Accutone is a company that specializes in hands-free communications solutions but they’ve taken their experience and expertise and used it to create a series of consumer earphones. Today I’ll be looking at the Accutone Gemini HD. From the Accutone website:
“Accutone Audio is about music, and our love of music has pushed us to build products that remove the barriers between the musicians and their audience. Continuing our corporate motto of “Clearer Communication Brings People Closer”, our audio products are able to do just that by delivering exceptionally accurate audio output, just as our beloved artists envisioned.”
Here’s what the company has to say about the Accutone Gemini HD:
The Gemini HD is the state-of-the-art headphone from Accutone, both in terms of build and audio quality.
Does it live up to the claims? Follow me to find out.
Disclaimer: This sample was sent to me for the purpose of an honest review. All opinions and observations here are my own, based on my experience with the product.
Wrapped around the box is a cardboard sheath with a nice image of the earphones on the front as well as the Accutone branding at the top left and at the bottom is some text listing various features, such as Stainless Steel, Audio Tuning Nozzles and beryllium speakers. Over on the back we see a single earphone and three tunable filters. It’s a classy shot and looks great but might be a little misleading as none of the filters are actually silver in color.
Underneath the cardboard is a large white, leatherette covered box the same as the one included with the Pisces BA and similar to the kind that you often get when you purchase a wristwatch. It’s a nice touch for sure but kind of makes you wonder how much lower the price would be had they used something a little less extravagant. More on that later. Let’s crack this baby open. When you open the box you’re presented with the earphones and spare filters held securely in a grey foam. This type of experience is something that Accutone does well and it makes you feel that you’ve just revealed something worthy of the big white box. On the underside of the foam is a cable winder that keeps things neat and also prevents the cable from being kinked when you first take it out of the box.
Underneath the first layer of foam is Accutones’s standard carrying case, though this time in white as it was with the Pisces BA. Also present are some spare Comply tips, a card explaining the basic purpose of the different nozzles and a user manual. Okay stop right there. $129 and you provide 2 pairs of Comply tips, neither of which fit my ears? As I alluded to earlier, although I enjoy the experience of revealing the big white box it’s not enough to make the overall package feel complete. When you can go to somewhere like AliExpress and find a set of 12 pairs of various size tips for as low as a dollar I feel a bit deflated when presented with a single pair of spare Comply to accompany relatively expensive earphones.
Build, comfort and isolation
Built completely from stainless steel and recyclable aluminum the Gemini HD look and feel great. Yes, they’re a little heavier than average but some of my favorite IEMs are weighty metal monsters (KZ ED9, TFZ Balance 2M). These look really nice, from the stainless steel of the main housing to the chrome covered rear with its long stem. On the rear of the IEMs is the Accutone logo. Everything feels solid and durability should not be a concern with these.
From the bottom of the chrome covered stem comes the white cable, the same one provided with the Pisces BA albeit this one is non-detachable. At the top of the cable is a red and blue marker denoting Right and Left respectively. This is a welcome change from the many recent IEMs that have no markings or ones that are near impossible to see. The cable is quite nice. It’s fairly supple yet sturdy and doesn’t have memory so there are no unsightly kinks or that annoying ‘bounciness’ that some cables have. On the right side above the Y-splitter is the inline control and microphone. Unfortunately it’s the same as the one found on the Pisces BA and Taurus models which has very sharp edges on either side of the central button which continually get snagged on shirt collars. Strain reliefs seem fairly good overall. The cable terminates in an L-shaped plug.
The tuning nozzles are aluminium and have the same polished finish as the rest of the IEMs. They’re well machined and very easy to thread when inserting or removing. Occasionally the nozzles would get loose but after I gave them an extra bit of force in the twist they stayed in place and haven’t become loose since.
I find these to be very comfortable for extended periods because of the standard shape and smooth finish. They can be worn over-ear or cable down as desired though going over-ear will significantly reduce any microphonics. Isolation is above average for this style IEM probably due to there being no visible vents/ports on the housing anywhere. Fortunately there isn’t any driver flex or pressurized feeling that some sealed IEMs cause.
