Designed and built in Paris, France, the Devialet Gold Phantom was constructed to take acoustic technologies to the extreme. Double the power of the first Phantom speaker, and decked out in 22K gold, it’s a sound and sight to behold… or is it? Let’s find out.
Build Quality and Design
The Gold Phantom’s HBI® (Heart Bass Implosion) cabinet takes on the physical shape of a sphere, the perfect acoustical shape as theorised by renowned acoustics engineer Dr Harry Olson. it allows for an untainted and flat frequency response. But probably the Gold Phantom’s most distinctive feature is its aluminium subwoofers that pulsate with every beat, as if the speaker’s about to implode from the intense acoustic pressures inside. The subwoofers work in tandem with a new Grade 1 Titanium tweeter and a stiff aluminium mid-range driver to deliver dense, high-impact audio from a single point source, capable of extreme frequency ranges of 14hz to 27 khz at -6db.
Devialet custom-designs its own amplification system and sound processing. An improved version of the iconic ADH amplifier combines the best of Class A and D amplification technologies for optimal clean power and linear signal draw. SAM (Speaker Active Matching) technology tells the speaker how to optimise its sound according to the music that is being played.
There are no control buttons, save for a discrete power on/off button at the back. The Gold Phantom can be hooked up to an Ethernet LAN point for uninterrupted network signal, and an optical audio input should you wish to connect your TV to it. Again, all connections are hidden away at the back, below the heatsink. Otherwise, you’ll only need a power cord for it to work.
I love its futuristic design and the extreme attention to workmanship Devialet implemented here. It’s a beautiful statement piece that I’m proud to display at home, whether it be on a table or on a floor stand. You could even display this futuristic speaker in the Starship Enterprise and it will just blend right in.
A byproduct of its extreme high quality is its weight. The Gold Phantom weighs a ton, certainly not something I could move around the house a lot (if at all).
Performance and Features
The Gold Phantom supports wireless streaming technologies like Airplay, Spotify Connect, Bluetooth (version not specified), and a few music streaming services from within the Devialet Spark App. It’s rather simple to navigate the app and quite intuitive. I barely spent more than a few minutes setting the speaker up and all I had to do was enter my WiFi SSID and password. However the app is still the only way to control the Phantom’s volume or pause/play, so I had to keep my phone close by at all times.
The Spark app streams Tidal (with 3-month trial Tidal subscription), Spotify, Deezer, Qobuz and Internet Radio. The app also plays music stored on your local device over WiFi. Sadly it does not see into my network storage. I have my entire music collection in my NAS and it would have been nice to access it like I could with other WiFi music systems.
With an accessory called the Dialog, you could also link multiple Phantoms in different rooms together for multi-room streaming, or simply to make a stereo pair.
Before I get to its sound quality, let’s crunch some numbers. The Gold Phantom is capable of 4500W of peak amplification power, 14hz-27khz frequency range that reaches beyond audible sound, supports file sampling rates of up to 24bits/192khz, and blasts up to 108db SPL of volume – the rough equivalent of a rock concert. It’s really loud, but is it good?
The Gold Phantom was designed as a High-Fidelity point source and it more than lived up to the hype. It didn’t matter where I was in the living room, the sound I got sounded equally good. The tweeter and mid-range driver’s phase-alignment was done so well that the tempo in my music felt accurate and spot on. The mids were rich and detailed, and the high registers didn’t have any audible distortion in it no matter how loud I went. Its total lack of any audible background hiss resulted in a clean and pristine sound signature.
The speaker also impressed me with its lower registers. I enjoyed taut, punchy and agile bass extension that never went deeper than it needed to go. The speaker can also be enjoyed at lower volumes and still balance all the elements that I had just mentioned.
For a compact speaker, its dynamic muscle more than surprised me with its ability to reproduce subtle passages at near silence, then explode into powerful crescendos effortlessly, like when listening to Why So Serious? by Hans Zimmer. (That song must be played no louder than 40% or my neighbours will call the cops on me!)
This is a fun speaker to listen to, but as a phase-aligned point source, the Gold Phantom is not engineered to reproduce any sound staging on its own. That can only be achieved with two Phantoms in stereo.
WiFi / Bluetooth
I could always count on the Phantom to stay tethered to my WiFi. I could just call up the Spark App anytime to play my Internet Radio or Spotify.
The Bluetooth connection is rather snappy too. I just hop into my Bluetooth settings and it’s there. Tap, pair. Done. The range is the standard 10m with no signal breaks unless I’m a few walls away. Occasionally there’s a tiny bit of audio sync lag when I’m playing video.
Airplay is where it falls short. Over Airplay, audio streams well when I’m watching my videos but whenever I switch it to another app (or to another video within the app) the connection gets cut off, and I have to toggle the speaker to Airplay again. The same when streaming from my desktop. For this reason, I’d rather use Bluetooth most of the time. It’s not something that I would expect of a speaker at this price point.
This is the best version of Devialet’s iconic Phantom line, and it retails for a cool S$4490. The Gold Phantom will serve you well as a mighty point-source speaker and a talking point that takes up a bare minimum of space. To top it off, it looks and feels like an engineering masterpiece. However, I expected more from its wireless streaming abilities; was held back by its heavy reliance on the app for control; and baffled by its inability to talk to other Phantom speakers without the Dialog accessory.
Still, the reasons I lust after the Gold Phantom is its extremely clean and powerful sound despite its size, and its unrivalled elegance and beauty. And with that 22K Gold, I’d better install a burglar alarm soon.