Best Wireless speakers in different price categories 2019

Portable or mains-powered, bluetooth and wi-fi, happily affordable to really rather expensive, these are the best wireless speakers on the market 2019.

Amazing speakers dampened by bugs | Devialet Phantom Gold review:

The Devialet Phantom was met with wide praise in the audio community a few years ago for achieving something rare: a truly full-range, compact high-end speaker. The speaker is about the size of a Sonos Play:5 but can extend below 20hz on the bass while maintaining hi-fi sound. That it looked like a futuristic orb designed by space-faring creatures didn’t hurt.Two years later, Devialet is improving upon the original Phantom with an upgraded model dubbed the Phantom Elevate. It bumps up the wattage from 750 to 1,200, and max volume from 99 db to 101 db. Meanwhile the price was cut from $1,990 per individual speaker to $1,690.I say ‘new’ in quotes because the upgrade is partly a software one. Devialet used what it learned creating its most powerful speakers, the Phantom Golds, and figured out how to pull more power from the original Phantoms, although the update is only compatible with devices produced after November 2017.A few disclaimers: I had not heard the original Phantoms outside of listening rooms and it’s been a while since that. I’m testing a pair of the Phantom in my studio apartment, which is far from an ideal testing environment. And though I’ve listened to all sorts of hi-fi headphones, my experience with speakers in this price range is limited.All that being said, the Phantom sound wonderful. Against my Sonos Play:5 – excellent speakers in their own right – there’s no real competition: the Phantom sound better in pretty much every respect, unless you prefer more (muddier) bass. As one would hope, considering the price difference.


From the outside, very little has changed – the Gold Phantom shares the same enclosure as its Silver sibling, and for the second time in a year we find ourselves struggling to find comparisons for the Devialet’s striking looks.At 26cm tall and 25cm wide, it’s similarly proportioned to one of those clever Dyson vacuum cleaners, but at 11.4kg, not quite as easy to tow around the floor.On the shelf in the showroom (or on one of its elegant, additional-cost support options Tree, Treepod or, for wall-mounting, Gecko), only the 22-karat gold-plated covers on each side of the Gold Phantom set it apart from the Silver. Well, those and the extra £500 on the price ticket.


There are some changes beneath the skin, though. The Texas Instruments DAC of lesser Phantoms has been replaced by a proprietary converter embedded in Devialet’s Analogue Digital Hybrid (ADH) technology.Branded ADHV2, it combines Class A and Class D amplification in an effort to maximise each technology’s inherent benefits while minimising its equally inherent shortcomings.The Gold Phantom tweeter is a titanium dome, a theoretical upgrade on the aluminium alternative used lower down the range. And, of course, there’s that whopping increase in peak power.Despite the DAC changes, the Gold Phantom tops out at the same maximum audio file resolution of 24-bit/192kHz as its Silver relative.Bandwidth is increased in both directions, though, down to 14Hz at the bottom end (where sound becomes not so much audible as physical) and 27kHz at the top (where sound is of much more use to a dog than to you).
The Gold Phantom is designed as a wireless speaker, of course, and has both Bluetooth and wi-fi connectivity.But there is also a digital optical socket for legacy equipment, and an ethernet connection for those who value signal stability over decorative minimalism.And for the seriously monied, multiple Gold Phantoms can be configured to work as everything from a stereo pair to a surround-sound cinema package to as many as 24 discrete zones using the cost-option Dialog hub.Control of any or all of the Gold Phantoms in your particular set-up is via the Spark app for Android, iOS and Windows.

More after the break

At every turn, there are big numbers attached to the Gold Phantom experience.As well as those concerning price or power, there’s the 1.2 tons of pressure required to hermetically seal the Phantom cabinet and the 30kg of thrust force driving the lateral woofers (this configuration, whereby the hermetically sealed woofers function under tremendously high pressure, is – with no apparent sense of hyperbole by Devialet – called Heart Bass Implosion).For all its complicated architecture and crowd-pleasing numbers, the Gold Phantom functions as a wireless speaker in the most everyday sense: it’s simple to set up and equally painless to control.Its spherical, omnidirectional nature makes positioning it pretty straightforward (within the confines of its weight and size, of course), and getting the Devialet to a state of readiness is child’s play.


