Freebox Delta with Devialet: what do the audio specialists think?

We read and watched the first tests of the Freebox Delta Player. Obviously, the sound part designed in collaboration with Devialet titillait our curiosity. Here is a press review of the first two tests of the Player.

Free has not yet tested its Delta Freebox to mainstream tech media, the internet provider was limited to a few audio specialists at first. According to the first feedback, as you will see later, the Delta Freebox does not have all the features yet and there are still a bunch of bugs. This does not prevent the first customers to be delivered and the first specialized media to test this new box that has unleashed passions in recent months.
What's in the Delta Freebox?
Before we look at the first opinions of audio specialists, let's look at what's in the Delta Freebox … the theoretical part. As you probably know, this Delta was created in collaboration with Devialet. It is a specialist in French audio that designs its products in France: high-end audio amplifiers, as well as the connected speaker Phantom.
The Gold Phantom
In the Delta Freebox, there are six speakers including three woofers designed specifically for this case. The speakers are distributed all around the Player for 360 degrees sound. To create an immersive sound experience from this single box, there are also electronic stages of signal processing and amplification.

To make the most of this material part, the Freebox Delta would be able to create "a complete electro-acoustic modeling of the said speakers, and to apply numerically to the signal the inverse of this model", as Les Numériques points out. There are a whole lot of signal processing algorithms, including a spatialization treatment called "Space" (to create a dip) and an automatic volume compression called "AVL" Adaptive Volume Level – to adapt the sound power to the content) . This has complicated the work of journalists who are used to testing audio equipment in a dedicated laboratory whose walls absorb all the sound waves. To enjoy the full capabilities of the Delta, it must be installed at home. Moreover, in the video of PP Garcia, one can see the room dedicated to the tests at the headquarters of Iliad: it is not a laboratory, but rather a classic piece.
The picture comes from UniversFreebox
And the first tests of the Delta Freebox?
We come here. For the moment, few tests have been published, Free has really restricted the technical tests to a number of media that is largely on the fingers of one hand. The test carried out by Les Numériques is the most complete, it is Florian Agez, in charge of the tests of audio products, which took care of this product. The journalist-youtubeur PP Garcia also tested the device.
The first thing we notice is that it is difficult to install the Player properly near his television. The machine is 29 centimeters deep and 12 centimeters high. If you install it in a piece of furniture, you will deteriorate the acoustics of the Player, and if you put it in front of the TV … the Delta is too high and hides a piece of the screen.
For all these reasons, it seems clear to us that this Freebox Devialet has the arguments to motivate everyday use only in a portion of its potential buyers. Be sure to be part of it before letting yourself be seduced by its spectacular qualities.
The best solution is to install it about 10 centimeters from the wall under a TV hanging on the wall. The two speakers at the back will then radiate to the rear and side walls and use the reflections of sound waves to expand the perceived sound field.

Let's talk about serious things. The Digital is rather seduced by efficiency of the enclosure:
(…) it manages with amazing efficiency to make us forget that the sound comes from a single speaker, this feeling of wrap is well and truly perceptible, certainly light, but perfectly conducive to immersion in a film or music .
On the other hand, the spatialization is not extremely precise, because the enclosure remains very compact. This will depend on the acoustic characteristics of the listening room and the positioning of the speaker.
The journalist still talks about the fact that many bugs are present, the box will receive many updates of its firmware. This is a plug and play system that is not designed for audiophiles, and the effects and treatments can not be disabled manually. Note also that Netflix only works in stereo mode for the moment, it will still wait for a firmware update of the box or application.

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The video of PP Garcia is very complete, the journalist-youtubeur spent two afternoons in the offices of Free to test the enclosure. His conclusion joins that of Les Numériques:
Indeed, it can make the effect (…) it is wrong in terms of precision HiFi, it is a product that is not a product HiFi, Devialet has the hand on the sound. There is volume and amazing power in view of the size of the device, but do not expect this player to have the sound of a soundbar kit at 500 or 600 euros, this is not the purpose of the maneuver. We have a plug and play system with audio quality so worked that we do not always know what we are listening (…) a permanent control, a lot of engineering work, but it's not surround, c is a product that goes straight to the point. This product is intended to be installed and functional immediately.
Moreover, in this video we can also discover the interview of a Devialet engineer and the integration manager at Free. We learn that the Player has no microphone for sound reproduction and that it must be placed near a wall. The triangular shape of the Player would have been chosen to allow the membranes to vibrate without moving the case. Finally, the Dolby Atmos can be processed virtually, it will be deployed later. Regarding the HDR, it is HDR 10 and can not be Dolby Vision because of its SoC (Snapdragon 835).
We will have the opportunity to test the device at the beginning of the year. In the meantime, do not hesitate to share your opinion if you received the box at home.


Where can I buy the Delta Freebox at the best price?
Read on FrAndroid: Getting started with the Delta Freebox: technologically impressive, financially questionable


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