Today we are going to be looking at the Gemini HD, one of two offerings from Accutone’s elite Deluxe Line of earphones.
Since 1969, Accutone has been delivering businesses and regular consumers alike with quality products. Their primary goal is to bring people closer, be that through music or communication. It’s clear that they are well-versed in the industry and that the knowledge and experience garnered over numerous decades has been put to good use crafting their latest series of consumer products. From the compact and durable Pegasus C, to the Taurus and it’s bass tuning knob, to the hybrid Pisces BA, Accutone has done an excellent job of offering both competitive and unique products. The Gemini HD is no different using 8mm beryllium dynamic drivers and a very effective filter system to provide users with a premium audio experience.
I would like to thank Angus with Accutone for providing the Gemini HD in exchange for a fair and impartial review. I am not receiving any financial compensation for this review and all comments and views within are my honest opinions. They are not representative of Accutone or any other entity.
The Gemini HD retailed for 129.00 USD at the time of this review; http://www.audio.accutone.com/gemini-hd
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A Little About Me:
Over the last couple years I decided to dive head first into the world of portable audio. After reading pretty much the entirety of IjokerI’s multi-earphone review thread and being greatly inspired, I took a chance and started writing my own reviews. Fast forward a couple years and I’ve had the opportunity to write about some great products for wonderful companies like RHA, Havi, FiiO, NarMoo, Brainwavz, and Meze. I don’t do it for money or free stuff, but because I enjoy it. If my reviews can help guide someone to an earphone that makes them happy, I’ll consider that a job well done.
The gear I use for testing is pretty basic composing of an HTC One M8 cellphone, Topping NX1 portable amplifier, and my aging Asus G73 gaming laptop paired with a Plantronics Rig USB amp. An XDuoo X3 has recently been added to the crew and was used for the majority of my testing. I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. When it comes to signature preference I tend to lean towards aggressive and energetic, but I try not to limit myself to one signature only. I also tend to listen at lower than average volumes.
Packaging and Accessories:
A premium product is served well by a premium unboxing experience. While the included accessories are sparse the Gemini HD doesn’t disappoint.
Covered in a cardboard sheath displaying the Gemini HD is an immaculately stitched large white leatherette case, very reminiscent of a high end watch or jewelry box. I’m surprised this case isn’t mentioned on Accutone’s product page or in the store because it’s absolutely gorgeous and would be an enticing feature to advertise should someone be looking to buy a high end pair of headphones as a gift. Heck, it even smells amazing.
Opening the box you are greeted by the comforting smell of leather, the Gemini HD, and the gold and blue filters inserted securely in foams cutouts. The red filter comes pre-installed. Lifting the foam layer out you see the cable wrapped neatly underneath around another cutout that ensures the cable isn’t kinked or bent upon first use.
The bottom layer of the case holds a now-familiar portable white leatherette case, similar to that provided with the Lyra, Pavo, and Taurus. This is where you will also find a spare pair of Compy eartips, instruction manual, and a cardboard slip explaining the three filters and how they adjust the Gemini HD’s sound profile.
While the accessories are limited, everything looks, feels, and is presented like a premium product.
Build, Design, Comfort:
Of all the Accutone products I’ve had the opportunity to test, the Gemini HD feels by far and away the most like a premium product. The housings are a mix of aluminum and steel, and have some serious heft to them. You can tell Accutone is proud of the Gemini HD as the rear steel portion of the housing comes covered in a thin wax layer to prevent scratches. Once peeled off, the chromed steel is allowed to shine. While I’m not 100% on board with the design, it is eye-catching. More than once I had someone ask if they were Beats which indicates the market these are aimed at.
The filters take the place of the nozzle and seem to be made from aluminum. The threads are cleanly cut allowing the filters to be smoothly replaced. I found they came loose easily and needed to be tightened them after every other use. A simple solution to this issue would be the inclusion of a small rubber gasket which I’ve found to work well on other earphones with swappable filters, like the NarMoo R1M.
The cable used is also quite familiar, shared with the Pegasus C, Taurus, and Pisces BA. It feels most at home with the Gemini HD for whatever reason. Unlike on the Taurus and Pisces BA, the Gemini HD’s cable is not removable. One massive plus to this cable is that microphonics, while present, are fairly minimal and memory is completely absent. Left and right indicators are denoted by blue and red markers attached to the cable just under where they enter the housings. Strain relief is quite limited, only making an appearance heading into the y-split and into and out of the inline remote. It would have been nice to see some strain relief added to the housings given their weight. Since there isn’t any, this might not be the best pair of earphones to let hang around your neck if you are apt to do this.
Using the included Comply foam eartips, the Gemini HD is a pretty comfortable earphone despite the weight. I didn’t have any issues with them coming loose or causing any discomfort from pressure points. With some silicone tips, it was another story. The housing would insert far enough for the sharp edges to touch my ears. This would cause hotspots and discomfort near immediately. The weight would also cause them to come unseated while walking around. If you are planning to use silicone tips with the Gemini HD, I recommend choosing something with a long core such as the tips used with the Huawei AM12.
The inline mic is made entirely of plastic and feels fragile, especially when compared to the solid materials chosen for the housings. The buttons depress with well-defined clicks and are easy to tell apart from each other due to the ergonomic design. Microphone quality is simply alright. My voice comes through fairly clear, though there is some notable background static that intrudes on your conversations. Since the Gemini HD has an iDevice support remote, only the centre button worked with my Android devices.
