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Devialet Dione review: Exceptional sound at a premium price

Andy White
1 Jun 2022
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
1,990
inc VAT

The Devialet Dione is a stunning soundbar with a price tag that puts it out of reach of all but the most affluent home theatre enthusiasts

Pros 
Superb sound quality
Striking aesthetic
Innovative orientation options
Cons 
Very expensive
No in-built smart assistant
Limited EQ options
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There’s something magical about the audio products Devialet produces and the Devialet Dione - its first soundbar - is no exception.

It encapsulates the French manufacturer’s penchant for avant-garde design but, unlike last year’s Devialet Gemini earbuds, puts in a stellar performance on the audio front, too. The patented “Orb” that sits front and centre of the bar delivers unmatched dialogue clarity and the low-end hits home with frightening impact when the eight subwoofers kick into action.

Dolby Atmos content is handled extremely well, although the side- and up-firing drivers don’t quite manage to create the sonic envelopment discrete rear speakers would. The Dione also lacks a built-in voice assistant but, when a soundbar sounds and looks this good, a lack of smarts is easily forgiven.

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Devialet Dione review: What you need to know

The Dione is Devialet’s inaugural soundbar and an all-in-one system designed to offer a viable alternative to surround sound setups incorporating a soundbar, discrete subwoofer and rear speakers. It houses 17 drivers in a 5.1.2-channel configuration capable of reproducing a frequency range of 24Hz to 21kHz, is powered by 950W (RMS) of amplification and can be wall mounted.

Like most modern high-end soundbars, the Dione supports the Dolby Atmos object-based surround sound format and wireless music streaming courtesy of Spotify Connect. It can also be incorporated into a multiroom system via AirPlay 2, making it an ideal companion for Devialet’s Phantom wireless speakers.

There’s no support for Dolby Atmos’ big rival DTS:X or Chromecast, and the Dione makes do without a voice assistant or remote, leaving the Devialet app and your TV remote as the primary ways of controlling the soundbar.

Devialet Dione review: Price and competition

The Devialet Dione will set you back £1,990, making it the second most expensive standalone soundbar we’ve reviewed behind the Sennheiser Ambeo, a hulking great bar that features two more height channels than the Dione.

Not far behind them is Bang & Olufsen’s Beosound Stage. The Stage has gone up in price since we reviewed it last year and costs £1,499 for the aluminium/black model, £1,799 if you want it in bronze aluminium/taupe and £1,999 for the smoked oak/grey finish. It’s only a 3.0 system, so lacks a subwoofer and height channels, but does have Chromecast built-in.

For £1,599, you can pick up the Samsung HW-Q990B, a 11.1.4-channel system that includes a soundbar, wireless subwoofer and wireless rear speakers. It’s supremely immersive and has Amazon Alexa built-in but isn’t as practical as a single unit soundbar.

If two grand is more than you’re willing to pay for a soundbar – let’s face it, it will be for most people – there are a number of premium standalone soundbars costing rather less. The Bose Smart Soundbar 900, Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 and Sonos Arc are all available for £899 and there’s not a huge amount to choose between them.

The Sonos Arc has the edge in terms of how well it articulates height effects, the Panorama 3 is the best-looking and most musical of the trio, while the Bose is the prudent choice if you own other Bose speakers. If you think you might want to add a subwoofer or rear speakers at a later date, both the Bose and Sonos support this but the Panorama 3 doesn’t.

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Devialet Dione review: Design and features

With 17 different drivers to accommodate the Dione is, by necessity, a large soundbar. It measures 1,200 x 165 x 88mm (WDH), which is a couple of centimetres taller than the Panorama 3. That additional height might not seem like much but it did mean I had to elevate my 55in Philips 806/12 to prevent the bar obstructing the bottom of the screen.

This won’t be an issue with a lot of TVs, however, as most have a lot more clearance under their panels than the 806/12. It’s also worth noting that the Dione weighs 12kg, so wall mounting may require a second pair of hands. The kit required to mount the soundbar is included in the box, as are optical and high-speed HDMI cables, which is just as well given how much the Dione costs.

The Dione is designed in such a way that it can be placed horizontally on a flat surface or mounted vertically against a wall. But the ingenuity in its design comes from its ability to deliver a consistent 5.1.2-channel sonic experience in either orientation. Key to this is Devialet’s patented Orb, a speaker enclosed in a sphere that functions as the centre channel and sits in a recessed section in the middle of the bar. It can be rotated to fire forwards in either orientation and this, combined with a repurposing of a number of the speaker drivers, ensures an immersive output whichever way you choose to install the Dione.

What were up-firing Atmos drivers with the bar sitting on a shelf become front left and right channels when wall-mounted, while the previously forward-firing speakers now run along the top of the bar and project sound upwards. You’re asked to specify which way around the bar is when setting it up via the Devialet app but there’s an option there to turn on automatic detection and have the bar adjust the speaker configuration automatically via the built-in gyroscope.

The Orb is likely the first thing you’ll notice about the Dione but, look past its unique appearance, and you’ll appreciate what a well-constructed soundbar it is. The build quality is superb and the grey fabric covering the speakers provides a nice contrast with the rest of the bar, which is finished in darker anodised aluminium.

