Devialet Dione soundbar review: brilliant bass at an exorbitant price

Priced at just $ 2,400, the Devialet Dione soundbar has skyrocketing expectations. This ultra-premium Dolby Atmos bar works solo: it doesn’t come with a separate subwoofer, and the Diavelet doesn’t even sell anything like that. Weighing in at 26.5 pounds and measuring nearly four feet wide, this is a huge home theater piece of equipment that is considerably heavier than the Sony HT-A7000 – let alone something like the Sonos Arc.

Industrial design is unlike anything found on shelves by browsing the more popular deals at your local Best Buy. How many soundbars have a ball formed inside? I bet it’s just this, and not just for sci-fi: the bullet serves as the centerpiece of the audio in this 5.1.2 surround sound system, which includes 17 drivers in total. Whether you put the Dione on a TV stand or mount it on the wall, the ball can be physically rotated to face the viewer in any orientation. (The soundbar comes with position detection gyros.)

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Dione generates up to 950 watts of amplification power, with a declared frequency response from 24 Hz to 21 kHz. This low level is impressive – the Sonos Arc only reaches around 47.6 Hz – and is made possible by the eight long-excursion woofers built into the soundbar. Not only is there no external subwoofer for the Dione, there is also no way to buy rear surround satellite speakers. “Our goal is not to outperform traditional multi-speaker configurations, but rather to offer a plug and play and wireless solution with state-of-the-art Devialet audio quality,” the company says on its website.

More on sound later, but if you assumed the $ 2,400 soundbar would come with a physical remote, you’d be wrong. Instead, you control the Dione with a smartphone app. The setup is very Sonos: you open the app, connect the soundbar to your Wi-Fi network, and then choose which room it is in. Then you can perform a calibration to optimize the audio signal for the specific room size and acoustic properties. Dione has built-in microphones for this, so the calibration works on both iOS and Android. It would certainly be nice if Sonos had a similar solution for its soundbars, rather than relying on customer iPhones for TruePlay.

Having to use a $ 2,400 soundbar control app isn’t perfect.

There are several controls on the soundbar itself.

I have no complaints about the Devialet app, but with so much money there should be a remote in the box, at least as a secondary option. Why should I have my phone on hand to make the most of the $ 2,400 soundbar? This is a completely different price range than the one in which Sonos plays, so the lack of a remote is more tangible. There are touch buttons at the top of the soundbar for a lot of functions, but this requires you to approach it. At least the TV remote can handle basic volume and mute commands via HDMI-CEC.

Speaking of HDMI, the Dione offers no HDMI pass-through – another predator considering the asking price. So you only get one eARC port as well as optical and Ethernet connections. The soundbar also supports Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Bluetooth audio or UPnP for playing files on the local network. (Enabling AirPlay also allows you to set up multi-room audio with the Devialet Phantom speakers.)

As you can see, the Dione outshines smaller soundbars like the Sonos Ray.

While the soundbar doesn’t have custom EQ sliders, it offers dedicated modes for different types of entertainment. The music mode sticks to simple stereo playback, but in movie mode all of these drivers cut through with multi-channel audio. The soundbar supports Dolby Atmos and other Dolby Surround formats – though not DTS: X – and will convert stereo (or mono) content into a surround presentation. There are also surround sound and voice modes if you fancy adding immersion or want the voices to be even more forward than usual.

If you mount the soundbar on a wall, you can rotate the ball so that it points in the right direction.

The Dione has an elegant fabric-covered design.

Okay, so what does this $ 2,400 soundbar actually mean? sound as? For movies and TV shows, it’s perfect. But a single soundbar can’t stand up to physics, no matter the cost. The lack of proper rear channel frames noticeably detracts from Dione’s ability to fully draw you into the scene. Because this soundbar is so wide, you’ll still feel the immersion of the front mix and its two up-firing speakers, but the rear effects that usually put the experience on top are just not very noticeable.

The bass, however, is where Devialet Dione is in a league of its own. I was just delighted with the low capabilities of this single-module soundbar. During watching The Gray Man on Netflix, Dione has mastered the power and roar of a dynamic sequence of planes. With practically everything I’ve tried, a low hum covered the room in a way that seemed impossible without a standalone submarine on the floor. Even at loud volumes, there are no distortions or signs of excessive pressure on the soundbar.

I have the same reaction every time I hear Dione’s bass.

Honestly, sometimes the bass is too big and overwhelms other frequencies. This is really where a manual corrector could come in handy. (There is a “night mode” to cut off some bass, but there’s no way to adjust it otherwise.) Most of the time, voices and dialogue were clear, so I never felt the need to turn on the soundbar’s voice mode. In terms of low impact and presence, I don’t think you will find an equivalent to this in any all-in-one soundbar. But just add a subwoofer to cheaper, competing soundbars and you’ll be in the same field right away.

I was not so dazzled or delighted with the reproduction of Dione’s music. Maybe I’m too used to listening to CDs (or Sonos songs) on neatly placed bookshelf speakers, as even for $ 2,400, I still noticed some of those tonal characteristics and imperfections that are always present when listening to music on a soundbar. The output is not as full or enveloping as I would like, and overall it is less warm compared to regular speakers. This is not bad in all respects: It is no surprise that the Dione is a better music speaker than most low-end soundbars, but it was no better than my much cheaper Sonos Arc. It is a cinematic powerhouse, but not exactly the same showcase of music.

You can’t help but look at the ball. It attracts you.

This is not a mass market soundbar. This is not for anyone planning to expand or gradually upgrade their home theater audio system as a long term passion project. Dione is a luxury purchase for cash earned people who want minimal clutter and something that sounds wonderful through loneliness. They’ll likely pair it with a giant OLED TV or Mini LED TV, perform a room calibration, and then never have to worry about messing around with the settings again. In this regard, Devialet doesn’t have much direct competition beyond Ambeo Sennheiser, which could be replaced in the near future.

But even if I were overwhelmed by the response of the Dione bass, it is too expensive for many consumers, and it would be better if they had cheaper (but still powerful) soundbars from Sonos, Samsung, Vizio, and other brands. The biggest reason is that these multi-component systems can provide a full, compelling surround sound experience that Devialet can’t quite do. Honestly, there is no single soundbar. But I also never thought that any all-in-one soundbar would be able to produce that kind of bass. It’s nice when the assumptions go out the window. Add a few satellite speakers and a user adjustable equalizer to that formula, and the Dione 2 could be something special – and more worthy of its luxurious price.

Photography: Chris Welch / The Verge

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