Devialet Phantom Reactor 900 review

Space-age speaker gets hit by a shrink ray.

Devialet Phantom Reactor 900 review

TechRadar Verdict

With a unique look and room-filling power, the Devialet Phantom Reactor 900 comes close to justifying its big price tag.

Powerful output

Solid connectivity

Very expensive

Can sound cramped

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Devialet's Phantom speaker line screams opulence. From their sci-fi stylings to their expressively wild side-firing bass reflex ports, they look unlike anything else on the market – but the speakers have also been big, heavy, and intimidatingly expensive, too.

The company is now looking to make its wares a little more approachable with two new speakers, the Devialet Phantom Reactor 900 and Devialet Phantom Reactor 600. We’re looking at the former of the two, with its 900W output compared to the latter’s 600W. Smaller and more affordable than the full-size Phantom speakers, the Phantom Reactor 900 still packs a punch, and still looks like a prop from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey – and that’s no bad thing.

But by pointing the shrink ray at the full-size Phantom has any compromise been made? And is that sleek design worth the premium price tag?

[Update: The Devialet Phantom Reactor 900 has been given a name change – it's now known as the Phantom II. And, it's currently available in another color – Sage Green. There are only 1000 units, so it's pretty exclusive.]

Price and availability

The Phantom Reactor line up is available to buy now. Prices start at $999/ £990 / AU$1990 for the Phantom Reactor 600 and go up to $1299 / £1290 / AU$2490 for the Phantom Reactor 900, which is reviewed here. 

It's still not cheap, but it is uniquely designed, offering superior audio quality over the majority of single standalone Bluetooth speakers, though not quite the audio performance you’d get from less lavishly-designed stereo systems of a similar price. 

Keep that in mind if audio performance is your absolute priority, though to all but the most highly tuned ears, it’s a very pleasing unit.

You'll find it in stores including Selfridges,, Amazon UK and Harrods in the UK, and Corso Como, B8ta, Nordstrom, Microsoft Store, Barneys and Amazon in the US, as well as Mr Porter worldwide.

Design and connectivity

You won’t find a speaker that looks anything like the Phantom Reactor from any manufacturer other than Devialet – it’s a truly unique design.

Coming in either a gloss white finish or matte black, it looks a bit like some sort of space-aged vitamin pill, being broadly ovaloid in shape. The Devialet logo, cut from the chassis itself, sits like an eye on the front of the speaker, with ventilation grills curving down from the back.

Given its 219mm (length) x 157 mm (width) x 168 mm (height) size, it's an astonishingly loud system – comparable to a symphony orchestra in your living room if blasting at full volume. 

Likewise, the 18Hz infra-bass would lead you to believe there's a dedicated subwoofer in the room – made all the more dramatic by the way the bass-reflex ports on either side of the Phantom Reactor pump air rhythmically and forcefully in time with the beat. 

However, don’t confuse this for a portable speaker – you’re going to need a mains supply to power that mad output, and it remains deceptively heavy at 4.3kg.

Along the top of the speaker you’ll find five touch-sensitive capacitive buttons – volume up, volume down, play/pause, Bluetooth pairing / input selection and the link button that’s used when setting up the device with its accompanying control app. 

They’re a welcome addition, given how all control of the Phantom line was determined by app alone in previous models.

Physical inputs now include a hybrid minijack and optical point for TVs, as well as an Ethernet connection if that’s your best bet for stable broadband. Wireless connectivity includes Bluetooth, AirPlay, UPnP and Spotify Connect, but you don’t get any support for voice assistants, be that Amazon’s Alexa, the Google Assistant or Apple ’s Siri. 

For the price, it feels like an oversight, given as they’re in basically everything these days. You’ll have to jump into the app to control the speaker from afar then, but it’s at least mercifully simple, with just playback controls and source options taking up the majority of the application.

All in, it’s a fantastic-looking speaker. If you like your tech to be as much talking point as gadget, the Phantom Reactor 900 will set tongues wagging.


