Devialet Expert 220 Pro arrives at AudioStream

It was freezing when I returned to the house.

I thought I’d see icicles hanging from the speakers and amplifiers.

You see, I’d forgotten to turn the heat on the day before I returned to our new northern abode after being away for a spell (it’s just outside Desolation Sound, it takes 24 hours to properly warm the place because of radiant heating), so when I arrived you could see your breath as I restocked the shelves and fridge with food and beer.

I figured it was the perfect time to uncrate the just-arrived-that-day Devialet Expert 220 Pro and press it into service helping to heat the loft where the new listening room resides. I’d heard they run a bit hot (unique Class-A hybrid amplification), so I was excited to warm my hands by the reflected light of its highly-polished chrome surface. In the meantime I left my toque on and fired up the rest of the gear in an effort to help the portable heaters already blasting away.

Warming up the 220 Pro.

Devialet America had very kindly shipped the audiophile objet d´art post haste to me after I’d requested a review unit. They didn’t disappoint, getting the 220 to me in just a matter of days once we’d sorted out which model would best suit review.

I’d been looking forward to the French-designed and manufactured Devialet Expert as I have a compatriot in-house with my reference DAC: the totaldac d1-direct by Vincent Brient. While the d1’s primary focus is on ones-and-zeros, needing things like a digital source and amplification to help pass its converted binary signal along to my Harbeth M40.1 loudspeakers, the Expert 220 Pro takes care of not only DAC duties, but amplification as well.

Devialet's unique and tangible remote control.

The Expert 220 Pro is the latest in a line of radically styled integrated amplifiers going back to 2010’s D-Premier that are stuffed with exclusive, bleeding-edge technology, hardware/software and their accompanying 100+ patents.

Devialet has created a box unlike any other, and there’s no hyperbole in saying that the design caused a whirlwind of controversy and awe in the audiophile hobby when it was released almost 10 years ago.

Featuring Analogue/Digital Hybrid amplification.

Containing a raft of features that will literally take me several hours to parse sensibly for the upcoming in-depth review, Devialet has managed to stuff all those extra boxes most of us covet in our hi-fi rig (amp, preamp, DAC, phono stage, streamer, power supply, etc.) into just one piece of sleek, sculpted casework. While this feat is nothing new in and of itself, it’s the way the company has done it that is different; every incoming source – including phono – gets converted to 24-bit/192kHz before being passed along to the DAC and outputted to the speaker terminals.

So, after 36 hours with the latest one-box design from this érudit French digital-audio company in a home that is finally temperature regulated (my hands are warm and the beer is cold, not the other way round), I can say that the Expert 220 has already deeply impressed me sonically and I’m looking forward to hearing just how much aural intensity I’ll be able to wrest from it.

Full review coming in the New Year.

126 Rue Réaumur, 75002 Paris, France

Everclear's picture

You are in for a treat, Rafe ....... Don't read the TAS review before you review it ......... Hint, Devialet Expert Pro 220 with SAM is TAS 2019 Golden Ear award winner :-) .........

Everclear's picture

Devialet Expert Pro 140 with SAM was reviewed by Stereophile :-) ........

jim_anderson's picture

having had the 220Pro with Harbeth's 40.1 for the last couple of years, I am eager awaiting your thoughts on this platform. SAM does a fine job with the 40.1's (please take time to play with the percentage of SAM). My config is limited to digital streaming (Roon) and vinyl (VPI Aries 3D/Dynavector XV-1s).