If you think the Gold Phantom looks a little mysterious as an object, it becomes downright dramatic when it starts to do its thing.We start our investigations with a Tidal-via-LG G5 smartphone-derived listen to Nice Up The Function by Mr Scruff and Roots Manuva and, blimey, the Devialet is a sonic and visual handful right from the off.Sonically, it’s the low-frequency speed, punch and manoeuvrability that’s initially most impressive.This is a tune with a deep, stop/start and fast-moving bassline, and the Gold Phantom handles it with a nonchalance that speaks of unarguable authority and control – the out-and-out substance of the bass it generates is more commonly associated with great big drivers and even bigger cabinets.It hits startlingly hard, offers tremendous tonal and textural variation even down at the limits of its extension, and displays ballet-slipper poise to go with the iron-glove impact.Visually, the Devialet is like no other device outside the Phantom range.
Accompanying the brick-cracking bass is a hectic flurry of movement from the side-firing woofers, the sort of alarmingly visual driver extension that in any other circumstances would have us leaping forwards to reduce the volume and prevent possibly terminal damage.But this is simply what the Gold Phantom does – it flaps its wings like a creature long since evolved beyond needing to fly, yet retaining a species memory of how it’s done.It’s a bit of visual theatre you simply don’t get with any other product. Elsewhere, it’s a similarly singular and confident story. Switching to a 24-bit/192kHz file of Leonard Cohen’s Slow shows off the Devialet’s midrange fidelity.The variable pitch of Cohen’s voice, who was 80 by the time of this recording, is reproduced with the sort of prodigious detail and fidelity that makes his approximate phrasing entirely endearing.
The midrange overall is assertive enough to hold its own despite the low-end onslaught it’s riding above, but deft enough to reveal the minutiae of a singer’s palate-noises between lines of song.It’s grippy and poised, striking a reasonable balance between attack and subtlety. The move to a titanium tweeter means the Gold Phantom has greater reach, better management of transients and an altogether crisper high-frequency presentation than that of its more affordable siblings.
The relentless ride cymbal and general percussive whirlwind of Elvis Costello & The Attractions’ charge through Nick Lowe’s (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding is delivered faithfully, the Devialet’s remarkable ability to reproduce treble sounds with instant attack and equally accurate decay just adding to the overall propulsion of its presentation.For all of its forcefulness, though, the GP has the ability to handle the gossamer fragility of Nina Simone’s I Got it Bad with sensitivity.Such a languidly intense recording is rather at odds with the Devialet’s general modus operandi, but it gives the song decent weight of emotion. The timing, and general sense of interplay between musicians, is admirable.
Ultimately, though, it’s happiest when delivering a well-controlled storm of action.The company’s website describes the Gold Phantom as capable of “ultra-dense sound with physical impact” which – while hard to argue against – isn’t, we don’t think, an entirely positive thing.For all the fidelity demonstrated throughout the frequency range, there’s a lack of separation and space to the sound that makes the Devialet sound dense in the manner of fog – everything happens at speed, with an assertion that sometimes borders on aggression, and the small-ish soundstage as a consequence is not so much muddled as crowded.There’s the sense that Devialet has overachieved with the Gold Phantom’s bass response, almost to the extent the rest of the frequency range has been supercharged to match.
The Good: The upgraded Phantom can stream high-res 24-bit/192-kHz files and it sounds brilliant at both low and high volumes. It really has two secret sauces. First, its Heart Bass Implosion (HBI) technology, which allows all four drivers to work in perfect unison, maximizing efficiency, minimizing distortion and enabling the speaker to achieve a ridiculously wide frequency range. And second, its new improved ADH2 technology, which allows the speaker to sound way louder than you’d expect from a speaker its size. There are numerous connectivity options, including Bluetooth, Apple Airplay and Spotify Connect. Watching the speaker work, especially with songs with heavy bass like Wiz Khalifa’s “On My Level” and “Jumpman” by Drake, is a visceral experience — it literally takes center stage, no matter what else is happening in the rest of the room.
Who It’s For: Audiophiles, or average joes, that want a statement-piece wireless speaker. It’s a speaker that’s designed to be listened to and looked at. And even though it can work with other Phantoms (you can use them in a multi-room, multi-speaker setup), it’s really designed to work by itself. Also, whoever is buying this shouldn’t really be worried about price.
What To Watch Out For: It has no volume or playback controls on the speaker, so it has to be controlled by your smartphone. It doesn’t have voice control. Like all Devialet Phantoms, the new Phantom isn’t a true omnidirectional speaker. Its two woofers evenly spread bass around the room, but because the tweeter and midrange are located at its head, it’s technically a mono-directional speaker. You can pair two (or more) Devialet Phantoms together in a stereo setup, but that gets expensive and requires Devialet’s own app. The look of the Phantom isn’t for everyone; while some in our office thought it looked cool and unique, others mistook it for a fancy vacuum used to dry wet carpets — and it’s very expensive.
Alternatives: Depending on how you look at it, there are either a lot or no alternatives to the Devialet Phantom. For a better multi-room experience, go for Sonos. For a better smart home experience, go for the Apple HomePod. The Naim Mu-so is probably its closest competitor as a standalone wireless speaker, which is almost as expensive and almost as unique-looking as the new Phantom.

This review is done with the help of TechnoVolume