Thankfully, the Phantom Reactor 900 is more than just a pretty face too – it sounds phenomenal, if falling just a little short of the price-to-performance ratio we’d hope for in a more-than-a-grand speaker.

Despite the small package and extreme volume levels, the Phantom Reactor 900 is able to deliver its output without as much as a hint of distortion as it approaches louder peaks. 

Its Analog Digital Hybrid (ADH) amp delivers the quality of an analogue amp in a digital-sized package, while the company's Speaker Active Matching signal processing system retains detail even at the Phantom Reactor 900's 98db max volume. 

Thanks to its 24bit/192kHz hi-res DAC and Wi-Fi connection, you’ve room to play around with high-resolution audio sources, too.

Bass impact will be a big draw here. Primal Scream’s Kill All Hippies from the XTRMNTR album is awash with processed guitars and samples, but when its bass line crunches in, the Phantom Reactor delivers it with weight, and taut energy.

It’s even more pronounced during the percussive ‘Why So Serious?’ element of Hans Zimmer’s Dark Knight soundtrack, where an intense sub bass movement holds its integrity immaculately, while still allowing the sharp stopwatch-like clicks to be present.

It doesn’t lack in detail with softer moments either. James Rhodes’ take on Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune saw the Phantom Reactor 900 beautifully represent the piano piece’s twinkling highs and comforting mids, without smothering either section. There’s a dynamism present that can reveal details at both the most soft and dramatic moments.

But there is the sensation of everything feeling a bit narrow – bands crammed onto a soapbox rather than a stage. It remains a heartily enjoyable listen, but the design here does little to provide a more natural, wider sense of space.

Final verdict

Devialet’s Phantom Reactor 900 is a marvel to witness in action. There’s no other speaker out there (other than another Phantom, that is) that, through its design, can give the sense of kinetic action your music delivers. It’s futuristic, detailed, and fun.

It suffers in its soundstage though, lacking the width you’d hope to find in such a pricey speaker.

It makes the Devialet Phantom Reactor 900 difficult to wholeheartedly recommend on pure audio quality alone – but it’s a single black mark against its name, rather than one that sullies the whole. 

It’s overall a marvelous piece of engineering, and an enjoyable audio device in its own right even when taking its striking looks out of the equation.

  • The best wireless speaker 2019: find the best connected speakers for your home

Gerald Lynch

Gerald is Editor-in-Chief of Previously he was the Executive Editor for TechRadar, taking care of the site's home cinema, gaming, smart home, entertainment and audio output. He loves gaming, but don't expect him to play with you unless your console is hooked up to a 4K HDR screen and a 7.1 surround system. Before TechRadar, Gerald was Editor of Gizmodo UK. He is also the author of 'Get Technology: Upgrade Your Future', published by Aurum Press.

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Devialet Phantom II - 98 dB - Compact Wireless Speaker - Iconic White

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About this item.

  • Sound this rich and clear from a speaker this compact is simply unheard of. Phantom II 95 dB is designed to move you, even when at low volumes.
  • High fidelity sound from 18Hz to 21kHz, feel every note with phenomenal purity & Precision. Zero distortion, zero saturation & Zero background: nothing but audiophile-grade playback, even up to 400 Watts RMS
  • Phantom's open architecture lets you get straight to the music you love. AirPlay 2: Apple users can enjoy an additional layer of control over their Phantom with AirPlay 2. Spotify Connect: Spotify users can stream their favorite playlists on their favorite speaker with the help of Spotify Connect. UPnP: With Universal Plug and Play, or UPnP, users can switch to a third-party application to play music hosted on their local networks.
  • The only thing better than a Phantom? Two. In stereo, Phantom's soundstage expands even further and listening takes on a new dimension as the speakers dance in absolute synchronicity. More extreme, more powerful, more exhilarating. Sync your entire home in symphony or stream something different in every room thanks to your Devialet App. With Multiroom, there are now even more ways to play with Multi-Zone Play and Individual Play.
  • Power this unreasonable requires some control. Set up your Phantom, finetune your settings, and stay up to date, all via the Devialet App. An intuitive companion, the app lets you customize your Phantom experience: setting up your Phantom, adjusting latency for A/V, activating Standby Mode or customizing bass for Night Mode.

