Devialet – The Phantom

French acoustic engineers Devialet have apparently just revolutionised the home audio system. The Phantom range seeks to combine a stylish exterior with exceptional audio quality, defying this writer’s preconceptions on how a speaker should look and work. The promotional material from Devialet includes some bold claims about the range; however, given their history these claims are fairly believable. The organisation was founded in 2007 and have since been recognised industry leaders. This superiority is proven by their 41 awards and 77 patents. The Phantom range has already received excellent reviews and has beaten sale expectations in the pre-release order stage.

One of the more remarkable features of the phantom range is the attempt to tackle the old issue of bass in home stereo systems where sadly the limits on speaker size prevents the use of large cones. Where professional sound systems featuring speakers with 15 inch or larger cones to create the lower bass frequencies, this will be a real breakthrough. If the Phantom can truly create acceptable levels of low end then they will really allow the listener to immerse themselves in music. This has been achieved by ditching the conventional design for a subwoofer and housing a small unit in a hugely compressed chamber. They call this a “heart bass implosion” as it uses two small subwoofers working in parallel, in a gasket that requires 1.2 tons of force to seal. This means that the maximum air pressure is more than 20 times that of the outside world, so a small movement can create a powerful sound wave when it hits the outside atmosphere.

As well as this, the internal parts of the Phantom have to be able to withstand pressure usually found deep under water. Not only does this mean that a relativity small speaker can create a powerful sound wave, it also means that the Phantoms are hugely over engineered for a home sound system. Further proof of the impeccable attention to detail is the fact that Devialet have rectified the issue of impedance, simply by removing the need for connecting cables. While this may appear an obvious move, it is a revolutionary update that requires a great deal of patented technical advancements, such as the “magic wire”, a key element in the Digital to Analogue conversion. The sound is only converted to analogue at the last possible moment, and with Devialet being a world leader in digital conversion technology, the quality is assured. The “magic wire” also removes the possibility of distortion between the source and the active speakers, as it cannot peak or be subjected to resistance alterations due to temperature.

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Another remarkable fact about the Phantom is the sheer volume they can produce, with the standard model able to produce 99db at one meter and the silver version 105db at the same distance. To give this some context, most nightclubs aim for the dance floor to be around 95db. With an omnidirectional speaker, this means that this level will disperse down to more home friendly levels, but also means that these speakers have more than ample power for home use.

The connectivity and smart recognition technology built into the “implosive sound centre” allows for multiple units to be combined into a single system creating a larger system or even for a multi room setup, with the user able to tell the system to play music in particular rooms from their phone or laptop over wifi. While this sort of feature isn’t unique or even that uncommon in the top range hifi systems, it’s the smart technology that allows the phantoms to respond to their environment that sets Devialet’s product apart. On top of this, there’s the revolutionary audio processing, something that has already made Devialent renowned for it’s amplifiers, and has been further enhanced in the Phantom. The fact that these speakers are capable of true silence while receiving a signal really highlights this. In normal sound systems the speakers will continuously omit sound, be it just a barely audible hiss as it cannot tell the difference between background noise and connection signal, but the Phantom will only amplify the desired noise.

This range will be hitting the UK market in the next few months, and with estimations of the price being in excess of £1500 for the Phantom and nearer £2000 for the Phantom Silver, it is clearly positioned as a high-end product. However, the amount of ground breaking advancements that were required to produce this product suggests that Devialet plan on taking control of the home stereo market. With many of their competitors continuing tried and tested technologies it’s fantastic to see a leading audio company enter as a genuine alternative to the likes of Bose. While it’s impossible to tell if the Phantom really is as fantastic as its technical data makes it appear, I would certainly expect it to outperform every other home system of a similar price.