When Devialet first descended onto the audiophile world and ran a scythe through much of the competition with an amazing marketing campaign, and then proceeded to loot the spoils of more than 40 hi-fi and audiophile awards, some people proclaimed the sonic apocalypse had arrived. Class-D amplifiers don’t win awards, they don’t sound good and they certainly had no right to look so good.
Devialet does something very unique to music through their Class-A/Class-D analog-digital hybrid amplifiers and powered music solution speakers: they make gear that makes me want to stay and listen to the music.
I hear their gear and I get captivated by the power, clarity and stunning dynamics of either the new Phantom series of powered, connected loudspeakers, (above) or their Devialet 120/200/400/800 integrated and mono-bridged amplifier systems (starting at $5,600 USD, below) which they usually have powering B&W 802 Diamonds at shows – a fantastic pairing – I’ve also heard them driving big Revel floorstanders with ease, but they’ll drive pretty anything you’ve got and with 505 speakers and counting already in their SAM (Speaker Active Matching) database, they will all pretty much knock you out sound-wise.
The Phantom speaker system is quite an amazing design, and you really have to see it and hear it to grasp just how incredible these small, powered monitors are. Utilizing the Dialog wireless system allows you to run up to 24 Phantoms simultaneously. Two of them fill a room with so much slam, so much deep, clean, un-distorted bass and dynamics that you can’t help but shake your head the first time you’re exposed. And like exposure to a highly-contagious virus, you will become infected by their allure, but mostly by their grip on music of all kinds. Be it big classical orchestral pieces, dense electronica or small jazz ensembles, these Phantoms just power through and play.
Some people have said to me that I’ll grow tired of their sound, that it will become fatiguing in the long run. I’m sorry. But, no.
I’ve listened to many systems over the last year and I can tell you, I know within minutes – sometimes seconds – if a system sounds fatiguing to me.
The Phantom and Expert 120/200/400/800 series are many things to my ears, fatiguing is certainly not one of them.
One of main strengths of the Devialet system is its ability allow the user to play high-res digital files wirelessly with an elegant, simplistic and intuitive interface. I’ve only ever heard it playing vinyl once, and while I wasn’t blown away, I admit the all-digital and fully-customizable phono stage hadn’t had its software updated/configured for the cartridge being used (I look forward to hearing one that is).
Devialet’s AIR® music streaming system was specifically “Invented for high-definition music, AIR® enables you to enjoy all your streaming audio content without compromise (up to 24 bits / 192 kHz), via Ethernet or Wi-Fi, regardless of the format, multimedia player or streaming service that you use.”
While I don’t usually make much fuss over Class-D or switching power supplies, what Devialet is accomplishing is definitely worth listening to. If I wasn’t such a weirdo, and didn’t have this sickness for rolling tubes, adjusting tonearms, swapping carts, adjusting VTA, and religiously cleaning vinyl, and finally broke down and decided that I was going all-digital – OCD be damned – then this is probably where I’d end up. It’s just so easy to use and honestly, quite affordable for what it offers and is capable of providing performance-wise.
Personally, I find Devialet’s products to be beautiful-looking, great-sounding and packed with bleeding-edge tech, so while some may herald their coming as the sonic apocalypse writ large, I say sit back and let their sound hit you.
The End of Days isn’t so bad after all.