To chart the course of high-end audio brand Devialet is to observe an industry disrupted. After their launch in 2007, Devialet created a large footprint in the professional amplifier world using an Analog Digital Hybrid (ADH®) technology. With the Phantom—and its two developmental iterations—they produced (entirely in France) a consumer-facing product that appeased at-home audiophiles. From patents to design, the Devialet team continues to advance sound distribution. As we’ve noted before, this isn’t a lifestyle brand; it’s a technology company that aims to deliver on the promise of no background noise, no saturation and no distortion. “The audio market now comprises three billion units a year and it’s growing faster as brands provide their technology to companies in other industries,” Devialet CEO Quentin Sannié explains. To spread the Devialet message, Sannié’s recently announced one such partnership—and the launch of several brick-and-mortar stores. And there’s a good reason for both.
“We are a tech company first and foremost,” Sannié tells us. “The beginning of our company was really a breakthrough in technology and the our goal is to put this tech everywhere you have sound.” Their strategy bifurcates: develop Devialet products and now, more so than ever, to develop Devialet stores around the world to deliver the experience to the people. Why would a tech company favor a tangible store? “People are not able to evaluate the quality of sound without listening to the product,” Sannié makes very clear. At stores, they can discover—instantly—how the product claims translate to sound waves. This is something you can’t convey through a computer at home.
A second store will be coming to New York, with a projected opening in September. This will be housed in Grand Central, a complement to their SoHo store. With the quick profit turn-around at these locations, it’s empowered the brand to launch multiple stores in certain cities. Ten cities will receive stores by the end of 2017 and a touring unit also grants consumers access to listening stations.
Arguably bigger news here happens to be their forthcoming destination in Paris, which will be housed in the acclaimed Palais Garnier Opera House. The opera season will open 21 September and the Devialet store will open with it. There were three years worth of obstacles, including the lack of ability to modify anything inside—but that just led to creative problem-solving. All of the Devialet set-up, aside from a sound-proof door, was designed by the brand co-founder Emmanuel Nardin and everything is removable. For the more than one million people who pass through the opera every year, they’ll witness a room filled with various Phantoms all playing the same full orchestral pieces. Those who already own Phantoms have a surprise, as well. A dedicated streaming service will allow users to listen to the opera in Paris in real time.
Beyond stores, Devialet has launched collaborative accessory products with brands like Berluti. These aim to complement their core consumer products, especially the 4500 watts, 108 db Phantom Gold—which makes up 80% of their sales. There are frequent software upgrades for all their WiFi-enabled products, as an effort to give owners even more opportunities to use their products. And then there’s the just announced Sky Soundbox, a collaboration with Sky TV. A compact speaker unit, the Sky Soundbox produces an immersive audio experience drawn from six woofers and three full-range speakers. From a design standpoint, this is their most compact and traditionally-shaped release.
Sannié does believe that the design clearly explains what’s going on with the all-important Phantom range though. “You understand that this is something new,” he says. “This should tease you. You should wonder why have we used this shape for an audio product. We do not want to show the technology. We want you to be curious.” The technology might not be visible by way of the design but the design is definitely oriented by the function within—so when looking at a Devialet product you understand you’re looking at the future.
Images courtesy of Devialet