Paris-based audio hardware startup Devialet has raised $106 million in funding from a large group of investors that include Jay Z’s Roc Nation label, Chinese electronics manufacturing giant Foxconn, Renault, Sharp and Playground Global, the venture capital company founded by Andy Rubin, the inventor of Google’s Android mobile operating system.
What brings an auto manufacturer, a record label, a TV manufacturer and a mobile computing pioneer together, you may ask? The simple answer is good sound.
Devialet’s founders have been working since 2007 on improving digital sound quality. In 2010, the company released its first product, an amplifier that promised audiophiles with lots of disposable cash superior sound. “There is no distortion, no noise,” said Devialet co-founder Quentin Sannié in an interview with Variety this week.
Devialet also built a speaker based on that technology, which sells for a whopping $2000 at Apple stores and elsewhere. “It’s not a cheap product,” admitted Sannié. “It’s luxury experience.”
However, the speaker is based on custom-designed chipsets that could potentially power much less expensive products, including TV sets, mobile phones and car stereo systems. “It could be an affordable technology,” said Sannié.
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Devialet is now getting ready to license these chipsets to partners, which will likely include investors like Sharp and Foxconn. Sannié said that consumers may be able to buy first products powered by his company’s technology as early as next September.