To Jeff Fritz,
I read your piece with interest about Devialet and Tidal in which you questioned whether they had lost their high-end way. Please allow me to share my perspective.
The jury is not only not out on the newest Devialet product, it hasn't even heard the evidence. (Actually a few have heard it, albeit at Devialet or at shows and were impressed, but they have not published formal reviews so far.) Even if the Phantom is merely a "lifestyle" product, if it allows Devialet to remain profitable and supplies R&D money for new hi-fi technology or expansion of the SAM program, then that's not a bad thing. All it has really to do is look and sound like at least a $4500 stereo. I have little doubt it does. "One day, everyone will own a Devialet" they say. Well, maybe they really do want it to be possible for anyone of at least moderate means to own one of their products and be pleased. Will the 200 become any less attractive if its maker also offers technologically advanced products that are not the highest of high fidelity? I would hope that people with their egos in check wouldn't feel that way. Has Devialet perhaps declined to provide reviews samples to audiophile journals in favor of publications with much larger readership? I could understand that strategy if they already know that their latest kit might not pass muster for whatever reason, valid or not, with some of the pickiest of the picky but would be an object of desire and admiration for a far larger part of the population. On the other hand, maybe the Phantom can play in much of the audiophile and lifestyle populations just fine. Time will tell, as you say. And I hope you get a review sample, soon.
Tidal faced a predicament. On the vast majority of stereos and ears, the distinction between 16/44.1 and 320kbps is neither detectable nor relevant. An arguably modest delta in sound quality is a hard thing to sell when it resonates with too few people to matter. Tidal needs millions or tens of millions of subscribers to ensure its future. If focusing on music-biz personalities makes the company viable while it continues to offer CD-quality streaming, then audiophiles will win, too. If Tidal focuses on audiophiles primarily, it will vanish and perhaps almost did.
The lesson here is that those at the top of the food chain still need the food chain.