Step back into the future of sound
We can expect to hear a lot about French company Devialet in coming years if the rave reviews to date are anything to go by.
The company, launched in 2007, has racked up 41 international awards and 77 patents.
Its founder, engineer Pierre-Emmanuel Calmel, has created a hi-fi amplifier range which has arguably changed the world of hi-fi. His ADH (analogue digital hybrid) technology provides a marriage of high-end analogue sound and digital convenience.
He registered so many patents that billionaire investors, including Bernard Arnault — estimated to be worth $US33 billion ($43 billion) as a major shareholder of Dior and LVMH (Moet-Hennessey - Louis Vuitton) — decided to jump on the bandwagon.
So Devialet now not only has a huge number of patents but a bucketload of Euros to fund a team of 50 research engineers to drive this innovative audio company. So watch out for a lot more action.
In the meantime the amplifier range they created, which has won worldwide acclaim from top audio magazines and audiophiles, has finally made it to Australia.
The amplifier has the slim styling of B&O and can be tucked in a bookshelf or even hung on a wall. It has a range of dual-purpose gold-plated connections ranging from RCA to ethernet and can accommodate any input, ranging from a tone arm- playing LP to a computer for streaming music from your media hard drive.
The Devialet 120 stereo system. Pictures: devialet.com/systems
It will even connect through wi-fi and can be configured as a pre-amplifier, stereo amplifier or mono amplifier.
While it has a host of digital circuits, it delivers the music to speakers via a Class-A amplifier, which is what excites audiophiles.
Devialet’s amplifier caters for the needs of genuine hi-fi enthusiasts who want the warmth of yesteryear analogue sound plus the convenience of digital processing.
And it comes at the right time as home entertainment stores around Australia replace home theatre displays with upmarket stereo sound systems.
It has taken a while but hi-fi is back, and the sales of 180gm LPs are indicative of that.
And for those who don’t want to return to buying and handling vinyl there are online libraries offering 24-bit 96Hz and 24-bit 192Hz studio-quality downloads (far superior to CD’s 16-bit 44.1KHz).
These are high-resolution audio files you download on to computer hard-drives for streaming into hi-fi systems.
You can also download the album graphics and information so you can have the joy of virtual covers with the artwork and recording notes on your computer or tablet.
So we now have high-resolution audio at one end of the music chain, and plenty of high-quality loudspeakers still available for those who were silly enough to get rid of their original speakers bought in the 1980s. The bit in the middle has been the problem.
In the 1980s we had Class-A amplifiers which when coupled with loudspeakers from the US and Europe were so good that when you listened to a female vocalist like Dory Previn or Cleo Laine it sent shivers up your spine.
So electronics manufacturers have been faced with the challenge to provide amplifiers that can interface into the digital world but offer the warmth of analogue Class-A amplifiers.
Devialet appears to have done this with its slimline box that has more digital DNA than a NASA spaceship and costs from $7500.
It has software, digital processors, internet capability and a Class-A amplifier front end.
Two of its unique design features are ADH (analogue digital hybrid) and SAM (speaker active matching).
The ADH basically processes the audio input through digital circuits before delivering it to a genuine Class-A amplifier that then feeds it to the speaker.
Devialet says it is a bit like power steering on a car.
According to Devialet’s team, the SAM technology enables the amplifier to perfectly match loudspeakers.
The engineers analysed the characteristics of many of the world’s best loudspeakers and programmed this acoustic data into the Devialet amplifiers, so when you connect this amplifier to any of those speakers it instantly adjusts to match the speakers.
Mark Jeisman, director of Surrounds (formerly Surround Sounds) said the sound from a pair of B&W 802s connected to a Devialet amplifier when compared to one of another top Class-A amplifier brand was “as if a blanket had been removed”.
“It was extraordinary how clean it sounded, ” he said. “SAM is not an equalisation circuit; it cleverly optimises the speaker performance in real time.”
For those who want more technical data there are white papers published on both technologies.
Or perhaps the best solution is to call in and let Mark Jeisman demonstrate it for you in one of the acoustically tuned listening rooms in Surrounds’ new premises in Nedlands.
See if it makes your hair stand up on the back of your neck, as it did for me.
Something to look forward to: Devialet will be releasing their wireless Phantom stereo system/speaker in Australia.
The Phantom will be available in Australia around May/June.
Devialet Premium Perth Dealer: 83-85 Stirling Highway, Nedlands WA 6009 Australia.
© The West Australian