DE­VIALET GOLD PHAN­TOM OPÉRA DE PARIS

SoundMag - - Contents - By David Richards & Christo­pher Mi­nasians

The co-branded De­vialet Gold Phan­tom Opéra de Paris is iden­ti­cal to the orig­i­nal speaker - com­plete with 4500W of power - but has a goldleaf de­sign to mimic the gilded in­te­ri­ors of the opera’s au­di­to­rium.

In Aus­tralia the De­vialet is one of the top sell­ing speak­ers with one Mel­bourne based dealer con­vinc­ing cus­tomers who have come into buy a Sonos sys­tem to step up to a De­vialet sound sys­tem.

So, what is it about the De­vialet gold speaker of­fer­ing that makes it a stand out speaker apart from its unique French de­sign?

With a stun­ning de­sign, you’re not pay­ing for the sound, but the ma­te­ri­als used to cre­ate this lu­di­crously ex­pen­sive wire­less speaker.

But be­fore you say “too ex­pen­sive” you can walk into a lo­cal De­vialet dealer such as the Life­style store in Syd­ney or Klapp in Mel­bourne and buy one of these speak­ers for a tad over $4,000.

Re­viewer Christo­pher Mi­nasians of Alphr said re­cently that hav­ing al­ready re­viewed the orig­i­nal De­vialet Phan­tom a cou­ple of years ago, and lov­ing its way of por­tray­ing sound, the new 22-karat gold-plated De­vialet Gold Phan­tom is even more ex­pen­sive and pro­vides, even more power to an­noy your neigh­bours.

On pa­per, this $4,200 speaker does look en­tic­ing, apart from its ridicu­lous 4,500W of out­put power of course. The wire­less Blue­tooth speaker is no or­di­nary one, as thanks to its au­dio prow­ess, is able to de­liver sound that’ll pro­duce seis­mo­graphic lev­els of au­dio out­put. So, is it all bling or does the speaker pro­vide some­thing new to the ta­ble?

And, with its unique de­sign, it’s hard to think of any­thing that’s on the same level as the De­vialet Gold Phan­tom. Its main com­peti­tor is, iron­i­cally, the reg­u­lar $3,590 De­vialet Sil­ver Phan­tom speaker, which has a lower-grade DAC (dig­i­talto-ana­logue con­verter), misses out on the 22-karat gold trim.

If you’re look­ing to pair two De­vialet Gold Phan­tom speak­ers, you’ll need to pur­chase the De­vialet Dia­log Wire­less Hub. But look on the bright side: af­ter pur­chas­ing that, you’ll be able to con­nect up to 24 speak­ers with the sys­tem. And if you have that sort of money, lucky you. Build qual­ity and de­sign

The de­sign is beau­ti­ful, mes­meris­ing, the very def­i­ni­tion of supremium (ahem). The sphere­shaped speaker looks like a mini-nu­clear re­ac­tor; ad­mit­tedly, I’ve never ac­tu­ally seen a min­in­u­clear re­ac­tor, but this is what I imag­ine one would look like. Al­ter­na­tively, you could de­scribe it as some­thing out of Area 51. If you don’t know where that is, you’re al­ready lost.

No mat­ter what you de­scribe it as, the speaker looks fan­tas­tic, at least in my eyes. From the carved-out de­tails sur­round­ing the front-fac­ing tweeter, to the over­ac­tive woofers on ei­ther side

that make it look like it will fly off like a gi­ant bee, it looks in­cred­i­ble.

It would be hard to ig­nore its cen­tre­piece, though. The 22-karat gold-plated pan­els on ei­ther side of the speaker make the speaker stand out like the Shard in Lon­don. These gold pan­els look amaz­ing, al­beit a lit­tle bit over the top.

Around the back you’ll find a heatsink ra­di­a­tor that keeps the speaker from over­heat­ing, two in­con­ve­niently placed in­puts – an op­ti­cal in­put and an Eth­er­net port – and its AC power in­put.

The speaker weighs 11.4kg and mea­sures 253mm wide, 255mm tall and 343mm deep – it’s not de­signed to be an easy thing to carry around, de­spite the fact that it comes with its own bowl­ing-ball-style car­ry­ing case.

The De­vialet isn’t just a weird-look­ing ac­tive speaker, though: it’s also fully wire­less, and boasts multi-room fea­tures via the Spark app. This is avail­able on both An­droid and iOS and is nec­es­sary in or­der to con­nect to the speaker(s) and man­age your multi-room setup. You’ll need to fol­low the in­struc­tions to com­plete the setup. When it’s in pair­ing mode, the woofers give you a visual prompt that pulses – it’s rather cute.