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Phantom II

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  • 1 Phantom II 98dB

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Devialet phantom reactor review: the sound of the future.

It sounds as good as it looks...

Back in 2016 we tested out some of the very finest all-in-one speakers we've ever heard - and, frankly, seen - in a pair of Devialet Phantom Gold . Which, at £2,190 each made for a very expensive living room setup. But it was one that saw us shed a tear when they had to be returned (our then neighbours probably didn't mind, though, given the 4,500W of power delivered from each).

Our bank balance never permitted us to buy one (nor two, funnily enough) but now, come 2019, the proverbial offspring of those fine Devialet speakers has visited Pocket-lint towers for a number of weeks. Say hello to the smaller yet still ultra-powerful and great-sounding Phantom Reactor.

The obvious benefit of the Reactor is that it's about half the price (and about half the size) of its parent full-size Phantom models. Yes, yes, so it's still around a grand to buy just one. But given the sound quality there's a strong argument that you would find little better or more stylised in the all-in-one audio world.

Our quick take

Sound quality is the Reactor's forte, with incredible low-end bass that will make people think you're hiding a dedicated subwoofer elsewhere in the room. The connectivity is strong, although minor hiccups with the Devialet app, the lack of equaliser adjustment, and UPnP's slowness in response are slight drawbacks. But if you're streaming via AirPlay or Spotify Connect then none of this is likely to matter.

Most people will baulk at the Phantom Reactor's price and cross it off their speaker shopping lists. But you really shouldn't because this is an incredible sounding speaker, delivered with space-age styling, that's better sounding than anything we've heard at this scale. And when a mobile phone costs just as much and will be half way to the trash within less than 24 months, surely an investment such as this is worthwhile for the years of musical joy it'll bring?

Devialet Phantom Reactor - 5.0 / 5

Devialet phantom reactor 900.

Amazon Best Buy Best Buy

Design and setup

  • Glass fibre-filled polycabonate interior, aluminium core, stainless steel white exterior
  • AirPlay, UPnP Renderer, Bluetooth, Spotify Connect, 3.5mm jack input (AUX)
  • Touch contols: play/pause, volume up/down, pairing, link
  • Dedicated Devialet app (iOS / Android) for control
  • Dimensions: 157 x 168 x 219mm; Weighs: 4.3kg

Devialet isn't shy to make bold claims about its "immense" product (as it says boldly on the company's website). Its self-confidence is evident beyond just words though: just look at this thing - it's an outlandish yet wonderful design like nothing else out there.

If you're a Destiny video game fan then this spaceship-like orb style might remind you of Ghost (a similar-looking floating robot, rather than audiophile speaker). If you're not a fan then, well, let your eyes do the work and decide whether this distinctive design is going to suit your tastes and your living space or not.

The Reactor has an aluminium core, which explains its near-4.5kg weight, along with stainless steel white exterior (slightly pompous Pantone provided: RAL 9016). It's not light, but that's not a problem as you're unlikely to move it around often. After all, it needs mains power. Problem is the provided power cable is frustratingly short for no apparent reason. Please, Devialet, we need longer cables.

Setting up the speaker is delightfully easy once plugged in. You can use it like a Bluetooth speaker. Or you can use it synched, via local network, to play using Spotify Connect, AirPlay or UPnP (here there's access to a variety of other sources: Google Music, Tidal, along with local and online storage (Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Amazon Cloud Drive and more)). There's a physical 3.5mm input too.

