As far back as 2010, both Ken Kessler and Paul Miller, not renown for being Franco-hifi-philes were raving about this new range of hybrid analog-digital amplifiers from France.
I had a chance to listen to them for the first time at the CES in Las Vegas three years ago and again recently in Melbourne, where they were paired with Atom GT-1 speakers to showcase the new SAM technology that basically uses the DSP capabilities of the amp to linearise the speakers
As for the title of this article, I hope you will forgive me this very bad joke...Having being living with a Scott for the last 30 years, I thought the reference would be funny. Other might have thought of the Phantom of the Opera - we all have our idiosyncrasies, n'est-ce pas?
These new speakers are a mix between the spheres from Elipson and a baby Blade from Kef, both in form and concept at first glance, but obviously there is much more to it than meets the naked eye! First there is like 3KW of Class D amplification in the top model, more akin to the Kronos from Kyron Audio, although in a closed cabinet. The main concentric midrange and tweeter driver is reminiscent of Cabasse, but looks even more polished - a word that would be the best one word description for such a beautiful object. Ken Kessler who is also a famous reviewer for luxury watches, believes high-end HiFi should be marketed as a luxury brand to have a chance of survival and growth. And guess what? Devialet is now part of LVMH, the luxury brand umbrella par excellence! This new concept and marketing will propels this product to the highest possible recognition and suitable market. Smartly, the product is also conjugated down both in specifications, power and price for the mere mortals that most of us are and who would be more interested in the sonic result than the "show off" effect of owning such a luxurious product...And to be consistent with this new image and partnership, Debvialet has open the quintessential "flagship" store in the heart of the trendy fashion district: Place des Victoirs.
This will become a Vintage product! It is a revolutionary product that incorporates the best of DSP technology, Class D amplification, great looks and high-end performance. Can't wait to get my hands on a pair of these beauties for an extensive listening session and to report to you!
Devialet D-Premier Amplifier
Everybody talks about it, even KK who is not a Francohifile, (but certainly Francophile...) - and apologies for the anagram in the title of this post...what a weird name anyway. But nobody chooses their family name, although in this case, this is not the origin of the brand name! mystere, mystere...
It was reviewed in HiFi News in October 2010 by Paul Miller, who talks about French Cheek (other reviewers have mentioned The New French Revolution or even The Art of French Kissing!) and concludes:
"lf I could award Devialet two badges then I would, because the D-Premier is both this Editor's choice and the outstanding amplifier thus far of the new Millennium"
This is my first occasion to have a look and a listen: it is certainly a beautiful object - love the remote as well. And for a Class D, hybrid digital/analog amplifier, it has to do something special, as it made the Focal Utopias it was hooked to sound incredibly good and lively - and that's a challenge!
I guess the versatility of the product as well as its level of performance will be the attraction to people that are geared towards "dematerialised" music sources, as the D-Premier now comes with integral Airplay and an online configuration tool, called the Configurator (but not the Terminator, as all changes are reversible...)
This customization tool will allow you to:
- get extended information about customizing options and default settings
- edit configuration files for your D-Premier
- download the latest software upgrade for your unit.
and also allows you to daisy-chain two amps to go dual mono, increase power to 2x400W AND reduce distortion level to a microscopic 0.00025% THD.
And although it is very well suited to digital music files, it works as well with analogue front-end, like our beloved turntables (both MC and MM cartridges are catered for...).
For a more comprehensive technical description, I will let you go the the Devialet website tech page: http://www.devialet.com/technology.php
And, BTW, this product is another proof that 24/192 well designed DACs give a level of quality and sonic pleasure to match most analog systems.
I wonder if this should, one day, replace my Bryston - unlikely at this stage...
Dan D'Agostino - The Momentum amplifier
What do you do when you leave the business you helped create 30 years ago?
Dan D'Agostino, involved with Krell for three decades designing some of the most famous amplifiers, didn't take long to answer this question: he started to think of his next amplifier, the 300W mono amplifier he called the Momentum.
Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to listen to it as it was only on static display at the Show.
But allow me to quote Ken Kessler, in his review of the product in the July issue of HiFi News in his typical style:
"What occured was atypical. The gear arrives, I hook it up, I switch it on, I set the CD player to "repeat whole disc" and leave it to cook for a day or two. Yes, I usually have that kind of willpower. But as I was leaving the room,the bottom end of the first track on Keb' Mo's Peace (Back by Popular Demand) curled around my ankles and held me in place. With my back to the bloody system, no less, I knew, I just knew that I was in presence of something so rare, so special, that I had to stay, protracted warm-up be damned".
And this is coming from the most seasoned HiFi reviewer in the World. So go and get to your closest dealer for a listen, and if there is not one in your vicinity, then move!
Canor - an interesting surprise from Slovakia
Canor is not very well know in Western Europe, so it was an interesting surprise to find out that they have been developing and manufacturing high-end audio products for more than fifteen years.
CANOR is a tube specialist, the prototype of yheir first serially produced TP101 integrated tube amplifier was presented at the exhibition in Brno (Czech Republic) in April 1995, as stated on their website.
They were feeding a pair of Neilos speakers from Pascal Louvet, and fed by either their own valve CD player, or the vintage Audioanalyse Lurne turntable, a private possession of Pascal Louvet.
It was certainly a very good combination, resulting in music being played, rather than being exposed to a HiFi system.
Cabasse - Honey, I shrunk the Ocean!
Cabasse was having almost a static display at the show, showing only their in-ceiling and small speakers offering for the Home Cinema market.
A shame, as I had the chance to listen to a pair of Ocean, demoed by the man himself, Christophe Cabasse in Melbourne on my return. Stay tuned, as I will share a video of this event on my Interviews page soon.
Trust me, that was a real treat!
I have known and respected Ken for about 30 years now, so I was quite keen to read his review of the Paris Hifi Show.
Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to reconnect with him at the Show.
But, I was quite chuffed reading his prose in HiFi News February issue(I always enjoy his prose, as he is a real writer, AND he is not afraid to publish his own opinions...), as we have spotted some of the very same products as being relevant: Vimes, Aerosystem by Jarre, Soledge Maestro, Elipson (bien sur...) and Pierre Riffaud's turntables for instance...
Update on 16/04: Well, I have now received the March issue of HiFi News, and here he is again, showing to the world his collection of gear and software.
I cannot recommend you more than rush to your newsagent and buy your own copy now.
This one will be sold out for sure!
And the good news are that my wife realised that I am not that mad after all !!!
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.