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Devialet launch limited edition L’Original d’Atelier

  • The best album of all time? A case could be made for Radiohead’s Kid A or The Cure’s Disintegration. Start to end, they’re flawless; and arguably each band’s finest piece of work (to date). Therefore, you know it’s going to be a good great day when it begins with the needle dropping on Kid A‘s “Everything in its Right Place” and ends with Disintegration’s title track.

    Furthermore, when you live in Australia you get used to seeing cool gear launched Stateside or in the UK and then having to wait a good few months before it lands down under. So it’s great, albeit unusual, to see France’s Devialet elect Melbourne’s Carlton Audio Visual as the launchpad for its new top-of-the-range model: L’Original d’Atelier. Translation: ‘workshop original’.

    Between Radiohead and The Cure I sat down with Devialet’s Pacific region manager Yann Wachten for the full scoop ahead of the evening’s launch party. Wachten is Franco-German but speaks impeccable English.

    My opening question was a simple “Why Australia?”.

    Wachten explains that despite this country’s 24m strong population being small compared to that of the USA or Europe, Australia is a tech savvy country where consumers have a healthy amount of disposable income. Case in point: Australia has more Apple stores per capita than the USA.


    No doubt the TOTL launch exclusive is also down to Devialet recently appointing a new Australian distributor: Interdyn, who also handle Pro-Ject, Rotel and OPPO.

    Wachten provides a little background on his employer’s inception before getting into the specifics of L’Original d’Atelier.

    Devialet was founded in 2007 by three monsieurs: Formerly head of R&D at Nortel, Pierre-Emmanuel Carmel is the brains behind the company’s Class A/D hybrid amplification (ADH) technology and despite his work on ADH pre-dating Devialet’s germination by a full four years, he chose to divide the financial rewards equally, three ways, among his fellow founders. Fraternité plus Egalité! Devialet’s killer industrial design comes from Emmanuel Nardin (a member of the watchmaker family of the same name) and it’s his cousin, Quentin Sannié, who steers business strategy.

    L’Original d’Atelier is here to celebrate 5 years of Devialet’s Expert series. A quick recap: each Expert unit is a super-stylish all-in-one-device that takes care of network streaming, D/A conversion, pre/amplification. Just add loudspeakers. And perhaps a turntable. All Expert models feature in-built phono staging.


    To accommodate Devialet’s loudspeaker-correcting SAM DSP and volume attenuation the intestines are an all digital affair. Digital inputs remain digital and all analogue inputs are converted to 24bit/192kHz PCM upon arrival. If that offends your analogue-or-die sensibilities, consider the possibility that you’ll gain far more from Devialet’s speaker-correcting SAM DSP than ever you’d (theoretically) lose through the two-step dance of ADC and DAC.

    Conversely, Devialet’s amplification isn’t (strictly) digital. ADH = Analogue Digital Hybrid. Acting as a voltage amplifier and serving up the first 1.5 watts of power, a Class A output stage handles the music portion of the loudspeaker output signal. Providing more robust drive to the loudspeaker is the parallel-running Class D section. This all takes place in the 10cm path between D/A converter and binding posts. Devialet’s show demo party trick is to remove the Class D module and watch the music play on.

    Everything Expert is made in France across three different factories. The first fabricates the extruded aluminium casework, the second is charged with polishing the aluminium and the third handles boards manufacturer and assembly.

    The Expert range comprises four models: Le 120 and Le 200 are single units whilst Le 400 and Le 800 are dual mono packages.


    Bringing the Expert model count up to five for a limited time is the rose gold finished L’Original d’Atelier, essentially a souped up Expert 800. On the inside, an updated Class D board and enhanced Class A section put more power on tap – 900wpc – whilst the pure copper base plate and a doubling of the internals’ “Gap pad” blue gum improve heat dissipation.

    Know that L’Original D’Atelier won’t be around for long. Devialet intend to manufacturer a mere 100 pieces for which international allocation has the potential to strain distributor relations in some parts of the world. Once they’re gone they’re gone for good.

