Devialet 200/400 Integrated Amplifier/Streaming DAC

Equipment report
Integrated amplifiers,
Digital-to-analog converters,
Music servers and computer audio
Devialet 200,
Devialet 400
Devialet 200/400 Integrated Amplifier/Streaming DAC

To call the Devialet 200 a technologically advanced audio component is like saying Miles Davis played the trumpet. In fact, there’s no single product-category description that can encompass the 200’s myriad functions and capabilities, nor is there a precedent for the 200’s feature set. The Devialet 200 offers a host of customization and upgrade abilities that have never before incorporated into an audio component. Rather than thinking of the Devialet in terms of traditional component categories, it’s more useful to consider it as a general-purpose multi-function hardware platform controlled by software.

That hardware platform includes a 200Wpc integrated amplifier with a DAC, phono input, wireless streamer, A/D converter (with LP-ripping capability), and subwoofer crossover. The 200’s inputs can be configured to fit into just about any system. Don’t have a turntable but have two analog line sources? No problem. The analog inputs can be configured as line inputs. Conversely, those same input jacks can become phono inputs, complete with adjustable gain and cartridge loading (impedance and capacitance). With a new technology called Speaker Active Matching (SAM), the 200’s output signal can be optimized for your particular loudspeakers.

To give you an idea of this product’s flexibility: My Devialet 200 review sample was shipped to me as the 170Wpc model 170. A software update turned it into the 200Wpc model 200. You can even convert the 200Wpc stereo model 200 into a 400W monoblock with the addition of a second model 200—which also doubles the number of inputs. This configuration is sold by Devialet as the model 400—which as we’ll see does much more than increase the output power.

The 200’s appearance is as radical as the technology inside. About the size and shape of a laptop computer, the chrome-plated aluminum case can be mounted flat against a wall. Only one button, an on/off switch, adorns the front panel (if you can call it that). You interact with the 200 through a square remote control with four small buttons and a huge volume knob. Alternately, you can control the 200 with an app on your tablet or mobile device. The app’s graphic display mimics the remote’s large round volume control, which you “turn” with a swipe of your finger.

Configuring the 200 is quite simple. A page on Devialet’s website shows the 200’s rear panel with the configurable components highlighted. Clicking on, for example, the RCA input jacks brings up a screen that allows you to select between line and phono; and, if you choose phono, the cartridge gain and loading become selectable. Other phono options include mono or stereo, selectable equalization curves, and channel balance. A digital-out jack can be changed into an analog line-out jack, with or without high- or low-pass filtering, with selectable crossover frequency and slope. The signal appearing at the binding posts can be high- or low-pass filtered, again with selectable frequency and slope. These filtering functions are ideal for systems with a subwoofer; the signal driving the speakers is high-pass filtered, and the line-out signal driving the sub is low-pass filtered.

Once you’ve virtually configured your 200 on the website, you download the configuration file to an SD card. You then insert the SD card in the 200’s rear panel, and in a few seconds the 200 has morphed into an audio product with the parameters you’ve specified. Because the 200 is essentially a digital platform, analog inputs, including phono signals, are digitized. You can select a sample rate of 96 or 192kHz in the A/D converter. The digitized signal, from any input, appears at a digital-out jack (RCA). You could use this function to digitize and archive a library of LPs, for example.

I created two SD cards, one with a full-range configuration for driving the Magico Q7s and another with the high-pass and low-pass filters engaged for the Raidho X-1s and a pair of JL Audio e-112 subwoofers (review forthcoming). Similarly, you could create multiple SD cards with different cartridge loadings, for example, and simply swap cards rather than go through the entire configuration process for each adjustment. I found only one drawback to this approach; it’s much easier to experiment with different subwoofer crossover frequencies by turning a knob on the JL Audio subwoofer than by changing the setting on Devialet’s website, saving the configuration file, and updating the 200.

Digital inputs include USB, AES/EBU, TosLink, and SPDIF coaxial. You can also wirelessly stream audio at up to 24-bit/192kHz via Devialet’s AIR Universal Streamer app on your tablet, computer, or smartphone. Wireless connection between the computer music server and the 200 has a theoretical advantage over USB, largely by isolating the computer’s noise from the 200. The AIR app provides asynchronous connection between your computer and the 200; the signal is buffered, and then processed to reduce jitter. You can also stream music files to the 200 via the 200’s Ethernet connection.