Maybe you’re not yet familiar with Devialet. It’s a company that isn’t yet a household name in the audio game here in the US, but it has garnered an impressive reputation in its native Europe, as well as with the broader audiophile crowd, thanks to its high-end wireless home speakers that focus on amazing sound and ultra-unique design.
As the company is expanding its footprint into a crowded American marketplace for true wireless earbuds, I spent some time with the Gemini earbuds, Devialet’s first true wireless headset and first foray away from home speakers and accessories. As you might expect if you clicked on the link for these speakers back there in paragraph 1, the Gemini are definitely a high-end pair of headphones, and the company is dipping its toes into a very crowded field full of brands with which you may be more familiar. Let’s see how these products stack up.
Devialet goes out of its way to try and deliver on a luxury experience. The packaging, for those to whom this sort of thing matters, is elegant and minimalist in a very Apple sort of way. Included is a basic quick-start sheet that encourages you to download a companion app (more on that in a bit), a small product brochure that features the aforementioned speakers, a USB C cable for charging the case, and four pairs of eartips in total.
Unlike the home speakers, there’s much less room to play with attention to unique physical aesthetic, and Devialet instead opts for an elegant but simplistic design for the Gemini. The brushed-matte finish of the charging case feels great in the palm of your hand (but I’m a sucker for those kinds of finishes; your mileage may vary). The earbuds themselves follow that same “elegant in a minimalist sense” design.
The App Control
Pairing is straightforward and quick, and within a few minutes I’m up and running, connected to my iPhone and navigating the app and the earbuds’ feature set. The app is straightforward but offers a reasonable amount of control over the buds, in comparison to competitors like Bose®, who offer next to no customization.
You get a basic 6-band EQ and a balancer (which you’ll never touch, but it’s there for some reason!) along with a few basic EQ presets to use as a jumping-off point if the Flat setting isn’t to your taste. You can also tweak the level of noise cancellation, which we’ll get into more when we start talking about the sound.
The Gemini bring a full soundstage to the listener; Devialet states they have a 5 Hz to 20 kHz frequency range and they support aptX (and Bluetooth 5.0), allowing the buds definitely to provide ample, punchy bass while keeping a generally balanced performance. The highs and high mids are crisp without sounding shrill or brittle, and at the flat EQ setting I find they favor the mids to low mids.
Listening to full-res versions of Michael Jackson’s Thriller album, the stock EQ of the Gemini shows the life and mastery of that recording well, and really shows off the stereo separation of which the earbuds are capable. Pivoting to some 1990s R&B with En Vogue, the Gemini handled the pronounced bass and punchy beats with ease.
Changing speeds entirely to some guitar-oriented prog rock in the form of Porcupine Tree, I found them to feel a little congested in the mids to the now more mid-heavy material, and reached for the EQ to pull down a little of 400 Hz, which suited my tastes (and the material) much better than the flat EQ.
Overall, these are pretty true-sounding earbuds. There’s not a lot of hype happening in any particular frequency range, and even though I found some genres had me reaching for the App-based EQ where others shone with it set flat, it’s clear Devialet’s sonic intent was a pleasing but neutral tuning. They’re not “bass bummers” at all but are more balanced in the low end than the hyper-bass-present Beats line.
The Gemini’s impressive noise cancellation is provided by “A hybrid dual-microphone structure” that teams up with a proprietary internal delay compensation (IDC). The app offers pretty meager control over it (basically low, high, and a “plane” setting), but I found only minimal difference between them. The noise canceling rendered my office almost eerily quiet and battled with my daily A-train commute and tempered the famously cacophonous MTA.
You do have the option to turn off the noise canceling altogether; however, oddly enough I found this almost changes the tuning of the earbuds, as if turning off an EQ that improved their performance. I can’t recall another pair of noise-canceling headphones (earbuds or over-ears) that had this much of a sonic performance change when toggling the cancellation on and off.
Needless to say, rather than sweat it, I just flipped the noise canceling back on and resumed testing the Gemini. However, if you require some spatial awareness from your earbuds, you might find this a drawback to the Geminis.
Odds and Ends
Battery life on the Gemini is pretty standard, coming in at about 6 hours, but the case gives you about four full recharges for a total of about 24 hours before you need to plug it in. The case does support wireless charging with any Qi charger, which is a nice touch.
The buds are rated IPX4, which means they’re good against splashing water, which helps if you’re looking to be active with the Gemini. While the fit was comfortable and secure, I didn’t feel confident trying to use them to work out, personally.
Touch control is there, for all the functions you’d expect (play/pause, taking a call, activating your digital assistant), but I’ve not really tried any pair of earbuds that have gotten the sensitivity down right to have it be really useful, and the Gemini haven’t broken that trend for me.
Honest but pleasing sonic reproduction with some tweakability
High-quality noise cancellation
Good battery life
Easy-to-use (if limited) app
High-end feel to earbuds and case
Could Be Better:
Sound suffers when noise canceling is turned off
App-based EQ could offer more flexibility
Have you tried these earbuds yet? Let us know about your experience in the Comments section, below.