Audiophiles tend to have a love-hate relationship with so-called "digital" amps. These switching-type designs can deliver extremely high power and very good sound, quite often for a reasonable cost. However, few will tell you that these modern amplifier devices are flat-out better-sounding than a cost-no-object conventional solid-state or tube design. For me, nothing rivals the sound of a pure-class-A solid-state amp no matter how ludicrously large, heavy, and hot it might be.
That changed with the arrival of Devialet's D-Premier, a wildly innovative integrated amplifier from France that blends traditional class-A solid-state technology with a switching-type design. If you haven't read my review of it on SoundStage! Hi-Fi this month, I suggest you do. The D-Premier isn't just one of the best products on the market today for its look and functionally; it's one of the best-sounding amplifiers I've ever heard. If I could afford it (it's about 12,000€ in Europe, $15,995 in the United States) I'd buy it, but I can't so I can only dream of it right now. Back in the '80s Denon used to have the marketing tagline "Digital Done Right." In my opinion, it applies to Devialet right now.
At High End 2011 Devialet made good on a promise by showing a working prototype of their Wi-Fi circuit upgrade, something my review D-Premier didn't have. The new board will be standard on new D-Premiers that ship in the fall when it's available. For current owners, their units are field upgradeable and it's free. According to Mathias Moronvalle, whose title at Devialet is Technical Manager, the Wi-Fi connection will support resolutions of up to 24-bit/192kHz, and it will work asynchronously, meaning the master clock in the D-Premier slaves what comes before it through a sophisticated "clock loop," the goal of which is to make the stream of digital music data jitter-free.
This new Wi-Fi feature for the D-Premier makes an already outstanding product just a little bit better, not to mention a heck of a lot more convenient for those who detest running wires. Digital Done Right? Yes indeed.
Publisher and Founder, The SoundStage! Network