Devialet vs Directstream DAC


#1

Very interested in your opinion on Devialet vs Directstream DAC, once you form it !

I read a lot of reviews and in addition definitely wanted the convenience of the Devialet pizza boxes - and getting everything, with so much flexibility, in those two pizza boxes. Found some tremendous deals on pricing (for the Devialet 800 in particular)

Spent about six hours listening (in a few separate sessions) to the two systems with Audio Physic and B&W speakers in two different rooms at one dealer, and ended up that feeling very confident that the Directstream sounded nicer to my ear. Afterwards (only) dealer confirmed he feels the same way, and the is not an uncommon conclusion. Obviously, setup specific issues abound.

I have trouble reconciling the extremely low distortion, and have noticed on the forums that Ted Smith has said he sometimes cops some flack for a little DSP in the DAC (which I presume I must like, if it is detectable).

The Devialet gear was really good, it’s just that Directstream, even with slightly underpowered amps (compared to the Devialet 800), was - in repeated A/B testing - was a wee bit nicer - more engaging, with a bit more sparkle.

Still, the reviews, they are uniformly positive & some go so far as to say 'best amplifiers ever (e.g. best to drive Magico Q7 speakers and so on), it’s undeniable.


So, very interested to hear your thoughts after some use, if you are inclined. Thanks again for your red fuse post - I’m intending on picking up a couple and proceeding with that part of it.

GLWTS !!


#2

Interesting read, GM. I have been very impressed with the sound of the Devialet gear at shows, although I’ve never heard it in a “real” listening room. Your opportunity to hear it and the DS in very similar systems must have been a great experience.


#3

Green Machine-

Thanks for your comments! The biggest fear I have is taking a hit on the musical revelations offered by the DirectStream. It allowed me to hear things I’ve never heard before on virtually everything I’ve streamed in 96/24. Truly one of the if not “the” best improvements I’ve added in almost 50 years! And I’m walking into Devialet on nothing but feedback. I’ve never seen or heard it in person but am completely sold on the promise of it, cavalier marauder that I am.

However, the Devialet is a system rather than a component. A DAC, streamer, pre amp, phono and amp solution. Basically just add speakers and/or wired, wireless, computer or stand-alone source and go. While I’m confident going in I’ll lose some musical detail the DS provided, I’m hopeful that I’ll benefit in multiple other areas. I learned long ago in audio & race cars, and everything else in life… there’s ALWAYS compromise… always has been, ALWAYS will be!

The things I find incredibly appealing about the Devialet is almost everyone can agree they build beautiful products! While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea there’s virtually no one that finds it clunky or ugly. I mean what’s to dislike about anything CNC’d from a solid billet of aluminum!?! I’m also intrigued by the Analog Digital Hybrid status. A technology I haven’t dabbled in previously. The “shortest (less than 4”) DAC-to-speaker posts signal path in the world" is hugely compelling to me even if I’m not able to hear it. Unequalled S/N ratio with virtually unlimited amount of configurable digital or analog I/O’s from minor tweaks to system overhaul at the touch of a button or two. Additionally the ability to turn any/all unused inputs/outputs off rather than have them on full time but unused. May not be worth anything but intuitively seems like it should.

Highly configurable phono stage complete with grounding post. And I no longer have any vinyl. But I ‘may’ play there again some day with the Devialet but wouldn’t otherwise. Configurable headphone amp doesn’t break my heart either. Suitable for plopping on a stand or wall mounting is attractive to me. As close to invisible hi-fi componentry as possible today is appealing to me. H-U-G-E space savings, 15lbs all-told, four cables/cords total and the best damn looking remote I’ve ever seen! And that its RF instead of IR is icing on the cake! There’s a LOT to like about it.

I guess the bottom line for me is the Devialet has me excited about audio again. I want to venture out again and try things I walked away from decades ago and never looked back. So if I make a list and it ends up I take a hit for not being able to hear all the things the DS revealed to me in its tenure here but love other features of the Devialet otherwise and find excitement in audio again is it a step forward or backward? At almost 70 years old, adventures don’t happen along for me as often as they used to and while the BHK was a consideration for me I also know I can’t call my kids to come help me lift it every time I reach for the feather duster. The Devialet just kinda suits me and for a lot of reasons… ya know?


#4
Manoet said . . . cavalier marauder that I am.
Which is why we love you.

#5

Perfectly reasonable decision. Let us know how it works out and please do stick around the forum.


#6

Hi Manoet

Look forward to hearing your own assessment, after you get hold of the Devialet.

Totally appreciate the trade-offs involved and the plusses of your decision.

