Devialet Gemini Review: Saved By The Software Update
Updated: Aug 21, 2021
We’ve been getting our hands on quite a few premium earbuds these days, and we have a pair that was plagued by software issues when it first came out, to the point that Devialet actually had to pull it off the shelves for a while. So, is it worth the buy now?
Now, the Devialet Gemini caused a major stir when it was announced back in October 2020. Devialet is more well-known for its speakers, so this is actually the company’s first-ever true wireless earbuds, and well, the launch didn’t go according to plan.
So let’s start off with the big issue at hand. These earbuds had some pretty big software flaws when they first came out. The pairing was finicky, users couldn’t update the firmware, iOS users couldn’t see the battery level of the earbuds; it was a mess, let’s be honest. Definitely not something you would expect out of earbuds costing US$300 or S$459.
Well, Devialet listened. They took the product off their online store, worked on fixing their software issues, pushed out updates, then got the product back up for sale. I didn’t have any experience with the Gemini before the update, but now? Well, everything works.
Pairing wasn’t quite as seamless as I would have liked. I still had to go into my Bluetooth settings to pair the earbuds. Quick hint here, pair to the “Devialet Gemini” option and not the “LE-dvlt” option. But once paired, the app worked perfectly. I could see the battery level in the earbuds and case, everything worked. So major thumbs up to Devialet for taking the step to stop selling the product while working on a software fix.
Anyway, let’s talk design. The Devialet Gemini is a premium product, and it definitely shows. The charging case is made with matte black plastic, and you get a soft-touch coating on both the lid as well as the removable bottom cover. The cover on the bottom is held on by a screw and is removable so that the internal battery can be accessed and replaced. This is definitely a nice touch, seeing as plenty of people are pushing for the right to repair. Instead of buying a brand new case, you can just swap out an old battery. Well done, Devialet.
There’s an LED indicator on the front for charging status and battery life, as well as a button that puts the earbuds into pairing mode. The lid has some diamond bevelling on the edge to provide some grip for when you slide the lid open. Opening and closing the lid is very smooth, which is nice, but when the lid is open, there’s a bit of wobble. It’s a very minor thing, honestly, since the lid most likely won’t be left open most of the time anyway.
Inside you get the two earbuds. My first thought when I opened the case was, “Wow, they’ve really taken the Devialet Phantom design and incorporated it into these earbuds.”
If you’re familiar with Devialet’s Phantom speakers, you’ll definitely see the resemblance. It’s essentially the side of the speaker and if you’re a fan of that design, you’ll definitely love how the Gemini looks.
The circular pad is where the touch controls reside, and I googled for a list of touch controls. Devialet’s website states that you can tap once for play/pause, double-tap controls either track skipping or pulls up voice assistant and long press to switch between noise-cancelling and transparency modes. There is touch control customisation, but as of the time of this review’s publication, you can only customise what the double-tap does, whether it’s for track skipping or to activate the voice assistant. Bit sad there.
Devialet actually removed the ear tip test feature in a software update, so you’ll probably have to do some trial and error to see which tip works best for you, but Devialet even provides an XS option in addition to the standard S, M and L sizes, so people with smaller ears, you’re not forgotten. I’m using the standard M size and the earbuds sit very comfortably in my ear. Much better than the Sony WF-1000XM4. Additionally, there’s a 6-band EQ feature in the app. There aren’t a lot of EQ presets though, but you do get one custom slot to save your own EQ setting, so that’s pretty thoughtful on Devialet’s part.
Aside from that though, these earbuds are supposedly chock full of features. First is the Pressure Balance Architecture. There are cascading decompression chambers in the earbuds to ensure ideal inner pressure while not compromising noise attenuation. Honestly, I can’t test these features, but what I can say is that there’s no pressure build-up in my ear even after using these earbuds with ANC turned on for a couple of hours, so if that’s the intended effect, then yes, it works.
Internal Delay Compensation is also a feature that has to do with the ANC in this product. Devialet’s algorithm compensates for the delay generated by a noise-cancelling loop so that the ANC can continually remove background noise.
The last one, Ear Active Matching, is actually kind of similar to Apple’s Adaptive EQ in their AirPods Max. Basically, the sound is adjusted in real-time by analysing the listener’s ear shape and position of the earbuds in the listener’s ear canal to ensure an optimal listening experience. Again, I can’t test this, but hey, the earbuds do sound pretty darn good, so I guess it works.
These support Bluetooth 5.0 and while I would have preferred Bluetooth 5.2, 5.0 is the bare minimum right now, so I’ll give Devialet a pass on this. There’s SBC, AAC and aptX support on these and well, no multipoint.
Battery life isn’t too bad either. You get 6 hours with ANC on and 8 hours with ANC off, with an additional 3 and a half charges in the case for a total of around 24 hours. Pretty good. There’s also wireless charging, so put these down on any Qi-compatible charger and you’re good to go.
You get IPX4 water resistance, so if you decide to bring these out for some exercise, they’re safe, but honestly, I’m not sure they fit securely enough to stand up to vigorous exercise.
There are a few levels of ANC here. You get low, high and a special plane mode that’s supposed to be tuned to cut out noise in the plane cabin. I wish I could test this out, but unfortunately, no flying for now, so I only got to really test out the low and high noise cancellation modes. Both work pretty well, but for some reason, I noticed very subtle white noise when I was using the high noise cancellation mode. The low mode had no such issue, so I found myself using it more often just to avoid the humming since both modes actually cancelled out noise pretty well. The high mode worked even better when cancelling out the rumble of a car engine, but overall, very decent ANC. Not quite on the level of the Sony WF-1000XM4, but those are the best for a reason.
There is one dedicated microphone for voice transmission, and when I was on calls, my voice did get across pretty clearly. Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be a lot of background noise suppression. I have construction going on in the flat directly above mine, and other participants on a call could hear the construction noise really clearly.
Sound quality, though, is fantastic. You get some nice, crisp bass that’s not quite as overly emphasised as what you might get from other earbuds, but it’s detailed and has plenty of texture. The mids really shine here though, you get beautiful guitar riffs, plenty of clarity and instruments just sound really natural. The weakest part of these earbuds, in my opinion, is the highs. The treble is generally very decent, but it can get a bit too harsh at times, especially if you’re listening to music at a higher volume. Overall though, I’d say that sound quality is very refined on these, and more on the neutral side of things.
The soundstage is good, instrument imaging is good too. I tried these out with Apple Music’s spatial audio tracks, and well, they sound great, they really do. If you guys haven’t tried out spatial audio, you really should give it a go.
I reviewed the Bowers & Wilkins PI7 previously and the sound quality on those blew me away. These are a close second. And sure, you might be thinking, oh well, why don’t I go for those instead then? Well, the Gemini has better battery life, for one, 6 hours with ANC on compared to 4 hours on the PI7. Secondly, these are about a hundred bucks cheaper. Yeah, a hundred bucks cheaper, and very competitive sound quality?
Furthermore, if you like the way these look, well, it’s a no brainer then. Again, these go for US$300 or S$459, which isn’t too expensive, but it’s not affordable either. For the sound quality though, I’d say it’s pretty decent if you wanna save that hundred bucks.
Content by Cheryl Tan