Franck Lebouchard, CEO of Devialet, on how its speakers will change the way we listen to music

Listen to the sound of music, like never before

The positive power of ambition has helped Devialet bring the world of sound to a whole new level

by : Hannah Choo

If you remember reading Simon Sinek’s book, The Infinite Game, you would have remembered this: “In infinite games, like business or politics or life itself, the players come and go, the rules are changeable and there is no defined end point. There are no winners or losers in an infinite game. There is no such thing as winning business or winning life, for example, there is only ahead and behind.”

Franck Lebouchard embraces this mindset with all his heart. As the CEO of an ambitious audio company, he knows better than not to do so. After all, such leaders will only build more innovative and inspiring organisations, and ones with the resilience to thrive in an ever-changing world. Such leaders are the ones who will lead the rest of us into a better future.

This ambitious audio company is Devialet, a name that references Guillaume Vialet, an engineer and intellectual who contributed to the French Encyclopedia. Based in Paris, Devialet got its footing in 2004, when engineer and co-founder Pierre-Emmanuel Calmel patented the world’s first hybrid amplification technology. It was later established in 2007 with entrepreneur Quentin Sannié and designer Emmanuel Nardin, and has been making music magic ever since. In 2010, it introduced its first product, an amplifier called of D-Premier, the ancestor of the Expert Pro line, and the rest is history.

“There were 10 people in the company (at the time),” says Lebouchard. “By early 2015, we had launched the first edition of the Phantom I and there were (only) 100 people in total, including the engineers.” Granted, the quality of output is impressive for a company that modest in stature. But all it takes is courage and great ambition, as Lebouchard would put it.

Critics considered the first Phantom I a technological tour de force.

Ambition, for Devialet, is bound to its mission to elevate sound to its “rightful place in people’s lives”. It’s as serious about sound as a magician is about his secrets, which means that its speakers are not part of the background. Rather, they are designed to engage everyone, not just the audiophiles, in the art of listening and enjoying music.

Expectations were high for the very first Phantom I, and expectations were met. It impressed the world with a killer sound, an outrageous feat for a wireless speaker the size of a toaster. Critics considered it a technological tour de force – a Sonos-killer that fabulous people across the world scatter around the house like confetti.

It’s been half a decade since that game-changing all-in-one speaker was launched, and just last month, an upgrade was released. The first Phantom was great, but like what Sinek says, one needs to be better, and Devialet’s “best just got better”. While it remains faithful to its original spherical looks – modern, sophisticated and timeless – it has been given subtle upgrades like a grippier matte finish available in black and white colourways, and updated signature side panels.

Beyond aesthetics, there are critical enhancements that include a unique next-generation audio processing chip that is embedded with signal processing and amplification; this offers better acoustics and thermal dissipation, so your new Phantom I is four times as energy efficient as before. Patented technologies like Speaker Active Matching, Heart Bass Implosion and Active Cospherical Engine, however, remain to ensure high-fidelity acoustics, a punchy bass and that sound is diffused linearly in every direction.

“Ambitious design and acoustic excellence are at the heart of all Devialet products,” says Nardin. “(The) Phantom I is the marriage of these two visions, a perfect balance of artistry and technology.” For a starting price of S$3,490, there’s no other system that can put out this kind of sound for this kind of money. It points the way to the future, and if this is what the future sounds like, we’re game, with both feet in.