• SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh Laboratory MA252 Integrated Amplifier (November 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Hegel H90 and H190 Integrated Amplifiers (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - How Hegel's SoundEngine Works (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight  - Estelon History and YB and Extreme Loudspeakers (September 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - What Makes Hegel Different? (August 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Estelon Extreme Legacy Edition Loudspeaker (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion Overview and Technologies (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! Insight - Totem Acoustic Signature One Loudspeaker (June 2017)
  • SoundStage! Encore - The Cowboy Junkies'
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Anthem's STR Integrated Amplifier (May 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Paradigm's Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) Lenses (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Paradigm's Persona 9H Loudspeaker (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Contrasts: Dynaudio's Contour and Focus XD Speaker Lines (February 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - New Technologies in MartinLogan's Masterpiece Series
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Dynaudio/Volkswagen Car Audio (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Gryphon Philosophy and the Kodo and Mojo S Speakers (January 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- What's a Tonmeister? (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - AxiomAir N3 Wireless Speaker System (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 90 (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Gryphon Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Dynaudio History and Driver Technology (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - The Story How Gryphon Began (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Devialet History, ADH Technology, and Expert 1000 Pro (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Devialet's Phantom Loudspeakers (August 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh Home Theater and Streaming Audio (July 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh MC275 Stereo Amplifier (June 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh History and Autoformer Technology (June 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - NAD Viso HP50 Headphones (May 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - GoldenEar Technology's Anechoic Chamber (May 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - PSB's M4U 4 Earphones (April 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - GoldenEar Technology's Triton Two+ and Three+ Loudspeakers (March 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- KEF's LS50 (February 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Monitor Audio's Platinum II Series (January 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Pryma 0|1 Headphones (December 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- KEF's Blade Two Loudspeaker (November 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- KEF and the Uni-Q (October 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Monitor Audio Acoustics & Aesthetics (August 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- PSB's Imagine T3 Loudspeaker (June 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Hegel's H160 Integrated Amplifier-DAC (April 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- MartinLogan's Neolith Loudspeaker (February 2015)

To Hans Wetzel,

I read your column about the Devialet Phantom with interest! How would you compare this product (Silver version) to the Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay A9?

Pascal Convers
United States

In order to answer this faithfully, I should state two things at the outset. First, I have yet to physically hear the Phantom or Silver Phantom. And second, I haven't spent more than a few minutes listening to B&O gear over the course of my life.

That said, I definitely have a few comments. B&O has a reputation for distinctive luxury products, and while they've done some serious audio work over the years -- think of their pioneering ICEpower research -- I don't think anyone other than the average consumer would equate their products with cutting-edge hardware. I don't doubt that their products sound very good, but their marketing and design efforts seem to point to sonic considerations taking a definite back seat to aesthetic ones.

As far as the B&O A9 is concerned, it looks like an interesting loudspeaker at $2699. Dual tweeters and mids, a ported 8" woofer, built-in amplification, and wireless connectivity. Note, however, that the frequency response is listed at 33Hz to 25kHz, but without qualification, so 33Hz may well be -10dB, or worse. Moreover, the A9 appears to use several generic class-D amps, probably of the ICEpower variety. Finally, the A9 looks to be pretty sizable, at 35" high with a stand, and 28" in diameter.

For $2390 per pair, the Silver Phantom is a different proposition. Its design is, believe it or not, totally geared towards maximizing sound quality. In terms of acoustics, it's pretty much ideal, with a single apparent point source for treble, midrange, and bass drivers. Further, its amplifiers aren't the now-common class-D variety, but a proprietary and patented design based on the company's high-end amps. The French company's amps aren't just different, but to my ears, as well as to those of SoundStage!'s Doug Schneider and Jeff Fritz, better sounding than just about everything else on the market, irrespective of price. I've been told that the Devialet team set the target of equaling, or bettering, the performance of their $6495 Devialet 120 amplifier and a pair of $20,000+ loudspeakers. I've also been told that they met their performance-related targets. If this were any other company, I would have dismissed such a claim. But given what the company has been able to do since they debuted the D-Premier in 2010, and how much cleverness they appear to have built into the Phantom and Silver Phantom, I'm incredibly excited to find out how they sound.

So, on the one hand is a pretty cool wireless floorstanding speaker that probably sounds pretty good, and on the other is an even more flexible wireless loudspeaker that promises nearly state-of-the-art sound. Interestingly, I suspect Devialet is targeting roughly the same kind of consumer that the A9 is. I suspect that the Silver Phantom will be the better loudspeaker, and by a wide margin. We won't know until the Phantoms begin shipping in the coming months, though. I hope this helps. . . . Hans Wetzel