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      13.08.2001 01:00
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      This year, I took my GCSEs, and am currently awaiting the results. However, I admit, the grades I get will probably not be as high as the grades I could have got, had I spent more time working and revising. Now then, I do not go out all that often, live in the countryside, with the nearest town being Bury St. Edmunds, so there really isn't much for me to do. So just how did I not find any time in which to revise? The answer is that I own a pair of little beauties known as record decks. I didn't get around to revising, because I spend way too much time on them. Whether it be mixing a tape, listening to any new records I may have bought or generally messing around on them, I would do it for extensive periods every day, and shall continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The decks I own are the Gemini XL-1800s and, although I use them an awful lot and enjoy it very much, I would certainly not recommend for you to buy them if you were looking for a pair of cheap direct drive decks. They handle as if they are belt drive, and there really are better value ones available, which is why I am currently saving up for what have generally been regarded as the best quality and most reliable decks for the past 25 years, Technics SL-1210s. Basically, there are two types of decks, belt drive and direct drive. I won't go into the details of what makes them work differently, but the main difference between the two is the amount of torque (power with which the deck is turned). On a belt drive deck, it is very low torque. If you were to touch the record on a belt drive deck, with the intention of slowing it down, the turntable will slow down and take a while to get up to the speed it was previously at. This makes it very difficult to correct a mix if the speeds are slightly out. Also, on a belt drive deck, scratching is virtually impossible, because you just cannot move the record back and forth quick enough, and the needle will jump
      all over the place. On a direct drive deck, the torque is generally much higher. This means that usually, if you touch the record to slow it down, the turntable will continue spinning at the same speed, meaning the record returns quickly to its proper speed once you let go of it. Direct drive decks are also essential for scratching, as it allows you to move the record back and forth very quickly, and the record is much less likely to skip. Belt drive decks can be useful for DJs who are just starting out and only want to learn to beatmatch (get the beats on each record running at the same tempo), but offer little else. Back to the decks which this opinion is on then, and as I said, they are direct drive decks, but handle as if they are belt drive. For some unknown reason, they seem to have such low torque, touching the record as it is spinning will bring it to a virtual standstill, after which it will take second or two to get going again. Also, if you wish to speed the record up, nothing will happen unless you apply a lot of force, when the record will suddenly speed up, and take about five seconds to slow down again. On most direct drive decks, you can hold the record in place, whilst the turntable continues spinning. However, on these decks, if the record is still, so is the turntable. This is not good. At this point, you may be wandering just why it is that I bought these decks. The reason I bought them is because I picked them up second-hand. Whilst these decks are not great value for money if you buy them new, they were easily the best value decks I could find for under £200, with a very good mixer, valued at £150. I'm not sure on how much these would cost if you did buy them new. If you do know, leave a comment - it would be much appreciated. Anyway, enough of why and how I bought these decks. The bottom line is, I did buy them, and am now letting the world know just what I think of them. <br>Features then: 1) +/- 8% pitch control 2) Err, that's about it. The manual does say "this state of the art turntable includes the latest features" but to be honest contains nothing different from any other turntable. The pitch control for decks vary depending on what model it is. For example, Soundlab DLP-1600s have a +/- 6% control, whilst Technics decks have a +/- 8% control and I have heard reports that the Vestax PDX-2000 can go +/- 50%. Not sure if this is the case, but I would be interested if anybody knew any more about it. What is good about the deck only going up to 8% however, is that it is more accurate than a deck that goes up to 10%, thus making it easier to get the speeds of the records the same. Also, found just to the side of the pitch control, is a little hole, with a + on to the left of it and - to the right, and is operated by putting a screwdriver in it, and turning either clockwise or anti-clockwise. This hole is used to configure the speed of the deck. So, if for example, you wanted the deck to go up to +16%, you could place the pitch control on -8%, and turn the screwdriver to speed it up until it is at the same speed as if it were at 0%. Therefore, the speed with the pitch control at 0% would actually be +8%, and when the pitch control is at +8%, it would actually be playing at +16%. You may be unimpressed with the deck having virtually no features, but think about it, the more features there are, the more likely it is for the deck to go wrong. Some decks have a reverse button, in which the record could be played in reverse. Imagine if you were coming to the end of your best mix tape ever, and suddenly it went into reverse for no reason. I think it may be rather annoying. So therefore, having no features means there are fewer problems that could arise. Why do you think Technics have done so well over the last quarter of a century? They have no special features, and do so well
      for being such a reliable piece of machinery. I have found the Gemini XL-1800 doesn't skip very often. Which is nice. There is nothing more annoying than when you're half way through a brilliant mix and one of the records suddenly skips. Apparently this misfortune happens during every single one of 'Dangerous' Dave Pearce's mixes, at least that's what it sounds like anyway. Although I have already spoken of many problems with these decks, I now have to let it be known of the biggest problem I have found with this deck. I haven't a clue as to why this happens, but if you wish to slow down a record slightly, you may gently touch it to slow it a little. Now this may sound as if there is no problem, but as soon as you stop slowing down the record, the deck will suddenly speed up to even quicker than it was before you slowed it down. This makes it virtually impossible to correct it if the records are not in time once you have started the mix. Throughout this opinion, I have done nothing but complain as to how bad these decks are, but despite this, I still use them for in excess of two hours every day, and they have certainly given me more enjoyment than any computer game, TV or whatever could have done. Basically, if you love music, and are a keen DJ, you will enjoy mixing, no matter what decks you are using, I know I certainly do. To finish this opinion on a good note, there are two advantages to having such problematic decks on which to learn your trade. 1) Because you cannot correct a mix once it has started, you are forced into learning to get the speeds of the records perfect every time. It is a very frustrating period when you cannot do this, but once you have learned, it is very satisfying, and you also have your hands free to concentrate on other aspects of the mix (working the controls on the mixer etc.). 2) If you can mix perfectly on these, rather low quality decks, imagine how
      good you will be on a pair of Technics, and how easily it will come to you on better decks. John Digweed - beware. Thank you for reading my opinion.

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