We’re not unfamiliar with reviewing high-end hardware. From desktops, to phones to everything in between, we’ve seen it all. Or so we thought. We recently dabbled in the art of high end audio. Now when we say high end audio, we’ve seen products from the likes of Sennheiser and Focal with their high end headphones.One could even say that it didn’t offer them even a ghost of a chance. This was the Devialet Phantom Gold.
From the get-go, the Devialet Phantom Gold doesn’t really sound like a speaker (pun intended), but it is a speaker and so much more. The thing that blew our minds wasn’t its audio quality (which we’ll talk about later) or the build quality. It was the fact that this speaker was priced at a jaw dropping LKR 560,000/-. Yes, that’s almost half a million rupees for a single speaker.
Who would buy it? Why would they buy it? What is it used for? Well, those were some of the questions we sought to answer.
Unlike other unboxings, unboxing the Phantom is an experience by itself. The first thing you tell yourself is “Damn, this thing is huge”. And it actually is. We’re not quite sure how to phrase it, but putting it bluntly, this thing just oozes swank.
Once you get over drooling over the package contents of the Phantom, its actually time to take a look at the contents inside. Here, there’s actually not much.
You will find just the bare essentials to get you started. Apart from the speaker itself, you will find a power cable, an instruction manual and also warranty information and safety precautions to take when using the speaker. Once all of it is unpacked, we finally got around to playing around with the Devialet Phantom. The Devialet Phantom Gold even has its own carrying pouch that resembles a Bowling Ball bag retailing for around $450 upwards.
Weighing in at around 11.4KG and measuring 253*255*343mm, the Devialet Phantom actually looks like an abnormally shaped egg of some futuristic creature. Composed of an all-white sturdy plastic body, the front of the speaker contains the main driver that is protected by a rather ornate grill, adding to the swankiness and aesthetic of the phantom’s design. On either side of the body of the speaker, you will find two woofers that are used for low frequency effects AKA the “bass”.
When handling the Devialet Phantom, we actually learned that the best way to carry the speaker is by holding it from the front and back. You should also be very careful to not apply pressure to the front grill or the woofers on the side as they can get damaged if enough pressure is applied. Taking a step back to look at the speaker itself, it doesn’t really look like a speaker at all. In fact, if we didn’t know, we would have thought it was something else entirely.
Right behind the two woofers, you will find two removable panels which we dubbed “fingerprint magnets”. Branded with the Devialet logo, the panels don’t really serve a purpose, except when you remove it and find a sticker saying you should not open the speaker. Located at the back of the speaker is the Power button and also the port to connect the power cable. The speaker itself is quite heavy and once set down on a surface will not easily move around or roll about. This will play a significant part in our testing later on (you’ll see why).
The Devialet Phantom Gold speaker can connect to a device via a number of ways. The primary (and easy) way to connect is via Bluetooth. Here, akin to setting up a regular Bluetooth speaker, you would switch on the speaker and search for it in your device’s Bluetooth settings and then pair it up.
Apart from that, the Devialet Phantom can also be connected via WiFi. This requires additional software to be installed on your Laptop, tablet or even smartphone. Called Devialet Spark, the software offers an all in one solution to connect, pair and control the Devialet Phantom Gold speaker.
According to the specifications of the speaker, you can connect up to a total of 40 Devialet Phantom Gold speakers and link them all up. From there, you can literally get each one to play a different song and control each speaker individually. You can even set them up in pairs to have stereo sound from wherever you are. All this, through the Devialet Spark app.
While Bluetooth only allows one speaker to be connected at a time to a device, using Spark, you can connect a pair of speakers via Wi-Fi. The app takes care of setting up speakers and actually took only a few seconds for us to start our playback testing. For starters, we used a laptop and connected via Bluetooth to see how the Devialet Phantom would perform.
Judging from the fact that the Phantom is almost half a million rupees, you would expect the audio quality to be mind-blowing. Just how mind blowing was the question. We started off nice and slow with a few jazz numbers. The results were quite promising. Despite there being a drop in quality over Bluetooth, the sheer amount of technologies used in the Devialet Phantom were more than enough to compensate and deliver a crystal clear listening experience.
