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Gemini MS-USB Portable Sound System

Manufacturer: Gemini
Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided DigiFreq with a NFR unit of this product for review.
Reviewed by Scott R. Garrigus
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What do speeches, assemblies, tradeshows, parties, outdoor events and music performances have in common? They all require some type of PA system. Of course, most large events are covered by either in-house PA or a dedicated staff of sound engineers and roadies with truckloads of PA equipment. Small venues and solo performers, however, need something a bit more compact and portable. Enter the MS-USB Portable Sound System from Gemini.

Gemini MS-USB Portable Sound System
The MS-USB provides portable sound amplification in a compact unit with a wide variety of features. It is an all-in-one unit with a high-quality rugged, metal enclosure containing a 100-watt amplifier, a 5-inch woofer and 1-inch tweeter, and a digital music playback system that can be run on either AC power or via a built-in battery that lasts approximately 12 hours on a full charge. Included in the package are the unit itself, a power cable, a manual, a stereo RCA patch cable, and a basic, dynamic, hand-held mic. The unit weighs a mere 28.7 lbs for easy lifting, but also includes wheels and a retractable handle so it can be rolled just like a piece of luggage.

Basic PA Operations
As I mentioned earlier, the MS-USB can be powered by AC or battery. You simply plug it in using the supplied power cable and flip the main switch. If you plan to run off the internal battery, you'll need to wait approximately 4 hours to fully charge the unit, but it can still be operated while charging. There are both charging and battery level indicators and the AC power is switchable between 115V and 230V so it can be used pretty much anywhere in the world.

The MS-USB provides three different inputs, each with its own gain control, and there's also a Master Volume control. The first input is a balanced microphone combo jack that takes either XLR or 1/4-inch, which allows you to use any professional mic for a nice, clean sound. The second input is an unbalanced 1/4-inch jack for connecting a budget mic or an instrument, such as electric guitar. The included dynamic mic can be connected to this input for basic speech applications, but I wouldn't recommend this mic for singing (well, maybe for karaoke but not a professional music gig… use your own pro mic and input 1 for that). The third input provides an auxiliary RCA stereo connection (RCA patch cable included) that can be used to connect external devices like CD players, etc. In addition, there's a single stereo 1/4-inch line level output that can be used to connect to another amplifier or even another MS-USB when you have the need for a stereo PA.

Playback and Performance
For true portability, the MS-USB provides a full-featured, built-in MP3 player. If you're a one-man-band, now all you need is your instrument, a mic, and the MS-USB on battery power to play your gigs anywhere. Simply connect an SD/SDHC card or a USB storage device with your MP3 backing tracks already loaded and you're good to go. But the MS-USB doesn't leave you simply hanging with just a play button. The LCD display lists all the folders/tracks on your device and the Track/Folder Search knob lets you scroll through and select the track(s) you want to play.

Playback can be controlled in a variety of ways with dedicated features for Cue (set a return point for playback), Play/Pause (playback and pause the current track), Search/Rewind and Search/Forward (rewind or fast-forward the current track), Loop Section and Reloop (set up a loop region for easy looping and relooping part of the current track), Reverse (play the current track in reverse), Repeat (play the track or track list again with a single button press), and Single/Continuous (play a single track and stop or have continuous playback of all tracks in the selected folder). In addition, you can control the pitch of the track with the Pitch Bend buttons and Pitch Control Slide.

Nice Portable Sound without the Price
Speaking of sound, even with the small 5-inch woofer and 1-inch tweeter, the MS-USB provides a nice, clear output. It can easily handle small, indoor venues. And when outdoors, the playback can be heard clearly from 150-feet or more. One added feature that might be nice to have is built-in EQ, just in case your voice or backing tracks need a bit of tweaking on-the-fly, but it's not a necessity… just an idea for a possible added feature for a future model.

If you're a performing artist, a public speaker, or you just need a PA for any kind of small venue, I can definitely recommend the Gemini MS-USB Portable Sound System. For more information, visit geminidj.com.

Additional information: Gemini MS-USB Portable Sound System
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