My first discovery of these fascinating speakers was at the Montreal Audio Show from a few years ago. A local dealer had them set up beautifully with well matched gear SET gear and nothing but some red Barcelona Chairs for company. It was a very musical and stylish presentation.
Jump a couple of years and John DeVore's speakers are becoming regulars in the music rooms of reviewers. This got me thinking to get a review in place here. Our local dealer was helpful in this regard.
Each time I've heard the O/96s, at shows and dealers, they've impressed me. And they look so good. And different.
John DeVore describes his Orangutans: 'With the Orangutan O/96 DeVore Fidelity brings it's award-winning blend of musicality and accuracy to a new speaker designed especially for low-powered tube amplifiers. 10" paper cone with a phase-plug powered by a motor adapted from our Silverback Reference drivers. 1" silk-dome tweeter with a powerful double-magnet motor system gently horn-loaded.'
Easy to drive at 96dB and with a very generous frequency response of 25Hz - 31kHz, the O/96s are easy to set up and system match. I had a quick listen with Audio Note amplification. This seemed a superb match. I had them toed in 10 degrees but straight out sounded detailed and beautiful, too. As a bass reflex design, the rear has two ports.
The speakers come with matching stands (see top photo) and look pretty spectacular sitting atop. The stands get the tweeters just about to ear level.
The fit and finish is completed to a very high spec. Scrutiny of the boxes is a discovery of high end cabinetry finishes. Gorgeous. DeVore uses a baffle board of birch plywood. Two types of MDF are used for the remainder of the speaker, one for the rear panel, another for the top, bottom/sides.
The crossover network is based on DeVore's proprietary 'Gibbon circuit'. Cardas copper binding posts complete the picture.
Unlike the similar looking Audio Note AN-E/La Loudspeaker, the DeVores are definitely not for corner loading. They'll pretty much sing in most rooms with a little aforethought.
The look of the speakers is one of slight eccentricity, if taking in the standard box speaker or electrostatic panels loved by so many designers. John DeVore thinks differently. The 96 in the speaker's title represents the efficiency, one which would be accepting of even the scrawniest SET amplifiers. Whatever you amplifier you bring to the table, the DeVores will walk hand in hand.
As setup, the DeVores throw a huge soundstage with very good imaging. Bernstein's Columbia Symphonie Fantastique was never known as an audiophile gem, but the New York Phil sounded rock solid in place. Along with a huge soundstage, it's the refinement of instrumental timbre that really impressed me. Julius Baker's fabulous fluting of the Idee Fixe floated beautifully in and around the woodwinds. And while floating, his tone remained centered. Lots of speakers can float the sound, but lose the sound's focus.
My discovery of Australian blues artist Fiona Boyes was helped in no small part by the O/96's uncanny ability to capture inner detail. The intimacy and detail they replicate is well above the norm, even from some of the spectacular speakers I've reviewed lately. Boyes' individual (very unique) repertoire sounded gorgeous on the speakers. Voice planted dead centre (superb imaging on the Orangutans) and her unique percussion accompanists also placed perfectly. This new Reference Recording and the 0/96s certainly is a magical musical match [reviewed here].
Much has been written about speaker placement. To my ears, they're pretty benign. Unless you have cloth ears, you'll find a position that works for you. Well out in the room, toed in for me.
The spectacular comes with these speakers in the quality of instrumental and vocal timbres. Boyes' voice was beautifully presented and the noted percussion so wonderfully recorded by Keith Johnson sounded fantastic. So present.
Yet, power's on hand, too. Back to Varese, specifically Arcana, Mehta's LA Decca party piece. A tour de force for orchestra, Mehta's gauntlet sounded brilliant through the Orangutans. Layered and easily resolved. This surprised me after the speakers sucked up much of the Bernstein Berlioz recording. As such, like all fine speakers, throw them a poor recording, and they will not shy away and fake it for you. These are incredibly honest loudspeakers.
Power delivery is where I fudged a little. The power was courtesy of my Jeff Rowland Continuum 2 Integrated Amplifier which, because of its quality, was an inspired choice with the DeVores [reviewed here]. I would imagine a SET matching better, as suggested by DeVore. And that Montreal SET meeting with the speaker was magical. At the speakers' generous impedence, a SET amp will be a better match, but the immersive nature of the Rowland powered the Orangutans easily and beautifully.
I decided on a Steely Dan Gaucho break. The sound of one of the first digital recordings was layered, subtle and plain gorgeous. I've never heard a Steely Dan record sound so good on a loudspeaker. The multi layered orchestration was clear and concise. Each of the band's chosen tracks sounded as solo but maintained the band's orchestral philosophy. Steely Dan members explode on the Hey Nineteen track. The Orangutans handle quick movements of musical energy easily. This was evidenced on all sorts of power programming.
So many loudspeakers, even of varied topologies are easy to unravel and focus in on the sound. The 0/96 is a different animal. It's more chameleon than Orangutan. Whatever flavouring (not coloring) the recording -- Introvert, extrovert, power, demure, subtle, strong -- you'll hear it unsullied. What nice change.
I threw on Windjammers, a CD of music by Sammy Nestico. These fabulous arrangements of classical music feature solo woodwinds and a full jazz stage band. Nestico's arrangements (originally for the US Marine Band) are tasteful and musically very effective. I got to play some very lovely flute solos courtesy of the great man -- Rimsky Korsakov, Borodin and others.
My sound was replicated to perfection -- every musical inflection heard, stress here, crescendo there, and sweet diminuendos. I've not heard my own sound on a speaker sound so natural. Most speakers add something, but the DeVores left me alone. Very impressive.
The DeVore 0/96 Orangutan Loudspeaker is a unique, brilliant sounding, beautifully made loudspeaker. It'll weather any type of amplification and replicate fine recordings with twist and shout that'll have mainstream audiophiles and music lovers wanting something incredibly musical but different, running to the nearest dealer. Very highly recommended.
DeVore O/96 Orangutan Loudspeaker
Price: $12,000USD per pair.
63 Flushing Ave., Unit 259
Bld 280, Ste 510
Brooklyn, NY 11205
Telephone: +1 (718) 855-9999