Speaker manufacturer Devialet claims to be the master of sound, producing a crisp noise that even the most discerning audiophile would deem perfection. This month it launched a pop-up in London’s King’s Cross St Pancras station to promote the latest Gold edition of its hero Phantom speakers. Owned by the world’s elite, the Phantom Gold speakers can be heard spitting bars from Jay-Z’s studio, booming pop from Madonna’s penthouse and blasting Bollywood hits from Shah Rukh Khan’s film sets.
Situated right in the middle of the station’s concourse is the sleek and futuristic Devialet store. The crisp white façade is elevated by gold Art Deco-inspired graphics, contrasting wooden plinths and angular glass display cases that ensure the space stands out from the surrounding stores. Everything looks really impressive – not to mention the striking speakers themselves which could easily be mistaken for astronaut’s headgear. However, unless the people walking by already knew a fair deal about sound technology, it wouldn’t necessarily be clear why the Phantom Gold is so special (beyond how they look of course).
Beneath each speaker is a little blurb of detail (e.g. frequency 16 Hz – 25 kHz power 750 W of amplification sound pressure level 99dB SP) that feels quite steeped in jargon and hard to understand. For customers who aren’t knowledgeable about sound, this info may seem irrelevant to them and their lives. I suspect many potential customers rushing through the busy concourse may stop to look at the store because it is beautiful, but they may not be tempted to venture inside and experience the sound that the speakers’ have to offer. Furthermore, the store staff simply repeat the jargon when asked to explain the features. There is an iPad that shows which devices and sources the speaker is compatible with, what celebrities own them and all the great press they’ve received.
Once ushered inside the space, the assistant asks you to choose any song you want the Phantom speakers to play. The sound is undeniably sharp, clear and beautiful, even at 70% volume it blocks out all the outside noise and every spec, scratch and scrape of production can be heard. The Phantom Gold speakers definitely live up to the hype and will hopefully make Devialet converts of all that experience them.
Sound geeks will not be disappointed by this Phantom Gold experience. Choosing to set up shop in King’s Cross St Pancras station was a clever way for the brand to appeal to a wide range of people and attract new customers. They could perhaps have capitalised on this positioning further by making the tone of voice and information offered to customers a little more accessible. However, once inside the store, the experience of Phantom Gold is impressive and likely to win Devialet quite a few new fans.
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