One day everyone will own a Devialet ...


Being invited to Devialet in Paris for a major show and tell of corporate initiative and culture was a particular surprise, we are only a small retailer in Australia, not a national distributor, and frankly such activities are outside the scope of we who work at the coal face of consumerism.
 
So not only does it turn out that I get to go to visit a company in France but as the details of the event unfold it transpires that we are going to be entertained at no less than the very seat of French Royalty at the Palace of Versailles.
 
Now up to early 2015 for me Devialet had been a background product that made a quirkily beautiful amplifier and was sketchily distributed in Australia. Before this time last year I had given a sample a quick once over and had frankly dismissed it as something that was all form and no function. In our purveyance environment where we tend to celebrate the austerity of a product as long as it sounds wonderful this artistic slab of steel was the girl who didn't get the job as she was so obviously beautiful that she clearly  lacked the intelligence for the role.
 
Then I went to the Munich Hi Fi show last year in May 2015. Amidst the myriad rooms of 100,000 Euro hi fi components there was one room that excited and captivated me as it was not only a genuine innovation in packaging transducer technology into novel form factors but it also sounded fantastic. The brand new Devialet Phantom prototypes were being displayed in their own space embedded within white hexagons resembling the palace of an ice queen.
 
It's true that I was somewhat discomfited by the youth and beauty of the representatives of the product. In hi fi we are more accustomed to people of the Ken Ishiwata type rather than lingerie models. However the sound and build quality of the product was outstanding and spoke for itself.
 
I returned to the Devialet space again and again at the show, dragging my business partner and his son and then my daughter as well, and we were all enthused with the products potential even without having any effective verbal discourse with the manufacturer.
 
Fast forward to October 2015 and it transpires the tier one specialist distributors in Australia have been in a knife fight for access to the product. It didn't matter because Devialet were doing the selection, and chose a rising partner for our own small business in the form of Interdyn as their brand carrier into the Australian market. 
 
Interdyn are an interesting mix of fifty years of provenance in the wholesale consumer electronics market place allied to a new second generation distribution paradigm linked to contemporary media realities, that is kicking out the old shirt and tie crew and replacing it with neck beards and product knowledge.
 
We were lucky ... We had a space on a trendy street at the right time and place to do a Phantom launch in Carlton in November. We also had a couple of enthused staff who immediately sold some high end Devialet Expert amplifiers and so were able to hit the ground running with some sales for this new product. 
 
It turns out that the amplifiers I thought were pretty slabs of French fashionista are actually the cleverest stereo integrated amps ever made. They combine a class A driver stage for sonic purity with a beautifully crafted custom made Class D stage for outright grunt and control with the advantages of both. During the sessions in Versailles they actually disconnected the Class D sections and were gently driving speakers on the Class A alone. 
 
As regards the preamp section .... there isn't one in the conventional sense. Rather the highly sophisticated DAC sections are connected directly to the output stage, and this is where things such as the phono stage and the configuration ability to match not only input sources but also to suit a particular loudspeaker get very interesting and entirely unique to Devialet. The Expert amplifier can actually be used as an Analogue to Digital phono converter via the USB in the same way as a PS Audio NuWave Phono Stage.
 
The progenitor of Devialet is the chief designer Pierre-Emmanuel Calmel who in 2004 decided to create the best amplification possible. Working in a garage in Versailles, that incidentally is also the home of Daft Punk and Air, he was able to play their first electronic box to the future partner and CEO Quentin Sannie in 2006 ... It made Quentin cry when he heard it ...
 
 When Hi Fi News got the first sample of the Devialet amplifier in 2006 they wrote 
"Once in a generation a company will emerge with an expectation to change the product genre"
 
Devialet have a plan ... The "Secret Master Plan" ...
They start small with a high price low volume product that shows what is possible, this was the D Premier amplifier that sold for 12,990 Euros.
Then they make the same technology more affordable and attainable, this is the Expert range that starts at 4990 Euros.
Then they make an affordable high volume product that introduces the technology to the people, this is the Phantom that starts at 1690 Euros.
This same plan of technology introduction into the marketplace is shared by Elon Musk with Tesla ...
 
Devialet wanted to go to the public with their tech, they could have easily gone into the pro market but rather they were seeking to build the brand. Thus they saw the high end audio as a global market with a nutrient Hi Fi press dedicated to passionate people as natural breeding ground for their product.
 
In December the Paris central Fnac store sold 150 Phantoms, they really are going places. In Versailles they proffered a glimpse into their plans and technical directions that are entirely closed for dissemination under confidentiality agreements. Suffice to say you will be hearing a lot more from them.