Fascinating to say the least. Here is a 6 litre sealed enclosure speaker reminiscent in appearance of the Dyson school of design, capable of high sound levels down to very low frequencies (16Hz). It contains all the amps, DAC, DSP and so on to make a complete mono three way active speaker.
There is something counter-intuitive about a small box capable of such feats… and sure enough, I think a price has to be paid. I remember reading a very interesting article on building an Extended Low Frequency subwoofer which describes housing a driver in a small sealed enclosure and operating it entirely below resonance, using electronic EQ to flatten the frequency response. Being a sealed enclosure it rolls off at 12dB per octave, and so in this particular example, the smaller system with higher resonant frequency, requires about 16 times as much power to produce the same SPL at 30Hz, say, as would be required for a conventional larger enclosure. In other words, there is no such thing as a free lunch, and in order to save some space in the living room, much coal, oil and gas must be burned, or nuclear waste generated at the power station when playing very loud.
Maybe the Devialet Phantom is the ultimate manifestation of this idea. The white paper makes interesting reading.
…PHANTOM speaker drivers need to be able to create and resist extremely high pressure and vacuum inside the speaker box. We tried to use in the early prototypes the most robust loudspeakers we could find in the market, and the speaker drivers seemed to ‘implode’: the diaphragm fragmented itself into fractal shapes, sucked in by the excessive force resisting the speaker’s intended displacement.
Two versions are available: one with 750W of amplification and one with 3000W – a figure that becomes a positive marketing advantage: people don’t ask how loud the unit goes, they just know that it “goes to 3000W”. Presumably the DSP controller can intelligently limit the power for thermal protection if necessary (reducing the low bass content without affecting the remainder etc.). There seem to be stands available which also act as heatsinks.
An extremely nifty feature seems to be the ability for Phantoms to be synchronised in stereo pairs or surround/multi-room arrays of up to 24 units, all over a wireless connection.
I would certainly love to hear this. It must be very strange to hear and feel clean bass down to infrasonic frequencies coming from such a small box.