My guess is: in a side by side comparison, given what you say about appreciating the musical revelations offered by the Directstream, that there is a hit to be taken there.

Night and day comparisons do not require extended listening, and I did need extended listening, since DS and Devialet were each better in different parts of the frequency range.

So, with my musical memory lasting minutes or maybe hours rather days and months, I think it will all fade into the past, and unless there are particular passages which now have new meaning and detail, it will all blend into one, with the fabulous wonder that is your Devialet left attached (!!) to the wall.

Interconnect sources only, add some speaker cables, all very nice.

I also value all the points you mention (built-in world class phono; built-in headphone amp; built-in phono converter; multiple digital / analog inputs / outputs; multi-chaining - up to 8 units in a row; and with built-in crossovers, then ‘active’ amplification would be easy to implement; streamer; DAC; the in-built amplifiers).

Also, SAM is real. Not just an attractive idea (which it is), but noticeably, different bass. Impressive stuff.

Understand it is also possible to dial down the amplification if you want to restrict power (I guess to limit power usage and/or protect speakers).

Your post certainly had me thinking again as I now come to terms with trying to place my new equipment in my living room without ruining a view.

Devialet have a brilliant digital backbone & really fabulous DSP (e.g. SAM). Seems like PS Audio have the best DAC (the Directstream); the Digital Lens & subsequent to reduce jitter from sources; and fabulous analog amplification chain with the BHK’s, and power regeneration & stablisation products.

Would be great if the approaches were inter-operable.

I can see a lot of living rooms with new SAM-enabled speakers choosing Devialet. I definitely thought about adding a Devialet to bi-amp the bass (with SAM), if were possible to get the ‘chain’ working acceptably.

Have thought about blending the two Direcstream as DAC and analog input into the Devialet & Devialet for everything else ? I wonder if that is practical or possible ?

Very interested to hear about your experiences, given your always insightful expression.

All the best, and good luck with the sale

of the Silver Directstream with Red Fuses and Rollerblocks !

GM


#7

One of the aspects I’m most excited to delve into with the Devialet is the SAM feature even tho my speakers aren’t listed. My speakers were built as a kit published in the Klang+Ton magazine a few years back using ScanSpeak 7" Illuminator woofer and Illuminator Beryllium tweeter. Referred to as the NADA and basically a largish and heavy .95 cu ft internal volume bookshelf speaker with horizontal and vertical tensioning and uber high-end crossover components. Since its introduction as a set of printed plans this particular speaker has become the most duplicated and sought after bookshelf speaker in Europe. As luck would have it these speakers, according to several sources in Europe respond very well to the SAM profile for the listed Magico Q1. As I’m understanding it… eerily and exceedingly well indeed! Who woulda thunk the XO topography to be so closely matched coupled with a woofer of identical proportions and a Beryllium tweeter in both! Some have also mentioned the SAM profile for the Crystal Cable Minissimo speaker to also be a great match for more minimalistic XO’d and slightly smaller NADA builds given they use the exact same ScanSpeak woofer/tweeter as the NADA plans call for.

If I’m understanding all this correctly its possible to better match speakers that aren’t listed as SAM profile to be favorably influenced even if a specific SAM profile doesn’t exist for a particular speaker just by finding a close dynamic match and experimenting. Apparently no harm done and it risks being no worse than without SAM… but sometimes ya just get lucky! And many have their fingers crossed Devialet will further expand the SAM software to to allow some measure of custom as they’re well aware they can’t offer SAM for every speaker out there or that there’s ever been! And of course there’s the internal equalizer that neither of us has mentioned and the promise of full-fledged DSP room correction looms on the horizon. Again via a simple soft/firm upgrade. Speaker port tuning from my computer!?! Where do I sign!!

And what a fun, heretofore altogether different way to pursue audio nirvana. Imagine crossover/driver tweaking without being invasive or even replacing a component or removing a single speaker screw! Not to mention there’s seemingly another bazillion ways thru other channels (no pun intended) via this new technology. And 3-4 times a year they throw more dynamic toys at me via software/firmware upgrades to play with. And each of those offers another couple dozen or hundred options… and this could go on for years & years. Then add social media and the opportunity for enhancement becomes exponential! For me its not just about listening. Its about entertainment, adventure, exploring, problem solving, fun projects and achieving goals without buying into new cords, cables, fuses, isolation/coupling et al. All done from the comfort of home without unplugging & schlepping heavy components to a work bench and/or breaking out the tool kit. Fun stuff this!


#8

Yes, it is a wonderfully flexible, technologically advanced platform.