Getting the app to sync with UPnP isn't an issue, although in our use it sometimes has forgotten the speaker pairing (despite still being paired and playing) which has required an app reset. UPnP, which is a separate app to download (mobile or desktop) can also be glitchy with playback and the delay in actioning track skip, play/pause is a bit of a nuisance.

The Reactor has physical touch-sensitive controls on top too, which you'll need to use during setup and to Bluetooth pair on the fly, but the volume up/down controls can come in handy if you're not the Devialet app user or you're just nearby the product and want to adjust the volume from there. There are no track skip functions on the speaker itself though.

Sound quality

  • Supports: MP3, HE-AAC/AAC, Apple Lossless, WMA, AIFF, WAV, FLAC, Vorbis, Opus
  • 1x aluminum full-range driver, 2x aluminium bass drivers
  • Frequency response: 18Hz - 21kHz
  • Up to 900W peak power

Looks are one thing, but how the Phantom Reactor sounds is enough to forgive the minor playback issues within the apps. It's really hard to believe that this speaker can output such loud and exquisite sound from its relatively small dimensions.

The main strike is the bass response. With a low-end capable down to 18Hz - which really is really lower than anyone masters to, even Reggae subs hit in and around 40Hz - the low-frequency output from this speaker is second to none.

If you're into underground music then watching in fascination as those bass drivers wobble madly as if they're going to spend the speaker into orbit is quite something to behold. The bass is smooth and impactful beyond anything else we've ever heard at this size, with true sub levels put into play.

What's particularly interesting about this design is that the bass drivers are contained in a way that causes no vibration to the speaker and its surroundings. Place a hand on top of the speaker and you won't feel it vibrating - the output is very controlled horizontally - which is really impressive.

It's not all about bass, though, that's just one of the Reactor's greatest successes. There's another full-range driver that handles the mid-to-high frequencies, using that front grille to disperse sound in a three-dimensional form. Yep, that snowflake-like design to the front isn't just a pretty face, it has purpose too.

We find there's ample snap and sparkle from this driver, dispersing sound in a convincing way. Sure, it's not fully 360 degrees like many speakers these days, but position the Reactor carefully within the room and everything sounds crisp and rich.

In the ner future you will also be able to pair Devialet devices. When we had the Phantom Gold the two took the sound up a notch from great to amazing as a stereo pair. While two Reactor units can't be synched in stereo just yet, when this feature comes online (due "first semester 2019") we're sure that the effect will be much the same... if you can afford a pair, that is.

If you want your music to sound as space-age awesome as the Reactor looks, this ‘mini Phantom’ from Devialet is a sure-fire way to acquire exquisite audio. The obvious problem is its four-figure price tag - but given it outputs low-end bass well beyond anything we’ve ever seen at this scale, for some that asking price will be fully worth it.

RouteNote Blog

Devialet’s 900 watt, wireless Phantom Reactor speaker (Review)

Devialet’s 900 watt, wireless Phantom Reactor speaker (Review)

Devialet revolutionise the amount of power you’d expect to be possible in the size of their speakers. we got to experience that first hand..

We’ve been wanting to get our hands on a Devialet speaker since we first saw their incredible, face-melting Phantom speaker in 2015. In 2016 they launched their tour de force; the Gold Phantom with 4,500 watts of bone-rattling power. With this year’s launch of the more compact Phantom Reactor (still capable of an incredible noise) we put it to the test to hear for ourselves how Devialet have been changing the speaker game.

The Phantom Reactor takes things down a notch from its predecessors but still packs an impressive 900 watts of pure, un-distorted power. Coming in at the size of a slightly deflated football with it’s clean, ‘fresh-out-the-mothership’ aesthetic – the fact that this small speaker can push out so much sound is truly special.

phantom reactor 900w

We lugged it down to our large open studio downstairs to test it out at full volume with plenty of space. The first thing we noticed when we plugged it up and switched it on was the quality. Considering it has a big sound it sounds good. Really good. Probably the most impressive thing about our time with Devialet’s speaker is just how consistent the quality is whether it’s at the highest possible volume and shaking the walls or playing at its quietest depths.

