technology profile - audio
This French company’s products combine cutting-edge performance with chic design.
By George McClure
WITH INIMITABLE FRENCH STYLE, Devialet is on a mission to redefine the place of sound in people's lives by delivering meaningful audio experiences from products that are as beautiful to look at as they are to listen to. The foundation of the company’s success is a series of radical patented technologies that are embedded in their products. By coupling unrivaled sound quality with sleek, modern design, Devialet's engineers set a high standard for innovation and push the boundaries of what can be achieved.
Devialet was founded in 2007 by three iconoclasts — engineer Pierre-Emmanuel Calmel, designer Emmanuel Nardin and entrepreneur Quentin Sannié — who shared a common belief in the fundamental role that sound plays in our daily lives: music, of course, but also the voices that link us to others and the silence that connects us to our inner selves. The company is now present in nearly 70 countries and generates more than 65 percent of its revenue internationally.
“Devialet was created by an engineer and a designer,” says Co-Founder Emmanuel Nardin. “So design is part of our DNA. However, at Devialet we have a purposeful approach to design — it always serves the technology and the acoustics first, and then we can imagine how we can do things differently.”
Let’s take a look at some of Devialet’s products that have become highly coveted by audiophiles and designers alike.
EXPERT PRO AMPLIFIERS
In 2004, prior to the formation of Devialet, engineer Pierre-Emmanuel Calmel invented his Analog Digital Hybrid® (ADH) technology and offered it to his then employers. When they declined, he quit his job to focus on making a working prototype. Three years later he had succeeded, and along with Quentin Sannié launched Devialet in Paris in 2007. In 2010 the company introduced its first product, an ultra-high-performance amplifier called D-Premier. In 2013, the company unveiled an updated version of its D-Premier amp, the Devialet 240, as well as two new lower-end versions, the Devialet 110 and Devialet 170.
Today, the Expert Pro is the successor to these foundational components. Designed to replace traditional hi-fi systems, Expert Pro provides all the core elements of playback – preamplifier, amplifier, digital-to-analog converter, streamer and phono stage – in a single, ultra-compact unit you can mount on a wall or display on a piece of furniture so it both stands out and fits in with your home. Just add a pair of high-performance speakers for an utterly sublime listening experience.
By rethinking sound reproduction end-to-end, Devialet engineers managed to deliver harmonic distortion and noise at vanishingly low levels. Beyond acoustics, Expert Pro is entirely configurable and upgradable, and Devialet’s SAM® technology optimizes its performance for over 1,000 speakers Expert has been calibrated for (see sidebar for more info).
“The Expert Pro line continues the heritage of the high-performance D-Premier all-in-one amplifier created in 2010,” says Emmanuel Nardin. “Expert Pro systems have always been engineered with adaptability and scalability in mind, to ensure absolute compatibility with any speaker and to utilize configurable architecture that meets everyone's preferences, with an ultra-compact Polimirroir [a well-known French industrial manufacturer] casing to match all interiors.”
Emmanuel continues: “When we put the ADH® amplification technology that’s embedded in Expert Pro amplifiers onto a chip, we knew that we would be able to miniaturize even more high-performance audio devices. That was the start behind the idea of Phantom coming from Expert Pro: to push even further the compactness and capabilities, with no compromise on sound quality. Both products embed many common patented technologies, and they are both also disruptive and innovative from a design standpoint. Devialet's product DNA was born.”
“Expert Pro systems have always been engineered with adaptability and scalability in mind, to ensure absolute compatibility with any speaker .”EMMANUEL NARDIN
Devialet Co-Founder and Designer
Here are a few of Devialet’s proprietary technologies you won’t find anywhere else:
ADH®: ANALOG DIGITAL HYBRID
The technological breakthrough that launched the company, ADH is the best of both worlds. It’s hybrid amplification technology that combines the refinement and linearity of Analog (Class A) with the power and compactness of Digital (Class D). Working in parallel, they deliver the best power amplifier performance ever achieved.
SAM®: SPEAKER ACTIVE MATCHING
From a mathematical model of your speakers, SAM® Speaker Active Matching enables your Expert Pro to adapt accurately the signal transmitted to them. For the first time, it is then possible to obtain a perfect time alignment between the recorded signal and the sound pressure generated by the speaker drivers. You’ll enjoy the emotional power of music, just as the artist intended.
EVO™: EVOLUTIVE PLATFORM
Expert Pro systems are fitted with the EVO platform, a unique electronic architecture driven by an upgradable software. Every Expert Pro keeps getting better through free and regular updates, offering new features and increased performance.
HBI® HEART BASS IMPLOSION
HBI is a one-of-a-kind system. Developed exclusively for Phantom, it produces the lowest frequencies ever emitted. Engineered to perform under extreme compactness and pressure, Phantom’s hermetically sealed architecture consists of two lateral woofers powering together. The sheer thrust force behind their combined movement generates ultra-dense sound with physical impact. Welcome to the deep end.