On average these took a couple bumps of extra volume to reach my desired listening levels compared to some of my other IEMs but they’re not particularly hard to drive. I found they worked well with everything and don’t need an amplifier to shine but a clean source makes a difference.
There are several tunable IEMs available at present so I’ll just briefly cover the nozzles here rather than cause confusion comparing them all. Keep in mind the HD has it’s own unchanging sound and the nozzles slightly modify some aspects of that but the underlying characteristics remain. There are 3 nozzles, each having a slightly different presentation:
It’s fairly clear from the labels what these are intended to do and from my experience they do as advertised. I tried them all and ended up using the Green (Balance) nozzles and the sound with those is what I’ll be describing below.
Overall sound is full-bodied, smooth and non-fatiguing. Fairly balanced with a bit of warmth added to the bass and lower mids. Soundstage isn’t huge but there’s great depth and imaging is very good providing an accurate picture of positioning.
Bass is north of neutral but not overly exaggerated or boomy. It has quite an impact but doesn’t suffer from mid-bass bloat. Kick drums are nicely etched but not raw and the quantity is executed really nicely, somehow giving that sense of impact without intruding upon everything else. Sub-bass is great too, digging deep but staying controlled due to the hardness of the steel housing I suspect. Bass guitars also have a good edge to them and again that sense of weight without bluster. Very satisfying. Listening to “The Night Subscriber” from Katatonia’s The Fall of Hearts the Gemini HD was able to keep pace gracefully during the busy drum sections.
Midrange is full-bodied and clear with a touch of added warmth. The green filters had the best presentation here for my preference. Vocals are silky smooth, rich and engaging with no perceptible coloring or veil. Listening to “I Am Light” by India.Arie is like drifting down a smooth chocolate river on a marshmallow. The lower-mids have enough warmth and body in them to give orchestral music fullness and string instruments some tasty resonance.
Now onto the last of the holy trinity, the treble. Treble is clear and accurate though it’s toned down a bit but compliments the smooth approach of the Gemini HD’s other frequencies. This means that the treble is non-fatiguing but still adds some shimmer and airiness. Cymbals have a natural timbre and decay and I didn’t detect any sibilance coming through even in bright J-Pop tracks.
vs SHOZY Zero ($60 USD)
These two IEMs sound quite similar actually. Bass has similar levels on both but the Gemini HD has slightly more impact on mid-bass. Treble is also close here between them, both being fairly even without any harshness. It’s the midrange where these differ to my ears. The Gemini HD has slightly fuller mids and makes vocals come across more smoothly. When it comes to comfort the Zero comes out in front due to it’s lighter weight, smaller size and rounded back. The Zero comes with a decent selection or ear-tips whilst the gemini comes with only Comply tips. The cable of the Gemini HD is much nicer, being more supple, less rubbery and easier to manage.
The first thing I noticed was that the Balance 2M requires significantly lower gain to reach the same volume as the Gemini HD ie: the 2M is easier to drive. Sub-bass on the 2M has more presence, giving a deeper and more visceral impact. In the midrange the 2M makes the Gemini HD sound a little veiled in comparison. The TFZ has remarkably clean and sweet mids. For comfort they’re both equally as good but the Gemini HD gets the nod for being more convenient if you’re taking the IEMs in and out a lot. The accessories that came with the TFZ were absolutely great and made for a very rewarding unboxing where the Gemini HD left me feeling underwhelmed with what was included. The cable on the Accutone is much easier to manage than the tangly copper one provided with the TFZ.
The Gemini HD is a beautifully crafted IEM. The all stainless steel and aluminium build gives it a premium feel and nice weight. The included accessories while sparse are top quality and offer a unique unboxing experience. There are a few tunable IEMs going around at the moment but not all of them are as effective or well executed as Accutone’s offering. The sound is full-bodied and smooth, perfect for long periods of listening.
These aren’t targeted at analytical listeners but for people who simply want to enjoy their music the way they like it. For a single dynamic, they offer a good balance of earthy bass, fairly forward midrange and relaxed treble. While the accessories are lacking there can be no doubt regarding the quality of the actual earphones. The Gemini HD is currently listed at $119 USD and for me, that’s a pretty good deal.