The phrase “as we went to press” is often a euphemism for something happening close to the date of publication, but in the case of the latest update for the Devialet Expert 1000 Pro, it really was “as we went to press”. Within a minute of signing off the issue containing the Devialet Expert 1000 Pro review for printing, Devialet announced that its latest update unlocked Roon for the Expert range. This doesn’t invalidate the previous review, but the step of making the Devialet a Roon endpoint does make Devialet’s electronics seem even more attractive.
The fact Devialet can simply unlock Roon through firmware, rather than a deeper level hardware update speaks of the capacity of the Expert’s processing power, and how much it holds in reserve. Running Roon on a device can be a little more ‘nuanced’ than it seems in simple description, and – if we are being truly honest – requires more on-board processor firepower than many products can muster. It usually requires a wholly new model or extensive upgrading of the digital processing boards. This is why very few older models can achieve compatibility with Roon. Devialet, in part due to its constant upgrade path, and because of that inherent reservoir of processing power, has no such issues with Roon.
Updating the Devialet was performed in the company’s usual way; the SD card in the rear panel is removed and connected to your computer running Devialet’s Configurator webpage. As this also stores your configuration history, it should already have record of the products you use and how you configured your system. Load the latest firmware (and your custom CONFIG files) onto the SD card, insert it into the rear of your Devialet, press and hold the front power button and let it do its stuff.
Adding Roon means the purchase of a license and the download of Roon’s Core program (from roonlabs.com) and control programs or Apps. Roon then interrogates your stored music library (and ideally your TIDAL account) and builds an integrated music service. Adding Roon Readiness to the Devialet means Roon ‘discovers’ the Devialet on your network, automatically delivers music at its best possible format to the Roon Ready device, and takes over the control of the device. In other words, Devialet cedes control to Roon, and the listener effectively ‘lives’ in Roon’s Control app. Devialet’s own programs are all but forgotten once this takes place.
If this all sounds a little bit Invasion of the Body Snatchers, then you haven’t got what Roon can do for you. This is entirely understandable as it doesn’t easily translate from actions to page. The best way of thinking about Roon is it’s like inviting an infintely knowledgable and benign musicologist to simultaneously act as your personal musical curator, navigator, and butler. If you combine Roon with TIDAL in particular, you almost immediately stop thinking of music in terms of ‘your collection’ and ‘online’ and instead everything becomes one big musical mash-up. This still doesn’t quite get across the significance of Roon. Trial it, and you will.
Devialet and Roon are made for one another. The limitations of the Devialet system – Devialet Air and the lack of UPnP – move from ‘potential deal-breakers’ to ‘unimportant trifles’. The Devialet Expert amps effectively become thin clients for Roon, and you realise that perhaps this is the best way of working with audio electronics – let the computer side of things do all the heavy lifting, and let the amplifier get on with being an amplifier. There is also a commonality of elegance in the interfaces of both Devialet and Roon – they do not attempt to copy one another at all, but Devialet’s ability to control a sophisticated, complex digital amplifier using four buttons and a dial echoes Roon’s skills in allowing you to navigate your way through music like an eel through seaweed. In fairness to Roon, the programs are platform agnostic – so long as you have a Roon Ready device, Roon will support it. You could have a Bluesound box in one room, a Krell amp in another, and Devialet’s Expert models in a third, and it will all work together. And yet, I can’t help feeling that Devialet and Roon together benefits both in a way we’ve seldom seen. Even the Naim Nova’s ‘Roonification’ effectively replaces one extremely good app system for another. It’s more of an enhancement than a transformation, but with the Devialet and Roon combination, it’s a genuine transformation. I simply cannot imagine – or even understand – why someone with a Devialet that is Roon Ready is not a Roon user now. This is the best meeting of America and France since Mr. Hamburger hooked up with Mlle. French fries!
OK, of the two parties, Devialet is the one that gains the most here. Roon effectively gets more sign-ups (this is not insignificant – anyone willing to spend almost twelve grand on an amplifier isn’t going to spit feathers over Roon’s $499 lifetime membership), but Devialet takes its already state-of-the-art amplifier platform and transforms its music interface to suit. The sound of Devialet remains unchanged throughout; the classy, effortless, and extremely detailed presentation that stays on the ‘clean’ side of brightness remains just as attractive as it ever did. But now, instead of almost having to make apologies for its computer interface, Roon gives it the best in the business. This transatlantic marriage is set to go the distance!
Connections: 1× Optical Toslink, 1× combined Optical Jack & RS232 Mini 3.5mm, 1× USB for computer or USB-fitted turntable connection, 1× Ethernet RJ45 for connection to LAN, 1× AES/EBU input (XLR), 4× S/PDIF digital inputs on RCA (or two analogue line level inputs), 1× Phono input – Adjustable Gain and sampling frequency (96 or 192KHz, fully configurable, MM or MC, load, sensitivity, 1953 or 1976 RIAA standard), 1x trigger, speaker terminals and subwoofer output. Optional AIR wireless
Power output: 2× 1000W into six ohms, adjustable from 50-1000W via online configurator
ADC: PCM 4220, 24 bit/192 kHz – upsampling of all content
DSP: 400 MHz 4 channels 40 bit/192 kHz floating point
Switch Mode Power Supply: 600W, peak 2100W
THD+N (harmonic distortion) at full power: 0.001%
IMD (intermodulation) SMTPE: 0.001%
SNR (Signal-to-Noise ratio): 130 dB unweighted
No measurable thermal distortion
Output impedance: < 0.001 Ω
Bandwidth, digital inputs @ 8 to 2 Ω load: DC–87kHz (–3dB), DC–60kHz (–1dB), DC–30kHz (–0.1dB); analog inputs: same except 0.1Hz (-3dB)
Dark Chrome finish, single aluminium block case
Dimensions (W×D×H): 38.3 × 38.3 × 4cm
Manufactured by: Devialet
Tel: +44 (0)808 168 4944 (UK only)
Roon supplied by Roon Labs:
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