Devialet tends to do things a little differently than most audio companies. The French firm first made waves in the audio scene with its futuristic-looking Phantom speakers, which packed an absurd amount of bass into a small amount of space. Then it packed an absurd amount of bass into an even smaller space with the Phantom Reactor.
After dabbling with high-end earbuds, now Devialet wants to deliver an absurd amount of bass under your TV with the launch of the Devialet Dione. The company promises the Dione, its first Dolby Atmos soundbar, can reach so low that it obviates the need for an external subwoofer.
It also costs $2,400. But if the company can deliver similar technical excellence to its previous speakers — the Phantom Reactor demonstrated some of the best objective performance I’ve seen on my test bench — it might just be able to justify the price.
The Devialet Dione isn’t quite as esoteric in its appearance as most of the company’s previous products, but it’s still pretty out there as far as soundbars go. The company uses a bunch of cryptic acronyms to describe its various technologies, but here are the key things you need to know:
- The speaker supports 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos by using spatialization algorithms and a technique to focus soundwaves called beamforming. These methods aren’t usually as convincing as real surround, but they’re often better than plain old stereo.
- The speaker combines 17 drivers — 8 woofers and 9 full-range drivers — with DSP in order to steer sound and maximize the surface area and excursion to push air volume.
- These drivers and ample amplification allow the Dione to supposedly reach a volume of 101 dB at 1 m and frequencies as low as 24 Hz. That’s mighty impressive for a slim soundbar, even if it’s unlikely to hit those frequencies at its maximum SPL.
- A repositionable ‘ORB’ handles the center channel and allows the soundbar to lay flat against a console or vertically against a wall.
- The Dione supports room calibration via its app to adjust its sound to the acoustic characteristics of your environment.
- The speaker supports ARC, eARC, and CES for interfacing with your TV. It also supports playback via Bluetooth, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, UPnP, and Toslink optical.
There’s a lot of cool technology here, but the proof will be in the acoustic pudding. Beamforming, surround spatialization, and room calibration are all great ideas I’ve mostly seen implemented poorly (with some exceptions, like the humongous Sennheiser Ambeo).
I’m also a little wary about the software experience, as that was actually my biggest problem with previous Devialet speakers. On the other hand, it’s been a few years since I tested those speakers, so hopefully the company has sorted out the app problems I dealt with.
That all might sound like a lot of caveats, but I’m cautious because I have fairly high expectations for the Dione. I’ve yet to see another speaker company match Devialet’s ability to pack clean bass into a small volume — here’s hoping that streak continues with the Dione.
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