Looking for one of the best portable Bluetooth speakers but fancy something a bit, well, 'more fancy'? Feast your eyes on the Devialet Mania, which I tried (and, indeed, photographed – as you can see throughout this article) in central London a couple of weeks ahead of its official unveiling.
Now, as the name suggests, this particular Devialet product – the French audio brand's first portable speaker – is a bit of a, well, maniac... but in a good way. That's because it's super loud (95dB), has a full frequency range at its fingertips (from as low as 30Hz), and it automatically reads its surroundings for optimum stereo output wherever it's placed (or moved to).
Devialet Mania is portable yet punchy in delivery
The Devialet Mania's diminutive size is contrasted by its weighty stature (at 2.3kgs it's hefty for a portable – but in a kind-of reassuring way), a necessary part of its build quality to assure stability. Much like the company's higher-end Phantom products, which I think have an air of similarity about their design aesthetic, you can watch the Mania maniacally pushing out bass with great visual 'wobble' from those exposed woofers.
This is a Devialet trait as far as I'm concerned: if you've ever been lucky enough to see or hear one of its Phantom products (which are bloomin' expensive, but bloomin' great in the same breath – it's what I'd buy if I had the cash anyway!) then you'll be familiar with the dual woofer design. Sure, it's different in the Mania, but it's still impressive in how effortlessly it can bosh out low-frequencies.
It's not just woofers, of course, with the Mania deploying a quad full-range driver setup, each of which are positioned in an angled upper position to outwardly project sound out in a more immersive way. That's what Devialet pushes as one of the Mania's unique sells: the spherical design means the left/right channels 'crossover' on opposite sides, so you get a stereo soundstage wherever you are in relation to the speaker. It's nifty and effective. But it's not exactly Dolby Atmos levels of three-dimensional sound dispersal.
Devialet's main competitor: Sonos Move
I've heard loads of portable speakers over the years, but as such products have evolved they've become more specifically targeted. The Devialet Mania is, indeed, much more than a Bluetooth speaker: there's Wi-Fi, so you can use Airplay 2, Spotify Connect, all that usual good stuff to onboard your tunes in the highest possible quality. Or, if you want to take it outside in the summer when you're firing up the barbeque, you can do that away from a network and connect over Bluetooth no problems.
The most obvious rival that springs into my mind when looking and listening to the Devialet Mania is the Sonos Move. The latter product has been around for a few years now, and it's certainly accomplished (my brother owns one, so I typically connect to it when working at his place; although it can be a PITA to connect to quickly), but clearly there's space in the market for something new and competitive.
Where the Devialet Mania very much delivers on its Devialet-ness (not a word, but it is now) is in its asking price. While this is the French audio brand's "entry-level" speaker, it'll still set you back a cool £690/$790/€790. That's about 50 per cent more than the Sonos for the Devialet prestige.
Devialet Mania: any downsides?
I do also think the Devialet has gone a bit strong on the inclusion of buttons in its 'handle' design. There's six buttons – on/off, Bluetooth, play/pause, volume up, volume down, and battery level – which are useful, but the app will suffice to, er, handle everything you need.
When it comes to battery life the Devialet Mania delivers an apparent 10 hours per charge, while taking three hours to fully recharge from zero. The flat-to-the-table included charger (and there's a cable and plug in the box, in case you're wondering) is very nicely designed, easy to place the speaker onto (or remove it from) and much less obtrusive than the Sonos' more 'wedge' charger design.
Having listened to the Devialet Mania I must say I'm impressed. It'll sound a little bass-heavy to some, perhaps, but that's exactly what I want from a small and portable speaker that'll deliver top-notch sound wherever you decide to put it. And I find it hard not to become almost obsessed with that Devialet 'bass wobble' from the woofers. That alone might make it worth the admittedly tall asking price...