Just at its $2,400 price tag, the Devialet Dione soundbar comes with extremely high expectations. This ultra-premium Dolby Atmos bar is a solo performer: it doesn’t come with a separate subwoofer, nor does Diavelet even sell one. Weighing in at 26.5 pounds and nearly four feet wide, it’s a massive piece of home theater equipment that’s significantly heavier than Sony’s HT-A7000 — let alone something like the Sonos Arc.
The industrial design is unlike anything you’ll find on the shelves when you browse the more mainstream offerings at your local Best Buy. How many soundbars have an orb molded in the middle? Only this one, I’d bet, and it’s not just there for science fiction: the orb serves as the central audio channel in this 5.1.2 surround sound system, which features a total of 17 drivers. Whether you place the Dione on a TV stand or mount it to the wall, the sphere can be physically facing the viewer in either orientation. (The soundbar has gyroscopes to detect how it’s positioned.)
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The Dione kicks out up to 950 watts of amplification power, with a claimed frequency response of 24Hz to 21kHz. That low range is impressive—the Sonos Arc only reaches around 47.6Hz—and is made possible by eight long-throw woofers built into the soundbar. Not only is there no external subwoofer available for the Dione, but you also can’t buy satellite rear surround speakers. “We don’t aim to surpass traditional multi-speaker setups, but rather to offer a plug and play and wireless solution with Devialet’s state-of-the-art sound quality,” the company says on its website.
More on sound later, but if you’re assuming a $2,400 soundbar will come with a physical remote, you’d be wrong. Instead, you control the Dione with a smartphone app. Setup is very Sonos-y: you open the app, put the soundbar on your Wi-Fi network, and then choose which room it’s in. You can then perform a calibration to optimize the audio signal for your specific room size and acoustic characteristics. The Dione has built-in microphones for this purpose, so the calibration works on both iOS and Android. It sure would be nice if Sonos had a similar solution for its soundbars instead of relying on customers’ iPhones for TruePlay.
I have no complaints about Devialet’s app, but for that much money there really should be a remote included in the box as a secondary option, at least. Why should I have my phone handy to get the most out of a $2,400 soundbar? It’s a completely different price bracket than what Sonos plays in, so the lack of a remote is felt more. There are touch-sensitive buttons at the top of the soundbar for many functions, but this requires you to go to it. At least your TV remote can cover basic volume and mute commands via HDMI-CEC.
Speaking of HDMI, the Dione doesn’t offer any HDMI pass-through – another headache considering the asking price. So you only get one eARC port, plus optical and Ethernet connections. The soundbar also supports Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Bluetooth audio or UPnP for playing files from a local network. (Turning on AirPlay also lets you set up multi-room audio with Devialet’s Phantom speakers.)
Although the soundbar doesn’t have custom EQ sliders, it does offer dedicated modes for different types of entertainment. Music mode sticks to simple stereo playback, but Movie mode is where all these drivers shine with multi-channel sound. The soundbar supports Dolby Atmos and other Dolby surround formats — but not DTS:X — and will convert stereo (or mono) content to a surround presentation. There are also spatial audio and voice modes if you want to increase immersion or want voices to be brought out even more in the mix than normal.
Okay then, what does this $2400 soundbar actually do sound like? For movies and TV shows it is excellent. But a soundbar cannot defy physics, no matter the cost. The lack of proper rear channel enclosure noticeably hurts the Dione’s ability to draw you fully into the scene. Because that soundbar is so wide, you’ll still feel immersion from the front mix and its two speakers moving up, but the rear effects that usually overwhelm the experience just aren’t very noticeable.
Bass, however, is where the Devialet Dione is in a league of its own. I was simply blown away by the low-end capabilities of this monoblock soundbar. When viewing The gray man on Netflix, Dione masterfully handled the power and boom of an action-packed airplane sequence. In virtually everything I tried, the low-end growl blanketed the room in ways that seemed impossible without a standalone floor-standing subwoofer. Even at high volumes, there’s no distortion or signs that the soundbar is being pushed too hard.
To be honest, at times the bass is too loud and drowns out other frequencies. This is really where a manual EQ would help. (There’s a “night mode” to cut some of the bass, but there’s no way to adjust it outside of that.) Most of the time, voices and dialogue were heard clearly, so I never felt the need to activate the soundbar’s voice mode. When it comes to low-end punch and presence, I don’t think you’ll find an equivalent from any all-in-one soundbar. But just add a subwoofer to cheaper, competing soundbars and they’re instantly on the same level.
I wasn’t as dazzled or captivated by Dione’s musical rendering. Maybe I’m just too used to listening to records (or Sonos songs) on carefully placed bookshelf speakers, because even at $2,400 I still noticed some of those tonal characteristics and imperfections that are always present when listening to tunes on a soundbar. The output isn’t as full or enveloping as I’d like, and there’s less overall warmth compared to regular speakers. Is not bad in any case: the Dione surprisingly makes a better music speaker than most low-end soundbars, but it wasn’t head and shoulders above my much cheaper Sonos Arc. It’s a cinematic powerhouse, but not quite the same showcase for music.
This is not a mass market soundbar. It’s not for anyone who plans to add or incrementally upgrade their home theater audio system as a long-term passion project. The Dione is a luxury buy for cash-strapped people who want minimal clutter and something that sounds great just by being alone. They’ll probably pair it with a giant OLED or Mini LED TV, run a room calibration, and then never have to worry about fiddling with settings again. In this regard, the Devialet doesn’t face much direct competition outside of Sennheiser’s Ambeo, which may be replaced in the not too distant future.
But even if I was blown away by the Dione’s bass response, it’s prohibitively expensive for many consumers, and they’d be better off with more affordable (but still high-performance) soundbars from Sonos, Samsung, Vizio, and other brands. The biggest reason is that these multi-component systems can provide a full, immersive surround sound experience that the Devialet fails to achieve. Honestly, no soundbar could. But I also never thought any all-in-one soundbar would be able to produce bass like this. It’s nice when assumptions go out the window. Add some satellite speakers and a user-adjustable EQ to that formula, and the Dione 2 could be something very special—and more than worthy of its luxury price.
Photography by Chris Welch/The Verge