• Devialet Unleashes Phantom



    One week ago Devialet contacted me about returning to Paris to see a new product before it was released to the public. I was provided no additional information. I wasn’t sure if I was going to see a loudspeaker, a DAC, or an iPhone replacement. I said yes immediately because Devialet doesn’t build run-of-the-mill products. The company’s products so far have been fantastic and like nothing else on the market. Thus, My flight was booked and my high expectations were set.

    I arrived in Paris on a cold, windy, and rainy day. Due to the time change and eight hour flight I didn’t schedule anything for the day of my arrival. However, I received a hint about the new product from an industry friend still awake in the Pacific US time zone. This friend didn’t know what the product would be, but he had been following a Twitter account named PhantomRising. This account, shrouded in mystery, wasn’t directly linked to Devialet, but both Devialet and this PhantomRising account said there would be a revolutionary announcement December 16, 2014. The hint I received from my friend via the PhantomRising Twitter account said, “RIP CHAINES HIFI, DOCKS, ENCEINTES, HOME CINEMA…” I had an entire day to chew on that information before my scheduled visit to Devialet at 9:00AM the next morning.

    The following morning I put in my JH Audio JH16 earphones and turned up Leonard Cohen’s new album Popular Problems via Tidal HiFi as I walked the streets of Paris. I met Quentin Bernard at 9 o’clock sharp outside Devialet headquarters in Paris’ 2nd arrondissement. Quentin didn’t waste any time before leading me to a special conference room cloaked in secrecy. Inside this room were several roundish objects covered by black Devialet microfibre cloths and a single MacBook Air laptop. In my head I was thinking about the previous RIP message and I still couldn’t put the pieces together to figure out exactly what might be under those cloths.

    Quentin pulled the cloths off each item to reveal the new Devialet Phantom. Phantom is what Devialet calls a Sound Center. The unit receives music via Optical, WiFi, or Ethernet (PLC Homeplug AV2) and outputs it with 750 watts (Phantom) or 3,000 watts (Silver Phantom) of power. Phantom is design to be used as a single unit, a stereo pair of units, a multi-channel mix of units, or even up to 24 units running in what is called Club Mode. Phantom is a true all-in-one solution that enables the user to bring their own source of music for playback. Quentin gave me a little information about Phantom before asking me to take a seat to have a listen. The sound of Phantom was absolutely terrific. It’s hard to believe these units go down to 16 Hz. After hearing a couple demo tracks I streamed a little Leonard Cohen via Qobuz though a pair of Phantoms. Leonard’s deep baritone vocal sounded as if it was emanating from a large ported loudspeaker and the soft background violin contrasted beautifully. It was hard to believe Phantom’s a sealed enclosure could produce what I was hearing.

    Along with Phantom, Devialet has created a new iOS and Android application called Spark to control playback of local music and streaming services like Qobuz, Deezer, and in the not-to-distant future Tidal HiFi. Equally as impressive as Phantom was the demonstration of Spark. The application works exactly how users think about music playback rather than forcing the user to play music based on an antiquated GUI. Spark’s playback queue is so fast and impressive I can’t do it justice via a limited number of words. Dragging and dropping tracks and albums and playlists via iPad and watching them same queue on an optional computer instantly mirror the iPad was extremely impressive. I know what it takes to develop applications and I can guarantee the Devialet team is seriously talented.

    There is so much more to say about Phantom because it’s an entirely new product with 77 patented inventions inside. The multitude of uses is endless. For now I will include a couple PDFs with more information for readers and hope to follow up with a full review of Phantom in due time.


    Press Release [LINK] (45 MB PDF)

    White Paper [LINK] (3 MB PDF)

    Devialet Site [LINK]







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    Comments 102 Comments
    1. Blake's Avatar
      Blake -
      Those cats at Devialet are seriously clever. I look forward to learning more about this potentially revolutionary product.
    1. Amar's Avatar
      Amar -
      "The unit receives music via Optical, WiFi, or Ethernet (PLC Homeplug AV2) and outputs it with 750 watts (Phantom) or 3,000 watts (Silver Phantom) of power."

      Besides optical, it's WiFi, ethernet and Homeplug. And it can receive the same data from any of these network connections at the same time if they're all connected and configured.

      Also, thankfully, it only outputs those power figures you mention at peak/maximum volume.
    1. firedog's Avatar
      firedog -
      I do my serious listening in a home office. I definitely want to hear this. It could be the perfect full range solution for a small room.

      Devialet claims the system sounds as good as something up to 10 times the price in a conventional setup. I wonder how close to reality that claim actually is.

      edit: just read the white paper. The technology is seriously impressive. I love the fact that they took people from the automotive and watch industries to help them get such a small, yet powerful woofer. That's thinking outside the box.
    1. dummy's Avatar
      dummy -
      Would fit perfectly in Björk's All Is Full Of Love video...
    1. zerung's Avatar
      zerung -
      Wow! Better than Bose.....Devialet is indeed the next generation of ready made audiophile frontier.

