One startup, one story: what if recorded sound was distortion free?

How a compact speaker can produce a giant bass sound without distorting the higher end of the audio spectrum. Let’s meet Devialet.

When Devialet set about raising funds to develop their distortion-free sound amplification technology, they weren’t just looking for money. They knew they had found something special, and they wanted strategic investors who would nourish it. Entrepreneurs in love with sound.

ADH Intelligence combines the invention of Pierre- Emmanuel Calmel with the vision of Quentin Sannié and the design of Emmanuel Nardin. In 2007, the three cofounders gathered 45 potential investors in a Parisian art gallery, on the pretext that the Rolling Stones played there 20 years previously. Those lucky enough to be in attendance that night were ushered into a very small room, before Devialet turned up the volume.

It was a smart move. When it was time to let the people out, many were overjoyed to the point of tears. That emotion translated into almost €1.5 million in investment, raised in a single night.

Such flair is characteristic of the French company named after an 18th-century French writer few have heard of, Sieur de Vialet, a friend of famous Enlightenment philosopher Diderot. Both men were involved in the feted Encyclopedie (or French Encyclopedia) project, and Devialet’s cofounders claim that the Enlightenment philosophy is the driving inspiration behind their brand.

Devialet is best known today for two high-end speakers that have won 62 awards between them, and still move some people to tears. Their first product, top-of-the-range Expert, retails for US$12,000, while the Phantom, a smaller, more accessible device, sells for around US$2,000.

Both are packed with cutting-edge technologies – 108 of which are patented – that remove distortion from recorded sound, allowing the bass line to come to the fore like never before. The sound is big, but the speakers are relatively small, with a slick French-touch design.

For those who understand the technology, Devialet have invented the first hybrid technology to fuse the preciseness of analog Class A amplification with the power of digital Class D amps, the result of which is unheralded sound quality.

For some fans, this may mean little – but they all understand an amazing aural experience when they hear it. And while Devialet may draw upon French philosophers, it is all about democratizing great sound. The revolutionary startup is committed to bringing the benefits of their technology to the widest of audiences.

Passionate about the idea that we all experience the emotion of music in the same way, no matter what our tastes are, Devialet’s next move is to embed their technologies into TV sets and cars, before turning their attention to laptops and smartphones.

CEO and Co-Founder Quentin Sannie puts it like this: “Through our technologies, Devialet’s ambition is to deliver unforgettable emotional experiences to more and more people”.

If you’d like to know more about startups in France, click here to read the new Business France book about 35 success stories.

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