Techincal - Gemini or Numark CD players for theatre use?

Discussion in 'Pro Audio' started by Richard Corfield, May 26, 2005.

  1. Does anyone have any views on either of the following?

    Numark CDN 88
    Gemini CFX 40/50
    any others in the £350 price range

    in terms of features and reliability?

    I'm looking for something for use in theatre, both for running shows
    and for rehearsal. The Gemini has the nice user interface. The Numark
    looks like it has a good feature set (assuming they work well), but the
    user interface looks like something from a blind UNIX programmer! (I am
    a UNIX programmer, but not blind ;-)

    Most important to me for running a show is the ability to play a track
    at a time:

    It waits at the start of track 1.
    I press PLAY. It plays track 1.
    Then it waits at the start of track 2 for me to press PLAY
    continue until run out of tracks.

    When I press PLAY it must start instantly and reliably.
    A big visible PLAY button would be nice for hitting in low light.

    Ideally also it should wait at the start of the track when I press
    NEXT, and be able to find that track quickly. For example I may have an
    ambient effect which will be over-long and would want to skip to the
    next at the end of the scene ready for an effect in the next scene.

    Having researched DJ CD players I've found other features of interest
    (especially for rehearsals):

    Ability to change speed without changing the musical key
    for practising dance routines. Both do this

    Ability to change the key without changing the speed to help
    out singers.
    On the night the band will play in the right key.
    I have an effects processor that can do this fairly well.
    Gemini players can't do this? Numark can but is it any good?

    Loops and hot starts - cue points - for more interesting effects
    on the night.
    Gemini has more cue points but I think it's two keypresses to
    activate them from pause. Could this replace a sampling

    Some way to quickly get to a bit of music for when they say "Can we
    have the second verse again". Good searching on the jog wheel.
    Gemini's direct track access helps here, and on the night.


    - Richard
    Richard Corfield, May 26, 2005
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  2. Richard Corfield

    Mark Guest

    You may want to consider an MD player.

    You can do some editing of an MD without having to burn a new one, i.e.
    you can revise the track order and change the content of the tracks
    etc. without making a whole new disc. That is a nice feature when
    there are lots of changes.

    Mark, May 26, 2005
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  3. A rep theatre I used to work at had a very expensive Tascam MD player
    which was excellent, but we could only afford one of them. "Tape 2"
    remained just that - an old reel to reel tape deck. The only problem
    we had with it was that after a while it would start saying "Edit not
    possible" which would mean having to copy the data off and back on

    MDs seem to be less common a format nowadays though. I don't see units
    in the shops any more.

    I'll do some research though, so thanks for that.
    Richard Corfield, May 27, 2005
  4. Richard Corfield

    Greg Taylor Guest

    I still use an older Sony MD for my church theatre (2 hour Easter
    production). The 520 (consumer version of the E58), 530, and 9x0's all
    retained the auto pause function, which somewhat simplifies scene
    endings. The 510's I used seem to have typical transport problems.
    Denon also had a DJ style dual MD system that had single track play mode.
    Greg Taylor, May 27, 2005
  5. Richard Corfield

    Mark Guest

    Yes, your unit was not defective, there is a limitation to the number
    and type of edits you can make before you have to "start over"

    Mark, May 27, 2005
  6. what you want is this:
    a dual cd player. what you do is cue up the second one in the
    headphones while the other one is playing. then you can instantly
    start it.

    while #2 is going, you cue up #1. that's how dj's do it, over and over
    and over again.

    you should get two numark players. the lasers fail over time. you
    don't want to be in a live situation and have it fail. the life will
    be double anyway. so you're not wasting money.
    genericaudioperson, May 28, 2005
  7. genericaudioperson, May 28, 2005
  8. Two players is a possibility. I can keep my very old single CD player
    and add to it over time. It doesn't do auto-cue though. I lent that one
    to my parents who still have it.

    I've seen lasers fail on portable equipment but never on heavier fixed
    equipment. (I've seen such equipment die of dust in other people's

    Back on the subject of Minidisk, my concern is that the medium seems to
    be going out of fashion. You just don't see it around. I can still find
    blank disks - 75p each at one store but re-recordable so would be
    cheaper over a show than CDs. I've seen DJs using minisk, but not

    Something I've wondered about DJ-ing is how do you manage to get the
    cueing to line up as surely you have a relatively short amount of space
    to do it in, or does DJ music tend to come with long play-ins and
    play-outs to help you? Perhaps it's just practise and skill :)

    Presumably you're synchronising phrases as well as just beats and bars,
    so would have to be accurate to within 16 or 32 beats for a lot of
    modern music. If you use pitch shifting to manage the cross fade do you
    subsequently correct it, or does the entire show run at the same BPM?
    I'd expect a pitch change within a song would be audible, unless it's
    done as part of the effect, or you suddenly switch over to a new song
    to change bpm.

    I don't DJ at the moment, though I own equipment for my theatre work
    that could be used for it, so it could be interesting to try (in the
    safety of my own home at first). I have the luxury on the rare event we
    use pre-recorded music to be able to put it all together on the
    computer first rather than having to do it live. Most of my output is
    effects, amblients, birdsong, passing cars, etc...

    - Richard
    Richard Corfield, May 29, 2005

  9. Would it be more practical to do this with iTunes rather than CD

    "It CAN'T be too loud... some of the red lights aren't even on yet!"
    - Lorin David Schultz
    in the control room
    making even bad news sound good

    (Remove spamblock to reply)
    Lorin David Schultz, May 29, 2005
  10. I've tried running on a laptop, and it works, but I'm after a more
    applicance like piece of kit that's designed to do that job. Laptop is
    fiddly, but anyone can operate a CD player.

    I've ordered the Numark which should come tomorrow I hope.


    - Richard
    Richard Corfield, May 31, 2005
  11. Now I have it, I can give an initial review:

    First impression - very solidly made. It weighs a lot (10kg according
    to the packaging). Disk trays are plastic, but aren't they all
    nowadays. A lot of weight is in the controller which surprised me. I
    expected that to be a dumb display device with buttons.

    It does the cue-ing as required. If skipping to the next track best hit
    pause first otherwise it will play straight away, but that's better
    that way and more flexible.

    Control layout is quite simple and works. On the night I'd put some
    tape over the play LED to dim it a bit though. It's a very bright
    blue/white one with quite a narrow beam so don't be looking into it
    when you press play. The other LEDs are fine, ordinary diffuse
    green/yellow ones.

    It read disks well - even the "copy protected" BMG one I tried it on so
    no need to make a copy of it to play. I don't think I've agreed with
    the BeatKeeper yet, but perhaps I listen to the wrong type of music for
    it. 3/4 time is definately out. Will have to try it on something more
    disco-ey to see if it works. It doesn't try to beat-keep if there's no
    beat, so shouldn't get in the way for effects.

    Key changing works, a little mickey mousey but I expect formant aware
    key shifting is still a very new and very expensive technology and this
    is an older player. For small changes it's quite usable. Similarly key
    lock is very usable up to +/-25% degrading as you get beyond that. For
    rehearsal it will do the job. On the night - we just regulate the
    caffiene intake of the drummer.

    - Richard
    Richard Corfield, Jun 2, 2005
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