The SAM concept is applicable to all Devialet models and rekindles this concept; perhaps unsurprisingly, Bowers & Wilkins and Vivid (Laurence Dickie of Vivid was heavily involved in the original Matrix 800 series project) are among the first to have models mapped for SAM. Sadly, I have neither loudspeaker in my own portfolio, but when the concept reaches Wilson Duette 2 or Raidho D1 loudspeakers, I’ll be all over it like a nasty rash. Those who have heard SAM at length report it makes a big difference. We shall see…
SAM and better power mapping aside, is the 250 ‘better’ than the D-Premier? In sound quality terms, I’m not convinced. In terms of resolution and accuracy, the D-Premier was an order of magnitude better than most of its rivals and the 250 offers incremental, ‘more evolution than revolution’ improvement on that D-Premier performance. I’m even less convinced that such changes in sonic performance are ultimately significant, next to the changes in functionality offered today, and tomorrow, by the upgrade. You are getting a (slightly) more powerful amplifier and you are getting a (slightly) better performance across the board; more detail, more solidity, greater dynamics. But not by much.
Put it this way, if you use HDMI, enjoy what you have, in the knowledge that subsequent upgrades and updates will not be for you. For everyone else, this is the equivalent of a 36,000 mile service, and is worth doing if only to unlock future upgrades like SAM.
What is sonically appealing about the D-Premier is just as appealing in the 250. It just adds more input flexibility. I found myself most comfortable with the Ethernet connection (using a Naim UnitiServe pushing files to the 250), followed by AIR, then USB and AES/EBU, and finally coaxial and Toslink bringing up the rear, but the differences between inputs were minor at best. On the analogue side, the phono stage remains one of the best in breed, as long as you remember to set the cartridge loading extremely accurately, and you don’t leave the AIR Wi-Fi network connector enabled, but not paired. This last is important; either disable AIR or connect it to a wireless access point, otherwise its constant scanning for wireless points creates a soft, occasional ‘pitter-patter’ sound through the phono. Once set though, it’s magnificent.
However, just as the D-Premier was not for everyone, so the 250 has its limits. And usually, those who have a strong liking for strong flavours in their audio are the first to look elsewhere. But the thing is, it’s not soft, hard, peaky, accented, bouncy, bright, gently rolled off, smooth, forward, laid-back, laid-out, or dull. It’s just detailed. Exceptionally detailed. If you are after a sound that is all about ‘tone’ and ‘mojo’, this isn’t it, but if you are after hearing what was laid down in the studio, instead of what you wish was laid down in the studio, the 250 follows the D-Premier in getting it fundamentally correct. That might be too strong a medicine for some.