On The Verge Of Misleading About Devialet

us-phantomThis morning I read an article by Dan Siefert on The Verge about Devialet licensing  the technology in their Phantom Bluetooth speaker. Rarely have I seen such a collection of errors make it to view by such a relatively mainstream media outlet.

For example:

“Sannié says that a system using SAM can reproduce lower frequencies without changing its hardware at all, and it can even enable noise-cancellation without the need for a subwoofer.”

There is no relationship at all established between “noise cancellation” and the requirement for a sub-woofer. Perhaps this was taken out of some larger context where that relationship was defined. Taken on it own this statement is bewildering. It implies something that, at least without clarification, has no basis in fact. Noise cancellation and sub-woofers are usually unrelated topics.

Further:

“On the hardware side of things, the ADH (Analog Digital Hybrid) amplifier could be utilized in variety of larger devices, namely TVs and cars. It combines the properties of Class A amplifiers (lots of power) with the efficiencies of Class D amplifiers, while eliminating the downsides of each (heat and distortion in the case of Class A, lack of power in the case of Class D).”

Whereas, the reality checked facts in the known universe are:

  • Class A amplifiers are know to have very low distortion. This attribute comes at the cost of low-efficiency, resulting in high heat output. They don’t traditionally have high-power output, but that has improved over the years.
  • Class D amplifiers are tremendously efficient, and create very little heat, even as they deliver very high output power.

And for the trifecta:

“The Phantom actually uses two ADH amps, which helps it obtain its ear-splitting volume.”

I gather that the author doesn’t see any merit in telling how the two amplifiers are used. Is the device bi-amplified? Or are the amplifiers used in a bridged topology? Anyone who might be willing to spend >$2k each for a high-power Bluetooth speaker probably wants to know some of the details.

I wonder if the manufacturer is concerned about such errors and omissions? Or are they simply glad that they’re getting the word out in one manner or another? Was their PR effort carefully crafted? Or just some schmancy language and hand-waving? Being a French company perhaps it ran afoul of Google Translate? Of course, I jest, sorta.

As a child of the 80’s, which was a great time for Hi-Fi…but well before Wi-Fi, it’s tough to take such writing seriously. However, I suspect that for the younger audience, whose experience of music is more dominated by the iPod and Bluetooth speakers, these sort of factual errors may be entirely missed.

Incidentally, Devialet claims that the Silver Phantom delivers “3000 watts” of amplifier power. In the bad old days of Hi-Fi such a statement would not be allowed as, if you look further, they stipulate only peak amplifier output. In the realm of Hi-Fi regulators have for decades mandated that amplifier power be expressed as continuous RMS output.

In the home the ability to deliver high-power audio is limited by the available power from the wall socket. The fact is that a standard household outlet in the US delivers 15 Amps, which is just 1,800 watts. A heavy duty circuit (20 A) can deliver up to 2,400 watts.

I lament the apparent necessity to wrap what might well be brilliant engineering in obfuscating layers of marketecture.