There are parts of the Phantom that stay common to all designs (such as that spinal central core, the white ABS body of the unit, the aluminium mid and bass units, and the connectivity options), but where the new Gold version differs is a new titanium tweeter, the company’s own DAC embedded in the ADH chip, and a lot more power; up from 3kW to 4.5kW. This is a result of VLSI, placing what would be almost half a PCB’s worth of amplifier circuit in the original D-Premier into a single chip. The core remains the same – it’s still a wireless networked dac-ampli-speaker that works with Bluetooth and Spotify Connect, and uses the company’s Spark app (and if you use more than one of them, the Dialog hub) to control it. Although they look similar (only the colour-coded side cheeks – and the side drivers in the Silver model – denote what kind of Phantom is playing), you can’t mix and match in a stereo context. Using the Dialog hub, it’s perfectly possible to use Gold, Silver, and Phantom in different zones around the same house, but one Gold Phantom and one Silver Phantom will never give good stereo.
From a purely objective standing, the Gold Phantom goes louder, with a wider bandwidth, and does so with lower distortion and less background noise than its brothers. The Phantom and Silver Phantom were already impressive in this with claimed frequency response of 16Hz-25kHz (albeit at -6dB points and with 0.001% THD+N, but the Gold extends to 14Hz-27kHz, cuts the harmonic distortion, and noise rating drops to 0.0005%. A lot of this seems to be down to background noise reduction: the Phantom is already quiet, but the Gold Phantom is extremely silent in operation.
In a way, I’ve skirted around the technology inside the Gold Phantom, and indeed the tech inside the whole Phantom concept. There’s good reason for that – it ultimately doesn’t matter. The audiophile’s obsession with what goes on under the hood does not apply to anything like the same extent here. Not because there are things worth hiding, but because the people who buy products like the Phantom don’t paw over technology or specifications.
However, that doesn’t mean the performance gets a free pass, and Devialet’s original Phantom made claims it couldn’t reach. The Phantom should have been portrayed as ‘the little loudspeaker that could’; instead, it was claimed to be the ‘little loudspeaker that was better than every loudspeaker that went before’. And that claim was found wanting in the speaker’s earliest guise. It’s a good loudspeaker and in it’s proper context (a small, intelligent, networked loudspeaker capable of delivering some surprisingly deep bass notes; the kind that tears to tatters the leaders of the wider audio market) is highly respected, but practically no-one with a pair of well-engineered high-end loudspeakers found the claim for the original Phantom to hold water. The Gold Phantom is an entirely different prospect, however. It doesn’t need a tag line to justify its position, and sounds damn good in its own right.
Installation is almost insanely easy if you have the Dialog hub. Load up the Spark app to a computer, tablet, or smartphone, and pair the Phantom to the app by placing your hand on the Phantom when prompted. If you have more than one loudspeaker, you need to repeat the process in order to tell the Spark app whether the loudspeakers are in different rooms, and if the Phantoms are in stereo, which is left and which is right. It’s hard not to think ‘laying on of hands’ during the process. If you have a Deezer, Qobuz, Spotify, or TIDAL account, sign in through Spark to connect automatically, and you can also beam to your speakers through Bluetooth or connect through optical inputs for games consoles, etc. Spark also automatically checks for firmware updates and will upgrade your Phantoms as and when such upgrades arrive. This is more than just bug fixes, as it also means if tomorrow’s Phantom owners require a new wireless protocol or music format, it can be beamed out to every owner with ease.