Everybody always forgets about France. When people think of high-end audio, they think of Germany and Austria (Beyerdynamic, AKG) Great Britain (Chord, Bowers & Wilkins) and Japan (Audio-Technica). They don’t think about the French. But Devialet are a perfect example of a company from that country making serious waves: their Phantom takes the very concept of a wireless speaker, and launches it into space. In this review, we break down the Gold Phantom’s sound, design, packaging and accessories, specs and more.
Before we begin, it’s worth noting that this is a slightly different review to what we normally do. When we contacted Devialet, the company didn’t have any review loaner models in stock – however, they said we were more than welcome to visit their store in New York City at any time, to test their Devialet Gold Phantom model. As it so happened, we were in New York for CanJam 2018 – a huge headphones festival – so, when we were done with that, we took ourselves to the company’s Soho store for a demo.
Normally, this kind of arrangement isn’t something we like. We prefer to test speakers on our terms, over a long period of time, like any real-world listener might. In this case, however, we are going to give Devialet a pass, and not just because they gave us a very gracious one-on-one demo. While we might have listened to the Gold Phantom in their swanky testing room, which no doubt contain some flattering acoustics, we’re pretty sure we got the full measure of this particular wireless speaker. That’s because there’s no possible way to fake what we heard, which was some of the deepest, most unbelievable bass on the planet.
You cannot believe – you really cannot believe – just how intense the low-end on a Gold Phantom is. This is, after all, a product that can put out 4,500 watts when it’s turned up to the maximum, and which uses woofers (bass drivers) that feel like they have more R&D behind them than tech Elon Musk is launching into orbit. The bass felt like it extended back into infinity, swamping the room with unbelievable vibration and power. We love subwoofers, but this was something else. This was an eighth of the size of an SVS PB16-Ultra subwoofer (full review here), which we consider to be the one of the best available right now, and it easily held its own.
Very few experiences in the audio world leave our jaws on the floor. We hear a lot of gear that’s very good, even occasionally great, but we’re pretty experienced at this point and it’s hard to really knock our socks off. The Gold Phantom? That knocked off our socks, pants, underwear, flesh, skeleton, and immortal soul. The bass is that good. And Jesus Christ Buddha Yahweh Satan Vishnu Flying Spaghetti Monster, was it loud.
High-End (Treble) and Mids
Fortunately, the Gold Phantom doesn’t just have that one trick up its sleeve. While the high-end and the mids are nowhere near as impactful as that unbelievable bass, they still manage to impress. In fact, the other parts of the frequency spectrum were surprisingly subtle, spiked with detail that seemed to float on an ocean of wonderful bass. The overall audio quality was fantastic, with almost no downsides.
We did say almost. If there’s one criticism that could be levelled at the Gold Phantom and its brethren, it’s that a single speaker operating on its own doesn’t have mind-blowing soundstage and spacing. It’s good enough – it certainly doesn’t take anything off the table – but it does occasionally become difficult to precisely place instruments in a particular song. Devialet, of course, have a rather convenient solution to this: just buy two. It’s not exactly the most cost-effective solution – and we will be talking at length about the cost of this particular speaker in a minute – but it absolutely does resolve the problem. Two of these things assaulting your eardrums at once, from two different directions, is the kind of thing that can cause religious conversions. It’s absolutely magical.
You can’t talk about the design of the Phantom without talking about the things that cause that magnificent bass. Those would be the twin woofers, one on each side of the egg-shaped speaker. They’re powered by technology the company calls Heart Bass Implosion – it sounds cute until you see it in action, and hear it pounding your skull into a paste. The twin drivers actually move in and out as the music plays, visibly vibrating, which is almost hypnotic to watch. It lets the comparatively tiny speaker put out huge levels of power and volume, and it only works because the entire package is sealed under immense pressure. We asked the Devialet reps what would happen if the pressurised speaker were to be breached, and they diplomatically said they didn’t know, although they suspected there might be a bit of a bang.
Looks and Build Quality
It would be very easy for Devialet to package all this technology in a very ordinary-looking speaker, but they didn’t. What they came up with – and we suspect it’s a shape that will endure long into the future for this particular product line – is a science fiction egg. No, you know what? Imagine a facehugger egg from the Alien movies, turned on its side, and you’ve got the general idea. It even looks vaguely alive, with the curved accents and the grille on the front end that resembles an eye. It’s a striking look, and combined with the wobbling bass drivers, it means that this isn’t a speaker you’re going to hide away. Features and App
It still fascinates us that this is a wireless speaker. It shouldn’t – standards in wireless speakers have been getting better and better – but it genuinely feels like it should be fully wired. The sound is that good. Still, wireless it is. You get both Wi-Fi connectivity, and aptX Bluetooth (there is negligible difference in audio quality when switching to the latter), and access to a full range of services. This includes Spotify, Soundcloud, Deezer, Tidal and many more – the speaker even comes with a free Tidal subscription. You can also connect via an ethernet cable, as well as optical.
What We Like
The Devialet Gold Phantom has the best bass of any wireless speaker, ever. That is a fact.
The overall sound quality is excellent, especially given what you pay.
The design is just incredible, and the level of technology will put a smile on anyone’s face.
You get a free Tidal subscription. (Terms and Conditions Apply)
What We Don’t
The soundstage of a single speaker could be a little bit better.
The Devialet Gold Phantom is, shall we say, a touch expensive.
You will need to pay extra for any additional accessories, including stands or remote – although there are packages available on Amazon.