With that, we turned up the beat, literally. With a choice of EDM music, we proceeded to push the volume levels (and heart rates as well) to see how much this speaker could deliver. At 70% volume, we could barely hear ourselves speak. At around the 85% volume level, we found ourselves moving to the beat, not because we liked the music, but because of the sheer power of the speaker. That should be pretty obvious with a 4500W output on the Phantom Gold.
We weren’t the only things moving in the room, though. Everything from the doors, to windows and even the walls were vibrating. If you leaned against a wall, chances that you could have gotten a free backrub, courtesy of this speaker. Despite all this, there was no sign of distortion at all. Everything was crystal clear. We certainly were impressed. From there, we listened to a variety of genres ranging from hip hop to rap, rock, metal and even classical music. It simply amazed us and we were blown away by its stats.
One important point to point out (pun intended) was that even at volumes that would induce emergency sirens, the Devialet Phantom Gold remained absolutely sturdy. If you have noticed, when you turn up the volume of a speaker, it tends to vibrate the entire chassis of the speaker. Here, we had nothing, absolutely no movement of the speaker at all. This is because the Devialet has actually used Kevlar for the shell of the Phantom Gold to minimize vibrations.
Taking a look at the technologies that make up the Devialet Phantom, you’d probably need another book to note them all down. For example, the speaker makes use of a proprietary converter embedded in Devialet’s Analogue Digital Hybrid (ADH) technology. Referred to as ADHV2, it combines Class A and Class D amplification, to give the speaker the best of both worlds whilst also minimizing the shortcomings of both classes.
The Tweeter of the Devialet Phantom is a titanium dome, and has the ability to playback audio of upto 24-bit/192kHz. In terms of frequency, the Devialet Phantom will go down all the way to 14Hz (you won’t really hear it, but you’ll feel it. And goes upto 27kHz at the top end. If dogs in the area start acting strange, you’ll know why.
While all our testing was done via Bluetooth, where the Devialet Phantom really shines is when it is connected via Wi-Fi. Certified for Wi-Fi for dual band (a/b/g/n) at 2.4 and 5GHz, not only does the audio quality improve significantly, but it also gets the ability to work with multiple Phantom Gold speakers. In addition, the Devialet Phantom Gold is one of the few speakers in the market that are certified for lossless wireless audio. This essentially means that when playing audio over Wi-Fi, there is absolutely no drop is audio quality (unlike Bluetooth).
Apart from that, the Devialet Phantom Gold speaker is also able to connect to streaming services such as Spotify, Deezer, Tidal and even Web Radio. Using the RJ-45 port located at the back of the speaker, you can also connect the Devialet Phantom Gold to your router and then configure it from that as well.
Well, the answer to that is quite personal, literally. If you have the cash to splash and you want something funky in your high rise apartment, then the Devialet Phantom Gold will appeal to your inner swankiness. It can be a great conversation starter, an ice breaker or even used for bragging rights to say that this is not just a speaker but a whole lot more. The Devialet Phantom would also be handy if you find yourself at a loss for space or want a wire free entertainment system that is also portable, then the Devialet Phantom can be a go to option.
If you had half a million rupees to splurge on a high end sound system, however, you would be better off in getting a powered system with separate channels and a subwoofer. True enough the Devialet Phantom is an excellent speaker. But it falls victim to shortcomings such as its driver size and output. Yes, it is loud, but if you’re watching a movie or playing high fidelity orchestral tracks, while the Devialet Phantom Gold will do the job nicely, a powered system will add that extra touch of class to it.
So is it worth it? Well, that’s entirely up to you.
If you want to learn more about the Devialet Phantom Gold, you can view the product website here.
Many thanks to Digital Ear for allowing us to review the Devialet Phantom Gold and also for allowing us to scare the neighbors
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The Devialet Phantom Gold: A Half A Million Rupee Speaker
Mahesh De Andrado
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