Devaliet and 802 Diamond Suggestions

staxguy -- Wed, 05/09/2012 - 19:50

I had a great listen today to the B&W 802 diamond loudspeaker, with the Devaliet D-Premier with Transparent Reference XL Cabling. A McIntosh SACD player was delivering the music, unforunately analog out, as the Devaliet digital input was not configured as it was.
The sound was absolutely fabulous - without fault to my ears and mind, and quite revealing. The volume level (with a Single Devaliet, and 802 vs 800 diamond) was rather limited, but it played to what I felt was a good level, without audible distortion. Compared to a Totem Element Earth and Metal, I felt I was hearing about 80% more sound in terms of retrieval. 

Previously I had heard the Devaliet with the Element Earths in a smaller room, and basic Transparent cabling, and loved it. Perhaps the digital input on the Devaliet previously vs the analog one today contributed to the greater impression of detail I got before on the same material (CD vs FLAC previously).

The Totem Element Earth in comparison to the 802 diamond was emintently more musically tunefull and engaging, however it was clear comparing the two that the level of hearing was nowhere near the same. Not even in the same ballpark.

The 802 diamond however, was nowhere as musically tuneful and engaging as the Totem Earth. Replacing the power cord to the Devaliet with a thick Harmonic Technology chord at the saleman's suggestion improved the engagement, as did adding a Transparent power conditioner in the chain.

It was almost now as if the sound was coming from a single driver per channel, for better and worse. I was now drawn into the music, but the music was now greatly lacking in response and sound staging depth, not to mention a huge loss in detail.

The sound was now somewhere tuned between the original 802 diamond and the totem element metal, somehow. Very musically engaging, yes, but lacking the total engagement of the totem element earth, and the seemingly total detail of the 802 diamond loudspeakers.

I felt that I would wish the 802 diamonds should I be composing music again - they would force me to make less exagerated and pronounced changes, as these would come off as "cartoonish" on such revealing loudspeakers.

Should I be buying speakers as a gift, or wish everyone to have a pair, it would be the Element Earths and the Devaliet as a combination. Forgetting the price, this is the system to me that seems to warrant anyone getting into hi-fi, musically - you can hear such a clear difference between this and what you would hear at a "box store" stereo wise, it is not funny - and the combination is so musical, you will engage and get into your music, fully.

It's more like being at a live event - the PA and microphones may not be fanastic (as may not the man at the mixing console) but the immediacy of the playing, tone and rhythm hypnotically and physiologically into the moment, willing it onward, and hanging on a thread to the next.

The 802 diamonds however sounded literally fantastic - I can now see why they are approximated to high-end products costings multiples more - you hear is it everyhing, for better, or mostly for worse (in terms of a less than fantastic recording). 

As for the Devliet, having held the remote now, and looked at the amp, while operating it, I can see why it is comapred to a luxury or bespoke product - it feels and looks the part, and certainly sounds it, compared to more expensive combinations.

I am absolutely glad I heard the Devaliet with the 802s. Perhaps a second Devaliet would of brought out the soul and movement of the music, as opposed to most hyper-hyper details, lost by less revealing, but equally expensive equipment. With Classe, and 802's (600W per channel, upsampling CDP), the bass was amazing (sub-woofer like) but the mids and upper frequencies were sketched and reminicent of two-low sampling rates and bit-depths (say 12 bit 24K samping). With the Devaliet, it was stunning (and pristine...!) in all ranges.

Next is hopefully hearing the Scala Utopia's also with the Devaliet. I have heard it is not a two-fold jump in performance to correspond to the two-fold jump in speaker price, yet there is supposidily somethingly ineffeibly better there. Let us see!

Two wrap up, I was quite impressed by the sound and the resolution and the sonic holography of the combination, but was left without my musical heart-strings engaged, and perhaps worried about the volume levels possible. I stopped with about 0.5 cm of outward displacement of the 802 woofers, as was unsure of how far they should be driven. The audible distortion without the power conditioning and after-market cable was neglibable, and it was again amazing what was there, on a simple contemporary recording.