      Agentsmittie, Here's one for you.

      Chris, Congrats on placing CA at such a unique position. It seems that for companies who want to get their product information on the market in real time, instead in a print form in another month - Arguably CA seems to be the only one that matters or has the clout to do that. Hopefully you will be the voice of the Computer based audiophile masses and leverage cost and quality for us.
    1. Lighthouse's Avatar
      Lighthouse -
      Crazy yet beautiful design.
    1. input username here's Avatar
      input username here -
      Very interesting product indeed! I see that it sits with a rake that angles it up, presumably to put the listener in the speaker-plane when in a desktop environment?

      Chris, having been one of the few to see it in the flesh at this point, do you think that, sitting at a desk and using these like computer speakers (if very high-end computer speakers), they would align with a listener in the near field (say 2-3 feet away) and sitting above the desk in, say, a task chair? Thanks!
    1. One and a half's Avatar
      One and a half -
      And Mayhem says speaker development and innovation is dead.
    1. mayhem13's Avatar
      mayhem13 -
      Agreed. The overhung cell woofer technology is pretty amazing and should overtake current technology.

      ......but I'm really interested in what the DIALOG can do. Hint Hint Chris! Lol
    1. firedog's Avatar
      firedog -
      Chris, when you do get it for review, please compare it to the sound of your reference system. So we can know how good it really is.

      Btw, I find the reported marketing plan - only at Harrods for 6 months - very curious if true.
    1. monteverdi's Avatar
      monteverdi -
      Quote Originally Posted by mayhem13 View Post
      Agreed. The overhung cell woofer technology is pretty amazing and should overtake current technology.

      ......but I'm really interested in what the DIALOG can do. Hint Hint Chris! Lol
      +1

      Chris I also appreciate more links and better photography than any site I found about this product!
    1. flatmap's Avatar
      flatmap -
      Boggling!

      So, to get stereo, you'd buy two of these units apparently. But would they show up as a single audio device
      on your laptop? How do you configure a single vs. multiples of these to get stereo (or multichannel?) output?

      Just looking at this, I feel antiquated...
    1. ecwl's Avatar
      ecwl -
      Thanks for the links to the white paper and brochure which are all fascinating. It sounds like they built an active speaker with an active crossover between the two 8" woofer and a coincident mid and tweeter powered each by their ADH amplification. And to keep the size small and the bass deep, they're using a speaker with sensitivity of 71dB and then powering it with 750W. And then to fix the speaker distortions, they're using SAM and they can also fix any clipping with SAM since everything from volume control onwards are all in the digital domain. Obviously, since everything is proprietary, there's a lot of guesswork as to how things really work on my part. But throwing in the wireless part and using a more robust 2.4 & 5GHz WiFi system instead of some other brands' 2.4GHz only WiFi setup, you've got a truly great robust design. I listened to the Devialet 400 over the weekend and was super impressed. Can't wait to check out the Phantom.
    1. johnwilk's Avatar
      johnwilk -
      Design very like a Dyson vacuum cleaner...
    1. wgscott's Avatar
      wgscott -
      Quote Originally Posted by johnwilk View Post
      Design very like a Dyson vacuum cleaner...
      Fortunately, like Dyson vacuum cleaners (or at least the 3 or 4 we have wasted our money on), it doesn't suck.
    1. firedog's Avatar
      firedog -
      Quote Originally Posted by flatmap View Post
      Boggling!

      So, to get stereo, you'd buy two of these units apparently. But would they show up as a single audio device
      on your laptop? How do you configure a single vs. multiples of these to get stereo (or multichannel?) output?

      Just looking at this, I feel antiquated...
      All of that stuff is done by the Phantom setup; you just use your laptop etc, as the source
    1. ChrisG's Avatar
      ChrisG -
      Holy Crap! If the SQ is as good as Devialet claims, this is huge.

      In theory, I could replace my entire main system - a combined 2 channel/HT system with Linn Klimax amps/preamp/DS player, Classe SSP-800, Vivid Audio speakers and JLAudio f112 subs -- for well less than $20K!

      we need more info -- and a Harrods catalog -- STAT!
    1. Jud's Avatar
      Jud -
      Quote Originally Posted by johnwilk View Post
      Design very like a Dyson vacuum cleaner...
      Looks more like a coffeemaker to me. (Agreed re Dyson "quality," by the way. Luckily we only have the relatively cheap "stick" for quick cleanups in mudroom and kitchen.)
    1. JR_Audio's Avatar
      JR_Audio -
      Very impressive, all the way from inside to outside.
    1. mav52's Avatar
      mav52 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jud View Post
      Looks more like a coffeemaker to me. (Agreed re Dyson "quality," by the way. Luckily we only have the relatively cheap "stick" for quick cleanups in mudroom and kitchen.)
      That's the same thing I was thinking. I' will hold any observations until someone hears it.