The Devialet Phantom wireless speaker is a UFO roaming the universe of connected hi-fi and multiroom systems. Boasting a long list of proprietary and patented technologies, it produces the “best sound in the world” according to Devialet. After listening to this speaker, we were definitely not left feeling indifferent.
We had some doubts going into the Devialet Phantom loudspeaker test, as it is very rare for a high-fidelity brand to claim to offer the best sound in the world, especially with its first acoustic loudspeaker. Does an “ultimate” sound even exist, or isn’t it all just a matter of taste? To support its claim, the French manufacturer announces that it has filed more than one hundred patents and obtained exceptional acoustic measurements, thanks to proprietary cutting-edge technologies. All of this is certainly true, but on paper, it looks a lot like skillfully orchestrated publicity. The reason we underline this point from the beginning is that we believe this commercial approach could seem worrying, if not discouraging, to some music enthusiasts. In short, the abundance of technology packed inside Devialet’s Phantom speaker might cause some to pass up on listening to an excellent speaker which presents a truly original concept.
The Devialet Phantom speaker is available in three versions: Phantom, Silver Phantom and Gold Phantom. Functionally identical, they differ in terms of amplification power, the color of their bass driver, and the integration of a titanium tweeter for the Gold model. The Phantom model incorporates an amplifier with a total power output of 750 Watts, while the Silver Phantom’s amplifier generates 3,000 Watts and the Gold Phantom’s amplifier supplies 4,500 Watts. These colossal power ratings are the driving are indicative of each speaker’s maximum sound output, as well as their frequency response in the infra-bass. With 14 Hz for the Gold model, Devialet promises a truly physical bass register and achieves an impressive feat. Indeed, reaching 14 Hz with an internal air volume of about 6 liters implies exceptional acoustic technologies, starting with the electronics.
Amplification has been the French brand’s speciality for nearly a decade. When it was released, the Devialet D-Premier digital amplifier was a sensation, not only for its exceptional design but also for its huge switch-mode power supply, capable of handling even the most challenging impedance loads presented by any multi-way speaker. The D-Premier amp was also fully configurable via a web application, as are the new Devialet Expert Pro amplifiers.
At the heart of Devialet Phantom’s speakers is the brand’s hybrid amplification technology combining the very high power of Class-D amplification with the smoothness of traditional Class-A amplification. In other words, the best of both worlds, combined with the Texas Instrument PCM1798 DAC for support of HD audio signals up to 24-bit/192 kHz.
To produce very low frequencies despite a relatively small enclosure–the Phantom measures 25 cm in diameter and is 35 cm long–Devialet has developed a pair of unique drivers. These are equipped with ultra-stiff solid aluminium cones, whose mass allows the drivers to reproduce exceptionally low frequencies, while allowing the coil to have a very long throw. Positioned on the sides of the speaker, these two drivers are housed in a closed enclosure to optimize their transient regime (their ability to switch between frequencies). The other two drivers, one with an aluminum cone for mids and the other with an aluminium dome (and titanium for the Gold model), are installed in the “nose” of the speaker. The Devialet Gold Phantom speaker’s frequency response extends from 14 Hz to 27 kHz with a maximum level of 108 dB. Enough to send a tremor through the listener and… the furniture.
A well-designed control app
The Devialet Phantom loudspeaker is an immediate eye-catcher. From its ovoid shape, to its shiny stainless steel side plate and its carved tweeter cover: each detail contributes to making the Phantom intriguing and desirable. The absence of control buttons is also striking: without a smartphone or tablet, no adjustments may be made; even the optional remote control can only adjust the speaker’s volume. The Devialet Phantom speakers are exclusively controlled via a mobile application, available for iOS and Android. What could be more normal, since multiroom functions are embedded in the speaker’s DNA?
The Devialet Spark app allows you to configure and control the speaker, for example in stereo or multiroom mode. Note that to manage more than one speaker, the Devialet Dialog module is required. This router-like device manages the wired (Ethernet, PLC) and wireless (WiFi AirPlay & DLNA, Bluetooth aptX) connections of all Phantom speakers throughout your home. Equipped with an optical input, it can transmit an audio signal from the same digital source (such as a CD player or TV display) to one or more Phantom speakers. All online music services are integrated into the app, and it’s very easy to add multiple Deezer accounts, for example. The application shares information about the different paired devices, and each user can select from audio files shared by a smartphone or Mac using the application.
We listened to the Devialet Phantom, Devialet Silver Phantom and Devialet Gold Phantom speakers at the Son-Vidéo.com boutique in St-Germain-en-Laye, where they are available in mono or stereo format, and we used lossless HD sources and several online music services. While listening to just a single Devialet Phantom speaker, we were struck by its precise reproduction of mids and highs. The sound was rather clear, with an emphasis on the higher end of the sound spectrum, but never so much as to be a flaw. The harmony of the musical message is preserved, especially since the lows are full of energy, providing a solid foundation for the other registers.
Is the bass delivery really as impressive as can be expected? Yes, provided the speaker is placed correctly in the listening room and the listener is positioned in an area where low frequencies are present. It’s not rocket science, but it is important to note that the 14 Hz frequency reached by the Devialet Gold Phantom requires almost 24 m to fully develop. The sound wave necessarily reflects off the walls, floor and ceiling before reaching the listener. When this condition is met, the speaker is quite surprising in the infrabass – more than it is in the upper bass register. Between the three models, we did not find any significant differences in the bass register, at least when listening at a reasonable volume. To distinguish between the three Devialet Phantom speakers, you’ll need to listen at very high volume, for example, during a party or in a home theater system. The Devialet Gold Phantom has a unique sound signature as a result of its titanium tweeter. The reproduction of the upper end of the spectrum is more precise, but also more invigorating. It’s thus a good idea to select high-quality recordings for the Gold model. In stereo mode, the soundstage is wider.
A convincing sound delivery and aesthetic for the Devialet Phantom, Silver Phantom and Gold Phantom loudspeakers, and persuasive performances even in mono mode. Each model fills the listening room with captivating sound. The Gold model inspires unique sensations and didn’t leave us indifferent. It may not be the “best sound in the world,” but it has everything it takes to seduce and conquer the listener.French