Devialet launches the Mania Bluetooth Speaker

Picture this: the Devialet Phantom, reviewed by Jim Austin here, is suddenly sphere-shaped rather than pill-shaped. Now imagine shrinking it down to the girth of a fat grapefruit (or the size of a Cabasse iO3 speaker)—so, a little under 7" in diameter. The Phantom's push-push configuration remains the same, so you'll see the opposing drivers subjected to violent-looking excursions, tortured by brutal bass notes.

That's the gist of the Mania, a pocket-sized, battery-operated Devialet speaker (well, pocket-sized if you don't mind wearing cargo pants). Yes, it's a Bluetooth device, though it also supports Wi-Fi. No, you can't run two as a stereo pair (although just one creates a stereo soundfield). Yes, the Mania slams. No, it doesn't quite sound like it reaches the rated 30Hz bass spec, at least to my ears.

Swathed in a woven gray or black skin, weighing in at 5lb, and sporting a built-in small handle so you can nonchalantly dangle it from two fingers, the Mania is a lifestyle speaker intended for travel and (no pun intended) excursions. The battery life is "up to 10 hours," says Devialet—less if you like your music loud. It's splash-resistant. It's smart enough to sense its surroundings and adapt the stereo image according to the quality and distance of the surfaces it encounters (Devialet calls this "cross-stereo architecture"). In theory, it sounds the same whether it's placed against a pane of glass or in the middle of a room. In practice, there is a difference for sure, but only a fussy audiophile would notice . . . or care.

The Mania isn't for silver-haired audio aesthetes; it's for (I think) young millennials and older Gen Z'ers who'd love to hear their tunes in style wherever they go, and with better fidelity than the average small, cheapo Bluetooth speaker is capable of delivering. Nothing wrong with that if you don't mind ponying up $790 for the speaker itself and another $80 for a dedicated charging dock.

JRT's picture

Devialet, is that Bose translated to French?

Other than lightweight compact battery powered telephonic headsets which don't need to reproduce more than 8kHz at more than single digit bit depth... I am not sure why the consumer electronics market continues to impose the crap-fi of constrained bandwidth Bluetooth radios in wirelessly connecting smartphones to external audio devices when they should be using the much wider bandwidth of WiFi radios, allowing much higher bitrates.

Bluetooth low bandwidth is sufficient for wireless keyboard, mouse, telephonic headset, etc., not for the playback of well engineered recordings of worthwhile music.

Jim Austin's picture

... because it is getting better. It's not there yet, but it's much better than it used to be. When did you try it last? Since you mention bandwidth: The most recent version of Bluetooth, 5.3, is capable of 2Mbps. At 16 bits and 44.1Hz, two channels of CD-resolution data require 1.4112Mbps. So the bandwidth is already there. What's not there yet is the audio codecs, but that's only a matter of time. So, we track it and we don't totally ignore Bluetooth devices.

Another answer, though--and I've just clarified this with an edit--is that the Mania also does wi-fi.

Jim Austin, Editor

JRT's picture

Thank you for taking the time to better inform me about improved bandwidth in Bluetooth.

hb72's picture

With BT codecs from really several years ago, e.g. aptX, LDAC, Apples AAC, Bluetooth gets up to 20kHz, and with LDAC and the best aptX, bitrates get into the realm of Red-book CD Flac. So, definitely good enough for a portable 2.5lbs speaker methinks, and with regard of frequency range better than most old recordings which often fade out at around 15kHz - as do many "audiophile" hearing organs, speaking of it. ;)