Review of "Gemini XL500 II"

published 12/12/2004 | rickyshah
Member since : 14/10/2003
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"Hey Mr DJ"

XL-500 (

XL-500 (

A good few years ago, back when drum & bass was at its scariest and UK garage had everyone shouting 'Rewind! Bo Selecta!" (thank you Craig bloody David) I thought it'd be a fantastic idea to take up DJ'ing. I loved underground music, clubbing and the whole scene so it was a natural progression.

Now there are 2 big names in DJ equipment.... and Gemini is not one of them. If your serious about it, then the 2 names to look out for are Vestax and Technics. However, I was only starting out, and could not afford the fantastic kit knocked out by these guys.

Decks 101
Firstly I'm just gonna give you a little theory on decks, just so that I don't baffle you with jargon a bit later. There are 2 main types of turntable (or "Decks"), belt-drive and direct-drive. Belt drive models turn the turntable by using... a belt! No not the sort bought from Topshop, but a piece of rubber. Direct drives have the motor directly turning the turntable. As a direct (haha) result direct drive turntables are stronger and more durable, but as a downside they usually weigh a ton.

Surely they are all the same?
No, no and no. Direct drives produce a greater amount of torque, which means you have a lot more control over your record - you can be much more accurate when doing your Q-bert impressions.
Belt drive tables are also notoriously unreliable. So, in a nutshell, and budget permitting, direct drive tables are the one's to go for.
To confuse things further, all direct drive turntables are not the same. The amount of torque (and thus, control) they have varies - usually in accordance to price!

So. These Gemini's. Tell me about them.
It may well come as no surprise to learn that these tables are direct drive. This was my one and only requirement when purchasing - I wanted something that would last until I could afford the top of the line Vestax tables.
Unfortunately, despite the fact they are direct drive, these tables are defiantly "budget". More on which later.

Style over substance? Or no style and no substance?!
These tables are not the most impressive visually by a long shot. They have a grey matt finish, with plastic fittings such as on the pitch control and the light. It features an 'S' shaped tone-arm (the bit that sits on the record), pitch control & pitch bend control, Start/Stop and On/Off buttons, as well as anti skate adjustment. I won't bore you with an explanation of the last, and the rest should be self explanatory. Pitch control, incidentally, is also key to how good a deck is. You need to adjust the pitch so that you can match the record already playing, and thus perform a seamless mix. This is a very, very tricky task, and one that is aided immensely by a good pitch control. The Gemini is blessed with +/- 10% pitch control, which means it can speed up or slow down the record by up to 10%. The response from these is sluggish, however, and as such matching speeds is harder than it needs to be.

As a side note, the pitch control on one deck has been faulty since I bought these - over +8% and it actually slows down! Bizarre.

Anyway. Now the deck could be excused for having a sluggish response time if it was a guy and had been out drinking, but its not and so it can't. The poor response time is directly (ha again!) linked to the poor direct drive motor. In fact, I can liken the feeling when using it as something like trying to sprint through quicksand. Challenging, to say the least.

1,2,3,4,5, stick a needle in my thigh
Its all very well having this huge hunk of machinery, but the bit that actually controls the sound quality is this its-bitsy little needle. It is absolutely vital. Now it comes as no great surprise then, to find out that the included needles are shocking. They are very difficult to install, and give poor sound quality. Heck, they don't even grip the record properly! Any form of record manipulation will result in Jump City. I bought a separate pair of Concord needles as well - they are pricey (£90 and up) but 3 years later, they are still going strong. Well worth the investment.

Any other drawbacks?
Well, the pitch bend buttons don't actually work - but then I have not seen a table in this price bracket that does.
As is per usual, the counterweight on the tone arm (this stops the tone arm from flying around and causing vinyl death) needs to be put on backwards to give enough weight - something they don't tell you in the (poor) instructions. As a final flaw, Gemini's tech support is based in the good ol' US of A, making repairs and servicing a big time hassle.

Surely there are some positives?
I know I have given this table a bit of a kicking, but to be honest its because at the stage I am now I demand more of my equipment. The table is cheap (I'll get to pricing shortly) and as such is ideal for beginners. The faults I have noted are pretty much across the board in this price bracket - you have to spend a couple of hundrad more to start eliminating them. It IS better than any belt drive out there. And if you can learn on something of this quality, you will have no problems when you use something like the Technics of this world. Like my mother told me, learn to drive in a Skoda, not a Ferrari.

How much was it?
I paid £350 for a deal including 2 tables and a mixer. They are available now for about £99 each. As comparison, a pair of the top of the line Vestax decks cost upwards of £799... EACH!!

Tech Spec (boring I know - useful for DJ's though) (taken from

Pop-Up Target Light
±10% Pitch Control With Slider
Feather Light Soft-Touch Start/Stop Switch
S-Shaped Tonearm With Height Adjustment
Strobe Illuminator
Removable Dust Cover, Headshell, & Slipmat Included
33/45 RPM
Anti-Skate Feature
Braking for Quick Stops

Type: Direct Drive Manual Turntable
Drive Method: Direct Drive
Motor: Brushless DC Moto
Platter: Aluminium Diecast 13” (332 mm) Dia.
Speed: 33 1/3 or 45 RPM
Starting Torque: 1.2 Kg/cm
Build-up Characteristics: 0.8 sec. standstill to 33 1/3 RPM
Braking System: Brake (Solenoid)
Wow and Flutter: 0.02% WRMS*
*This Rating Refers to the Turntable Assembly & Platter Only & Excludes Effects of Records, Cartridges or Tonearms.
Rumble: 56 dB Unweighted

Type: Universal S-Shaped Tubular Arm
Effective Length: 9 1/16” (230.1 mm)
Overhang: 19/32" (15.2 mm)
Effective Mass: 9 g (Without Cartridge)
Offset Angle: 22°
Friction: Less Than 7 mg (Lateral, Vertical)
Tracking Error Angle: Within 2°32' at the outer groove & within 0°32' at the inner groove of a 30 cm (12") record
Stylus Pressure Adjust Range: 0 - 5 g
Applicable Cartridge Weight Range: 6 - 10 g
Headshell Weight: 5.6
Unit Dimensions: W 17.75” x H 6” x D 14” (450 x 152 x 352mm)
Weight: 22.5 lbs (10 kg) Shipping: 29.8 lbs (13.5 kg)

Yes I know that’s a whole load of boring numbers, but the useful info lies in the figure "starting torque" 1.2kg. Quality tables have upwards of 2kg.

Jerry Springer's final thoughts.
Like I stated earlier, this table is good for someone just starting out. If you have any experience, or have a bit more to spend, there are far, far better decks out there.

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Comments on this review

  • evilalarm published 13/06/2005
    Exceptional review, ill change my rating for it tomorow, because i can't give any more exceptional ratings today. You may find this review of some interest.... Gemini XL300 > Reviews > Review of Gemini XL300 Turntables They are the turntables I began with and i have found them to be very satisfying. I mix garage and drum n bass, be interested to know where you buy your vinyls from? any recommended record web sites ? Mutual trust ?
  • bergmcberg published 31/12/2004
    Great review. What more can i say? Got any old B&B tunes you want to sell?! ? Take care mate
  • star333 published 22/12/2004
    Not somthing for me, great review well written and alot of info x
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Product Information : Gemini XL500 II

Manufacturer's product description

Turntable - Direct - Manual

Product Details

Manufacturer: Gemini

Arm Action: Manual

Drive: Direct


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