devialet-phantom-heroIn December, ultra-high-end brand DEVIALET decided to announce Phantom, a very powerful, yet ultra-compact speaker that brings ultra-premium quality sound at a price that consumers can reach. Roughly speaking, we are talking about sound quality that would take a $15,000 system to produce, but priced at around $2390 (3000W Phantom Silver, there’s also a $1990 750W Phantom). It’s certainly not cheap, but the added-value is quite amazing since the alternative if to have (ugly) speakers ten times (or more) this size.

Of course, hearing is believing, and we had an opportunity to see the DEVIALET Phantom in action. Frankly, an electronics trade-show like CES is not really the best place for this exercise, but we’ve experienced enough sound demos from the biggest brands out there to form a good idea under these conditions. DEVIALET also has a hotel suite which is better suited for a demo if you happen to be at CES this week.

And the Phantom didn’t disappoint: the sound is amazingly powerful AND clear at the same time. It is fair to say that after asking to listen to a few classics, we had rediscovered them, and heard them in what is possibly their purest form yet. Power isn’t what impressed us: there are plenty of systems which could blow your clothes off. But DEVIALET can increase the power to very high levels, without getting sound distortion. That is the true mind-blowing part, especially when the speaker is about the size of a soccer ball.

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To make this work, DEVIALET had to build an impressive array of technologies, from the speaker system that can support tremendous pressures required to have this power/size ratio, to the electronics that will drive the internal speakers and treat the sound signal in real-time to avoid sound distortion (to look at the technical details, we highly recommend reading this white paper – PDF file). Greatness is also in the little details: when configured properly, Phantom can receive sound signals over WiFi, Ethernet and Power Ethernet – at the same time. The signal redundancy helps guarantee an uninterrupted audio experience.

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Because the internal speakers of the Phantom are programmable from the get go, it is possible to have them perform in the context of a single music speaker, or as part of multi-speaker setup for music playback or AV surround sound. Yes, you heard that right: it is possible to pair several Phantom units to build an amazing wireless surround sound system. Normally, it is very hard to do this with a regular WiFi home network because of the latency involved. That’s why Phantom has its own WiFi-based networking system which it uses to communicate with other Phantom speakers.

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The final feature of the Phantom is its design.  We subjectively find it to be beautiful and elegant. Its build quality is top-notch and solid (each unit weighs about 24 lbs) and if anything, we suspect that most people’s homes wouldn’t be “design” enough to feature one of these in the living room. Regardless, if you are ever lucky enough to have one of those, your perception of what “great sound” is will be changed forever – even if you’re not an “audiophile”.

Hopefully, DEVIALET will be able to build a “Phantom mini” that would be priced around $1000, while still retaining most of the qualities of the Phantom (minus the Wattage). Even if you can’t afford it, don’t miss a chance to hear them in action.

Filed in Audio >Reviews. Read more about CES and CES 2015.

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