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Monday, February 9, 2015
New Music Gear Monday: Devialet Phantom Monitor Speaker
Today's product I have played with a little and it's a mindblower. It's the Devialet Phantom monitor speaker, and it just might be the leap in speaker technology that we've all been waiting for.
The Devialet Phantom a rather small egg-shaped active three way monitor that features dual woofers that fire out the sides. It includes Devialet's own amplifiers that have what they call ADH technology (which from what I can gather is a hybrid analog and digital power supply that uses the the analog portion as a sort of bias for the digital side). The French company has been awarded 77 patents and has racked up 37 sound and design awards for the amplifier since it was released in 2010.
The Phantom is aimed at the audiophile market and their specs are a function of that so I won't quote them here. The only thing that counts anyway is the sound. So how did they sound?
I have never heard such low end from such a small speaker. Unbelievable. I was just in two of the best mastering houses in Hollywood and the subwoofers they used to reproduce that bass were both huge and expensive. As far as the mid and hi-frequency range, I was hearing things that I didn't hear during the microscope of mastering. In fact, I was hearing all sorts of flaws with my mixes that made me want to immediately go back and tweak. These things are surgical, but I bet you can get a great mix with them.
What was hard to believe was that all this sound was coming out of something that was only 10 inches x 10 inches x 13 inches, in a hotel room with no special acoustic treatment! Many speakers today can get you some low end, but few can get you the sub-bass that the Phantoms reproduced, especially considering their size.
The other thing that was interesting is that they were being connected wirelessly! You can connect to them digitally via lightpipe if you want, but what I was heard was through a hot spot convertor that Devialet calls "Dialog." Don't forget, the speakers are meant for consumers so they're capable of being spread out in different rooms like a Sonos system and can be sent audio via a free app. As far as I could tell, no degradation.
One of the downfall of audiophile-style speakers in a recording or mixing environment is the reliability factor. The things tend to blow up on the first big kick hit or dropped microphone that happens. Manual De La Fuente (Devialet's general manager) assured me that the DSP inside the Phantom would prevent that from happening, as it senses signal conditions and instantly adapts before any mechanical or thermal problems arise.
Once again, I'm generally skeptical of audiophile anything, but what I heard was certainly worthy of checking out further. I'd love to get these into my studio for a try. That said, both Sting and producer Rick Rubin are said to have given them a thumbs up as well, so at least there are some other pros that initially feel as I do.
The Devialet Phantom won't be available until April in the US. The best part is that they're priced very reasonably for a high-end speaker at $1,990 each for the Phantom and $2,390 each for the more powerful Silver Phantom. Check out more about it on the Devielet website.
Here's what the Phantom looks like inside.