Devialet’s Gold Phantom is heavy, mental

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Bombs and Rockets. If French audio company Devialet was an ’80s synth band this would be the title of its sophomore album. For while the company gleefully compared the amount of pressure inside the Silver Phantom to a type of bomb, it says the new Gold Phantom has the same power as a rocket launch. Lesson in short: don’t drop these things from a great height.

In terms of price alone, the Devialet is winning the arms race when it comes to high-end wireless speakers at $3,000 or £1,690 (about AU$3,050). Below it sits models such as the Raumfeld Stereo L, the Naim mu-so and two other Devialet Phantoms.

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The Gold model is $600 more than the Silver and the company says the changes have not only been about extending frequency response but also providing a smoother response in the mids and treble. One of the improvements is the move from an aluminum tweeter to a stiffer titanium one, which Devialet says allows for a more extended treble.

The frequency response is now listed as 14Hz to 27kHz, which is way beyond both human hearing and the limits of a CD. Some of the improvements are as a result of the company tuning the digital signal processing (DSP) in the unit and Devialet representatives say this means users of the other Phantoms in the range will also see an improvement to their units with future firmware.

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The other improvement is that the power has been boosted yet again from a ridiculous 3,000 watts to an absolutely ludicrous 4,500W. This has enabled the designers to wring an extra couple of decibels out of the machine to top out at a rock concert-worthy 108 decibels.

As you’d expect from a “gold” product the new Devialet actually includes the precious metal in the finish. The “gills” on each side are covered in 22-carat rose gold but it isn’t as gaudy in the flesh as it might sound.

The Phantom is a Wi-Fi-centric speaker and is controlled by the Phantom Spark app (for Android, iOS and Mac), which plays music from your phone as well as Tidal and Spotify Connect, plus Deezer and Qobuz in applicable markets. Other streaming services are yet to be confirmed.

If you don’t want to connect via Wi-Fi though, you have the option of Bluetooth or even optical. Finally, as with the other two Phantoms you can pair them together for stereo listening, but at $6,000 for a pair they’re in pretty heady territory.


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Ears-on tests

If there’s one thing I noted about the performance of the Silver Phantom is that it tended on the bright side of neutral. Based on a short listening test the sound I heard lacked the brightness of the previous model and instead sounded open and nuanced. Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand” had the three-dimensionality I’d heard in “proper” stereo systems and managed to untangle the knotty mass of deep vocals and bass line.

Dead Can Dance’s “Yulunga (Spirit Dance)” exhibited plenty of air during the 2-minute opening and then when the shaker egg appeared it sounded incredibly present. It was as if someone was shaking it in the room with us. The drums that accompany the shakers weren’t as bombastic as I’ve heard previously, but I couldn’t say without further testing of the Phantom with bassy material whether this was a good or bad thing.

Conclusion

The Devialet Gold Phantom will be available for pre-order on France’s national holiday, Bastille Day, July 14. This is obviously not your typical Bluetooth speaker. It is the Lamborghini Gallardo of wireless speakers: beautiful to look at and (potentially) performs well too. As nice as it is, however, unless you have a palatial room to fill, the “entry-level” 750W Phantom at $1,990 or £1,390 (about AU$2,510) will probably do almost as good a job.

(cnet.com, http://goo.gl/7XJHt0)

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