PHANTOM: A SPEAKER LIKE NO OTHER
Just as Expert Pro amplifiers are compact, all-in-one electronic de¬vices, Phantom is a compact, high-end, all-in-one amplified speaker. Phantom delivers a level of performance comparable to large hi-fi systems in one easy-to-use product with plenty of ways to connect via Bluetooth, Spotify Connect, AirPlay 2 and Universal Plug-n-Play — and it’s also Roon-ready. (Roon is software that shows artist bios, photos, reviews and lyrics, and can also suggest other artists and songs based on your selections, making it easy to discover new music.)
The original Phantom, released in 2015, forever changed the expectations of a single, powered speaker by shattering the traditional limitations of size and space. With a distinctive shape and packed with groundbreaking technologies, it delivered an intensely visceral listening experience. Today there are two Phantom ranges, Phantom I and Phantom II, each available in two different performance levels and in a variety of elegant stylings.
All Phantom models create detailed, realistic sound without distortion. The streamlined cabinet not only looks unique, but contributes to the elevated performance, with two side-firing aluminum woofers that crank out deep, powerful bass you can feel. They combine with a centered aluminum midrange driver and aluminum tweeter to create a detailed and expansive soundstage. One Phantom can create rich, room-filling sound on its own, but adding a second will significantly increase the stereo effect and soundstage.
One of its core design elements, Phantom's signature side panels closely flank the body, creating a sleek, aerodynamic accent. Molded with precision to help dissipate the energy transmitted to the rear, they are available in a range of finishes, including light chrome, dark chrome, matte and 22-car¬at gold. The body of previous Phantom models came in a glossy finish, but the current versions have a modern matte exterior that’s distinctly non-reflective, letting them blend into any environment.
Phantom’s built-in DAC (digital-to-analog converter) works together with an advanced processor that makes real-time adjustments to the audio signal, thus ensuring the most accurate, realistic sound possible — at all volume levels, and for all types of music.
SPECIAL OPÉRA DE PARIS MODEL AND INSTALLATION
In 2017 Devialet began a collaboration with the Paris Opera built upon a shared vision of excellence and strong ties to France's musical and historical heritage. The Devialet sound discovery area in the Palais Garnier is ideally located in the West area of the Grand Vestibule. This space has been designed as a minimal setting with sophisticated details and overseen by the chief architect of France's historic monuments and the regional directorate of cultural affairs.
For this area, Devialet created a special edition of Phantom, an outstanding piece of engineering protected by more than 100 patents. Inspired by the iconic gilded interiors of the space, Phantom Opéra de Paris | Devialet features the Paris Opera logo and gold leaf side plates finished by Ateliers Gohard, who also restores the gold of the Opéra Garnier.
Guests experience not one Phantom or Phantom duo, but an entire orchestra of 16 Phantoms delivering the purest, most profound emotion that sound can deliver within the walls of a venerable building devoted to sound itself.
Says Alexander Neef, Director General of the Paris Opera, “The gilded Phantom Opéra de Paris | Devialet speakers born from our association incarnate the values of technological innovation as well as the quest for sound and musical perfection shared between the Paris Opera and Devialet. Resolutely forward-looking, we aim at developing new collaborations which will contribute to the outreach of the Opera and support its artistic programming, upholding French excellence everywhere in the world.”
NEW DIONE SOUNDBAR
At Technology Designer Magazine, we highly recommend a complete surround-sound system for the main viewing area in a home, but for TVs in other rooms, a soundbar can be a great solution. The new Devialet Dione takes this category to a whole new level of style and sonic sophistication.
Devialet's DNA stresses compactness and no compromise on sound quality, and the Dione certainly continues this tradi¬tion. It’s a Dolby Atmos® soundbar with 17 high-end drivers in a 5.1.2 surround-channel configuration boasting five ground channels, a subwoofer channel, and two upper/ceiling chan¬nels. With more drivers than a traditional soundbar, Devialet Dione delivers room-filling sound with rich bass, clear mid-range, and precise treble for sound that literally puts you in the middle of all the action. The central “ORB” speaker boasts styling reminiscent of the Phantom and can rotate de¬pending on the soundbar’s installed position.
There are eight internal, high-excursion subwoofers cus¬tom-designed to deliver powerful and deep low-frequency effects with improved sound wave directivity to greatly en¬hance bass. The bottom line: there’s no need for an external sub to augment this truly all-in-one component.
Proprietary SPACE™ technology ensures an enveloping sound experience from every source, actively upscaling any stereo-encoded 2.0 signal into a 5.1.2 surround sound, so no matter what you are viewing your sound will be coming from all around you.
Devialet's Adaptive Volume Level (AVL™) technology is the Di¬one’s dynamic equalizer. It harmonizes sound levels adapted to each content, in real time, for a more enjoyable listening experience. So, for instance, you won't miss a single detail in an action-packed scene containing whispered dialogue.
Dione intelligently adapts to each room to provide the best experience, whatever content you are watching. Whether wall-mounted or placed on a credenza, the Dione’s room cal¬ibration technology fills your space with pristine sound, no matter your preferred set-up, audio modes and equalization.
Devialet Dione is compatible with Bluetooth, AirPlay 2, and Spotify Connect. It can also be connected to your TV via HDMI or TOSLINK optical input for any digital music source.