With 900w behind it, the speaker is more than capable of filling a room with sound and the sound it produces travels better than any speaker of this size we’ve heard. When the Phantom Reactor is emitting music it travels distance, moving above, below, and around surfaces so it feels like it’s next to you even when you’re 20 metres away.

Whilst it’s a powerful speaker, it really is – when we were playing it full volume it felt like it needed just an extra notch of volume. Don’t get me wrong, it plays music *loudly* and is more than enough for a party, gathering, or any other reason you could have for loud music. Perhaps I’m tainted by my love of ear-bleeding levels for music, and the knowledge of its far louder older brother – the Phantom Gold.

It just felt like it needed one extra bar on the volume-up button. Me and a colleague were able to talk without raising our voices whilst standing next to it at full volume. I suppose it’s personal preference, and the context you’re using a Phantom Reactor in, as to whether that is a good feature or a small shame.

phantom reactor 900w

The Reactor is multi-directional but I found the sound was at its best when you’re standing anywhere in front of it’s geometrically carved sound hole. When standing anywhere on either side of it’s Heart Bass Implosion (HBI) panels the sound feels a little less enveloping but still brilliant.

Speaking of it’s HBI panels, they’re a truly amazing piece of technology. They are what allows for Phantom speakers to push out such large-sounding, incredible bass levels from such a small compact device. It makes for a truly impressive low-end and it also makes it look hella cool when it’s sides are shaking out of their casing.

Connecting your device up for playback is simple and intuitive. You can easily cast music from a Bluetooth device, plug it up with an auxiliary, or connect it to the internet for Airplay connectivity from the majority of major online casting features.

phantom reactor 900w

The companion app for the speaker brings all of its connectivity into one place however I was a little dissappointed in the features of the app. It lets you control the gain with total precision but there are no EQ settings which is a real shame as it would be nice to customise the levels to your preferences or to match the music you’re playing. The app does however have a very unique setting that lets you adjust the latency when connected by aux… which is pretty neat.

When it comes to the build of the the Reactor it’s a solid piece of equipment, it weighs a lot thanks to the sheer amount of kit inside it that creates its giant sound. The plastic coating feels tough and thick whilst metal panels on the side give it a robust, cold touch eliciting yet more of its alien allure.

All in all Devialet make a product that is quality and at times shocking with what it’s capable of. I feel like the majority of the awe lies in the original Phantom speakers but at a much smaller price the Reactor offers a lot of bang for it’s buck. Whether you would choose it over a similarly priced hi-fi system? That’s up to you.

The Phantom Reactor is available at 600 watts for £990 or the 900 watt version that we tried for £1,290. Both are sure to fill the home as an impressive sound system.

Find out more and get your own Phantom from the Devialet website.

phantom reactor 900w

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Devialet Phantom Reactor 900 review: a bass-heavy speaker with dramatic looks

Looks dramatic even before it starts making a sound; prodigious bass response; dynamic and really detailed; wide frequency response

Can sound congested; quite a lot of money

Devialet Phantom Reactor 900 review a bassheavy speaker with dramatic looks

Devialet is a company that is never knowingly understated. It’s no stranger to hyperbole and is more than happy to loudly blow its own trumpet. Founded in 2007 in Paris, the company’s first product (2015’s Phantom wireless speaker) breezily promised “the best sound in the world” – and ever since, Devialet has been making big claims, quoting big figures and generally bigging itself up.

All of this self-aggrandisement (and, it must be said, some startlingly original thinking) led to 2016’s Gold Phantom speaker. It’s packing 4,500 watts of power, and the company blithely bandied about terms like “obliterates all existing home sound systems” and “like nothing you’ve ever encountered” on its release.

