To Hans Wetzel,
Thanks for the Devialet 120 review. I was wondering if you experienced it at very low volume, and, if so: what is/was your take on it?
I am asking because I read two reviews (glowing, as usual, with Devialet) about a real weakness with very low-volume listening where the music loses its momentum. What Hi-Fi? goes as far as to not recommend it if very low-volume listening is regular, which is my case. Hence my question to you, Monsieur.
I heard the Devialet twice and was very impressed with it as a concept, but ultimately it had that elusive so-called musicality (whatever that means) that makes or breaks a product, in my opinion. I must admit I pretty much felt the same about the Hegel Music Systems H300 you mention in the review, thinking: why pay more when it does everything so right and sounds so great? But the Devialet is soooo sexy, clever, and foward-thinking compared to, well, anything really.
Also, it was great to read the Devialet 120 and Wadia Intuition 01 reviews back-to-back, although at first I thought you should have compared and contrasted more these two pieces, as they are quite similar products aimed at the same clientele. Then again, re-reading both reviews, one got an award and a rave, but the other didn't. Chris Connaker at Computeraudiophile.com pretty much said the same as you.
Anyway, thanks for the reviews; you've been read, and if you have anything to add to the low-volume thing, I would like to know.
Thanks again Monsieur.
I have read about the low-volume complaint, but I feel confident in saying that I heard nothing of the sort. Neither did our editor-in-chief, Jeff Fritz, who is currently testing the 120's SAM feature. What this could be ascribed to, perhaps, is what I mentioned about the Devialet's treble in my review. Because it does not have quite the zest and air of a traditional class-AB amp, it may sound a hair turned down, or muted, by comparison, at low volumes. But I cannot emphasize enough, that this is by comparison only. I was thoroughly, deeply, hugely impressed with every aspect of the Devialet 120's sonic performance, and firmly believe it punches far, far beyond its price point. I do not think it a stretch to say that it offers truly reference-level sound. It sounds like you heard what I did in your two auditions with the piece and that is hardly a surprise.
As for the Hegel H300, which I referenced in the review and use as a reference integrated amplifier-DAC, I maintain that it's a standard bearer at its price point of $5500. Competing designs from Bryston and Simaudio should also be mentioned in the same breath, but the Hegel takes it for me. If you're using a pair of inefficient loudspeakers in a very large room, then the Hegel would make a great deal of sense. Make no mistake about it, however: The Devialet 120 is bluntly the better amp, and the very best I have heard. Doug Schneider, founder and publisher of SoundStage!, agrees, as does Jeff Fritz. I can't fathom a stronger endorsement. . . . Hans Wetzel