Provides: USB DJ control
Developer: Gemini DJ
Minimum Requirements: Mac or PC with one USB port
USB turntable controller options are becoming plentiful as companies such as Gemini continue to bring new models to market. One of Gemini’s newest models is the FirstMix. It’s directed at consumers who are interested in DJing, but don’t want to break the bank getting their feet wet. The Gemini FirstMix comes with everything you need to get started: the USB turntable controller and the Cross DJ LE software to make the magic happen. All you need now is a decent library of music.
Upon opening the Gemini FirstMix box, it is somewhat apparent this product is very much intended for beginners. The FirstMix controller is a small, plastic, USB device with two CD size decks. Scattered across the surface of the device are buttons and knobs that you’ll need to control the included software. Everything is very plasticky and somewhat cheap feeling. You better not want to have an abusive relationship with the FirstMix, because it won’t put up with that. Or rather, it can’t. That’s not to say I expect the FirstMix to break, it feels sturdy enough; it just doesn’t have that quality feel. Then again, what do you expect for $79?
The software that comes with the Gemini FirstMix is called Cross DJ LE. If it weren’t apparent enough with the plasticky controller that this is intended for beginners, the software seals the deal. That said, most of your standard DJ functions are here. You’ll be able to browse your iTunes library, cue songs, control playback, adjust settings, scratch, loop and more. But not everything works up to the caliber you’d want it to. For instance, I was unable to attach headphones to my Mac and direct Cross DJ LE to use my USB speakers as the main audio. I also was unable to get the Sync function to work properly. Half the time it does slow mo mode, and the other half I’m hearing Alvin. I wouldn’t say the software is totally incapable, but there are definitely some rough edges. I’m still happy, though, to see effects, looping and other basic controls available.
Using the FirstMix controller with the Cross DJ LE software is dead simple. Everything works as intended, which is great news. There’s no set up at all; just plug it in and you’re ready to mix. There’s a knob in the middle of the device to navigate your music library, and buttons to load your decks. In fact, you can control most of the application directly from the FirstMix, leaving only a few things—such as special effect selection—to be done manually. Oddly enough, the FirstMix has knobs for Treble and Bass, but not Mid. Also, the Treble and Bass knobs have a center position that is easy to return to, while the gain knob does not. And if you want to scratch your music with the FirstMix, you’ll have to toggle the Scratch button and be careful with the deck. It’s easy enough to scratch, but that can be a problem as the software reacts (as it should) to every movement of the deck. You may find yourself unintentionally scratching or changing pitch because of this.
Since the FirstMix is a MIDI controller, you can use it to control other DJ software, such as Algoriddim djay. I tried it with djay, but found mapping all of the controls to be somewhat difficult. The main problem results from changing the function of the decks with a button for scratching; djay doesn’t like this very much. Otherwise, it’s fairly simple to map the controls inside of djay. It, however, will not function with the iPad version of the app with the camera connection kit; the controller requires more power than iPad is willing to give at this time.
Overall, the Gemini FirstMix is a good, but not great, choice for beginners. It covers all the basics, but leaves some things to be desired. Then again, it’s only $79. If you later upgrade DJ software independently of the FirstMix, you’ll likely still be able to use the FirstMix as a controller, though mapping the scratch function can be challenging.
If you’re considering trying your hand at DJing, you may wish to examine a few more options before settling with the Gemini FirstMix.
Buy Gemini FirstMix