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Digging deeper into Devialet at Hong Kong High-End 2016

  • In Hong Kong, the Devialet Phantom is, in audiophile terms, ubiquitous. At HMV in Causeway Bay the French company enjoys a fully branded room. At the airport’s Sound&Vision store the now familiar halo stand casts a long shadow over several rows of headphones and portable loudspeakers. A senior sales assistant tells me that the Silver Phantom is a strong seller but that, carry-on baggage restrictions means it often takes a buyer two separate trips to acquire a pair.

    The Phantom can parse an Bluetooth input signal but it’s far, far more than a Bluetooth loudspeaker. Synchronising two units as a stereo pair using the Dialog router delivers unto us sound quality that will rival numerous similarly-priced passive loudspeakers driven by an outboard amplifier. As we discovered earlier this year, the Silver Phantoms’ low frequency mining and front-to-back imaging betters a pair of Expert 200-fuelled KEF LS50. Put that in yr pipe and smoke it.


    At the Hong Kong High-End show, Devialet representative Julien Bergère was on hand to talk us through the v2 ASIC innards of the recently announced Gold Phantom and how its development informed the Expert Pro series introduced by Bergère in Sydney a mere two weeks ago, which in turn fed back into honing the Gold’s higher output power and lower distortion.

    ASIC? ‘Application Specification Integrated Circuit’ – a single chip with many functions; here a miniaturisation and reinvention of the discrete component-loaded board used for ‘Magic Wire’ D/A conversion inside each Expert unit. One hand washes the other.

    Like many a slow-burning album, the following video bounces between Phantom and Expert and serves up multiple layers of technical exposition. It therefore rewards repeated viewings:

    Devialet are spearheading the popularisation of better sound by manufacturing more visually approachable hardware that, in the case of the Phantom, ties up the hitherto physical intrusion of separates and the associated kabelsalat into an all-in-one system-in-a-box that’ll stand up to audiophile scrutiny (and then some).

    That same system-in-a-box mentality is carried over to the similarly futuristically stylised Expert Pro series to which we add loudspeakers of our choosing. The Expert is an elegant piece of hifi hardware that you won’t want tucked behind the couch.

    Devialet Phantom – Hong Kong Airport

    Those who would dismiss the Expert as just another Class D amplifier (it isn’t) or a pizza box (nope) cast themselves as dinosaurs marked for extinction.

    With both Phantom and Expert, Devialet show us a shiny future for high-end audio. Disagree? Ask yourself which other high-end audio loudspeaker/amplifier manufacturer enjoys a presence beyond the walls of the local audio show, where it can be found in local record stores and airport duty free shopping malls?

    Yup, thought so.

    Further information: Devialet


    DAR 750 x 290








    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. Tis very interesting tech, design, and approach. Devialet will be my first stop at the RMAF – I just hope the sound will be commensurate – I understand it will be…

    2. The only speaker that has the potential to rival Phantoms at the moment is the Kii THREE. As it is not generally available yet a comparison is not easy. I really look forward to a listening comment on this one John!

    3. These speakers are incredibly inefficient (70dB) it seems and therefore need massive power to get going; 4500W to get to 108db, got to be kidding. Not exactly an environmentally friendly option with a power consumption typically 40-100 higher that typical speakers (85-90dB) for the same volume.
      Only for owners of massive four wheel drive cars, non insulated mansions or private jets…
      I am surprised this is never discussed.

      • Does this not largely depend on the *type* of amplifier? The way I understand it, the current drive (aka the muscle) comes from Class D.

        • Good point to mitigate what I have just said. The amplifiers are class D and therefore very efficient. It is also an active design, which in itself is more efficient than a passive one. But still one can expect to use an average upwards of 100W per speaker to play at the 80’s dB level, which is still a lot more than most systems.
          Class A amplifiers routinely have idle consumption greater than 100W so in terms of power consumption both options are probably in the same ball park figure.

    4. A pair of White Phantom (3000W peak) with Dialog uses 180W.
      A Devialet 200 (3000W peak) uses 27W to drive a pair of B&W 802, or 36W to drive a pair of KEF LS50.
      A Devialet 400 uses 55W to drive a pair of B&W 802.

      So, for the same type of amplifier from the same company using the same technology the Phantom is horribly inefficient. Getting full-range sound out of a tiny box comes at the cost of a lot of power.

      No Devialet has a true off mode either. They suck power even when “off”, and suck more in standby.

      That said, Devialet sound wonderful and suck less power than most anything else with a Class-A sound. So with a switched power conditioner between the Devialet and the outlet they’re wonderful.

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