YAA (Yet Another Abbreviation):
ADH directs us to the 200's hybrid loudspeaker drive in which a current-delivering Class D signal simultaneously bolsters the Class A portion's initial 1.5 watts. Per Devialet's favoured audio-show party trick of 2014/15, music still plays with the Class D module removed (not to be attempted at home), albeit at lower SPL. Also of note is the signal path length between D/A converter and loudspeaker binding posts: 10cm. In practice, the 200 doesn't necessarily ace its rivals as much as offer something different. Watch words derived from weeks spent listening to the 200 driving a red pair of KEF LS50 standmounts were crispness, clarity and composure. Warm and fuzzy the Devialet is not. Initial enthusiasm in the upper mids meant keener than average acoustic guitar string pluck (on Kristin Hersh's Hips and Makers) and cymbal attack (on Neil Young & Crazy Horse's Weld). If that sounds like a recipe for tantalising only those with short attention spans and little else, you'd be half right.

Only once deep into review territory did I learn that the 200's slight stridency and, with some material, treble glare were in fact mostly attributable to a LessLoss DFPC Original power cord, one that previously had successfully breathed greater pep into numerous other components, including a pair of Red Dragon Audio S500 monos. With the bog-standard kettle cord carrying mains power to the Devialet, its audible personality took a chill pill. It sounded better - a re$ult that bucks the trend of this guy's broader experience with Class D amplifiers which on a whole are ultra sensitive to and appreciate of upgraded power cords. Readers of an engineering disposition can debate the why elsewhere. The rest of us sit back knowing that here deluxe mains wire might not only be a waste of cash, it could be detrimental to the overall result. This discovery also meant the return of the 200's slide-on connector cover previously excluded by LessLoss's oversized (Australian) Furutech IEC plug.

On a more abstract experiential level, the 200 didn't offer the come hither aura of Vinnie Rossi's LIO (Class A/B, 25wpc) but proved stronger with dynamics and detail extraction. As the Rossi unit deftly illustrates, not all watts are made equal. The 200's 170wpc caused robust SPL from the LS50 at around -15dB as indicated by the unit's circular display. I expected more in reserve here but no. For those whose switching amplifier prejudice is set to stun, know that the Class D Red Dragons don't dig up quite as much inner detail and textural information when fed by the 200 as preamplifier as the French 200 fella running solo. Neither are the S500 monos as lit up above the neck or impassioned in drawing the listener's immediate attention as the Expert 200.

Another advantage of the 200's digital heart is SAM (Speaker Active Matching), which can correct frequency and time-domain anomalies of any of the 627 loudspeaker models measured by Devialet to date. That number is set to increase more rapidly this year and next. The portable SAMlab speaker measurement unit launched by Devialet at Munich HighEnd 2015 means that now any loudspeaker can be measured by a Devialet-approved technician anywhere in the world and the profile uploaded to Devialet's website within a matter of minutes. However, I'll confess to not liking the full force of SAM when applied to the KEF monitors. It's as if too much is being asked of the speaker all at once, especially in the lower frequencies. Picture a fat man trying to squeeze through a very narrow door way. That's the sound of a SAM'd-up LS50 rendered into visual form. Fortunately, Devialet's speaker correction isn't an all or nothing deal. For gradations we divert to the 200's remote control whose detachable volume-pot ergonomics peg it as one of the finest in all of audio land. 'Le Configurateur' allows us to specify alternate functions for each of its four click buttons. With the centre clicker (2) configured as 'SAM ON/F' and neighbouring button 3 as 'Balance & Tone', SAM correction can be dialled in gradually and according to preference via the rotary. This commentator's favoured sweet spot arrived at a very precise 57%. Even with the same speakers, yours might be different. With different speakers, it's a different deal all over again. Devialet paves the way for each to find their own. Similarly, adjustments to cartridge loading values can be turned up and down with the big ol' remote pad pot, useful for dialling in a fresh cartridge install from the listening position.

A long press of the tone key displays additional information on the porthole-shaped OSD. I found that particularly useful when 1) establishing the installed firmware version and 2) spying the unit's internal temperatures. The 200 doesn't run cool like many other Class D amplifiers. Its mirrored surface can become hot to touch. On a recent Sydney summer scorcher, the 200's guts reportedly tipped 54°C. Does the 200 sound better the hotter it gets; or is the heat wave causing hallucinations? What about digital streaming? USB, RCA configured as coaxial S/PDIF and Toslink all take care of third-party streamers. Some will sound better than others. At one end of the spectrum, I had a Google Chromecast Audio, at the other an Antipodes Audio DX server. Then came a gotcha moment! Even with several weeks of listening, the Expert 200 failed to fully expose the inter-streamer performance deltas which were laid bare by the Schiit Gungnir Multibit and Vinnie Rossi LIO. The shortfall between stock and Wyred4Sound-modified Sonos Connects wasn't quite as arresting as before, either. Perhaps Devialet offer superior noise suppression? Another one for the engineers to explain.