    At 29,900 Euros the price will command only the deepest of pockets but the resolution and control brought by the prototype (called “Princeps d’Atelier”) to a pair of Sonus Faber Amati Futura in Carlton Audio Visual’s third demo space was nothing short of astonishing. Wachten agrees that listeners accustomed to the pleasures of even order harmonic distortion might need some time to acclimatise to the Expert’s immaculate and speckless vibe. Watch him explain the ins and outs of L’Original d’atelier in this 15 minute video:

    Devialet’s polished aluminium finish serves as a rear-view mirror through which we observe almost every other hifi manufacturer on the planet. Even if your budget doesn’t stretch to L’Original d’Atelier (OD!) levels, Devialet’s commitment to a unified device that handles everything but air movement, short/er signal paths and next-level configuration quite literally reflects the multi-box approach to system design as positively old school and – in many cases – out of touch.

    With the Expert series Devialet ignite a conversation that’s long overdue: that form matters just as much as function. Hardware then for Kid A and Disintegration fans who don’t want a rackful of gear and its attendant kabelsalat. Super-stylish solutions that sound every bit as good as they look. Consider this commentator très-keen to take on review time with Le 200.

    UPDATE March 2016: my Expert 200 review for 6moons can be read here.

    Further information: Devialet | Interdyn | Carlton Audio Visual






    John Darko

    Written by John Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has also contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram


    1. Really? You like Kid A better than OK Computer? I trusted your judgment implicitly on all matters heretofore, but I’m shocked.

      Shout out also to Rock and Roll Animal by Lou Reed as well as Physical Graffiti by Led Zep.

      • I too am perplexed by that comment as well. OK Computer is hailed by pretty much everyone as their best work to date and one of the best rock albums of all time.

    2. John,

      It seems that the main improvement of Devialet’s limited edition L’Original d’Atelier product is an increase in power from 800 to 900 watts from the dual mono Expert 400 product. I have the dual mono Expert 400 (400 watts per channel) driving a set of Rockport Altair speakers and quite frankly a singe Devialet Expert 200 is ample power for most speakers.

      The improvement in sound quality when I added the 2nd Devialet Expert 200 is slight. The most noticeable improvement is that the dual mono setup manages the 15 inch woofers in the Rockport Altair speakers a bit more effortless. However, I’m not sure I’d pass a blindfold test when removing & adding the 2nd Devialet 200, unless I’m playing at absurd volume levels. This is not a criticism, it’s more a testament to the incredible value that a single Expert 200 represents.

      This brings me to my real question about the L’Original d’Atelier. Other than the bottom copper plate for heat dissipation and slightly more watts that noone will ever be able to detect, did Devialet make any improvements to the ADH, DAC or anything else patent related?

      The next sonic improvement that I’m waiting for is SAM (Speaker Active Matching) for Rockport Altairs. I’m hopeful as they added SAM for the Rockport Atrias earlier this year.

      If anyone at Devialet is reading this, the SAMlab team is welcome to use my setup to add SAM for Rockport Altairs.

    3. I’m really looking forward to your review because I have been thinking seriously about the Devialet solution. I’ve read quite a few reviews, most of them very favourable, but a few who complain that the sound produced by this system just isn’t quite right. I do worry a bit that people are seduced by the amazing good looks and undeniable technology and might not be as critical of the sound it actually produces. I haven’t been able to hear this system yet so all of my knowledge is through second sources.

      • +1
        Heard the 120 with a pair of PMC 26’s and thought the system sounded great. It’s on my list of units to compare when I upgrade my system.
        John, when you review the 200, do us a favor and give us an idea of how it compares to another amp/dac pair or two of good quality. In other words, it is really a bargain – better sound for the $ than you can get with separates?

    4. Cool music choices indeed !

      I like OK Computer more than Kid A, but I understand why Kid A is so popular. Disintegration is indeed the top album of The Cure. Check out their Trilogy Live DVD, – it is superb (and rip the audio out of it).

      A super modern piece of technology like the Devialet Expert should be fed digital files IMHO. But AFAIK neither Radiohead nor The Cure are available in higher than Redbook quality, so vinyl might not have been such a bad idea.

      Looking forward to the review of Le 200.

    5. This demo was one of the best I’ve heard -bloody outstanding. Perhaps I should save the environment and sell my car to finance this…

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