You can’t have missed the assault on audiophile websites, Facebook pages, and sponsored posts. I’m talking about the Devialet Phantom wireless speaker, of course. Is this more marketing spin or is there something to this very elegant DAC/amplifier/speaker? Unfortunately, I can’t speak to the quality of the speaker because I haven’t heard one and it’s doubtful that I will. However, what fascinates me about the Phantom is the ad copy and visuals included on the website page dedicated to this new “high-end” wireless speaker.
They make some rather bold statements. First, is the claim that the PHANTOM is the “best wireless speaker in the world.” followed by a couple of no-holds barred claims that take us immediately into the word space beyond hyperbole. “The Phantom revolution goes far beyond everything you have ever heard. A staggering experience with the best sound in the world.” When someone writes this kind of over the top nonsense, my snake oil detectors get all tingly. Are they comparing the Phantom to all sound systems or against your Jambox?
Just get a load of the specifications:
• 3000 Watts
• 0 Distortion
• 0 Saturation
• 0 Background Noise
And the price for a single unit? They start at $1990 for the 750-Watt version and go to $2390 for the “Silver Phantom” with 3000 watts. You’ll need two if you want stereo…so plan your budget accordingly.
The company spews techno jargon and big numbers like nothing I’ve ever read:
“For the first time, experience ultra-dense sound with physical impact. A power, clarity, and preciseness unlike anything you have ever heard before.”
Can anyone tell me what “ultra-dense” sound is? According to the company, it’s a new engineering that outperforms all existing systems because it’s backed by a couple of revolution and inherently superior processes that are covered by two of the company’s 88 patents. The first one is called ADH® for Analog Digital Hybrid. In reality, it means low frequency response.
“Invented by Devialet, ADH Intelligence is a technology that has succeeded for the first time in combining the sophistication of the Analog amplification (Class A) and the power and compactness of the Digital amplification (Class D).
This technology, also included in Devialet’s Expert products, amplifies the sound signal with utmost clarity and transparency.”
As I said, I haven’t heard the Phantom but I am familiar with the Benchmark AHB2 amps. We used a bunch of them at the AXPONA 2015 Show. They are very small and use a technology developed by THX (THX-AAA Technology™, a patented system which reduces distortion to vanishingly low levels while enabling several power-saving techniques and produces real high-resolution dynamic range). The Benchmark delivers over 130 dB of dynamic range…the Phantom’s specifications are very sketchy and don’t really tell you anything. Put your ear 1 meter away and you can get hit with 99 dB SPL according to their page.
The name of the other patented technology at work in the Phantom is called “Heart Bass Implosion” or HBI®.
“Developed for Phantom, HBI® is the only system in the world that allows for extremely low frequencies to be emitted from such a compact space.
Absolutely revolutionary, Phantom is built around two hermetic woofers that function under high pressure. The powerful beats of the lateral domes produce a unique ultra-dense sound with physical impact. Together with ADH*, this technology allows Phantom to reproduce levels of sound at the edge of infrasound (16Hz).”
I think you get the gist…these very costly speakers most likely do a very good job reproducing standard-resolution sound and if you can get high-res music into the device, it claims to be able to run at 192 kHz/24-bits. But it seems to me that the Phantom is a much hyped, way over priced, wireless, competent DAC/amplifier/speaker intended for non-audiophiles with too much money and not enough sense. You can do a whole lot better for less money.
It’s all about style and marketing.