DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/96 loudspeaker

Loudspeakers have been commercially available for nearly a century, yet those whose drive-units are mounted to baffles of intentionally limited width didn't appear in significant numbers until the 1980s. That seems a bit strange, given that the technology to transform large boards into smaller boards has existed since the Neolithic era.

Because the audio industry never lacked the ability to make loudspeakers with narrow or chamfered fronts, one must assume that the missing ingredient was the interest in doing so—and that, I believe, came fairly late in the game, and originated in the hobby's enthusiasm for the spatial effects available from multichannel recordings. Fair enough: lower-treble and midrange tones, the wavelengths of which can exceed the radial size of the drive-units that disperse them, tend to reflect from a speaker's cabinet, delaying a small portion of the output. Among the first aspects of the sound to suffer are imaging cues.

But a loudspeaker without a baffle is like a herd of sheep without a fence and a border collie: Much of what you paid for will wander away. To the audiophile with a very powerful amplifier, that wasted loudspeaker output is no big deal; on the other hand, people who prefer low-power amplifiers see those conditions as crazy. (Interestingly, the latter hobbyists are also known to bemoan the lack of tonal substance in the sounds of most modern loudspeakers; given the preponderance of cabinets that willfully fail to support the lower ranges of tweeters and midrange drivers, is that really any surprise?)

Some companies push back. Audio Note is famous for their distinctive wide-baffle, high-sensitivity AN-E speakers, which find favor with many single-ended-triode enthusiasts. Industry stalwarts Spendor and Harbeth have kept classic wide-baffle designs in their own lines. And now, America's own DeVore Fidelity has brought to market their Orangutan O/96 ($12,000/pair), a wide-baffle, high-sensitivity, full-range dynamic loudspeaker aimed squarely at the SET set.

The Orangutan O/96—"96" alludes to the new model's electrical sensitivity of 96dB—is a two-way dynamic loudspeaker in a bass-reflex enclosure. The cabinet measures 28.25" high by 18" wide by 12" deep, although 7/8" of that depth is accounted for by a distinctly styled baffle board of birch plywood. Two different densities of MDF are used for the remainder of the cabinet: one for the rear panel, another for the top, bottom, and sides. Designer John DeVore says of the O/96's early design work, "We built several cabinets, including some that were all plywood; this combination sounded the best." The 7.5"-tall stand, included in the price, is made from solid maple.

High-frequency tones are reproduced by a 1" silk-dome tweeter built into a shallow concave flange; the latter, in DeVore's words, is "beyond being a waveguide and just on the verge of a horn load." DeVore, who designed the tweeter in cooperation with the European company that builds it to his specs, adds that the tweeter's rear wave fires into a tuned chamber glued to the magnet.

DeVore also designed the O/96's 10" woofer, whose untreated paper cone is made by a small company in Europe; the rest of the driver is manufactured by SEAS. The woofer has a compliant surround, which DeVore says is intended to act like a foam surround—inasmuch as its behavior is linear—but with the longevity of rubber.

Two mildly flared ports on the rear panel, each 5.5" deep by 3" in diameter, but that work together as one, according to DeVore, and are tuned to a frequency in the mid-30s. The drivers themselves are said to be fairly close to one another in electrical sensitivity, the tweeter's voice-coil requiring only a bit of added mass and series resistance—neither of which qualities detracts in the least from this intentionally high-impedance design. The crossover network is based on DeVore's proprietary Gibbon circuit, which is said to waste as little power as possible. The O/96's internal wiring was chosen through careful listening—DeVore says that some of this wire is "very old-fashioned." In a recess on the bottom of the cabinet is a single pair of Cardas copper binding posts, placed there to preserve the appearance of the O/96's lovely backside.

The DeVore O/96 is a serenely, classically beautiful thing. In the same manner as the aforementioned Audio Note AN-E, its baffle presents the listener with an expansive piece of veneer—lace walnut in the case of my review samples, although virtually anything else is available on request—while the top, bottom, sides, and back are finished with a dark-stained maple veneer. The rearmost edge of the plywood baffle is rabbeted, conferring a nice visual break in a box that might otherwise have looked a bit foursquare. The finish, on loudspeaker and stand alike, is polyester.

Setup and installation
John DeVore is steadfast on one setup aspect in particular: "I definitely did not want to design a corner-mount speaker: Virtually any room that isn't an audiophile's listening room won't have two usable corners." Indeed, the Orangutan O/96 worked best in my room when farther from the wall behind it than most loudspeakers of my experience—although, like my Quad ESLs, the DeVores were tolerant of modest distances from their respective sidewalls. My review pair sounded fine when the center of each baffle was 25.5" from the nearest sidewall and 71" from the wall behind the speakers.

The best spatial performance was had with the speakers toed-in directly toward the central listening position: a position that was arrived at only after a great deal of experimentation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it took some fiddling to get the very wide O/96s to acoustically "disappear"; even at their best in that regard, the speakers made their aural presences marginally more apparent than when I listen to my Quad ESLs from an optimal location. The flip side was that the O/96s were better than average at creating a believable sense of scale with recordings of large ensembles.

