The Gemini G2V is a decently built two-channel controller that offers a lot for the money. Well made, well specified, and smaller, lighter and cheaper than the four-channel G4V, the Gemini G2V may well be the best choice out of the two for most DJs considering one or the other. It’s made to be used with Virtual DJ software but there is a Traktor mapping for it too. Overall, it’s a well made, feature-packed unit, at a good price.
First Impressions / Setting up
While a two-channel controller, the G2V is still quite substantial. To start with, it’s made out of steel; painted grey, it looks sober and workmanlike. Secondly, it’s pretty large; not in any way cramped, while at the same time appreciably smaller than the G4V. It’s about the same size as the original Numark Mixtrack models, and a good couple of inches wider than, say, the Reloop Terminal Mix 2.
It really is basically the G4V minus two channels, so you get the same big, weighted jogwheels, the same pleasing rubber pads, the same long-throw tempo controls, the same rather hard transport buttons, and the same high quality, bolted-down knobs, including big per-channel filters.
Like the G4V, the feet on the bottom appear to only be glued, not screwed, on; they came off really easily on the G4V we tested, but on the G2V, the glue appears to be more up for the job. I still think Gemini should have elected to have them screwed on; it’s only a matter of time before they get knocked off.
Setting up is simple: You install the software, type in the serial, plug in and you’re off. PC users need to install drivers, but this isn’t necessary with Mac. If you don’t have a CD drive on your computer, you can download the latest version of the software from Gemini’s website. There’s a simple four-step printed one-sheeter in the box to get you going. There’s a power supply, but you can also use USB power if you wish.
Like its bigger brother, the Gemini G2V is good fun to use, not least because it has a feeling of weighty reliability about it. The mechanically triggered jogwheels (a la Traktor Kontrol S2/4 or Pioneer CDJs) are great, and the knobs are solid and sure. Only the slightly scratchy crossfader and the single-colour as opposed to RGB pads are a disappointment; to be honest, I even found the rather hard, small transport controls to be OK in use, something I didn’t think I’d like.
The controller has got hot cues, auto loops, sampler control and loop roll as assignable functions on those nice, big performance pads, and this lifts it above most budget controllers, giving you a whole host of advanced DJ tools to master, mess with, and use to improve your sets. There are master and per-channel VU meters, meaning pro gain staging is possible, and the addition of slip mode means that overall, the software control here is thoroughly modern and pretty impressive.
The software is Virtual DJ LE, which is a cut-down version of the main paid-for program, but it’s got all you need including record, so for most users, it’ll be fine – at least for now. Virtual DJ 7 LE is feeling a little long in the tooth, though, with the effects in particular letting the software down. To be honest, many people buying this will be doing so because it’s for Virtual DJ, so they’ll know the foibles and triumphs of that particular software already.
However, if you buy this not really knowing the software it comes with, you’ll be pleased to hear that a major improvement (Virtual DJ 8) is imminent; whether Virtual DJ 8 LE will be made available for this controller, though, is something I don’t know. If you wanted to buy the full version 7 right now (which will, if history is anything to go on, qualify you for a free upgrade to Virtual DJ 8 when it arrives), it’s an extra $299, which is a substantial additional cost. (There is also a Traktor mapping available via Gemini’s website if you’re one of the majority of our readers who use that software.)
Input and output-wise, you can plug a microphone and an aux input into the unit; both have their own volumes, but no EQs. There is a separate booth output as well as balanced XLR / unbalanced RCA master outputs, so you’re covered for plugging into a mixer, or straight into a PA system. It all adds up to a fun experience, belying the budget price tag of the unit.
It looks the part, and offers more control over your DJing than pretty much every other budget two-channel controller out there. With proper VU metering, decent jogwheels and both booth and balanced/unbalanced mater outputs, it’s definitely up to the job of public performance, and I can see mobile DJs taking to this in droves.
The budget nature shows in the slightly rough edges (transport controls, scratchy faders, stuck on feet) and the lack of mixer-routed external inputs (each external input has a volume control and nothing else). But actually, here is where the G2V may make more – not less – sense than the G4V.
You see, the G4V has four actual channels, and in a controller like that, you’d expect at least a couple of those channels to be able to take external inputs like extra CDJs, record decks or whatever. So that particular controller feels a little underspecified because actually – like the G2V – it only has a single aux and a single mic input, neither of which can be routed through the mixer.
Here, though, that makes more sense. On a budget two-channel controller, having separate aux and mic inputs routed straight to output via volume controls feels OK, even generous. Indeed, the Traktor Kontrol S2 has no external aux input at all – at least with the G2V, you can have a mix lined up on your MP3 player or smartphone ready to pay should you suffer a computer crash or something.
Bottom line is, the hardware here is amazing value, and if you’re one of the majority of DJs who don’t want to mix four software channels, the savings in cost, weight and size you make by going for the G2V over the G4V may well make it the better bet out of the two.
Now, we can’t wait to see Virtual DJ 8 and how the controller works with that; that might just be the point where this, and its bigger brother, come of age. What’s true today is that the G2V and the G4V are the best digital DJ controllers Gemini has made to date.