An Atmos soundbar with a thunderous bass performance and immersive audio skills for an all-in-one system. The Devialet Dione entertains in spades, then, but it lacks a degree of dynamism and naturalism with film soundtracks.
- Expansive Atmos performance
- Clever centre speaker
- Weighty bass
- Good spatial mode for stereo content
- Not the greatest sense of dynamism
- Can be heavy-handed with bass performance
- No native DTS:X support
- UKRRP: £1990
- USARRP: $2400
- EuropeRRP: €2190
- SPACEAlgorithm that upscales any mono or stereo signal into a 5.1.2 signal
- ORBCentre channel that can be repositioned based on orientation
- Multi-roomPartner with other speakers through AirPlay 2
French audio brand Devialet is best known for its work in the hi-fi realm, but it hasn’t troubled the home cinema arena with its products – until now.
The Dione is Devialet’s first soundbar, and given the company’s knack for developing audiophile products, it has chosen to go down an ambitious route with the Dione, producing an all-in-one Dolby Atmos soundbar that doesn’t require assistance from surround speakers or a subwoofer.
It’s been in the making for more than two years and comes with a price tag that puts it within spitting distance of the Sennheiser AMBEO – one of the best Atmos soundbars on the market. So what do we make of Devialet’s first attempt?
- Rotating ORB speaker
- French slab of chic design
- Touch controls for operation
Lift the Dione out of its box and you’ll come to know that you’re handling something substantial. It weighs a hefty 12kg (Sony’s HT-A7000 is a mere 8.7kg), including 17 – yes, 17 – drivers inside its 77 x 1200 x 165mm (HWD) dimensions. Whether you’re putting this on a piece of furniture, a dedicated rack or wall, the surface will need to be substantial enough to accommodate this bar.
The height is actually 88mm, if you include the ORB speaker in the middle. The ORB functions as the bar’s centre speaker, and in a novel trick it can be repositioned for optimal delivery of audio, whether the soundbar is sitting on a flat surface or hanging from a wall. It just needs to be rotated and clicked into place.
The majority of the Dione’s core body is constructed from anodized aluminium, which is prone to smudges, so handle carefully. Tough PC-ABS (Polycarbonate/acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) is used for the rear, with most of the unit decked out in a dark grey acoustic fabric. I think the Dione looks fetching in a stately, minimalist way.
There’s a recessed area around the back for connections, with wall-mounting fixtures on its underside, and on the left side of the top surface are a series of touch controls.
The soundbar doesn’t come with a remote, so the onboard controls are one of two ways of operation. The controls cover activating the soundbar’s built-in microphones, Bluetooth pairing, volume, playback control and a multi-function button for power/sources. There’s an LED light that’s just about bright enough to be visible from a seating position and can be turned off in the app.
- Compatible with Phantom remote
- Dolby audio support
- Lots of specific, patented tech
As with any Devialet product, there’s a lot to sink your teeth into on the feature count. The company loves an acronym and capitalised letters, but before I get to those, lets first look at the various connections and driver setup.
There’s a HDMI 2.1 port (eARC/ARC and CEC compatibility), optical and an Ethernet for a hard-wired connection to the internet… and that’s it. The lack of an HDMI input is disappointing, a feature home cinema aficionados would have made use of. It suggests that, like the Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3, this is a soundbar more interested in the lifestyle premium side of the market.
There are 17 drivers in the Dione’s 5.1.2 Atmos setup. That includes eight SAM-powered, long-throw woofers for deep “infrabass”, and nine full-range aluminium drivers that cover the rest of the frequency range. They’re driven by a seriously mighty 950W of amplification.
I mentioned earlier that there were two ways of operating the Dione, but technically there are three. The Phantom Remote is compatible, pairing to the bar via Bluetooth, for changing volume, play/pause and turning off the soundbar from the comfort of your sofa.
The remote is an optional extra, which means most will flock to the Devialet app (Android and iOS), which offers further functionality such as changing audio modes, seeing what track is playing or managing AirPlay 2, Bluetooth 5.0, Spotify Connect and UPnP wireless sources.
There’s no Chromecast and no Tidal Connect, and despite the presence of built-in microphones, no voice assistance either. The four microphones’ primary use is for room calibration, which is quickly and quietly done. You can delete old scans and start another if you move the Dione into another position.
Decoding of audio formats include PCM/LPCM, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Atmos; but there’s no native support for DTS. While there’s no native DTS:X support, it can play multichannel DTS audio by converting to PCM via the SPACE listening mode.
And so we get to the various acronyms and capitalised letters I mentioned earlier. SPACE is Devialet’s upmixing algorithm that upscales mono and stereo content into 5.1.2 audio. The idea is that any non-immersive audio can be upgraded into a spatial mix when activated.
ADE stands for Advanced Dimensional Experience and it creates an immersive soundscape by reflecting sounds off walls and ceilings to give the impression of height and width. Once the room has been scanned, this beamforming technology will adapt the bar’s audio to the room’s acoustics, cancelling out any reflections that might spoil the performance. I should add that since it’s reflecting sound off nearby surfaces, a big, open room won’t necessarily do the Dione many favours.
SAM is Speaker Active Matching, another feature that enhances the speaker’s delivery and bass response. AVL (Adaptive Volume Level) harmonises sound levels in the transition from say, an action scene to a dialogue scene. This aims to ensure scenes don’t bounce from something that’s too quiet to something that’s too loud.
- No native DTS support
- Expansive height channels
- Transitions between loud and quiet stilted
The Devialet Dione is a beast in appearance and a beast in the performance stakes, although what you get from the Dione will depend on your room’s acoustics and size.
But before I get to that, let’s break down the Dione’s characteristics. Tonally, this is a smooth-sounding soundbar, similar to Samsung’s immersive bars than the overtly crisp playback of the Panorama 3 or HT-A7000. I’d actually prefer a crisp-sounding tone for films. In my opinion, it offers more punch and attack in the mid-range and bass frequencies.
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