If you’ve never heard the name Devialet, that’s pretty normal. It’s a French audio company known for making futuristic-looking wireless speakers with massive sound and equally massive price tags. Think Sonos, but more expensive. This year, instead of launching another $3,000 speaker, the company is releasing some expensive truly wireless earbuds.
The Devialet Gemini look like your average wireless earbuds, and impressively, the company has managed to include a nod to its Phantom speakers’ weird oblong shape in the design. But it’s not so much the lewks as it is the sound engineering that makes the Gemini earbuds intriguing.
For starters, these buds will feature active noise cancellation. That itself isn’t worth popping champagne over. After all, the AirPods Pro have ANC, and so do Sony’s WF-100XM3 buds and their slightly cheaper cousin, the WF-SP800N. Hell, Bose just announced two new ANC buds. But one thing about Devialet is that this company is extra. The Gemini will feature not one, not two, but three types of patented features that will supposedly kick the noise-cancelling quality up a notch.
The first is something Devialet’s calling “Pressure Balance Architecture.” Basically, there’ll be “cascading decompression chambers” inside the buds to “ensure the ideal inner pressure at all times.” The buds will be coated in a “custom acoustic mesh” to block out external noise. Each bud will also have two separate mics to enhance ANC, as well as a dedicated mic to “enhance voice transmission.”
The buds will also utilize an “Internal Delay Compensation” algorithm that’s supposed to help compensate for delays in internal noise cancellation loops. If that sounds like mumbo jumbo, it’ll supposedly help boost noise cancellation at higher frequencies. Speaking of noise cancellation modes, the Gemini will have three ANC levels and two types of transparency modes, which will give you the option of hearing some ambient noise.
And finally, Devialet’s also introducing “Ear Active Matching” tech, which automatically adjusts audio signal frequencies based on whatever you’re doing. So if you turn your head suddenly or while running, the buds will purportedly adjust for that. The buds will also scan your ears to determine your fit via the companion app. You know, to optimize sound and minimize leakage.
Rounding things out, the Gemini buds also include equalizer options, an all-in-one touch button to control playback and switch modes, and will also support Google Assistant and Siri. As for battery life, the Gemini will supposedly deliver eight hours on a single charge, or six hours with ANC. Devialet also says the case itself will hold 3.5 charges and support Qi wireless charging. It also runs off the Qualcomm aptX codec. That said, it’s only rated IPX4 so while it’s probably okay for getting caught in the rain, it’s likely not the best idea for exercise. An interesting tidbit: Devialet says you’ll be able to buy spare parts for each earbud separately.
This all sounds like a lot. And it better be, because holy crap these buds will cost £279, or roughly $360, when preorders start on Oct. 10. (Update: Devialet reached out to Gizmodo to clarify that the U.S. price will still be an expensive $300.) That’s almost the same price as Sony’s new WH-1000XM4 over-ear headphones!!! It’s more than the AirPods Pro! It’s more than the Bose SoundSport! It’s more than Sony’s ANC wireless earbuds! It’s more than both the GPS and cellular versions of the Apple Watch SE! It’s more than all of these budget laptops! Hell, it’s more expensive than the Sonos One, and the new Nest Audio. Actually, you could buy three Nest Audios for the same price as one pair of Devialet Gemini earbuds.
For $300, these earbuds better sound like the voice of God whispering sweet nothings in my ears. I should hit play and then immediately collapse onto the floor, sobbing in ecstasy, because I am hearing music in a way my puny human brain has never experienced before. When I flip the noise cancellation on, I should hear a quiet, peaceful stillness that you likely only experience in the seconds before your mortal body expires and your soul ascends to a higher plane of existence.
To be fair, I wouldn’t put it past Devialet. The one time I was in the same room as one of their Phantom speakers, my brain melted out of my ears. In a good way. People aren’t exaggerating when they say their speakers, though criminally expensive, sound incredibly good. We won’t know until we test these bad boys out for ourselves, but there’s a heck of a lot you can do with $360. These buds better deliver.
Update, 10/09/2020, 8:55am: This article has been updated to include Devialet’s U.S. pricing.