There marketing on the other hand is more than “enthusiastic”. The apparently mid-fi Phantom is called ‘the best sound equipment in the world’.

But first proper review I could find a while ago, suggests the Phantom do not quite outperform the Audio Physic Tempo speaker. Tempo is near the bottom of the range. Maybe about AU$7.5k. The Cardeas is very nice, and about 6 times the price, and must destroy the “best sound equipment in the world”.

https://curved.de/news/devialet-vs-audiophysics-duell-der-soundgiganten-231686

That said, bad (or good ?) marketing does not diminish the product’s performance.

Also, not 100% sure users still have access to adjusting the crossover within software. Is this definitely still available via the web configurator, or via special arrangement ?

Again, would love to hear your thoughts, as your acquaintanceship develops.

And maybe, if there is some overlap between sale of DS and delivery of the Devialet, whether there is synergy pushing the DS DAC through a Devialet analog input ?

Your handy activities continue to impress. Making your own speakers. I’ll have to look it up and see about these bookshelf speakers. Like the idea. As I currently have to buy my equipment ! Revel Ultima2 Salon2 speakers, second hand, arrive tomorrow - agree that a configurable Devialet is a more exciting toy !


#9

Strangely enough, I have heard the Phantoms in both normal and silver dress. I wanted to like them and admittedly they were able to fill an inordinately large room. I mean on the order of 40X40X12 (feet). I found them incredible bass-wise but pitiful mids and highs. I do think they were outta their league in a room that big but even when I was right up on them the mids and highs were unremarkable. Was fun watching them dance tho. Little guys flat get after it horizontally on bass active riffs. To me they’re just a lifestyle product and nowhere near the amp line in lineage quality. Given what I saw that night the little Boenicke’s wiped the floor with the Phantoms!

I’ve read several reviews that mention the pizza boxes already have everything on board to completely take over XO duties on full-range speakers. In fact one reviewer mentioned he foresees people DIYing “XO-ectomies” on their speakers and allowing the Devialet to take over crossover duty altogether from the pizza box. My gut tells me if they can do SAM profiles for hundreds or thousands of speakers then they can also do total crossover duty. And IME more often than not, if they can do it, they will do it! Wouldn’t surprise me at all to find one or two of their 40-45 full-time engineers hunkered down at a bench somewhere and vigorously pursuing it full-time! They’re leaving too much capitol on the table to not pursue it now that horse is outta the barn!

Exciting times to be involved in audio!


#10

No doubt about it, the adjustable crossover technology exists within every Devialet pizza box. But I understood (not very reliably) that it had been disabled / made difficult to access.

Still, very strong release with version 8 firmware announced in Munich (including SAM Lab for your speakers):


With the imminent firmware 8.0 comes SAM v2. This will enable the French manufacturer to tackle more complex speakers, as well as providing greater bass extension and stability (at higher SPLs) and even more precise group delay reparation

The bigger bombshell arrives with news of SAM Lab – a portable measurement system. Its gold coloured module permits loudspeaker modeling anywhere in the world by any Devialet-approved representative. The kicker? SAM Lab measurements can be completed in less than 10 minutes before being shared via
Devialet’s website.

Also landing with firmware 8.0 is yet another acronym: the RAM (‘Record Active Matching’) phono stage brings remote controllable configuration of loading, gain and thirteen EQ curves. Alternatively, single-click presets for 130 of the world’s most popular cartridges can be applied – great news for novices.

Lastly comes MAT (‘Minimal Arithmetic Transform’), Devialet’s long awaited DSD engine that will bring full DSD compatibility to all inputs.


http://www.digitalaudioreview.net/2015/05/devialet-deliver-acronyms-features-at-munich-high-end-2015/


#11

You definitely got out ahead of me overnight on 8.0 firmware release! YOWSA there’s a L-O-T of great stuff rolled into the new release! The one that jumped out at me most was the DPM (Dynamic Power Management) described by Devialet as;

"The presence of multiple processors in each product makes it possible to add new regular functionalities, thus enabling Devialet to innovate constantly.

Devialet has adopted a rather atypical approach — the key functions, such as power conversion within the main power supply or the management of the ADH amplification cores, are also software controlled. By improving the power supply software, we improve energy conversion in terms of its efficiency and response time. By improving the ADH core management software, sound reproduction quality is further improved."

