There are a few aspects of today’s digital world that are still on Devialet’s ‘to do’ list, although some are – in context – of less relevance given the audience; others not so. I suspect the lack of DSD support will be of less relevance to many prospective Phantom owners, but the format’s inclusion has become something of a touchstone in modern audio specifications. Possibly more relevant given its networked links, the Phantom range does not support UPnP/DLNA digital audio streaming, but given many of the DLNA supporting companies report a widespread migration from local streaming to online services like TIDAL, this too might not be a big downside.
As the Devialet package is so incredibly TIDAL-chummy, you end up using the service more readily than you might delve through your stored music collection. And there is something about the look and the sound of the Devialet Gold Phantom that leads you toward something big, bassy, and beefy. There may even be rap involved, as TIDAL’s front panel is always awash with the stuff. Whatever, like the first Phantom, you will be drawn to playing something ‘phat’ at the outset.
Part of this comes down to those pulsating side cheeks, which move so fast, all you can see is a blur. But a big part is due to the seeming physics-bending properties of getting that much bottom end out of a loudspeaker the size of a crash helmet. In fact, it’s not physics bending at all, but just the result of looking at what a loudspeaker does without being bound by conventional concepts of how a loudspeaker is supposed to be designed.
However, that bass impressiveness is also where the Gold begins to leave the Silver and the standard models behind. All three designs do that immediately impressive deep bass sound, but the Gold adds a level of sophistication that immediately sets it apart from the pack. The addition of more power, the improved internal architecture, new DAC, and the new tweeter all combine to create in the Gold Phantom a small loudspeaker that no longer sounds like it’s performing an impression of a high-end loudspeaker, but a good loudspeaker in its own right.
The most immediate and obvious point about the Gold Phantom is the extremely low distortion. OK, so that isn’t immediately noticeable when you are pumping out bass notes at a fair lick, but play something like Mozart’s Requiem and that lack of obvious distortion means it sounds more viscerally ‘there’ in the room. The treble in particular is accurate, easy to live with, uncompressed, and extends up to the upper registers without sounding hard or harsh in the process.
The sign of a good loudspeaker is in its chameleon-like properties. Play something exciting and the loudspeaker is excitable and enthusiastic. Play something with more gravitas and the loudspeaker reacts with decorum. The Devialet Gold Phantom passes this ‘chameleon’ test well. It also passes the other ‘Chameleon’ test, where I play ‘Chameleon’ by Trentemøller [The Last Resort, Poker Flat]. Although rated at 108dB loudness, the loudspeaker plays extremely loud in small-to-medium sized rooms (in mono or stereo) and ‘loud enough’ in medium-to-large rooms, and does so with a shocking ability to play scary deep bass notes. And if you decide you want scary deep bass notes without high volume levels, the Gold Phantom is surprisingly good at that too; in lowering the listening levels to anything beyond a whisper, the sound stays remarkably coherent and is never uneven.