I guess future "reviews" should be more propper and include mention of source material, but this just my 10c here, on some very worthwhile audio equipment.

Had the Element Earths been $1xxxx a pair instead of $9xxx, I would of bought them on the spot. The sounded mainstream, and fanstic. As the 802 diamonds are $15-16xxx, I will listen to what I can up to the top of the market, as available to see how they compare musically.

The Sanders Sound System 10 sounds most promising outside of what is availble locally, as does the MBL 101 xtreme (forgetting value, as I can not justify and place such a speaker in my current home - just two small and not magnificent  really - my listening room and condo :(). I can certainly see value in the Sanders, and I love the electrostic "sound!" :) The promise of decent volume levels and frequency extension sounds promising! :D

Any thoughts?

TheArt (not verified) -- Thu, 05/17/2012 - 15:39

Hi Staxguy,
I’m the same fellow who advised you to HEAR the Focals before you get too excited about them.
I can see that you’re a step ahead of me there – Good!
I mentioned several speaker brands in my other reply, but not Totem Acoustics. Maybe I should have! I personally use the Totem Mani-2’s (similar to the new Elements ‘Fire’), and have rejected ‘upgrades’ to many larger & more expensive speakers, because they just sound ‘right’ (i.e. musical, involving, live, etc.). I would take the Totem sound over the Focals (any model) in half a heartbeat.
Now, there are a couple of things you wrote above that I’m not sure I understand… or if I do, I find them troubling.
Re: Totem Earth vs B&W 802D, you wrote “the level of hearing was nowhere near the same. Not even in the same ballpark.”
What do you mean by “level of hearing”. Do you mean volume? If so, it’s no surprise that one speaker is more efficient than another, and SURELY no indication of value or quality. Totems are famously inefficient, and needs lots of power to sound their best. But the amp you’re playing with has 240 W/ch. You should have no problem driving ANY speaker with that. But when comparing speakers, you will always need to adjust volume so that they sound equally ‘loud’ to you, and you should never worry about efficiency unless you’re short of Wattage.
BTW, if you like Totems you should also consider Magnepans. I’ve heard the new Maggie 3.7’s and they are KILLER, esp. for $6K/pr. First speaker that has made me seriously consider changing in MANY years! And since you have the $$, check out the new flagship Maggie 20.7’s – probably even better! The only caveat is that Maggies, like Totems, need plenty of Watts to really ‘sing’.
 Re: Scala Utopia, you wrote “I have heard it is not a two-fold jump in performance to correspond to the two-fold jump in speaker price, yet there is supposidily somethingly ineffeibly better there.”
How do you measure increased performance? It’s not a number or a formula. You can never expect an increase in performance commensurate with an increase in price… in any audio gear, or car, or just about anything. In audio, as you pay more the differences become smaller. The justification of course, is that these small differences can make a big difference to an audiophile like me.
The other part of this is “supposedly something effible…”. Sounds like you still haven’t heard them, but sombody has been telling you how wonderful they are. Do NOT allow yourself to be influenced!
If you EXPECT them to be wonderful, they may well do so… until you’ve had them in yoiur room for a few months. Keep an open mind; I know many audiophiles who dislike Focals as much as I do. And I’d have to say the Focal ‘sound’ as pretty much opposite of Totems. But it’s only your opinion that counts!
Re: Totem Earths, you wrote “Had the Element Earths been $1xxxx a pair instead of $9xxx, I would of bought them on the spot.”
Are you saying that they sound great, but aren’t expensive enough to buy? You mean that they “can’t possibly” be as good as they sounded to you… because they don’t cost enough?? If so, Staxguy, that is insane! How about, you buy the Totems and send me a few $K for my good advice?
Seriously though, if you like the Totem sound, but need to spend more than $9K – for whatever reason – why not consider the updated Totem Wind (about $15K)?
Here’s something to consider: I’m a VP in a very large ‘Audio Society’ and two of the other board members are close friends. In fact, we all use the same preamp. The other two guys own Avalon Eidelons ($23K/pr) and Marten Birds ($35K/pr). And yet they both marvel at how ‘honest’ and ‘alive’ my system sounds… using $5K/pr Totems.

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