From the responses I’m reading that alone is causing many to run lower volume levels as a result of higher WPC due solely to cooler internal temps. Another handy onboard tool is the built-in thermometer for measuring internal temperatures. I can put my trusty infra red temp gun away. With DPM in use people are getting temp drops that are 5-6 degrees C in use which at 100-105F would be a near 15F temp reduction! That’s significant. To me its akin to magic having the AD Hybrid being able to respond, essentially at the speed of light when more amplification is needed and reduce or eliminate it for lesser needs or none at all if a track calls for it. To accomplish that seamlessly and without any accompanying loss in SQ for the sake of efficiency just leaves me gape-jawed!

The Devialet forums are as alive with chatter today as I’ve ever seen them and I seemingly managed to time this purchase perfectly albeit serendipitously and thru zero planned intent. As I mentioned yesterday, “sometimes ya just get lucky!”


#12

Manoet, would you like me to move the discussion of the Devialet to its own thread? It can certainly stay here as this is your thread, but it might be good to clean up your for sale listing. Whatever you prefer is fine, just let me know.


#13

Elk, as of yesterday I would’ve agreed to pull the DS ad altogether temporarily until after I’ve had a chance to test pairing the Devialet with the DS. However, yesterday the Devialet didn’t do DSD. Today it does and to unanimous stellar reviews. That was my last reservation about selling so yes, feel free to move this thread and thanks for tolerating this thread steering wide of original intent/how-is-ted-coding-the-fpgaent and offering to better locate it!


#14

@Manoet @Elk would love to continue this conversation, over time, without messing up Manoet’s advert to sell his gear (any more than we already have).

Manoet,

As a result of our exchange, and firmware version 8’s features, and some other things, I’ve been looking into Devialet again. Uncovered a couple of interesting aspects, which may be obvious to many others. And, am guessing about what I heard, and why I didn’t love it as much as the Directstream.

Negative Feedback. I accepted that the signal had low distortion (THD + N), it would be silly for Devialet to mislead about such a statistic, which could be easily measured and verified against their claims. However, I wasn’t at all thinking about how such things could be achieved.

For the first day, there were two of us listening, and we did hear similar things in similar parts of the tracks. The Devialet sounded a little dead. Earlier in the thread I suggested this might have been me appreciating Ted’s DSP work (if I could detect it), because there was a clear difference, in favour of the Directstream. Perhaps both DSP & Negative Feedback played roles, but now I have a better understanding of negative feedback, and that it has an annoying and audible sonic signature not unlike jitter, and that it necessarily involves a time delay, then it seems entirely plausible that high negative feedback might be responsible for the ‘deadening’ of the signal heard.

Had thought that “zero” distortion “meant” Devialet was the “the truth” and I wasn’t a big fan of this truth.

SAM is different and worked great.

I do wonder whether this historical measure of THD + N is the best measure to reflect the reproduction of sound. It’s easy for me to imagine preferring a smooth sound wave (even one with slightly more distoriton away from the input wave (as long as the deviation was small, smooth and consistent), rather than a ‘jagged’ fluctuating tone even if some statistical measure of THD + N was very small.

edit: this article was informative to me on distortion & feedback & amplifiers in general.

https://passlabs.com/articles/audio-distortion-and-feedback


Also, I’ve been reading about the versions of firmware being released and their different sonic signatures.

Seems that some of the more recent versions have not been as popular as earlier versions.

I remain amazed that with vanishingly small THD + N figures, that sonic signature would changed so much from a version 5.x firmware through to 7.y (this was pre-v8).


Of course, this lead me to wonder about the role of feedback in Bascom’s design, and how he handled the time delay issues.

Unfortunately, I didn’t know anything about this when Bascom was interviewed, so I didn’t propose it as a question, but it sheds a bit more light on the emphasis in an early video of Bascom discussing that he “had to” use (I think, from memory) use “Global Feedback” in the design.


BTW, output impedance (damping factor ?) of the Devialet is ridiculously low (high) at something like 0.001 ohms (for linked mono-blocks).


#15

GM- Please don’t feel you’re messing up or in any way trampling on my for sale ad. I’m loving and learning from this exchange! We are having this exchange at my insistence and enthusiastic participation! Besides, my new purchase is in no way affected by the sale of the DS. Only reason I initiated the ad here is I was already participating here on a daily basis. No other component I currently have that will also go away in the wake of the Devialet has been listed anywhere. I’m very good at accumulating components and very bad at parting with them. Next time I do an Audiogon sales melee it’ll likely be for over 10 items. Items I haven’t used in some cases for over three years that were brand new when stored. I don’t “have” to sell anything for the Devialet purchase which positions me far better than in my youth which caused me to lose out on some great opportunities. Today I tend to only sell when shipping box cubic feet threaten to exceed in-house storage. Never the best method as I’ve lost tons of money sitting on virtually new equipment only used for a month or so then offered for sale when its over 3 yrs old, past its prime and in most cases, warranty. Would love to change that but its characterlogical in nature rather than some neurosis I can make a resolution to correct on New Years. I get to rate sale items at ‘10’ but take an even bigger hit than if I had sold them a few months old at ‘9.’ The simple truth is I’d rather eat a baby than run an ad selling stuff! Absolutely hate it!