Overall the Gemini HD is a well built earphone made from durable, high quality materials. The cable could use some additional strain relief, but it feels at home and appropriate on the Gemini HD.
Tips: The Gemini HD comes with two sets of Comply foam eartips. These are a good match and aid in providing and maintaining a very smooth sound regardless of the filter used. When it comes to silicone tips, the Gemini HD pairs well with something with a mid-size bore like those from the UE600 or Mixcder ANC-G5. Huawei AM12 tips also sound excellent.
Amping: The Gemini HD played well through any source I tossed at it. Through an amp, bass hit with more authority. Through the HTC One M8 or XDuoo X3 alone they had decent punch but adding the Topping NX1 to the mix gave them some additional confidence. If you want to get the most out of the Gemini HD an amp would serve you well, but it’s not required to get an enjoyable sound out of them.
This earphone is characterized by a warm, overly smooth signature that sacrifices a bit of detail for listening longevity. The Gemini HD comes with three set of filters. Preinstalled are the “Warm” red filters which are bass enhanced. They as expected offer up the greatest quantities of bass. They sounded good, but with these filters installed the Gemini HD took on a more v-shaped signature and the bass came across somewhat bloomy and sluggish. The midrange remained clear and unimpeded, but sounded as if it was playing second fiddle to the low end.
The “Balanced” Gold filters dial down the bass somewhat, but its still plagued by the same mildly bloomy sound the red filters caused. I also found them to be somewhat less lively than the other two filters, and as a result they were the least enjoyable. That doesn’t mean they sounded bad by any means, just that the other two filters made my music feel more alive.
The blue “Clear” filters dial down the bass even further to give you the most focused experience and detailed sound. The blue filters were my favorite by a wide margin as I found they still offered up a good quantity of bass but removed the sluggish, bloated feeling of the other two filters. They also seemed to offer the most treble presence and detail when compared to the other two options. The Gemini HD’s excellent midrange was allowed to step up when using the blue filter as it was no longer overshadowed by the extra bass on offer through the gold and especially red filters.
Instrument separation is excellent aided along by a fairly wide and deep soundstage. The Gemini HD leave a clean black background to your music allowing for good imaging and instrument placement. Their single 8mm beryllium driver makes for a pleasantly natural and relaxing sound that is as far from fatiguing and harsh as you can get before you start edging into a bland sound.
Overall the Gemini HD is a wonderful sounding product that is quite capable. It sounds notably more impressive than many of the budget hybrids I’ve listened to as of late, and is very competitive in it’s price range.
NarMoo R1M (29.99 USD): The R1M was my first foray into earphones that use a filter system to alter sound. Where the Gemini HD has interchangeable filters in front of the driver, NarMoo’s offering changes out filters via the rear of the housing. The black filter is the equivalent to the Gemini’s red filter. This filter turns the R1M in an overly bassy earphone with little control.
The gunmetal filter is the equivalent to the Gemini’s gold filter, making the R1M more balanced. I feel in this orientation it sounds most similar to the Gemini with the blue filter, but lacks the smoothness and refinement. It’s also still slightly more v-shaped.
The silver filter boosts treble and removes bass. This makes the R1M quite harsh, but improves detail. Accutone’s blue filter takes a much more graceful approach by simply dialing out more bass than the gold filter. This naturally brings the treble and mids to the forefront.
Moving from the R1M to the Gemini HD is a natural progression giving you a similar experience but with more focused and effective changes via filter swaps. You will have to give up some durability, however. NarMoo’s offering also has solid metal housings and a thick, beefy flat cable.
Echobox Finder X1i (199.00 USD): The Finder X1i is like the Gemini HD’s rowdy cousin that is always getting itself in trouble. It shares a similar three filter system, but unlike the Gemini’s filters which mostly make adjustments to bass quantity, the X1i’s filters leave the bass alone and adjust it’s always very present treble quantity.
You can make them overly bright with the red filters, which I guess would be the Gemini’s blue filter equivalent. The black filters are the “Balanced” option and have a similar effect to the Gemini HD’s gold filters. They make their respective earphones a little dull. The grey filters tame the treble the treble the most making them seem to be the bassiest (and my fav of the bunch).
Where the Gemini HD is warm, smooth and relaxing to listen, to the Finder X1i is loud, unforgiving, and in your face. The Gemini HD can be used for hours without fatigue. With the Finder X1i, fatigue sets in very quickly as a result of their energetic sound. They are similar when it comes to soundstage, imaging and separation. The Gemini HD works well with pretty much anything I toss at it where the X1i needs quality files and a good source. It is much more revealing than the Gemini HD and impresses most under the right circumstances. The Gemini HD can impress whenever, wherever, just not to the extend of the Finder at it’s best.
These two earphones are opposite sides of the same coin. If you like bright and energetic, the Finder X1i would suit your preferences more so than the Gemini HD. If you prefer a smoother more mellow sound that is still quite technically proficient, Accutone’s offering is definitely worth your time.
When I was advised the Gemini HD was on the way, I hopped onto Accutone’s website to read up on them. Sometime between now and then, the price dropped from above 200 USD (218 USD if my memory serves me right) to the current price of 129.00 USD. I was not aware of the price drop until shortly before sitting down to write this review.
They were an excellent bargain at their original price offering up an amazing unboxing experience, wonderful materials with a striking (some might day polarizing) design, and one of the smoothest, cleanest signatures I’ve had the pleasure to hear. At 129.00 USD, the Gemini HD is pretty much a no brainer and is a very easy recommendation if you want a premium experience at a more than reasonable price.
Thanks for reading!
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