I'll make no secret of it up front: I'm a big Devialet fan. At least, I particularly love the French audio company's Phantom line of products. Which are bonkers expensive, brilliantly capable, and, much as I'd like to own a pair, I unsurprisingly do not.
Which is what makes the Devialet Mania seem immediately appealing to people like me: this is Devialet's version of 'affordable', and while still not exactly pocket change, I can totally see why in the current economic climate the brand is putting some focus to a speaker that's under a four-figure asking price, aiming to be one of the best wireless speakers out there.
However, the competition in this market isn't exactly sparse, even from other high-end brands' hardly-budget (and generally more wired-to-the-wall) offerings. I did think as a Sonos Move alternative that the Devialet made some sense though.
So can the Devialet Mania, the company's first portable speaker and one in contention for best Bluetooth speaker, hold its own in this already bustling market? As the brand changes its hand to other areas of focus, such as home cinema with its super Devialet Dione soundbar, the odds are seemingly in its favour...
Devialet Mania: Price & Availability
So just how much cash are we talking about? In the UK the Mania is £690, in the US and Europe it's $/€790, while you won't find it on sale in Australia at the time of writing.
So, yes, Devialet's version of 'affordable' is far from cheap, but this is a decadent brand anyway. Its Opéra de Paris special edition version, finished with gold trim, is even pricier at £890/$990, so make of that what you will.
The interesting part is the comparable competition. While Naim makes the Mu-so Qb (2nd Gen), Bowers & Wilkins the Zeppelin Wireless, Bang & Olufsen the Beosound Emerge, none of those are wireless products. It's only really the larger-yet-cheaper Sonos Move that's likely to catch most people's attention as a logical alternative (you could almost buy two of those to Devialet's one).
Devialet Mania review: Design & Setup
The Mania's box looks a bit, er, maniacal really, finished in a wash of purple sploshes that remind me of a certain cider brand's Wild Fruit packaging. Thankfully you needn't stare at the box for long: pull the Mania out from its cubic clutches and the colour palette of the speaker itself is entirely de-hued to a range of greys and blacks (Light Grey and Deep Black are indeed the official offerings on sale).
I have to say I think the design will be divisive though. I like how its design language echoes that of other Devialet speakers, namely the Phantom, with a near-spherical and symmetrical shape being really eye-catching. That's all finished in metal and coated in fabric and is totally in-line with what I'd expect from the brand.
The odd part? That plastic 'strap' which contours around the centre part, acts as a carry handle, and just lacks that real luxe look and feel. It's too run of the mill to look convincingly Devialet for me. It's also where the six buttons are housed, which function just fine, but do have oddities such as the battery level being on the opposite side of the actual battery display (error?) and the multi-coloured light indicator behind that plastic not illuminating especially convincingly through its surface.
Anyway, I got used to that 'strap' soon enough and, frankly, it is a really easy way to cart this portable speaker about with ease. The Devialet Mania's diminutive size – it's roughly the size of a football, kind of, at 176 (W) x 139 (D) x 193mm (H) – is contrasted by its 2.3kg weight, which makes it rather hefty. The reason is simple enough though: the use of materials is paramount here, and Devialet doesn't scrimp where it matters (well, the strap aside).
Setup is a cinch, too, with the ability to use the Mania as a Bluetooth speaker or Wi-Fi connected device via the Devialet app (iOS/Android). Adding the speaker is as easy as connecting it to your Wi-Fi network and then you'll be given a whole variety of typical source options, from Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz, TuneIn, among others.
There's also the prompt to setup Amazon Alexa if you'd like voice control, which I prefer to leave off, and there's also microphone status display in the app – this is actually controlled by the physical slider switch on the lower portion of the strap though, which reveals a subtle orange beneath to show that's active (i.e. 'off').
Devialet Mania review: Sound Quality
Before I get in to how I find the Devialet Mania sounds, it's worth exploring one of this product's clever features: Active Stereo Calibration. This is real-time calibration which the speaker performs every time it's moved, in order to understand the space in which it's been placed. By judging the sound reflections of nearby surfaces, whether it's in an open room or outside, or positioned against a wall, it will auto-optimise the sound profile.
This Active Stereo Calibration works really well, too, providing stereo sonics in a much more spritely manner compared to when you switch the feature off. You can do this via a simple toggle control within the app and the difference is night and day. I like that it's automated, totally faff-free, and certainly effective. It's a lot less bother to setup than, say, Sonos' iPhone-only TruePlay feature.
Fire the Mania up and there's no doubting its bass capability or general authority of sound. It's loud and robust in its delivery, although it's not powerful enough to fill out big rooms in my opinion, excessive volume sees everything come a little unhinged overall. Given its size, however, this isn't a giant surprise.
The other immediate take-away is that Devialet is really bass-focused, with a particular penchant for the low-end, but at the cost of the high-end and mid-levels for various genres of music. I was listening to a rock show on BBC Radio 1 and while not flat, the profile just lacked the kind of pep I would expect, with too much bass and a lack of sparkle.
Fortunately this can be tweaked within the app, with a simple bass/treble adjustment slider. I do wish the app had a more detailed EQ adjustment, as I'd tinker away to get a more rounded sound, which I'd want to save as a preset per genre, for example (this not being possible as it stands).
However! It appears to be rather genre specific, as once I dabbled in various Pete Tong mixes and releases (I'm having a bit of a house music moment in 2023) and the speaker gave such 4/4 tunes an enthusiastic lease of life. So if you like your dance music, the Devialet will be a perfect portable, with all the bass you need. For some other genres, it's less than perfect to my ears, when I'd expected it to be more adaptable.
So where is all this sound coming from? The Mania deploys dual woofers, front and rear, which are mesmerising to watch as they wobble away when outputting low-end frequencies (and it's capable down to 30Hz). There's also a quad full-range driver setup, each of which are positioned in an angled upper position to outwardly project sound outward in a more immersive way.
Devialet pushes this as one of the Mania's unique sells: its 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, which is a given.
When it comes to battery life the Devialet Mania delivers true on its 10 hours per charge, and I've been playing the tunes pretty loud in the office (and kitchen, and living room – such is the pleasure of a true portable). When the battery is low it doesn't warn you with any sounds at all, though, it just goes off, which is unusual. You can monitor the battery within the app on a percentage-based system, which is good, and as there's a plug included in the box a recharge from dead to full only takes around three hours.
Devialet Mania review: Verdict
Having listened to the Devialet Mania for a number of weeks I was eventually impressed. It's not suited to all genres of music, as it's generally bass-heavy, but for those who like the low-end stuff this is a decent small and portable speaker that'll deliver enthusiastic sound wherever you decide to put it – its Active Stereo Calibration working really well for automatic adjustment.
The most obvious contention is, of course, its generally high asking price, especially considering the likes of the Sonos Move have been out for a number of years already and available at a lower price. I do find the smaller Devialet product easier to cart about and connect to via Bluetooth, and some will find it more visually interesting, too, as from the right angle the finish is certainly eye-catching.
So is the Devialet Mania worth its asking price? For some it will be on the basis of build and bass alone. No, it's not up to Phantom levels of audio delivery, but it's telling of the times that Devialet is diversifying its product line-up for a wider potential audience.
As I've laid out in the price section of this review, there are loads of wired speaker alternatives that might suit you better for an at-home experience: the B&W Zeppelin Wireless and the Naim Mu-so Qb 2 being two great examples.
If it's wireless portability you want, however, then the Sonos Move remains the most obvious, capable and cheaper alternative to the Devialet Mania.