For all of my listening, I relied on the DeVores' companion stands, which I enjoyed in every way. Like the O/96 enclosures themselves, the stands are elegantly simple, and I applaud DeVore's decision to forgo the usual spiked feet, a decision he says was "partly aesthetic—although I do think [the O/96s] sound best being coupled directly to the floor, even carpet." Having long ago lost my tolerance for the sonic fussiness afforded most products when they're spiked to shelf or floor, I'm inclined to agree. Incidentally, DeVore suggests that the best way to stabilize these very precisely made stands on uneven floors is with small pieces of card stock, which he demonstrated to perfection in my listening room.

Each DeVore O/96 is supplied with a removable 18" by 13" grille of black fabric, held in place with rare-earth magnets hidden within the baffle. I liked the way they look, though the speakers did sound marginally clearer, more detailed, and more open without them.

Looking through my listening notes, I can't find word of a single record that wasn't extremely engaging through these speakers. From Mott the Hoople's Mad Shadows (LP, Atlantic SD 8272) to the great John Eliot Gardiner recording (with the Monteverdi Orchestra and Choir) of Purcell's Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary (LP, Erato STU 70911) to The David Grisman Rounder Album (LP, Rounder 0069), the Orangutan O/96s served them all with clarity, color, impact, drama, and scale.

Company Info
DeVore Fidelity
Brooklyn Navy Yard, 63 Flushing Ave., Unit 259
Brooklyn, NY 11205
(718) 855-9999
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JohnnyR's picture
This is Why

"I won't get into techno babble with you....."

Anything resembling technical becomes "techno babble" in your mind. Why bother trying to explain to some one that thinks this way?  You WANT.........WAHHHHHH  cry somehwere else what you WANT. I can't be bothered satisfying your demands when all you do is cry and insult.Like I stated earlier, I have shown my competency by bringing up well thought out technical details about the speaker in question. I know what I am talking about unlike you who doesn't bother to learn anything other than what Stereophile spoon feeds you.,By the way the $ sign goes BEFORE the numbers NOT after them *sigh* Have a nice day Mr Ragahead.

Regadude's picture
Johnny is a coward

Exactly what I thought! Johnny is a big talker and nothing else. You hide behind your insults and and arrogance to cover up your inadequacies. Johnny is a fraidy cat (I would have used the word that starts with a P, but it would have been deleted). But of course, Johnny is a legend IN HIS OWN MIND. 

You seem to have anger problems. Anger and frustration. Maybe its been a while since you have touched a hot knob... Don't let plankton have all the fun.

As for the $, I am not american and it goes after the numbers where I come from. If you don't like it, that's your problem. 

JohnnyR's picture
A Big Talker?

I have already pointed out various defects in the speaker design and why they are so. What have YOU contributed? NOTHING. All you ever do is insult and hide behind inuendo.

"Maybe it has been a while since you touched a hot knob"

Just how much more childish can a person get? If anyone is frustrated it's YOU Ragahead.Grow up.

Glotz's picture
I agree.

It is obvious that JA has answered every issue either of these micreants posited, and neither have basic respect towards anyone that disagrees with them (especially when it is extended to them unconditionally).

I, for one, am (really) glad JA finally acts assertively to end these types of devolving conversations when it's pointless to continue.  Keep it in the other forums, or just leave.

I am equally glad that AD has shown Mr. Plank's character in its true light. 

This speaker could be their favorite speaker of all time, and they would never know it- 'cause they haven't heard it. 

They apparently don't listen through their equipment, they measure it.  Sounds like fun...

for an engineer.

JohnnyR's picture

Had you nice little rant and feel better now? No one cares.

pi's picture
Quote: Lets just say I have

Quote: Lets just say I have designed quite a few well regarded speaker systems over the YEARS... 

In all fairness, just as for Mr. Plankton, common courtesy for any forum particpation requires that any commercial affiliation and interests should be disclosed.

PI - What goes around comes around

JohnnyR's picture
Oh Look............'s the forum police trying to be all manly. Who cares what you WANT? Have I tried to sell anything on here? You show up making demands. Go fly a kite.

John Atkinson's picture
Affiliation is required for industty professionals

JohnnyR wrote:
Lets just say I have designed quite a few well regarded speaker systems over the YEARS and I have put in the man hours of study and research REQUIRED to know what I am talking about.

If you are actively involved in the audio business, our policy does require that you include your affiliation at the foot of every post, as I do. It doesn't matter if you try to sell something or not. This is to prevent employees of one company flaming another company's products under a cloak of anonymity.

So please, if you are actively involved in designing speaker systems for sale, you must include your affiliiation as requested. You cannot remain anonymous.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

JohnnyR's picture
My Hobby...... NOT a company. I design and build as a hobby, hence it is not a company business. Maybe I give my speakers away. Stop tying to be a bully Atkinson it demeans your aleady shakey status as  fair and trust worthy. If you keep insisting on an affiliation I will make one up because I DON"T HAVE ONE. Get it?

