Julien Bergère, General Manager, Asia-Pacific, Devialet.
The audio world has always been about size. How is Devialet able to reverse the trend? There are some truths and some myths about audio and size. Actually, we are told to accept the limitations of a given state of technology: “Class A amps are the best performing, and they are very large, therefore a good amp has to be large…”
But Devialet is a high-tech company specializing in breakthrough innovation, applying it to the audio domain. Our engineers have more than 100 key patents in all fields of sound reproduction; the common denominator being that they’re about pushing the limits of how pure sound is reproduced, in a way that is highly energy-efficient. So what did that translate to? The key issue to consider when miniaturizing a speaker is the reproduction of deep bass.
Put simply: you need a large driver with a high excursion in order to move air and produce low frequencies in a loud way. However, a small box restricts how much the large driver can move. These rules are derived from the laws of physics, and at this stage we haven’t changed them.
Instead, we have ‘simply’ pushed the commonly accepted boundaries of how much bass you can pack into a small box.
We combined very linear and high-efficiency Analog Digital Hybrid (ADH) amplifiers and power supplies with extremely compact Heart Bass Implosion (HBl) speaker drivers that generate 60 pounds of force in each direction at full 1-inch excursion in a sealed enclosure that withstands 20 times higher pressure than a conventional closed box. Does a speaker’s ability to play loud affect its ability to create outstanding detail? We could say that these are two different things: playing loud, and having detailed sound. If your speaker doesn’t sound detailed at low volume, playing loud won’t help to ‘create’ detail.
Music is dynamic by nature: it includes some loud sections, even if quite short. A traditional sound system tends to be non-linear when playing loud. The distortion that occurs when reproducing louder sounds affects the overall rendering.
If the sound system maintains an absence of distortion on loud transients, it will have a capacity to maintain a high level of detail regardless of the volume. It’s like a great car. Even when driving it fast, you still feel comfortable and safe, and you have the capacity to accelerate instantaneously if needed. How has Devialet been able to innovate better than others? Having three co-founders: PierreEmmanuel, Emmanuel Nardin, and Quentin Sannié (an engineer, a designer, and a serial entrepreneur) sharing the same vision and determination definitely made a key difference.
Small companies may have the will to change the world, but are often the creation of a single talented person, who fails to team up with the right people and is unable to get funding for the project. Large companies could get the funding, but they often miss a long-term vision when it comes to innovation.
Consider our first ADH patent dates from 13 years ago. Which company would invest 10 or 15 years before seeing a return? Only visionaries would devote their lives to such a grand project. Tell us about your most memorable audio experience. I’ve had a few ‘most memorable audio experiences’ in my life so far. Maybe the one I’ll choose to relate is when my father first recorded my voice when l was 4 years old. With all the imperfections of this portable cassette tape device, the magic of having captured a moment of reality and being able to reproduce it at will absolutely mesmerized me. What was in front of me was nothing less than an amazing time-machine, and my dad was the greatest wizard of all!
This moment, the first among a few others, defined a lifetime passion for sound reproduction.
“Our first ADH patent dates from 13 years ago. Which company would invest 10 or 15 years before seeing a return?”