Some folks had asked for impressions of the Mission Engineering Gemini 2 that I received earlier this week. Had a chance to spend a few hours with it last night and thought I'd throw up my initial impressions.
First, I've been on a quest to build my "perfect rig". "Perfect" is highly subjective, so perfect for my needs is probably the better usage. As I've posted before, I'm a 50 year old home enthusiast. Don't play gigs but do play out with some friends of mine who are the same type of players, i.e. older guys just having some fun and trying their best to sound decent. Our wives all tolerate our passion and normally just roll their eyes at us :rolleyes: . With that said, all you pro guys on here please take this with a grain of salt as I'm not sure how much of this is helpful for you all.
I've sold off all but one of my tube amps since I got my Helix a few months back. For me the Helix is the perfect anchor for my rig, see my previous impressions post on the Helix if you'd like. In the process now of clearing out most of my pedals and other "non-essential" gear. My next "prefect" rig item was a wireless unit to eliminate having to be strapped to the Helix with a cable. Looked at all the options out there and decided to go with the Line 6 G70 Relay. The G70 is working flawlessly and would recommend it to anyone.
The last "perfect" rig item was for amplification of the Helix. Tried running the Helix through my tube amps but the result was what one would expect, coloring of the Helix tone by the amp, so decided a FRFR solution was what I wanted. After doing a lot of research I decided to go with the Mission Engineering Gemini 2 with Bluetooth. Reasons for choosing the Gemini 2 were; built to last, designed as a one piece stereo unit, tone good both at low and loud levels, plenty of power to play in a quartet with a heavy handed drummer (more than enough juice), ability to tweak the cab resonance from FRFR to more of a guitar centered voicing, and ability to stream backing tracks via Bluetooth form my phone or tablet, i.e. makes my rig a "band in a rig".
So does the Gemini 2 deliver? So far, almost a 100% Yes, will get to the "almost" pieces in a moment. Now, I haven't been able to run in stereo mode yet because the special cable you need to do so won't be here till this coming week. In order to run the unit in stereo you need a dual XLR to single TRS 1/4" cable. Mission offers one but it's only 3' long. The support folks at Mission were great and gave me the name of the company who makes theirs so I could have one made 15' long to go with the Helix floor unit. Will update this post when the cable gets here on the stereo aspects. Plugged-in in mono however sounds fantastic with the Helix, both at low and loud volumes, so imagine stereo will just be incredible. Hooked up my phone via the Bluetooth last night and was streaming blues backing tracks to the Gemini while playing a Plexi patch from the Helix. HOLY ##%$# this sounded good!!! The Gemini and Helix blended together in a perfect mix, sounded like I was playing "in the band". Have been trying any number of solutions to get this kind of mix and could never get close to what I was getting last night with the Gemini/Helix combo. For you pro and semi-pro guys that may find yourself playing small solo gigs and want a "band in a rig" type setup, I truly don't think you will ever find anything that can top this. Volume wise, you could play a good size room at half power, the Gemini has balls. At lower levels the Gemini sounds fantastic, which was my biggest worry when I bought it because most gear at low volume sounds just okay, at best.
As to tone, the Gemini amplifies your Helix patches spot on, every nuance is audible. I wanted to "feel" the Helix, think only guitar players get that reference ;) , and the Gemini delivers in spades. With some of the other solutions I checked out, low end had a tendency to get hollow or flabby, that's not the case with the Gemini. Low end is as tight or lose as your Helix patch is set. Mids are what they are supposed to be from low to high, and the highs are not ice picky unless you want them to be via your patch...all the highs from my patches sounded sweet and clear. With the Helix, as with all Line 6 products, I've found that less is more when dialing in settings and the Gemini exposes this in even greater detail.....it truly is FRFR when set to that mode and you hear what you are dialing in. I did play with the resonance voicing a bit and it works as advertised. If you dial back from FRFR on the cab it truly takes on the more mid focus of a traditional guitar cab. For the blues backing tracks I found that pulling the resonance of the cab off of full FRFR slightly produced a tone that sounded like you were sitting in a smokey bar filled with soulful tone....was heaven to my ears.
I haven't played with all of the recording and other features of the Gemini, may never do so honestly, but the number one things for me were the tone at studio levels and the streaming capabilities and these were both higher than my expectations.
If you want all the specs you can go to Mission's website, however this unit is built like a tank and the fit and finish is top shelf. I do like that it is built like a guitar cab, i.e. it's what a guitar rig is supposed to look like :) . The trade off though to being built like this is weight. Here is the first of the "almost" items...it is HEAVY. With all the modern materials available there has got to be a way to build these units without so much weight. I'm no engineer but if this unit weighed 20 lbs less Mission wouldn't be able to keep up with the demand of people wanting them. Other "almosts" have to with the weight as well. There are no removable casters provided nor do they appear to be an option....they really should be standard on any piece of gear that weighs this much. Next is that the cab has a single, center mounted strap handle on the top positioned lengthwise. While the strap feels sturdy, the weight and size of the cab make it cumbersome to move. Again, I'm no engineer but would think dual top straps mounted front to back instead of lengthwise, recessed corner or side mounted handles, or something in these veins would make moving the Gemini MUCH easier. I'm no waif of a guy, so I can move this beast around but someone of slighter build might find this even more of an issue.
The only other thing in the "almost" list is the cooling fan in the Gemini. It puts out too much noise for primary studio use, at least for me it does. Now, since I ordered my Gemini from Sweetwater a couple of weeks ago, Mission has re-branded the unit I have as the "Gemini 2 LIVE" version and released a new unit branded as the "Gemini 2 Studio Edition". The new unit has no cooling fan and is noiseless, plus a couple of other minor improvements....guessing I'm not the only one that has an issue with the fan noise. Really wished I'd known about the new version as I would have waited a few weeks and selected this newer option. Thank goodness I dealt with Sweetwater as an email on this issue was all it took to get an immediate response and action. The Gemini I have is going to be returned and replaced with the new Studio Edition. The new version is $200 more but believe it's money well spent not to have to listen to this cooling fan. For those that will be using the Gemini in live settings the majority of the time, the "LIVE" version would be perfect and doubt you would even notice the cooling fan.
Well, that's enough I guess. Think the Studio Edition will put the Gemini 2 in the 95% approval range, with the 5% knock off going to the weight/casters/handle items listed above. Probably can't get much better than that....if the weight items were changed the Gemini would get a 100% rating form me...and I'm picky. Hope this was helpful for those considering a FRFR rig. I'm pretty much have my "perfect rig" put together, wireless so I can sit on the couch across the room from the Helix/Gemini and play along with my favorite backing track and songs, fantastic tone, and more flexibility than I'll ever truly need....now just need my Collings I35 Deluxe to get here and I'm done :D
Life if good...be well....