The Best Compact Wireless Hi-Fi Speaker System of 2016

by Brant David •

In a Nutshell

The DeVialet Silver Phantom is the ultimate compact wireless hi-fi system, delivering incredible power with no sacrifice of sonic clarity even at the highest volumes.

The Details

The best to be found in a compact wireless hi-fit system in 2016 is the DeVialet Silver Phantom. DeVialet claims that the Phantom (with the Silver Phantom being the upgraded, even more powerful version) was designed over a period of 10 years, taking 40 engineers, 88 patents, and $30 million to bring to fruition.

The Silver Phantom is spherical (actually, oblong) in shape and white with silver dome drivers. The 26-pound music machine is lovely to the eye. The only control on the unit is a white “Reset” button that’s hard to find (to preserve aesthetic appeal). Everything else is controlled remotely via your Android or iOS device. The Phantom’s heat sink, blended seamlessly into its backside, reminds me of fins on some elegant fish.

The Silver Phantom supports many file formats including AMP3, aptX (which isn’t available on iPhone), AAC, AMP3, Apple Lossless, FLAC, and OGG Vorbis. The music machine streams them with all lossless quality kept perfectly intact. For those who prefer wired connections, a flap at the back of the unit lifts to show Ethernet and TOSLINK ports.

DeVialet Silver Phantom_1

DeVialet engineers explain that the Silver Phantom’s structure accommodates the two proprietary “Heart Beat Implosion” aluminum bass drivers (woofers) placed across from each other underneath a pair of thin aluminum domes. The diaphragms of these woofers (which have a 26mm peak-to-peak stroke), just like those of the coaxial midrange and tweeter drivers ensconced at a 90-degree angle to them, are flush with a spherical superstructure. In terms of acoustical physics, their being so situated focuses sound waves toward the Phantom’s center (which is vacuum sealed so as not to fissure or crack due to sonic onslaught).

This concept (which DeVialet calls its  proprietary ACE or “Active Cospherical Engine” loudspeaker technology) is inspired by the work of famed Princeton, NJ acoustical engineer Dr. Harry Ferdinand Olsen of RCA Labs. In experiments he conducted in the 1930s, Olsen concluded beyond the shadow of a doubt that a spherical speaker cabinet is the most efficient, the best at maintaining the fullness of the signal’s original sound quality. The closer that acoustical engineers can come to creating a single point in space out of which music emanates, the closer to “pure lossless” the music is.

The sheer sonic power of the Silver Phantom is quite simply astounding. At maximum volume, it produces 3000 watts of power to generate a jaw-dropping 105dB. Furthermore, as you increase the volume the Phantom’s sound becomes even cleaner. (Any extraneous sounds like humming or clacking that you hear are coming from the surface that the unit’s sitting on or is close by to, or may be the result of a low-quality recording.) Strong bass and outstanding clarity are always there at any volume level, but once you turn it up enough to really let those woofers run wild the audio experience deepens, whether you’re listening to R&B or a symphony orchestra, or even solo classical guitar.

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But even at extreme volume, the Phantom never distorts or gets out of phase. The sound is always complex but balanced, one might even say “silky”, with excellent separation between highs and lows.

The Phantom’s components and outer shell are protected from their own heat and energy (and from outside impacts such as drops) with braided sheets of Kevlar acoustic insulation, which at once cool the the circuit boards and keep the unit so strong as to be literally bulletproof. Durability is no issue.

If there’s a flaw with the Silver Phantom, it’s that DOESN’T yield stereo surround sound. You would need multiple Phantoms to achieve that (or a close approximation). DeVialet engineers have made it possible to chain together up to 24 of them. (Oh, and one more flaw: the visually obtrusive, bright-greenish-yellow power cord! Who thought that up, anyway?)

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