Devialet released its first pair of truly wireless earbuds nearly three years ago. Since then, things have changed drastically in the space with competitors releasing product updates and adding software features. With the Devialet Gemini II, the French audio engineering company is back with an attractive pair of earbuds — and it’s a well-designed, albeit expensive product.
Devialet calls itself an acoustic engineering company. It manufactures high-end amplifiers, the iconic egg-shaped Phantom speakers, a soundbar (Dione) and a portable speaker (Mania). It also has a licensing business as it partners with other companies to embed Devialet’s audio technology in their products.
The company has been around since 2007, and its CEO Franck Lebouchard told me that it has been profitable for the past three years. To give you an idea, Devialet currently has a bit more than 350 employees.
With this new product, Devialet expects to sell “tens of thousands” of units per year. As a comparison, Apple is selling tens of millions of AirPods per year. So Devialet hopes it can capture 0.x percent of market share by positioning itself as a high-end alternative.
The biggest change with the Devialet Gemini II is that the company has made everything smaller. The earbuds themselves are 22% smaller than the previous ones. They come with four eartip sizes — XS, S, M and L — and the company has worked quite a lot to create a more universal shape that fits all ears.
In my brief testing earlier today, the earbuds fit nicely. They didn’t feel too bulky and they didn’t fall off my ears with the medium eartips. Each earbud weighs only 6 grams, so that’s why they don’t fall off that easily.
If you remember the first-generation Devialet Gemini, the case was one of the biggest drawbacks. It was a bulky drawer-style case that you couldn’t carry around in your pocket that easily.
The Gemini II comes with a new case that is 40% smaller. In many ways, the new case looks more like a standard battery case for wireless earbuds — the cases of the Apple AirPods Pro, Bose Quiet Comfort Earbuds II and Sony WF-1000XM5 come to mind. You open the lid at the top of the case, pick the earbuds up and close the lid.
The main difference with other wireless earbuds is that the case is a bit more stylish with a metallic coating for the central plate on the body of the case. Devialet promises up to 22 hours of battery life with 5 hours of autonomy in the earbuds themselves. The case acts as a battery pack for the earbuds when you put the earbuds back in the case. It has a USB-C port and supports wireless charging.
I had the opportunity to test the Devialet Gemini II at the Paris Opera. The earbuds sounded nice but I couldn’t pick the music and play with the mobile app to adjust audio settings. So this article shouldn’t be considered as an in-depth review.
Devialet has also invested a lot of resources into active noise cancellation. With this second-generation device, the company now provides adaptive noise cancellation, meaning that noise cancellation is adjusted in real time, depending on the shape of your ear, the current seal with your ear, etc. The company has also developed detection algorithms to limit the wind’s impact, even in transparency mode.
I couldn’t really see whether active noise cancellation was effective, as I didn’t try the Gemini II outside in the street or in the subway. There are two microphones on each earbud and a new bone conduction sensor that is used to improve the sound of your voice during phone calls. There’s also an infrared sensor to detect when they are in your ears.
Thanks to Bluetooth 5.2, you can connect the Gemini II to two devices at the same time, such as a laptop and a smartphone. When it comes to audio codecs, the Gemini II support aptX and AAC.
After pairing the earbuds with your phone, you can change the settings from Devialet’s Gemini app. In addition to the six-band equalizer, you can configure the capacitive touch panels on the side of the earbuds for your favorite interactions — hold your finger on the earbud to turn on active noise cancellation, tap on the earbud to pause music, etc.
Now, when it comes to pricing, Devialet is definitely aiming for the top of the market. A pair of Gemini II costs $450 (€399, £399) and there are two colors — black and white. They are available starting tomorrow, September 13.
There is also a more expensive version called the Opéra de Paris edition. It has some gold plating and an Opéra de Paris logo on the case, but they sound similar to the other models. This version costs $650 (€599, £599) — I told you that the Gemini II aren’t cheap.
But Devialet’s Franck Lebouchard reassured me and told me that they are much cheaper than Louis Vuitton’s earbuds. And he’s right, because this pair costs €1,450 on Louis Vuitton’s website. . . .