I haven't seen this unit discussed here much at all and I am very curious about it. It's a very interesting product that sounds very good in theory and is extremely appealing to a guy like me. I've never been a lover of tubes, analog, LPs, etc. so digital is just fine by me and is usually preferred. Beyond that, there's a definitie appeal to an all in one unit that is very capable. That being said, it raises some questions outside of the obvious "Does it sound like Class D, Class A (or AB), or somewhere in between?". Here are the thoughts that come to mind for me.
- No USB input. They are taking the wireless route here with a WiFi plug-in module that will be a free upgrade for all customers. Devialet's statements about it include the following:
"It delivers distortion-free, asynchronous audio streaming (up to 24-bit/192kHz), using the D-Premier as the master clock to synchronise the data with extreme precision."
It sounds interesting, but WiFi interference can be a nagging issue. As such, I'd prefer a wired connection for pristine quality and reliability. And yes, I know that you can use any number of USB/Firewire -> S/PDIF converters to accomplish this, but a more direct wired connection would be desirable.
- All incoming analog signals are digitized (selectable at either 96/24 or 192/24) for processing and amplification. This means that the DAC and the amp can never be separated. So, if later on you want to use some external DAC, the A/D D/A pathway here limits the benefit (other than support for conversion of a format that this unit can't be upgraded to handle).
- No ethernet. This goes back to streaming. Wired is just plain more reliable.
- Horizontal placement (as opposed to vertically mounted on a wall) means that you can't see the display from across the room. The RS-232 port hasn't been enabled yet (software upgrade is coming), but you could easily see support for 2-way communication when that happens. Also, the WiFi module could make IP control possible, so that's another solution. I also know that Devialet is aware of this feedback and is working on a solution. The idea of a 2-way version of the existing remote has been suggested, but it's unclear if they will go that route. That would be cool, especially if they could just build it in to the center portion of the dial.
- Unclear if any components other than the WiFi module are hardware upgradeable. Most audio components remain pretty much as is hardware wise for their lifetime. In fact, even software updates are unusual and in this way, the D-Premier is advanced in its ability to be pretty extensively upgraded and customized via software. I'd like to see the configurator be available via RS-232 and/or IP control vs. SD card, but that's nitpicking. The hardware limitations go back to the permanently merged nature of the DAC and Amp because it's quite possible that a user might outgrow one side or the other and thus have no option but to move on from the unit entirely.
These are the things that strike me, but there are quite a few more benefits that I think the D-Premier offers. As such, I'm still very interested in it and am pursuing an audition. I was just curious as to what others think about the unit in general and specifically, the issues raised above.
I'm nerdy in the extreme, I'm whiter than sour cream...