If you are looking for an audio company that has shone in recent years, from both a design and audio point of view, it is Devialet. Best known for its big, bombastic Phantom statement speakers, to see the brand create something that’s as small as an earphone is something of a shock.
But the Active Noise Cancelling earbud market is a burgeoning one at the moment. Get it right and you will be forever known as an AirPods Pro killer. Get it wrong and you’ll join a long list of audio brands who weren’t quite able to drown the sound of Apple out.
Devialet isn’t taking any chances with its ANC buds. The Devialet Gemini come with patents galore, an impressive battery life and a stunning design pedigree. And they’ve been in our ears for a number of weeks now.
Here are five things you need to know about the Devialet Gemini...
1. Devialet’s design prowess shines through
Devialet has always been heavy on making its designs standout. If you are lucky enough to have one - or even a pair - of Phantom speakers in your home then you know they are statement pieces straight out of 2001: A Space Odyssey. While the canvas is a hell of a lot smaller here, Devialet has certainly done enough to make sure that its premium design flourishes have filtered down.
We’ll start with the case. Slightly bulkier than others we have tried (at 58 x 74 x 31mm) it’s a beautiful black matte, with Devialet’s logo across the middle, an USB-C slot on one end, a pairing button on the ther. There’s a nice sliding top and the earbuds are nestled inside.
The earbuds are also a little bit bigger than some (at 15 x 18 x 33mm) but once they are in the ears they don’t stick out face-on and fit rather nicely. To make sure you get the right seal, there are three versions of buds in the box (XS, S, L) and medium buds already attached to the earphones. These ones fitted just right for us, but slipping the buds on and off was simple enough.
As for the design of the earbuds, they are lozenge shaped with the D of the Devialet logo at the bottom. The rest of the design is minimal but really sleek looking. Devialet has given the earbuds an IPX4 rating, so are splash resistant and therefore more than capable of being a pair of buds for running and the like.
2. Setup is a breeze, with decent manual controls
We love it when earbuds pair straight out of the box with no fuss and that’s what has happened every time with the Devialet Gemini. Pressing the pairing button for a few seconds had our phone linking to them in no time and we were up and away.
While Devialet isn’t hugely specific in downloading its app for using these buds, we think it’s certainly worth doing. Here you get battery life information, the ability to have three different versions of ANC and you can also mess around with the EQ settings to get a better sound.
Away from the app the touch controls work well, but we did find sometimes they were fiddly with sweaty hands during a workout. It’s all fairly simple, though: one tap to pause, a double press on the left earbud for the previous track, the same on the right to skip forward. You can also double tap to receive a phone call or hold to reject.
Another niggle is pressing and holding to switch between ANC and transparency modes. While it is noticeable which mode you are in when out and about, when at home in the quiet it’s not as discernible. A voice notification telling us which mode we were in would have been really helpful here.
Volume can’t be controlled by the touch controls, either - but you can access your voice assistant of choice through them.
3. They are packed with tech
There is A LOT of tech packed into these diminutive buds and it really shows. Sorry to baffle with science, but Devialet has added three of its own patents into these earphones, all of them are there to try and make its ANC standout, not external sounds.
There’s something called: Internal Delay Compensation (IDC), Ear Active Matching (EAM) and Pressure Balance Architecture (PBA). All this boils down to making sure that no matter what kind of fit the earbuds are in your ears, there’s tech to compensate for the likes of sound leakage, air pressure and any unwanted outside sound.
The result is a rich, immersive sound that really does envelop you.
4. Sound quality is stunning... when ANC is on
Here comes the bit you’ve been waiting for: we were utterly impressed with the sound quality on offer with the Devialet Gemini but there are some caveats.
When you go into the app, there are three versions of ANC: Low, High and Plane. While we couldn’t test these out on a plane for obvious reasons, we couldn’t discern much difference between the modes - in a good way. It was only when we took the ANC off that the music we listened to didn’t quite have the punch we felt when the ANC was on.
If we’re honest, if we have a pair of ANCs, then it is unlikely that we would listen to them without the noise cancelling on. But if you are the sort who likes to toggle you will definitely hear a difference in audio quality.
Keep the ANC on, though, and you will be blown away. The Four Tet Remix of Caribou’s Melody Day was beautiful through the earbuds, its crescendo ramping up to euphoric levels. The bass-heavy Aphex Twin’s Pulsewidth put the bass in a blender and it sounded superb. The treble was a little hash on Thom Yorke’s Suspiria but Oneohtrix Point Never’s Long Road Home was the perfect song to test all levels and it sounded epic through the Devialet Gemini.
When it comes to volume, we never had to venture above 70% to get the loudness we wanted - there’s a real oomph to proceedings here that we liked.
5. Battery life is excellent, thanks to the case
The case may be bigger than most for ANC buds, but it can be charged wirelessly on a wireless charging station. Also, when it is fully juiced up it houses a whopping 18 hours of battery life. Couple this with 6 hours per earbud and what you have is a whole day’s worth of charge.
We haven’t encountered many ANC buds better than this in terms of battery life and are quite happy for the extra bulk if this is what it offers (if only real life was like that).
Devialet Gemini: Final Verdict
If you are looking for a premium pair of ANC earphones that impress in both sound (with ANC on) and battery life, then the Devialet Gemini are for you. While pricey at £279 / $300 we were really impressed with the sheer quality of the things.
These are good-looking, big-sounding noise-cancelling earphones that offer a quality that you would expect from Devialet.