Devialet launches high-end portable speaker

When you say portable speakers, most people think of cheap Bluetooth speakers that you can easily put in your backpack when you go to the park. But Devialet has something different in mind with Devialet Mania.

The French high-end speaker manufacturer wants to make the most luxurious and best-sounding portable speaker. The Devialet Mania costs $790 (€790) and is available today.

“We’re launching a new product, Devialet Mania. And it represents the end of a long process. We started with amplifiers, then there were the Phantom speakers, the Gemini headphones and the Dione soundbar,” Devialet CEO Frank Lebouchard told me. “We’re entering a new market with this portable speaker.”

When Devialet decided to create a portable speaker four years ago, the concept was quite simple. Devialet wanted to design a speaker that was battery powered, but a Hi-Fi speaker.

“Hi-fi means many things. This of course means great sound quality. Hi-fi also means stereo sound, or at least stereo imaging,” said Lebouchard.

The Devialet Mania is a spherical speaker with no front or back. There is a handle on the top of the device that invites users to pick it up and carry it around.

But you won’t be putting it in your backpack to go to the park, as it weighs 2.3 kg (about 5 pounds). You can take it with you when you go on vacation, but it’s mostly meant to be carried around the house.

Image Credits: TechCrunch

When you start playing music, the first thing you’ll notice are the two speakers, which are set up in a “push-push” configuration to avoid unwanted vibrations.

At the top of the device are four full-range speakers, each pointing in a different direction. When you place the Devialet Mania on a table in the middle of the room, the full-range speakers alternately output the left or right channel (clockwise: left, right, left, right).

That way, wherever you sit, you hear sound primarily from the two full-range speakers in front of you—and you get stereo sound.

The device has four microphones as well as an accelerometer. Devialet Mania detects when it is moved to a new location. Thanks to its built-in microphones, it can also recognize when it’s next to a wall.

In this case Devialet Mania defines the front and back of the device. The two full-range speakers on the left of the unit output the left channel, while the two speakers on the right output the right channel.

The use of microphones to actively adapt the sound of the speaker was one of the selling points of the Apple’s original HomePod. But Devialet also insists on sound quality, such as its proprietary SAM (Speaker Active Matching) technology.

“We are the only ones that combine portable, hi-fi and automatic calibration,” said Lebouchard.

Devialet Mania works with Devialet’s own app and includes Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. On Wi-Fi, it supports AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect. The battery is supposed to last 10 hours at normal volume.

There are some built-in buttons that let you pause music, change volume, activate Bluetooth, and more. There is one USB-C port on the device for charging.

And because the Devialet Mania has microphones, the company is integrating Amazon Alexa for the first time. You can disable the feature entirely with a physical slider near the USB-C port.

In addition to the base model, which comes in black or white, there’s a $990 (€990) ‘Opéra de Paris’ model with gold-plated finishes and an optional docking station — the base can also be purchased separately.

“If we want to become a global player in the audio industry, we need to have a product in every major segment of the audio market – wireless headphones, soundbars and portable speakers,” said Lebouchard. According to him, portable speakers and soundbars generate 6 billion euros in sales each year.

Image Credits: Devialet

As for the company’s older products, Devialet released an update to its Phantom speakers in January 2021 with newer components and a matte finish. “With Phantom, we release a major update every two years,” said Lebouchard.

When it comes to amplifiers, the Expert Pro was the company’s first product, but it hasn’t been updated in a while.

“Amplifiers are not a priority for us because the market is very small. But Expert is an important product for our brand, for audiophile enthusiasts. We want to make the best amplifier in the world because we can’t say we’re the company with the best sound in the world without selling the best amplifier in the world,” said Lebouchard. So I guess it means “stay tuned”.

Over the past year and a half, Devialet has delivered wireless headphones, a soundbar, and a portable speaker. Lebouchard told me there’s one product missing from the range – and that’s headphones.

But don’t hold your breath for Devialet headphones, as the company isn’t sure this will be a strategic move. “When you go outside, people have gone from headphones to wireless headphones,” Lebouchard said.

Image Credits: TechCrunch

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