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DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/96 Loudspeaker Review: Part 2

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The Review System

The system I settled on for this review was my AMG V12 table and arm sitting on the HRS stand made for the AMG table. The cartridge was the SoundSmith SG-220 strain gauge. I have been using and loving, the Emia’s Remote Autoformer between the fixed outputs of the SG-220 and my amp for the last few month. With the O/96s though I preferred the sound out of the variable outputs of the SG-220 straight into the Wavac EC300B. Without the Emia the leading edge was quicker and the bass was tighter as well. The Wavac had Western Electric front end and 300B power tubes with NOS Sylvania tubes for the driver tubes.

All the equipment was set on a double wide Box Furniture rack and everything was plugged into the HB Cables PowerSlave Marble. The power cords were High Fidelity Cables CT-1 Ultimate Reference Rhodium Plus. All the interconnects and speaker cables were High Fidelity Cables CT-1 Ultimate Reference.

Initial Impression

The first thing I noticed about these speakers was something they didn’t do. As good as the Linn Audio Loudspeaker’s Athenaeums were, I noticed from the very first that they were two ways and not single driver speakers. This was even more obvious with the Burwell and Sons speakers. Even though we are dealing with a one inch tweeter and a ten inch ported woofer, this never jumped out at me with the O/96s. In fact it was even less noticeable than with the Audio Note AN-E SEs, my previous favorite two way speaker.

The one thing that did make an initial impression was that these speakers played lower and the bass was bigger sounding than any single driver speaker I had heard, as well as the Linn Athenaeums, the Burwell and Sons, or even the Audio Note Es placed in the corners. It was also obvious that the magical midrange of the Wavac EC300B with Western Electric tubes came through with flying musical colors when used with the O/96s.

Another thing I noticed right of the bat was that I had to turn the volume control up. Of course I expected this, my Teresonics are 103dB efficient and the O/96s are of course 96dB. Basically the difference was that I listened mostly around eleven o’clock with the Teresonics and around one o’clock with the O/96s. This is no big deal because I have never once heard the Wavac clip on the O/96s nor have I noted any lack of power. In fact just the opposite: These speakers with the Wavac have a very visceral, powerful sound. Let’s move on pass first impressions to what they sounded like over a month or more of listening to them.

Listening

You wouldn’t expect from their size, that theses apes would sound so big. Big in the same kind of way that our Publisher’s Tannoy Westminster Royal SEs sound big. They move a lot of air and the performance sounds real. If you listen in the dark or with your eyes closed, with the right recordings you may think and feel the music is coming from musicians and not speakers. The sound is energizing, life-size, full of emotion, and just flows into the room. Speaking of sounding big like our Publisher’s Tannoy Westminster Royal SEs, after spending an extended afternoon and evening listening to the O/96s in my system he posted on Facebook: “Spent an evening listening to the DeVores at Jack’s place last night. Am amazed by how utterly non-existent they are in imposing their own character onto the recordings. Seems to do everything my big Tannoy’s are doing.”

I would agree in my room played with my reference system these Orangutans can really sing — who would have thought that apes were so musical? They have a big, rich, colorful tone, and a very natural, relaxed presentation, while still being very agile and transparent. Like the Teresonic or Audio Note speakers it is obvious that these speakers have not been deadened by an over damped and dead cabinet. The sound doesn’t seem to have to work at all to get out into the room.

As I said above it is amazing how visceral and powerful the musical experience is through these speakers. That is especially true when considering they are no bigger than they are. It is something that even the $20,000 plus mini-monitors I have heard in my room could never do and very, very few modern speakers do regardless of size. The O/96s allow you to feel waves of music flow over your body in a tangible way. Still the O/96s easily let you hear the difference from on recording to another and the difference between good and poor recordings. The amazing thing is that they still let me experience the emotional experience of the music on nearly every performance I have listened to with them.

In some ways this is the Miyabi Standard of speakers. In my review of the Miyabi Standard, one of my two favorite moving coil phono cartridges I said, “The Miyabi Standard is one of those rare pieces of audio gear that defies being broken down into parts. It’s a waste of time to talk about how it sounds in the midrange, bass, or treble.” The same is true of the O/96s. They play music as a whole. Let me key in on the phrase “they play music,” that’s what these speakers do more than anything else I can say about them. They play music with beautiful tonal colors; they let the music flow from note to note as a whole; they play music with the appropriate scale from small in intimate to vast and room filling; they play music that is full of emotion and beauty; but they can also play music that is raunchy and tough sounding if called upon.

Another thing the O/96s have in common with the Miyabi Standard can be summed up in this quote from my review of the cartridge, “Without a doubt the most beguiling quality of the Miyabi Standard is also the one I understand the least. It has the ability to make very different sounding albums more musically satisfying and enjoyable than they had been before”. This is also true of the DeVore O/96 speakers. Old 70 rock LPs and soundtracks are just more fun to listen to on these speakers than any modern speakers I know of.

DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/96 Loudspeaker rear view

7 Responses to DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/96 Loudspeaker Review: Part 2


  1. Jay Bass says:

    I happen to own the Line Magnetic 755i’s. I love them and rotate them in and out of my system with a vintage pair of Altec Valencias. Could you offer some more comparisons between the Orangutans and the LM 755i’s? I run a Shindo Masseto and Cortese and have always wondered how the Orangutans would sound in my system compared to the Line Magnetics.
    Thanks,
    Jay

  2. Jack Roberts says:

    Jay, I think the Orangutans are speakers you need to hear in your system. I would not be surprised if they didn’t give you the best of both of the worlds of the two speakers you mention. In fact I think they will probably be better than either speaker even when comparing them to the areas where the LMs and Altecs are at there best. Still, you need to hear them in your system as I can only say how they sounded in my room with my stuff.

  3. Douglas Klein says:

    Matt Rotunda, Pitch Perfect Audio, now in Los Angeles, carries all of the equipment you are discussing Jay Bass. Likely you could hear the LM 755i and the D O/96 with the Masseto and Cortese in his shop.

  4. Douglas Klein says:

    Jack, thanks for another real-life and enjoyable review. Your journey is like many of ours as we mature, both in life and in listening to audio equipment. You have developed a keen ability to find system synergy in attaining the sound you desire and prefer. Unlike many who merely chase the latest-greatest on the merry-go-round that is the audiophile world, you have made changes to your system when you find a ‘new’ piece that improves (not changes) it. Kudos.

  5. Jeff Glacken says:

    Jack, thanks for a great write-up. I was wondering how the O/96 compare to the Vaughn Zinfandel 4s let’s say powered by Pass Sit-1 monos? I seem to be heading for the low powered 300B or similar camp. These would replace Genesis M60 monos and Genesis 5.2 speakers. Best.

  6. mcduman says:

    Hi Jack, very nice and thorough review. Thanks. I have the orangutans at home at present and they are indeed immensely enjoyable although set-up was slightly more challenging than I thought. But I come from a more mainstream, full-range-multi-driver arrangement (big yg’s, magico’s etc) so it could be me. My question is with regards to the stands. Did you try other (ie higher) stands or tweak the stock ones (fill with sand/cat litter use under boards spikes etc)?
    My impression is that something should be done about them. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

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