And having secured spaces on the shelves in Harrods, Selfridges and Apple stores, you’d be forgiven for thinking the only way for Devialet would be upwards, with ever-higher prices and evermore eye-catching power ratings. But last year’s partnership with Sky for the Soundbox soundbar showed the company is humble enough to engage with the mass market. And now we’ve this, the Phantom Reactor 900 – small, affordable (by Devialet standards) and with a peak power output that doesn’t even break four figures.

So, has Devialet become just another home technology brand?

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As far as design is concerned, the answer is a resounding “no”. Phantom Reactor looks very similar to the other Phantom speakers in Devialet’s range – just on a much smaller scale.

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At 16 x 17 x 22cm and a "mere" 4.3kg, it’s roughly a quarter of the size of its bigger, more powerful and more pricier siblings. As a consequence it’s a much more room-friendly proposition. That isn’t to say it’s lost any of its visual drama, though.

The all-white, vaguely ovoid cabinet is smoothly finished – unlike its big brothers, the Reactor is a single-piece unit – with heat-sink fins at one end and the company’s uniquely decorative driver grille covering a 3cm full-range aluminium driver at the other. On either side sit the equally distinctive covered woofers, each a 10cm aluminium dome and arranged in a push/push configuration. They’re guaranteed to add some visual pizzaz and excitement – as if any more were needed.

The overall impression is halfway between old-fashioned hair-dryer and futuristic toaster. It’s safe to say you can’t buy an alternative product from an alternative brand that has anything like the individuality of the Phantom Reactor.

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On the outside, there’s not much going on at all. The top of the cabinet features five discreet touch-sensitive controls: play/pause, volume up, volume down, Bluetooth pairing/input selection and a ‘link’ control for use when setting up the speaker via the Devialet app.

Above them there’s a tiny light which lights up with different colours depending on what the Phantom Reactor is up to. And towards the bottom of the rear of the cabinet are the physical sockets: ethernet for ultimate network stability, mains power and a 3.5mm hybrid analogue/optical input for hard-wiring external sources. There’s also a power/standby/reset button.

On the inside, though, well, that’s a very different matter. Devialet says it has taken everything it’s learned from the bigger Phantoms in its range and applied all those lessons here - just on a smaller scale. Which means acronyms galore. Power is supplied by Devialet’s patented ADH technology. It clocks in at 900 watts in the case of the Reactor 900 we’re testing here, but if that sounds a bit excessive and you’re interested in keeping your spend to less than a grand, the £990 Reactor 600 can be yours. It has - you guessed it - 600 watts of power.

Analogue Digital Hybrid amplification combines Class A’s acknowledged superiority of sound with Class D’s compact, energy-efficient characteristics, and it allows Devialet to keep dimensions down to a minimum. And Devialet has embedded a 24bit/192kHz hi-res DAC into its ADH architecture too, meaning high-resolution audio (via ethernet and DLNA or the digital optical input) is on the menu.

Perhaps the most overt example of Devialet’s unblinking commitment to hyperbole is its Heart Bass Implosion technology. Like its bigger siblings, the Phantom Reactor’s opposing woofers are hermetically sealed under tremendous pressure – 200kg, in this instance. This HBI methodology is a big part of both the aural impact and visual drama of the Reactor when it’s doing its thing. However, Heart Bass Implosion is the sort of phrase one should only utter when wearing a cape and a domino mask whilst engaged either in crime or crime-fighting.

On top of ADH and HBI, the Phantom Reactor boasts ACE (Active Cospherical Engine, which optimises the spread of sound from the Reactor’s unusually shaped enclosure) and SAM (Speaker Active Matching, a hifalutin way of explaining the Reactor’s signal processing).

In short, Devialet has gone to an awful lot of trouble with some of the technologies incorporated into the Phantom Reactor (as evidence by the 160 patents it includes), and it’s not about to understate them.

As mentioned, the most basic controls are integrated into the Phantom Reactor’s chassis, but for anything beyond volume up/down and play/pause, you’ll need the Devialet app.

