Devialet’s first wireless speaker, the Phantom, was released in 2015 to almost universal acclaim. Its semi-spherical design, which looked like a high-tech vacuum or a drone from the Tom Cruise film Oblivion, was the result of 10 years of R&D and 88 patents. The speaker had two drivers in front, one midrange and one tweeter, and two huge woofers along its sides that pulsate in perfect symmetry, not unlike a heartbeat, to evenly pump bass in all directions. Most importantly, it produced high-res sound with “no saturation, no distortion and no background noise” — the company’s tagline — that was praised by famed musicians and audiophiles alike.
The Good: The upgraded Phantom can stream high-res 24-bit/192-kHz files and it sounds brilliant at both low and high volumes. It really has two secret sauces. First, its Heart Bass Implosion (HBI) technology, which allows all four drivers to work in perfect unison, maximizing efficiency, minimizing distortion and enabling the speaker to achieve a ridiculously wide frequency range. And second, its new improved ADH2 technology, which allows the speaker to sound way louder than you’d expect from a speaker its size. There are numerous connectivity options, including Bluetooth, Apple Airplay and Spotify Connect. Watching the speaker work, especially with songs with heavy bass like Wiz Khalifa’s “On My Level” and “Jumpman” by Drake, is a visceral experience — it literally takes center stage, no matter what else is happening in the rest of the room.
Who It’s For: Audiophiles, or average joes, that want a statement-piece wireless speaker. It’s a speaker that’s designed to be listened to and looked at. And even though it can work with other Phantoms (you can use them in a multi-room, multi-speaker setup), it’s really designed to work by itself.
What To Watch Out For: It has no volume or playback controls on the speaker, so it has to be controlled by your smartphone. It doesn’t have voice control. Like all Devialet Phantoms, the new Phantom isn’t a true omnidirectional speaker. Its two woofers evenly spread bass around the room, but because the tweeter and midrange are located at its head, it’s technically a mono-directional speaker. You can pair two (or more) Devialet Phantoms together in a stereo setup, but that gets expensive and requires set up on Devialet’s own app.
Alternatives: Depending on how you look at it, there are either a lot or no alternatives to the Devialet Phantom.
Verdict: As much as I’m sort of obsessed with this speaker, because of the way it sounds and how I can see it working — it honestly feels like a confluence of analog and digital sound — I know that it isn’t for everyone. It’s not for the vast majority of people, But if you like the way the Phantom looks, that’s really all that matters. You’ll be hardpressed to find a better sounding wireless speaker.