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Devialet Dione review: Controls and connections

The Dione doesn’t come with a remote control but there are a few touch controls on the bar itself. These cover your basic commands: powering the Dione on and off, playing and pausing audio content, increasing and decreasing volume, putting the bar into pairing mode and muting the four built-in calibration microphones.

You’re unlikely to use them very often, however, as the Dione can be controlled using the Devialet companion app or your TV remote if you’re connected via HDMI. The Dione is also compatible with Devialet’s Phantom remote but, at £179, this is a pricey extra on top of what is already a very expensive purchase.

In terms of physical connectivity, the Dione keeps things simple with HDMI (eARC), Ethernet and optical TOSLINK ports tucked away at the back of the bar. Manufacturers are increasingly favouring a single HDMI port over multiple HDMI inputs, saving space on the bar but putting a greater onus on your TV having ports available to connect other devices such your PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X or Blu-ray player.

Wireless connectivity comes in the form of dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0, while Apple AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect are both supported, too.

Devialet Dione review: Sound quality

I’ve mentioned the four built-in calibration mics and you’ll definitely want to run a room calibration before settling down to enjoy the Dione. The living space in which I did the majority of my testing has a very high ceiling and there was a noticeable increase in performance pre- and post-calibration.

Once calibrated, however, you’re relatively limited in terms of audio customisation options. There are four sound modes on offer but these can only be applied to non-Atmos content, and there’s no way to manually adjust the Dione’s EQ. Instead, the Dione uses proprietary Devialet audio technologies to deliver consistently great sound no matter what you’re watching or listening to.

“Adaptive Volume Level” functions like a dynamic equaliser, automatically adjusting how loud individual elements are within any given scene. The technology, which debuted in the Devialet-developed Sky Sound Box – is a success. Bass, mid-range and treble all felt well-balanced and dialogue always remained clear, even when set against the backdrop of gunfire and explosions.

Devialet’s trademarked “Space” spatial audio processing technology upscales any mono or stereo content into a 5.1.2 signal to enhance immersion. It works reasonably well; you definitely get a greater sense of scale but height effects aren’t as impressive.

Movie mode sees mono and stereo sound over HDMI or optical converted into a multi-channel output tuned for cinematic impact, while Spatial mode applies a similar principle when listening to music or other audio content wirelessly.

Music mode disables any spatial processing to leave you with a stereo soundstage more reflective of the artist’s original intent, while Voice mode highlights and enhances dialogue. It’s the least useful of the quartet, as the Dione’s centre-channel Orb already does an exceptional job of delivering speech.

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Indeed, vocal clarity is one of the Dione’s strongest traits and impressed me consistently across TV shows and movies. Channel 4’s Derry Girls is driven by snappy exchanges between characters with thick Irish accents and will quickly expose any centre channel shortcomings. But the Dione handled it with aplomb, articulating the nuances of each individual’s voice crisply from its wondrous little orb.

That proved as true at low volume as it did at maximum volume, although I had to turn the Dione down whenever Clare looked even mildly upset to avoid having my eardrums shattered by her high-pitched screaming. That should give you some indication of the power the Dione is packing: its 950W of amplification filled my open-plan kitchen and lounge with sound with ease and audio even made its way up into the mezzanine relatively unscathed.

There was plenty of breadth to the soundstage thanks to the side-firing drivers bouncing back sound waves off the walls and the forward throw proved extremely impressive. Height effects were less impactful but that was to be expected given a ceiling height of roughly 6m. I moved the Dione into my office space for a couple of days and recalibrated it and the lower ceiling resulted in a much more convincing sense of verticality. It didn’t quite feel like on-screen objects were directly overhead but their audio cues certainly sounded as though they were coming from well above my eyeline.

The final piece of the sonic jigsaw is the Dione’s bass response and boy, did it hit the spot. Devialet says its eight subwoofers can dig as deep as 24Hz, and, based on my experience, I wouldn’t dispute that figure. The gentle rumble as Luke Skywalker used the Force to elevate frogs in The Book of Boba Fett illustrated the Dione’s ability to deliver a rich, controlled low-end but this is a bar that truly excels when things get heavy.

Cranking the bar up to maximum volume on the Atmos mix of the latest season of Stranger Things didn’t quite have the room shaking but it wasn’t far off. I could feel the weight of bass frequencies in my chest during dramatic scenes, adding immersive intensity to the terrifying onscreen action.

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Devialet Dione review: Verdict

The Ancient Greek name Dione translates to “goddess” and the Devialet Dione sounds heavenly. Calliope, the goddess of epic poetry, would have waxed lyrical about the vocal clarity, while Zeus himself would have applauded the thunderous impact of the eight subwoofers.

The inability to manually adjust the EQ is a little frustrating but hardly a crime worth being sent to the Underworld for, particularly when the various audio optimisation technologies do such an impressive job across a wide range of sources and content types. One could also dwell on the lack of an in-built smart assistant and additional HDMI inputs but neither prevented me from revelling in the Dione’s audio output like Dionysus at a bottomless brunch.

If you don’t already own a surround sound speaker system and are able to fork out £1,990 for a soundbar, the Dione will take your enjoyment of TV, movies and music to a whole new level. It’s a wonderful all-in-one soundbar that, befitting of a goddess, remains out of reach for most mere mortals.

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