It’s a clean and logical app, utterly unremarkable in appearance – which means it’s most unlike the device it controls. It’s dominated by a large rotary volume dial, with input selection across the bottom of the screen. ‘Online’ allows you choose between Spotify, AirPlay and UPnP, ‘Aux’ awakes the hybrid 3.5mm input and ‘Bluetooth’... well, you get the picture.

There’s quite enough going on with the Phantom Reactor itself without saddling it with an eccentric app. Stability and convenience are all anyone wants from a control app, and the iOS/Android Devialet app has both.


Devialet Phantom Reactor 900 review a bassheavy speaker with dramatic looks

There’s a peculiar dichotomy between the way the Phantom Reactor presents itself and the sound it makes. On the one hand, Devialet badly wants you to be impressed by its blue-sky thinking, its lavish use of expensive and complicated technologies, its absolute commitment to individualism and its unmistakable looks. On the other hand, its audio priorities are basic: bass, and plenty of it.

That’s not to say it’s a one-trick pony. Devialet is claiming a frequency response of 18Hz all the way up to 21kHz, and there’s no doubt every area of the frequency range gets a fair crack. The rattling treble sounds of Miles Davis’ Concierto de Aranjeuz (Adagio) are crisply and accurately rendered, the textural and tonal differences between castanets and tambourine made absolutely explicit.

Further down, the Phantom Reactor does fine midrage work with vocalists, and the more characterful the better. Massive Attack’s Mezzanine , for example, features the likes of Horace Andy and Elizabeth Fraser – and there are few more idiosyncratic singers around. The Devialet gives full rein to their quirks, delivering the former’s mighty vibrato and the latter’s breathy hiccupping in full. There is an opulent amount of fine detail on display here, and it helps make the Reactor among the most communicative and explicit wireless speakers around.

But ultimately, the Devialet – just like the song goes – is all about that bass. Fire up OutKast’s Ms. Jackson and it’s apparent from the off – the Phantom Reactor digs remarkably deep and hits implacably hard. It’s far from a blunt instrument, though – the differences in timbre between processed bass drum and slapped bass guitar couldn’t be any more obvious. The solidity and assertiveness of the bass reproduction here is remarkable.

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All of this bass presence is accompanied by a hectic flurry of movement from the drivers on either side of the cabinet. This startlingly obvious driver excursion would be a cause for alarm in any other speaker, a visual signal of excessive volume and imminent driver damage. But disquieting thought it is at first acquaintance, this is simply what the Devialet does. Your music has never been so visible.

Despite this bass-happy emphasis, though, integration throughout the frequency range is pretty smooth. The Devialet’s a dynamic listen, too, with more than enough oomph to put decent distance between the quietest and loudest parts of a recording. Where the Phantom Reactor struggles is in describing a stage and, particularly, generating an idea of space.

Ironically, the Phantom Reactor’s sound is as hermetically sealed as its cabinet. No matter if you’re listening to a song as complex and involved as Talk Talk’s Desire or as bone-headedly straightforward as Fat White Family’s Whitest Boy on the Beach , there’s a sense of congestion to the presentation, of sounds piled on top of one another. It’s not so much that the Devialet has a problem spreading sound – it’s more than capable of room-filling volumes, and the ACE technology distributes sound evenly and in all directions – but rather that the audio information is piled up like a wedding cake. There’s very little elbow-room on the stage the Reactor describes, very little space between instruments and, as a consequence, a slightly claustrophobic quality to the sound.

It’s not a ruinous trait, but it’s a trait nevertheless – and, when one is considering spending this sort of money on this sort of product, it leaves the door open to some very capable alternatives. But no nominal alternative to the Phantom Reactor 900 can create anything like this visual impression, nor deliver this sort of sinus-troubling bass response. Daft and deadly serious all at once, the Devialet is number one in a field of one.

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