Devialet is a French company based in Paris and founded in 2007. The company’s history began in 2004, when Pierre-Emmanuel Calmel, who was working in Nortel’s research and development laboratory, decided to leave his job in order to devote himself full time to working on the first prototype of a completely new type of hybrid audio reinforcement technology. This technology, called ADH, was soon created by him and immediately patented, as he saw great potential in it, which in the future could change the course of further development of high-quality sound reproduction technologies.
He was soon joined by Mathias Moronval, his former colleague at Nortel, and in 2006 by the rest of their current colleagues, as well as part-time musicians and passionate music lovers – specialists in industrial design, marketing and business management: Emmanuel Nardin, Quentin Sannie and Manuel de La Fuente. It was with this composition that they decided to create a new and dynamically developing company. Through their ambitious technology strategy and using all the necessary means to create high-tech products, Devialet has become one of those few successful and promising companies that today have their own face in the world of the ever-changing modern Hi-Fi market. First, let’s answer an interesting question: what does the company name mean? As it turned out, the word Devialet has nothing to do with the name of the founder or with any locality in France. This is the combined surname of Diderot’s colleague, the young French engineer Vialet, and the particle de. In addition to the indirect allusion to the creator of the famous Encyclopedia, there is also some consonance with the famous automobile brands of the early 20th century, known for their innovative approach to the design of their cars – Delahaye and Delage.
Yes, but why four? This is how many people stood at the origins of the company and continue to lead it now. They already had significant experience in doing business, each in a different direction, and this allowed Devialet to immediately begin working effectively. The most difficult thing was to attract sufficient funding to implement ambitious plans. And if it was not so difficult to find funds to create the D-Premier and start production, then serious investments were required for further development. This is where the connections developed at the first stage came in handy, through which we managed to reach the richest man in France – Bernard Arnault, owner of the LVMH concern, and interest him. And the decision to invest in Devialet was preceded by an absolutely amazing story. As it turns out, Arno is a big fan of music and equipment for playing it. Therefore, before agreeing to allocate money, despite all the financial calculations, he asked to be given three days to listen to the D-Premier at home in order to compare it with the stereo system he had of one American brand, where each component cost several times more than the brainchild Devialet. At the end of the third day, a positive response was received from him. Together with the investments of other shareholders who supported the project from the very beginning, the amount of investments in development amounted to 15 million euros. Thus, the green light was given to conquer the world of audio. The founders of Devialet are more than just colleagues: they are united by a common interest and a passionate belief that the sound, branded Live Lossless, was created thanks to ADH technology, a highly unique discovery that represents a valuable contribution to the technological and cultural progress of humanity.
Devialet’s office is located in the historical business center of Paris, next to the former stock exchange building. The company occupies several floors in the building, but there is no longer enough space – the staff is constantly expanding, and the management decided to rent additional premises. Today, Devialet employs more than 120 people, most of them in the advanced development department. What is the future for the brave French? Their plans are very ambitious. Now on the agenda is the following goal: in the next four years, create a full-fledged stereo system based on proprietary technologies, costing up to 1000 euros, which would be made in France. In general, the company is extremely sensitive to the fact that its products are manufactured exclusively on the territory of the Fifth Republic. For its founders, this is one of the “raisons d’être” of their creation. Not only is the final assembly carried out in France, the beautiful, hand-polished case, circuit boards and mind-blowing remote control are also made in the homeland of the Three Musketeers. Read more about this in the report from production. When you enter the office, you immediately feel in a special mood – the design approach is felt in everything. What were the investments received for? First of all, the model range has expanded significantly. The only D-Premier has been replaced by a whole series of amplifiers costing from 5 to 22 thousand euros, differing from each other in functional equipment and power.
In addition, production has recently begun on a small, complete Ensemble system consisting of a junior Devialet 120 amplifier and a special version of the Atohm loudspeakers, made to special order. But the most interesting recent innovation is the launch of the SAM (Speaker Active Matching) program. The idea is simple, like all ingenious things. Devialet engineers measure all electrical and physical parameters of the operation of the heads of a certain model of speaker systems – impedance, amplitude-frequency, impulse and phase-frequency characteristics, diffuser displacement and many others. Then a special program comes into play, creating an algorithm that allows you to ideally transform the electrical signal entering the amplifier inputs into an acoustic one. In practice, this means that the program analyzes incoming information in real time and correlates it with the algorithm of operation of the speaker systems, adapting the signal so that the resulting signal at the output of the speakers matches that received at the inputs. It is no secret that it is the speaker system that introduces the greatest distortion, and such a solution allows them to be compensated to a very large extent. Devialet’s production facilities are located in Normandy, in the small city of Vire, famous not so much for its industry as for its sausages, namely the original andouille pork giblet sausage. However, for the production and assembly of such a miracle of technology as Devialet’s creations, a completely different level of equipment is needed. And it is in the technology park where the Seprolec workshops are located. This company has been operating in the industrial assembly market since 1989, and its customers include not only well-known manufacturers of consumer electronics, but also more serious organizations, such as the French Ministry of Defense. By the way, during a visit to the workshops on one of the lines, we were strictly forbidden to take pictures – the next order was being manufactured there for the armed forces of the republic.
The level of automation in the factory is sufficient, but not excessive. Of course, the process of manufacturing printed circuit boards is largely automated, but even here, some of the intermediate stages, as well as final assembly and performance testing, are entrusted to humans. One reason for this is the black color of Devialet PCBs: due to its low reflectivity, the inspection machine may not be able to see some errors in component placement and routing. If printed circuit boards are made in a huge workshop with several production lines, then the final assembly of amplifiers takes place in a separate room on the second floor. There, all the components meet luxurious housings and remote controls, and manual labor rules the roost. By the way, special attention is paid to remote controls and the quality of their work, because it is through them that owners tactilely communicate with their amplifiers – there are no controls on the case itself. Since the cases are polished entirely by hand, there is always a risk of discrepancy in color shade between the main chassis and the metal cover covering the connectors. Therefore, the assembly of each instance includes such a stage as selecting a cover suitable for this particular device. Upon completion of assembly, the amplifiers undergo a procedure for checking all parameters and functions, and also warm up when operating under load for three hours. Based on the warm-up results, a test report is compiled for each amplifier and stored in a common database. In case of refusal or claims from the buyer, there is always the opportunity to check how correctly the device worked when it came off the assembly line. Devialet equipment is shipped to customers around the world directly from the factory, bypassing Paris.
In general, the impression from the level of production, and especially from the saturation of each Devialet product with original technical solutions, remains the most positive. I would like to sincerely wish the entire company success on the difficult path of reformatting the audio market. The ordinary will be defeated! Vive le Devialet! The Devialet development team is made up of creative and passionate people in the broad sense of the word: musicians, engineers, artists, entrepreneurs and music fans. They sincerely believe that only bold innovations in music and the technology that reproduces it will lead to the revival of the audio industry and musical culture. Innovation is the main driving force that inspires Devialet.