(Pocket-lint) - Devialet is a storied name in the right circles - a hi-fi brand par excellence with a taste for the extravagant. If you fancy a speaker setup that looks as extraordinary as it sounds, it's a great fit.
Of course, it's also typically aimed at the top-end of the market, meaning high-end pricing, which is one of the factors that make its wireless earbuds, the Gemini, so interesting.
These in-ears are priced at an entirely familiar, if still decidedly premium level, dropping them into the sort of competitive waters Devialet might not know so well. Here's how they stack up.
- Dimensions (per earbud): 33 x 18 x 15mm / Weight: 8g
- Dimensions (case): 74 x 58 x 31mm / Weight: 76g
- Built-in touch controls
- Available in black
While its speakers often look like art installations crossed with alien spacecraft, Devialet isn't pushing the boat out quite so far with the Gemini. Its case is a nicely restrained affair, in matte black with fairly subtle branding.
It's also a rare beast - a slide-to-open case, which is as satisfying to open and close as anything we've tried, and has impressively strong magnets to lock your earbuds in place inside it. A section of raised metal nubs makes it even easier to open, which we appreciate.
There's a USB Type-C port for charging, but you can also do that wirelessly using a Qi wireless pad. The clear downside to all this is that the case is really chunky - it's nowhere near the likes of Apple's AirPods Pro as far as pocketability goes.
Taking the earbuds out, things stay just as sensible. Each 'bud is an oval shape with the Devialet logo on a lower touch-sensitive pad, and you get multiple ear tip sizes to help ensure that it stays in your ear comfortably.
We found it solid on the comfort side of things, and fine for longer listening sessions, although canvassing the opinions of those with smaller ears did suggest it might not be as ideal for everyone.
The Gemini looks really good to our eyes, subtle enough to avoid screaming that you've spent a bunch on your audio.
- Active noise-cancellation (ANC)
- Full EQ customisation
Where you'd really hope Devialet can show its experience and class is in the sound department, although that comes with the caveat that the brand is really known primarily for speakers.
That perhaps explains some of what is quite a mixed bag, in terms of performance. First up, the good news: when you've got it setup to your preferences, and with active noise-cancelling (ANC) switched on, music can absolutely shine.
These 'buds are capable of a seriously impressive soundstage, meaning you can pick out those little details that make your favourite tracks so special.
There are a few patented bits of technology mixed in, in vintage Devialet style, and while we don't think even an enthusiastic listener would ever feel their benefits in a hugely specific way, we're willing to believe that they are indeed helping these earbuds deliver a wider range of results.
The ANC here is especially great, successfully drowning out ambient traffic and train noise in our testing, giving us that 'bubbled' feeling - that can be such a relief.
However, the flip-side of that is that we found listening to tracks without ANC - even in quieter spaces - neutered the sound profile somewhat, keeping back a tangible amount of vibrancy and punch. It's not a deal-breaker, since you can just leave ANC on.
Still, with a companion app that lets you control equalisation (EQ) settings to a solid level of depth, there's a lot of scope here for you to setup the Gemini earbuds to sound exactly how you want.
Finally, as is often the case with true wireless earbuds, call quality is nothing to write home about - whoever you're calling should be able to make everything out fine, but it's still far from perfect quality.
- 6-hours of playback, 18 more hours in case
- Qualcomm aptX compatible
- IPX4 rating
When it comes to the extra little bits and pieces that are packed into many earbuds now, Devialet hits a lot of the big notes you'd expect. There's IPX4 certification to ensure that you don't have to panic if your earbuds take a splash of water, although they're not necessarily a perfect pair for intense and prolonged sweaty exercise.
You can also take advantage of the Devialet Gemini app to set EQ, as mentioned above, and test the fit of your chosen tip size using the earbuds' microphones.
This app also houses a few more settings, letting your turn on or off automatic ear detection for quicker pausing, and lightly change what the built-in touch controls do.
These controls are a bit limited, in particular missing out on an option to control volume, but you can at least play and pause tracks with a tap, or indeed summon a voice assistant if desired.
The app experience is fairly smooth, and compares favourably to some other less considered apps we've used. It'll also help you keep an eye on battery life, which is fairly typical - you get six hours of playback on a single charge, with that sizeable case adding another 18, taking the total to 24 hours.
Devialet has created a stellar set of earbuds in the Gemini - if, that is, active noise-cancelling (ANC) is switched on and your EQ setup is on point. Otherwise, especially with ANC switched off, you might be questioning if something's gone wrong.
For long stretches these 'buds can be fantastic to use, sounding as good as any earbud we've tried in this price category. There's more than enough recommend the Gemini to anyone who's either a fan of the brand or fancies some earbuds that aren't quite as middle-of-the-road as other mainstream options.
Sony's 2021 noise-cancelling 'buds are cheaper but come with more experience baked in, as it's the fourth version at this point. They're suitably impressive with a shrunken-down case and a new design that looks a bit funky but hasn't stopped them sounding absolutely stellar.
Apple AirPods Pro
If you're an iPhone user, Apple's own premium earbuds remain an incredible easy sell - their ANC is also exemplary, music sounds superb, and their integration with iOS is obviously second to none. Add in a smaller case and many opportunities to pick them up at a heavy discount and you've got a winner on your hands.