I heard, in passing, Reset by Panda Bear & Sonic Boom described as “the psychedelic period Buddy Holly never got to have”—which seems an astute observation. And there’s no doubt that when it’s delivered by the Gemini II, this recording is a bold and upfront listen.
The Devialet have plenty of interesting observations about timbre and texture to make, and where the balance between poise and assertiveness is concerned, the Gemini II are very well judged.
They extend a long way down the frequency range and deliver bass sounds with a very pleasing mixture of punch, variation, and control. The straight-edged lead-in to low-end sounds keeps momentum high and allows rhythms proper expression, and the amount of detail that’s retained and revealed means the Gemini II are musical, rather than monotonal, at the bottom end.
And there’s a similar (and similarly impressive) mixture of detail and drive at the top of the frequency range, where treble sounds have enough substance to balance out their bite and shine. Turn the volume up to significant levels and the top end can veer toward strident, but in all other circumstances it remains benign.
The frequency range is smoothly realized from top to bottom, but when information rises up or dips down to the midrange, a little of the clarity and positivity of sound goes away. The vocal lines in Reset should be cleaner and more distinct than they are in the hands of the Gemini II—other, inevitably more affordable, earbuds give you a slightly fuller, slightly easier-to-understand account of the midrange than these are capable of.
It’s a doubly curious state of affairs when you consider just how open and spacious a listen these Devialet are. The soundstage they create is respectably wide and very convincingly organized, so there’s more than enough elbow room for each individual strand of a recording to do their thing—and it doesn’t matter how complex, dense, or element-heavy that recording is. The Gemini II have no difficulty in positioning the vocal lines just so. But having done so, their otherwise prodigious powers of insight and analysis desert them somewhat.
Dynamic headroom is considerable, which is always good news, and the Gemini II are pretty adept with the less pronounced but equally important low-level dynamics of tonal variation. If you’re listening to a solo instrument, this facility will be particularly apparent—there’s nothing uniform, no lack of variation, in the sound of a piano when it’s given to you by these Devialet.
As far as the peripheral aspects of performance are concerned, the Devialet Gemini II do similarly good, similarly unspectacular work when put into the context of their price. Telephony, for example, is perfectly acceptable no matter at which end of the call you find yourself—and, sure enough, wind noise is kept to a minimum.
Noise cancellation is good too, with external distractions minimized, although the Devialet are no match for the remarkable blanket of silence the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are able to deploy. And need I say with undue emphasis that the Bose are way less expensive than the Gemini II?
That’s where the problems begin and end for the Devialet Gemini II, in fact. They’re quite accomplished true wireless in-ear headphones, worthy of comparison in some ways to the acknowledged class-leaders (although they are a little more compromised, in sonic terms, than the very best around).
They’re also ludicrously expensive, to the point that justifying the outlay (if you’re not directly related to a Devialet employee) is going to be tricky in the extreme. And I don’t think this will result in the kind of exclusivity Devialet was aiming for.