The Duevel Planets are really about a more holistic experience than the individual attributes. Plus they add in “space” (no, he didn’t)… a kind of surround, if you will. In a past article for SonicFlare, I described my experience with the Headroom Desktop amplifier and Beyer 880 headphones as more analytical than emotional… more as a flat picture in front of you versus a space you can walk into. The Duevel Planets are the opposite in both ways as they fill the entire room with energy and physical music. They bring the tunes alive while still creating a delineated sonic map in front of the listening position and between the speakers. It’s really amazing.
The Duevel Planets are omni-directional speakers and the first pair I have ever had in my living room. They are a two-way and their woofer measures 150mm (6in) and the tweeter 25mm (1in). The drive units sit atop a 260mm wide x 156mm deep x 830mm tall (10in x 6in x 33in) enclosure. The drivers fire upwards into chrome “planets” or spheres, or balls… one the size of a softball over the woofer, the other the size of a golf ball over the tweeter. The golf ball over the tweeter sits lower than the softball over the woofer. The user guide suggests having the tweeters face the outside. The vertical height of the spheres are at about seated ear level. The spheres are made of a polished light metal. They ring when you tap them.
The Planets have an unbelievably effortless low-end output. I couldn’t believe it when I first heard it. Others who have visited and listened asked if there was a subwoofer in the room or an extra bass driver in the cabinet. There wasn’t and there ain’t. At first the low end was too much, but over time it tightened up. The break-in period for the low end seemed to be around 100 hours. It was completely gradual though. Not a one-day-it’s-too-much, next-day-it’s-just-right thing, but gradual. And now the low-end output is robust but not over-bearing. I tell you, I really like the bottom end of these speakers. They sound rich at all output levels.
Almost every visitor has remarked that they can NOW hear and feel the bass. NOW? Yep, with all the other speakers I have had in my living room over the last few years, only the Verity Audio Tamino’s had the kind of low-end output that your average non-audiophile would notice and appreciate. Many speakers had very defined and obvious bass, but usually only in the sweet spot… that narrow 2-3ft wide location in the center of the couch. That spot that only one loner or perhaps two intimate friends could occupy at once. Not the case with the Planets. The sound is there to be enjoyed by everyone in (and out of) the room.
The Duevel Planets are not large at all as you can read in the dimensions above. They take up very little floor space. And that’s a good thing as they need to be out in the room, away from the back wall further than most other speakers. I have them out about one foot further from my standard speaker position (about 3 feet total). But again, thanks to their small footprint, and fairly short height, it’s not a big deal.
Visually, they are not a speaker to shy away from. They’re attention grabbers and conversation pieces for sure. The shiny spheres suspended by aluminum cross supports, floating above the grey monoliths really stand out in a room… especially against wood and stone floors and a brick fireplace. They’re quite modern in that retro-fun kind of way. If the Planets were a turntable they’d be a Transcriptors. If they were a chair, they’d be a “Ball” chair. If they were a car, they’d be a Jetsons’ mobile. I think they’ll be classics one day based on their physical design alone. With their sound quality and sound experience, especially given their price ($1,195), I expect them to be as popular as the audio version of the VW Bug.
The system the Duevel Planets enlivened is my usual reference. The amplification is the Rogue Audio Stereo 90 and the preamp is their Magnum 99. My analog setup is a Rega P25 with Dynavector 10x5 thru a Gram Amp IISE. Digital is the new-ish Cambridge Audio 840C. This is a really neat CD player that has 2 digital inputs that it then will upsample to 24-bit/384kHz. I am using one of the inputs fed with an optical cable by my Airport Express. The Cambridge Audio 840c is a really impressive CD player. I had a more entry-level Cambridge player many years ago when I was starting to build my first system. I’ve had many CD players in between. This Cambridge Audio 840C is one of the best I’ve had. It’s very well built and very musical. Back to the system… cables are Van Den Hul, Shunyata and Straightwire. I’ve got a vintage KLH 17 tuner and the whole system sits on a Finite-Elemente Pagode signature rack.
With the Duevel Planets, I equally enjoyed and divided my listening almost equally in thirds between CD’s, vinyl and FM. The Planets had me enjoying the music from each source almost equally. The liveliness in any place in (and out of) the room, let me enjoy FM typically more in the background. The Planet’s imaging, detail and full-range sound had me enjoying music played on CD without ever really thinking to analyze it. The air and foundational low end had me enjoying my record collection with my friends… having our attention diverted from listening to enjoying many a retro tune from my 80’s college days.
We have this awesome radio show here in Philly on WXPN the last Friday eve of every month. It’s called “Land of the Lost” and is hosted by Robert Drake. The last playlist had bands like The B52’s, the Cure, Adam & the Ants, Heaven 17… you get the idea. This past-last Friday, we were driving back home at the tail end of a night out and the tail end of a “Land of the Lost” show. We continued the show with our friends and my own set of 80’s goodness… with bands like Tears for Fears, Aztec Camera, Elvis Costello, The English Beat, The Mighty Lemon Drops, The Replacements, XTC and more. All this on vinyl from my college days. With the Planets, the tunes filled the room, the drinks flowed, the music was fun, alive and pleasantly reminiscent… for everyone in the room.
It’s awesome when a new component drives me to experience a musical genre in a way I had not appreciated before. This was my experience with the Duevel Planets and Classical music. I am trying to learn about Classical music. Through the Planets, the classical recording fill the room and more convincingly create the space of a real concert hall. The low end output of the Planets really helps the classical recording seem more live as both bass instruments and bass ambience are properly relayed. I have not mentioned much about the treble output of the Planets because mainly it just doesn’t call attention to itself. There’s great detail and good timbre. A little break in, much shorter than the 100 hours for the low end, smoothed out the treble just a bit. It was never annoying and I was immediately impressed with the texture and resolution. Most important is the seamless transition and overall one-ness of the sound from the Planets… versus analyzing the bass and treble.
A couple of weeks after the Planets arrived, Ted Lindblad, the US distributor for Duevel, called to see what I thought. He had also just gotten his first pair or Planets. This is the first US review of the planets and I think I’ve got pair number two in the states. Back to Ted… he asked me what my initial impressions were. I told him I was immediately impressed with their all-enveloping sound and their robust low-end and detailed yet musical and extremely ambient high-end. I told him I felt the Duevel Planets were very “social” speakers. He said he knew exactly what I meant. I wasn’t even sure what I meant and it has taken me weeks to write about them because I kept thinking about that one word definition Ted and I agreed on.
I think I now can articulate what I meant. The Duevel Planets are “social” for many reasons. They are outgoing while never offending. They like to be noticed and be part of the scene. They’re not shy. They don’t ask you to analyze or over-think, while they relax you in their wash of sound. You can always hear what they’re saying but they’re not too loud. They’re quite striking visually. Most of all, they’re the life of the party. They’ll strike up a musical conversation with anyone and everyone in the room. And everyone will leave the party with fond and fun memories of their time with the Planets.