The app’s func­tion­al­i­ties are rather ba­sic. Be­yond its setup ca­pa­bil­i­ties, you’ll be able to browse mu­sic that’s on your de­vice, and con­trol other De­vialet speak­ers that re­side on your net­work. How­ever, if you’re look­ing to stream di­rectly from pop­u­lar mu­sic ser­vices such as Spo­tify and Tidal, you’ll need to pur­chase the $359 De­vialet Dia­log Wire­less Hub.

Still, you can achieve this from your phone via Blue­tooth and the speaker sup­ports a wide va­ri­ety of codecs, in­clud­ing aptX, AAC and reg­u­lar SBC. On the plus side, you can also in­stall Spark on your desk­top (Win­dows 7 and above

and macOS 10.9 and above) and the cross­plat­form in­te­gra­tion makes it seam­less to move from one de­vice to the other.

Sound qual­ity

It looks great as a cof­fee-ta­ble talk­ing point, but how does the Gold Phan­tom sound? Ul­ti­mately, the De­vialet Gold Phan­tom is a work of art in both its de­sign and sonic ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Pow­ered by an alu­minium mid-range driver, a grade 1 ti­ta­nium tweeter at the front and two alu­minium bass driv­ers on ei­ther side, the speaker is ac­cu­rate and can reach ex­tremely high vol­umes.

Up­graded from the Texas In­stru­ments PCM1798 DAC from the De­vialet Sil­ver Phan­tom, the Gold Phan­tom has an in-house De­vialet DAC with em­bed­ded ADHV2 in­tel­li­gence, which is the com­pany’s own patented tech­nol­ogy, and al­lows it to blend “the so­phis­ti­ca­tion of Class A ana­logue with all the power and com­pact­ness of Class D dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy”. To my ears, it re­sults in a clean sound that isn’t ham­pered by any un­wanted noise or dis­tor­tion.

Even at peak vol­ume, the speaker’s woofers aren’t fazed. That’s 4,500W of power by the way, with a quoted 108dB SPL at one me­tre; in other words, enough to pump your house into another di­men­sion. The speaker’s abil­ity to de­liver such a loud sound is a tes­ta­ment to De­vialet’s crafts­man­ship and tun­ing. The DAC is also ca­pa­ble of play­ing high-res­o­lu­tion 24-bit, 192kHz au­dio files over Wi-Fi.

When the speaker is cranked up, the sheer amount of sub-bass is as­tound­ingly good. The mid-bass slam is clean, pre­cise, ac­cu­rate and ex­tremely well re­pro­duced. And it isn’t just quan­tity, but qual­ity too. Ca­pa­ble of ex­tend­ing down to 14Hz with no audi­ble dis­tor­tion, the sub-bass ex­tends as­ton­ish­ingly well and isn’t over­done. It’s so good you’d think there was a mas­sive sub­woofer in your room.

Nat­u­rally, you’d think the mids are drowned out and re­cessed. Not a bit of it. The mid-range is for­ward-sound­ing, with vo­cals sur­pris­ingly tak­ing the fo­cus. In Por­tu­gal The Man’s “Feel It Still”, the voices aren’t over­shad­owed by the mid-bass slam or the beat.

It doesn’t end there. Thanks to its grade 1 ti­ta­nium tweeter, the highs ex­tend re­mark­ably well. There’s no audi­ble roll-off, and why would there be, with an im­pres­sive 27kHz ceil­ing. In Michael Jack­son’s “Liberian Girl”, cym­bals are un­be­liev­ably crisp and ac­cu­rate-sound­ing, and there’s no sibi­lance to Jack­son’s voice at all. De­vialet has done a fan­tas­tic job here; the new im­proved tweeter on the Gold Phan­tom re­ally shines through.

But its sound­stage and in­stru­ment sep­a­ra­tion are both dis­ap­point­ing.

In spa­cious songs such as ZHU’s “Star­dust”, mu­sic is con­gested, claus­tro­pho­bic, Uni-di­rec­tional and lacks space to breathe. There sim­ply isn’t enough dis­tinc­tion be­tween dif­fer­ent notes and po­si­tional cues are rather poor. I ex­pected bet­ter here, but it’s to be ex­pected from a mono speaker that has a for­ward-fir­ing speaker de­sign.

On the other hand, tonal­ity and imag­ing are ac­cu­rate; just don’t ex­pect a warm woody sound from a speaker with a com­pos­ite body and an ex­ter­nal ABS plas­tic hous­ing.

But this isn’t your or­di­nary speaker: it’s a state­ment of wealth. If you have the cash at hand and un­der­stand its lim­i­ta­tions, then go for it: the De­vialet Gold Phan­tom will de­liver a truly unique lis­ten­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and you can be sure that not many other peo­ple will own one.

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