the fact that both the Gemini G2V and G4V are advertized as a 14-bit devices (over 16,000 steps of midi positions for controls like jog wheels, faders, knobs, etc), they aren’t actually fully 14-bit. I’d seen the performance of the Jog wheels, so I wasn’t too concerned about those (the jogs are probably 14 bit). I was, however, very interested about the pitch faders (being long-throw). After hearing some disconcerting claims about the faders only giving 128 steps of midi resolution, I took it to Gemini. The quickly responded that the pitch faders are indeed only 7 bit. :(

    Essentially, this means that tracks at 130 bpm can only be shifted in steps of around 0.16 bpm on an 8% pitch range, no matter how slow you move the fader. 14-bit pitch faders, on the other hand, would change in steps of 0.001 bpm. Big difference. this means that when you try to mix a 130 bpm track into a 128 bpm track using 7 bit, the closest you can get to 128 bpm is 128.08. over 16 beats, you’ll be one third of a second out of time! To translate that to beats, that’s over half a beat off! 14 bit, on the other hand, would get you to 128.001 which would take MUCH longer to go out of time. In fact, if the DJ software being used rounds the track speed to hundredths of a beat per minute, the speed would be rounded to exactly 128.00. This would mean that the tracks would never go out of time.
    While the long throw pitch faders on the Gemini G2V and G4V are nice, without 14 bit it’s hard to utilize them to their full potential.

Leave a Comment