When most people think of portable speakers, they think of cheap bluetooth speakers that you can easily put in your backpack when you go to the park. But Devialet has something else in mind with the Devialet Mania.
The French high-end speaker maker aims to create the most luxurious and best-sounding portable speaker. The Devialet Mania costs $790 (€790) and is available today.
“We are launching a new product, the Devialet Mania. And it represents the end of a long process. We started with amps, then there were the Phantom speakers, the Gemini earphones and the Dione soundbar,” Devialet CEO Franck Lebouchard told me. “We are entering a new market with this portable speaker.”
When Devialet decided to build a portable speaker four years ago, the concept was quite simple. Devialet wanted to design a speaker that works on battery, but then a hi-fi speaker.
“Hi-fi means many things. Of course it means great sound quality. Hi-fi also means stereo sound or at least stereo reproduction,” says 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 take it with them.
But you don’t put it in your backpack to go to the park, because it weighs 2.3 kg (about 5 pounds). You can take it with you when you go on vacation, but it is mainly designed to be taken anywhere in the house.
When you start playing music, the first thing you notice is the two woofers arranged 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 will alternately transmit the left channel or the right channel (clockwise: left, right, left, right).
That way, wherever you sit, you’ll hear the most sound from the two full-range speakers in front of you — and get stereo sound.
There are four microphones in the device and an accelerometer. The Devialet Mania detects when it has been moved to a new location. Thanks to the built-in microphones, it can also detect when it is next to a wall.
In that case, the Devialet Mania determines the front and back of the device. The two full-range speakers on the left side of the unit transmit the left channel, while the two speakers on the right transmit the right channel.
Using microphones to actively adjust the speaker’s sound was one of the selling points of 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 who combine portable, hi-fi and automatic calibration,” says Lebouchard.
The Devialet Mania works with Devialet’s own app and features both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. On WiFi, it supports AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect. The battery should last 10 hours at normal volume.
There are some built-in buttons that let you pause the music, change the volume, activate Bluetooth, and more. There is a single 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 completely with a physical slider near the USB-C port.
In addition to the base model that 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 earbuds, sound bars and portable speakers,” says Lebouchard. According to him, portable speakers and soundbars generate 6 billion euros in sales every year.
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 few years,” said Lebouchard.
When it comes to amps, 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 it is a very small market. But the Expert is an important product for our brand, for audiophile enthusiasts. We want to make the best amp in the world because we can’t say we’re the company with the best sound in the world without selling the best amp in the world,” said Lebouchard. So I guess it means “stay tuned”.
Devialet has delivered wireless earbuds, a soundbar and a portable speaker for the past year and a half. Lebouchard told me there’s one product missing from the lineup – and that’s headphones.
But don’t hold your breath for Devialet headphones, as the company isn’t sure it would be a strategic move. “When you went out, people switched from headphones to wireless earbuds,” Lebouchard said.