Here we are again, reviewing a 4 channel DJ controller. With the announcements over the last few months, it feels like every DJ wants to spend top dollar on a massive four channel controller that does everything you’d ever think you may ever want for any gig with any song. And these new controllers are expensive. After you go below a certain price point, however, it can feel like you are sacrificing massive amounts of features and controls, and it’s frustrating to be faced with what feels like an all-or-nothing decision.
As with last year’s CDJ-700, Gemini presents the G4V (and its smaller sibling, the G2V). They have created an inexpensive 4 channel DJ controller packed with buttons and knobs at a low price point and boasting a solid build. While there are always sacrifices that need to be made, let’s dig in and see where this Gemini controller stands.
As we here at DJWORX always prefer, the packaging was minimal and simple. When I purchase a controller I want to get straight to the most important thing in the box (other than always appreciated stickers) and not have to dig through flyers and ads. The first thing I noticed was the weight and the feel of the Gemini G4V. It’s got a lot of heft, weighing in around 11lbs, thanks to its all steel body. There are a lot of controls, but its design keeps it from feeling cluttered.
There are very few controllers I can compare the G4V to just due to its price point. At just $400 it comes in below almost every other 4 channel controller on the market. The mixer section is designed in a clear grid structure, two decks on each side of a master volume and browse section. Each channel has a 60mm line fader, a monitor button, a large and chunky filter knob, 3 band EQ, a gain knob and a load button. Each channel is also given its own VU meter, a feature that has been unfortunately left out of most modern controllers.
While the filter knob cannot be pushed, you can find ways around that in my most applications; it just would have just been a nice addition. The center master section has a push encoder for browsing with a back button, and down the column is a master volume knob, a booth out knob and a cue mix knob. The front of the unit has a cue volume knob, a headphone port, a quarter inch mic in as well as mic volume and auxiliary volume knobs.
The crossfader is a standard alpha fader, but each side has four assignment buttons. These are an interesting inclusion, and Gemini is setting it up so they only activate when the Shift button is held to avoid any accidental presses while using the crossfader. Honestly, this is a feature I rarely think about, but having it just makes me feel like I have just that little bit extra control. And if you don’t want to use them you can always remap them to do anything else. When have more buttons a bad thing?
The back of the controller has XLR balanced outputs as well as unbalanced RCA for the master output, a booth output and an aux input. There’s the standard USB port, a wall wart port and a big power button. We have expressed our disappointment in the past that controllers have been lacking a booth output. Gemini definitely gets marks for including in this package. The auxiliary input is another pleasant surprise, though I’m not sure how much use it would get.
As far as deck controls, they didn’t skimp. Each deck has 8 “performance pads”, or big chunky rubber buttons with a bright blue LED and 4 corresponding mode buttons (Hotcue, Autoloop, Sampler and Loop Roll); 4 FX knobs with their own buttons; a deck switch button; a shift and scratch button; a long throw 100mm pitch fader; four transport controls; and a large touch sensitive jog wheel.
Gemini did leave off RGB LEDs, but I never felt like it was something I was missing. The transport and pad mode buttons have their modes printed on them and the state shines through. Unfortunately, the rest of the descriptors are all printed on the body and can be hard to read in a dark club.
Right now the only provided mappings available for the Gemini G4V is Virtual DJ. I have been assured that two Traktor maps are coming, one for two decks with two remix decks and another for four decks. It is unfortunate there isn’t a custom VDJ skin like there is for a lot of controllers. Obviously this is not something I’m holding against the G4V, it’s just something I can’t avoid.
I’m not going to review the mapping provided with VDJ. I know you can’t change it as easily as Traktor’s, but I’m more concerned with how the controller feels and sounds in use. The mapping is serviceable, and gets the job done with all of the quirks of VDJ.
As far as feel goes, the Gemini G4V feels solid. The performance pads have a very noticeable click, which I like, and light up very bright. They respond across all corners of the pad and are easy to trigger. The transport buttons at the bottom respond fine, and while they are the right size for the space allowed by the large jog wheel, I really want them to be bigger and higher off the body. Finally, the pitch fader gives a good amount of tension with a small détente in the center.
The jog wheel feels good. Since I’m not a scratch guy I can’t speak to how excellent the scratching is for advanced tricks, but I didn’t notice any big drift while using it. The touch sensitivity is handled by pressing the jog wheel down, akin to the old S4, like a button as opposed to the sensors used by Vestax. A light touch is all that’s needed to activate the scratch functionality.
The VU meters are a great addition. Each channel has a 5 LED meter, and while that’s not a lot of information anything is better than nothing. There’s a large master output meter smack in the center of the volume faders with 10 LED points, though, so adding everything together gives a pretty accurate profile of how you’re going to sound when your audio hits the house mixer or speakers. Speaking of…
How Does It Sound?
We have a $400 four channel controller with a built-in audio interface, even including a booth output. Stats are all well and good, but how does it sound?
I was able to get the lowest ASIO settings and really hammer at VDJ LE, though I did see some spikes. When I loaded into Traktor, though, I was able to really dig into all the features (FX, loops, remix decks, loop recorder, etc.) with almost no spikes at all. The sound was clear at high volumes and I experienced no latency. The headphone port didn’t get terribly loud, though I could hear it clearly. If you aren’t using very good headphones it could be an issue if you aren’t in a proper booth.
The mic input was fine for basic talk-over stuff, and the aux in was serviceable for running an external sampler, but not a lot of people are going to do that these days, especially since it is processed straight to the Master Output and doesn’t route into any software. The interface sounds fine and is exactly what I would expect in almost any DJ controller.
The Gemini G4V is not a revolutionary product. It does not bring anything special to the table, and will not change the DJ world. That being said, it is a low cost, reliable, hefty controller that feels like it can take a beating. The buttons and pads aren’t the best on the market, but at less than half of what you’ll pay for a lot of those products it will definitely get the job done.
The design is very clean and it avoids feeling cluttered while still having a large host of controls. The audio interface is crisp and clean, and the booth out and mic in are great additions. I would have loved to see an analog mixing option, but that would easily add more to the price, which is one of the major advantages of the controller.
If you are already eyeing the new S4 or the DDJ-SX then you won’t get a lot extra out of the G4V. But if you want a solid controller at half the price, with a large host of features then it is a great choice.
Keeping it in the family, all photos are by Hatty Settle.