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Gemini TT-04 Direct Drive Turntable
Reviewer: Gizmo • Date: May 2007 • Price: £199/$279 • Link: Gemini

Gemini TT-04 review

For many people, there has - and only will be - one turntable. The almighty Technics SL1200 in all its guises has completely dominated the DJ scene since day one. People recommend it without hesitation and rubbish any other that dares to pretend to be as good.

Manufacturers have brought out their own carefully thought out versions of turntables and made a small dent in the Technics crown with all kinds of fancy tonearms, powerful torques and big pitch ranges but still the Technics reigns. So Gemini pondered the problem of taking market share from the Japanese giants. While the Technics lacks the bells and whistles of its peers, it still sells by the warehouse full but costs a lot of cash.... so why not offer the same performance and functionality (plus a bit more for good measure) but at a more affordable price? And that's exactly what the Gemini TT-04 does.

The Basics

Gemini tt-04 review

Style wise, Gemini haven't broken the design rule book. Keeping the colour scheme in a neutral Black and Silver, the TT-04 looks in keeping with any setup and is definitely easy on the eye. The large silver (and weirdly tactile) metal plate stops the deck from looking dull and the dimpled platter matches the dimpled tonearm height adjuster. Aesthetically, you feel reassured that owning a pair of TT-04s doesn't put you in the DJ fashion police's radar.

Gemini tt-04 review

Lifting the TT-04 out of the box tells me that this is NOT a lightweight lump of low quality crap. The body is made from 2 parts - the base is a heavy rubberised affair, ensuring that the deck offers good rumble resistance, on a par with the way heavier Numark TTX. The slightly flimsy feet are adjustable and do a good job at helping to absorb the rumble as well.

The top is a frills-free moulded plastic case, but does feel strong enough to take a good amount of on-the-road abuse. For some reason, the Gemini logo in all its different shapes and sizes adorns every available space on the TT-04. I'm all for brand awareness but it's a little in your face. Oh well - Technics stickers are available in a variety of sizes ;).

Gemini tt-4 review

Gemini have thought about how decks are used and included recessed RCAs along with angled RCA cables with integrated ground as well. And although a right angled kettle lead is included, the power port is still on the side of the deck and not recessed. It's fine for mixers with faceplates wider than the main body but your Eclers and Mackies of this world won't fit flush.

The Motor

One of the big selling points with decks these days is torque. Unless your finger prints are worn smooth on unstoppable platters, somehow a deck is deemed almost substandard. And in the quest for instant start, Gemini have put a 5Kg motor inside the TT-04. And it is mighty powerful, with an instant stop and start and needing quite a bit of pressure to make it stop under hand. Whether über torque is necessary is up for debate as the Technics has a piddling 1.8Kg and still rules the roost.

Gemini tt-04 review

Taking the very low profile platter off for an inspection, I thought it all looked somewhat familiar in there. Looks like the TT-04 and Numark TTX get made in the same factory as there's a distinct crossover of components going on here. I suspect however that the TT-04 doesn't suffer the motor issues experienced by excessive heat issues in the TTX body. In fact, I've yet to read a bad report about the Gemini deck anywhere.

In terms of stability, I put 2 copies of the same vinyl on my TTX and the TT-04. Returning 20 minutes later, they were still locked, enough to keep even the most hardened 60 minute sweeping blend trance DJ happy.

The Controls

Gemini TT-04 Review

This is where the TT-04 begins to set itself apart from the Technics it aims to take market share from. Looking at pitch control first, the TT-04 offers 2 ranges - 10 and 20%, switchable by a button. Slightly annoyingly, the deck defaults to 10%, even after a power off. It also offers Quartz lock to ensure 0% accuracy. I do however wish that that the pitch fader had a 0% click, as the platter gives no indication of whether the deck is spinning accurately of not, lacking the finger tip shredding strobe markers found on most other decks. In their place are dimples, apparently to make mixing easier with such a strong motor.

Gemini TT-04 Review

And in keeping with all other decks, the TT-04 has start and brake controls. These are tiny in comparison to others and neatly hide away recessed style when you've got your setting as you like them. I could complain about the size, but I've found that once you've set them, they stay that way so knocking off points would be silly.

Rounding off the controls, there's a reverse button, should you ever feel the need to spin backwards. And finally, we have the speed controls. As you might expect - 33, 45 and 78 are catered for.

Gemini TT-04 review

Niggle number 1
- coming from years of TTX usage, I've got used to having 2 start/stop buttons when in battle position. But instead of a button, you get the power switch. Ever so slightly annoying. But that's just me I guess. Would have been nice though.

Gemini TT-04 review

Niggle number 2 - In battle position the reverse, pitch and quartz buttons are located oh so inconveniently behind the tonearm. With all the space next to the pitch fader, it would have been more efficient to locate them there.

These are of course minor annoyances rather than deal breakers.

Wot no s-arm?

Gemini TT-04 Review

Gemini have made a controversial move and adopted a straight arm rather than an S-arm. Oh the outcry from the purists - I can hear it from the skratchlab. But here's the thing - the straight arm is generally more stable and while the arguments for audio fidelity do stand up, the target audience for a deck of this price are probably more concerned with keeping the needle in the groove than achieving audio perfection.

Gemini TT-04 Button

The weird thing is that the tonearm still comes with anti-skate - something that isn't really required on straight arms. But then again, the straight arm has just been grafted onto a regular assembly rather than a full redesign, making savings that can be passed down to you. And of course, it also comes with lockable height adjustment up to 5mm. I don't use it but it's there for those that do.

Performance-wise, this straight arm is rock solid. Just because it's a Gemini deck doesn't mean there's any hit on the way it works. Dropping an Ortothud on and scribbling like crazy yields great results - as good as most decks out there.

Summing Up

Gemini TT-04 review

Having seen an article in Scratch Magazine where Grandmaster Roc Raida picked the TT-04 over a Stanton T.120 and a Numark TTX, it certainly got me interested in pushing one through the skratchworx review cycle. And I'm more than happy (and perhaps a little surprised) to report that the TT-04 is a gem well worthy of your attention.

Looking at what most DJs need from a turntable, the TT-04 ticks all the boxes and keeps some cash in your wallet as well. Granted it's not built to the same exacting standards using premium grade materials like the 1200s are, but I'd be happy to use a pair of these for my standard day to day use. And I have no reason to suspect that the TT-04s will give you any problems, provided you look after them properly. They scratch and mix just as well as my TTXs and that's what counts.

Wearing the Gemini badge might put some people off - well probably most actually. But take off your brand blinkers for a moment and take a hard look at what's on offer. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Ratings

Build Quality - 7.5/10
It's certainly no Technics but has a quality that exceeds it's price tag.

Sound Quality - 9/10
If you're looking at a £200 turntable, sound quality isn't top of the buying list. But it offers a sound easily as good as way more expensive decks. The straight arm doesn't detract from the output at all.

Features and Implementation - 8/10
Well it does have more than a Technics but some of the flaws push the mark down.

Value for Money - 9/10
No need to dig too deep for your first decks anymore. The TT-04 offers a lot for your money

Pros: High torque, straight arm performance and pure value for money.
Cons: Fuzzy 0% setting and some controls awkwardly placed.

Bottom Line

For someone just starting out or indeed just wanting a low cost but high quality alternative to the established leaders, the TT-04 delivers a perfect balance of features, performance and quality big time.

Big thanks to Gemini UK for the deck loan.



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