You’re so lucky to have been in the position to hear the Devialet. I can’t even comment on SQ in any objective way until I’ve laid ears on one. Mine is in US Customs now and hopefully will resume travel to me on Tuesday. With luck I could get it Thursday/Friday (fingers crossed). Then from what I’m reading its going to sound ‘tinny’ & thin for a time period similar to the DirectStream break-in. Only thing I’ve been able to do in preparation for it is to order a thin profile IEC to allow my Crystal Cables power cord to work with the Devialet cover on and download the Devialet volume control on my iPhone. Sadly the stupid-spendy (even tho recently reduced) Devialet wall-mount I ordered at the same time is still several weeks out.


#16

Testing the Belden Iconoclast speaker cables with Devialet and Magico. I didn’t get much listening in myself but my friend auditioned them for more than a week… he wants a pair. SAM is indeed marvelous. Dave is fishing in Maine right now but when he gets back the first thing he said that he will do is upgrade to FW 8.0! One of my favorite things about the Devialet is the portable volume control. It has a bit of heft to it and a knob is, well, it’s just a great thing. I miss knobs on stereos!

IMG_1234.jpg


#17

I’ve heard the “bit of heft” remote described more aptly that if it fell on a bare foot just right, could take a toe or two out. That is indeed a bit of heft (with edges, points & corners). Pretty tho!blush_gif


#18
wglenn said 1) Testing the Belden Iconoclast speaker cables with Devialet and Magico. I didn't get much listening in myself but my friend auditioned them for more than a week… he wants a pair.
2) SAM is indeed marvelous.
3) One of my favorite things about the Devialet is the portable volume control. It has a bit of heft to it and a knob is, well, it's just a great thing. I miss knobs on stereos!
1) a pair of which ?!! Three pretty interesting candidates there !
  1. yes, it’s a great idea, and really hard to appreciate how it could be accomplished without smart DSP in the Digital Backbone. Now, SAM2. And the whole thing about a pair of speakers needing 100 votes to become SAM-enabled goes away with the portable speaker assessment “thingy” (technical term).

  2. it’s nice, but my favourite thing about the Devialet idea is the total absence of Pre- / Amp connection cables. Source => Pretty Pizza Box => Speakers. Nice.

Still, the sound. Pretty sure there is massive negative feedback in there, to achieve such low THD + N distortion levels. Kind of eliminates the idea that the sound is the “truth” for me - at least raises “a big question” to be resolved. I’ll have to find the thread link where early Devialet devotees were lamenting the older firmware’s.


I’d be pretty interested to hear the time domain adjusted signal for SAM put through a BHK amplification process. Using Devialet as a DSP only box, perhaps taking Directstream DAC analog input…

Might be possible to have one’s cake and eat it too… and maybe some bi-amp’ing with 400 (really 300! at 8 Ohms) Mono’s.


Still, the amount of Negative Feedback, and its affect on the sound is critical. Particularly on the “vibrancy” of the sound.

Still, they achieve very very low IMD on the Devialet; and very very very low Output Impedance.

https://en.devialet.com/assets/Systems/Devialet-White-Paper-EN.pdf

Devialet-Measurements.png


#19

SAM would take my current speakers down from 26 Hz to 13Hz, while providing “7mm” of driver protection.

https://en.devialet.com/speakers/revel/revel-ultima-salon-2

I imagine SAM is one of their “bazillion” patents.

IMHO, this is the real risk for other providers, if Devialet gets an unassailable intellectual property position on the Digital Backbone, then all the things that are “easy to imagine” (like SAM) might be illegal for anyone else to produce for a period of 20 yrs.

Hopefully, all the Devialet patents relate only to ADH amplification of things like SAM / SAM2, but I doubt that would be the case.

Patent litigation in the Tech World costs a fortune, and I haven’t seen any editorial so far on the risk this (Devialet’s patents) may poses to existing industry (which it seems, to this recent and basically poorly informed observer, have been producing “circuits” with the relatively little intellectual property protection available for a particular “three dimensional layout of electronic components”.


#20

Pair of the Beldens to replace AP Oval 12’s.wink