When you think of high-end amplifiers, something like the NAD Master Series M2 Direct Digital Amplifier probably springs to mind. While not particularly unattractive, it's clear that function has taken priority over form. Happily, French company Devialet has injected some Parisian style into its slimline D-Premier amplifier, with utterly gorgeous results. It's no slouch in the sound department either, the company claiming that its newly-developed Analogue/Digital Hybrid (ADH) amplification technology is the next best thing to actually being in the studio or concert hall.
Devialet says that its unique combination of a preamplifier, stereo power amplifier and DAC (digital-to-analogue converter) in a highly polished 400 x 400 x 44.5mm (15.7 x 15.7 x 1.75-inch) aluminum casing is the result of four years of research and development. The company has produced a gorgeous high-end amplifier that's reported to have succeeded in marrying fidelity with power, resulting in an output of 240 watts per channel of something coined Live and Lossless audio.
At the heart of the beast is the ADH, which sees Class D amplification providing the oomph while Class A technology refines the sonic quality. There's an onboard Digital-to-Analog Converter sitting right next the unit's amp section, which transforms any digital signal sourced from a computer or fed from CD, DVD or Blu-ray player into analog prior to output. Likewise, any analog input is digitally enhanced before being converted back to analog and then sent on for output.
The company claims that the system offers lower signal distortion and better signal-to-noise ratio than any other amplifier available – specifically, harmonic distortion and intermodulation of 0.001 percent at full power, no measurable thermal distortion, and output impedance of 0.001 ohms. Individual settings can be tweaked by the user on a PC or Mac, saved to SD card and then fed into the system via the built-in reader.
Cable connections are neatly hidden away from sight behind a removable cover. There are ten analog and digital inputs, including optical, coaxial, XLR and HDMI, and half a dozen of the RCA inputs can be configured to receive either analog or digital signals, or transformed from input into output as needed.
The only control on the unit itself is the power on/off button, with all of the action taking place on the polished aluminum RF remote. Atop that remote, which is powered by a couple of AAA-sized batteries, are a rotary dial and control buttons. The D-Premier also sports an internal infrared sensor, which is compatible with universal remotes.
The D-Premier is designed in Paris, built in Normandy and available through specialist dealers throughout the globe. It carries a recommended retail price of EUR11,920 (US$15,574) in Europe.
Next year, Devialet will bring a Wi-Fi module to the amplifier to allow users to stream up to 24-bit/192kHz audio, which will offered to existing users as a free upgrade. Also, for the first time, Devialet will be attending CES 2011 in Las Vegas to show off its groundbreaking technology.
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