John Atkinson's picture

Johnny wrote:
My hobby is NOT a company. I design and build as a hobby, hence it is not a company business.

Thank you for the admission. Until your speaker designs have been acknowledged by end users in the competitive marketplace, I don't think you can claim any particular authority as a speaker engineer.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

JohnnyR's picture
Hurr Hurr Hurr

How funny Atkinson. You just defamed hundreds of audio hobbyists on several DIY forums by that statement. Not only can we design and build WAY better speakers than the so called "experts" that make FLAWED speakers but we ALSO know the technical aspects and what is NEEDED to do so.

This just shows your mentality when it comes to the DIY field and how dated your pathetic outlook is and  that perhaps just perhaps you aren't as smart as you think By your own logic YOU certainly can't call yourself an expert since you haven't even designed or built one yourself.So please stop commenting on the speakers you test here

Regadude's picture
Johnny is a hobbyist!!!!!!

HA! I knew it. Johnny has no credentials in speaker design. He builds speakers in his basement as a HOBBY, and he thinks he is an expert. He thinks he knows better than people who actually manage to sell their speakers. But of course, he also knows more than industry pros.

You're just like that guy who drinks beer while watching NFL football, and who tells people he could do a better job than the actual coach of the team. Sure you can... Have another beer.

A sham and a big talker. Expert, an EMPHATIC NO!

I play the piano as a hobby. I guess I am the next Bill Evans! Yup, no one will ever hear me play, but trust me, I am even better than he was... cheeky

JohnnyR's picture

A "professional" who sells speakers is also a hobbyist. Where do you think they learned HOW to design an make speakers? They just didn't pull it out of their ass............well MOST well designed not FLAWED speakers are at least.

Ragahead, at least I have put in the years of research and study, what have you put into your education other than how to taunt and belittle others? Can you tell me how to go about designing a speaker that will stand up to the "best" on the market? Can you show ONE little iota of technical knowledge in the field of speaker design? Then I kindly ask you to STFU.

There are plenty of "professionals" that market their sham products. Just keep reading the Stereophile forums , you will find several that are willing to take money from the gullible. YOU paid dearly for your audiophool cables. BWAHAHAHAHA so much for your "arguement" The more you post the more childish your posts become. My friends that bother to read your drivel have a good laugh at your expense.

mrplankton2u's picture
Constantly with the pissing matches....

I've designed and installed dozens of custom home and a few mobile systems over the past 5 years. So who cares? This is not about me or for that matter you or JohnnyR. We are citing technical aspects that are easy to see with, and even without, the benefit of measurements. The magazine's job is to be critical of differences between reviewed products - not apologetic, defensive, equivocating, or otherwise obtuse. Today, the actual audible differences between quality components in the marketplace is nowhere near as great as the vast price differences would seem to suggest. This makes it far more important for a reviewing magazine to conduct critical evaluations as objectively and dispassionately as possible. If flaws are present that are clearly audible, the product shouldn't be on the "recommended" list as there are too many competing products that don't have the obvious flaws that deserve to be on a "recommended" list. You as others could say - "who cares, just go listen to them for yourself".  On the surface, that sentiment might have merit. But beyond the obvious reason that the magazine's job is to help whittle down the vast field for a prospective buyer,  if the "impartial" third party reviewers entrusted with evaluating product aren't subscribing to reasonable standards of honesty, authenticity, and accuracy in what they do - the merit system gets displaced by the hype system. And the hype system means ever increasing effort on advertising and promotion with ever increasing product prices to support the promotional effort at the expense of resources that would otherwise be devoted to improving the products in question. And that is precisely where we find ourselves today with a magazine that considers a $2000 low watt tube amp to be the "low, affordable end" of a "best of" list and endorses a pair of $12,000 stand mount speakers that have serious, yet totally avoidable design flaws and significant associated performance problems. Taking in the entire picture, it is not unreasonable for the average person to conclude that "Houston, we have a problem."

pi's picture
I've designed and installed

Quote: I've designed and installed dozens of custom home and a few mobile systems over the past 5 years.

In all fairness, common courtesy for any forum particpation requires that any commercial affiliation and interests should be disclosed.

PI - What goes around comes around

mrplankton2u's picture
Like there's a lot of common courtesy around here?

I'm not in the retail speaker space. I work with a small company that does mostly custom installations. We don't sell free standing speakers per se and if we ever decided to enter that retail market - it probably would be an internet based direct marketing approach that avoided most of the advertising whores and pushy, ignorant, and obnoxious middlemen that make up much of what is left of the "high end" audio business. Anyone who has read my comments on here extensively knows that I don't have an axe to grind against any company. My concern has been the legitimacy and long term survival of the industry overall and what efforts are being taken to keep players in the industry like Stereophile honest. I've readily acknowledged excellent products from brands like Quad, Revel, KEF, Vivid and other well known non speaker brands like Threshold/Pass. And I normally don't comment negatively on a post unless there is a clear indication that Stereophile is not "coming clean" in a particular review. On the other hand, I've positively commented on a few rare occasions when Stereophile got it right with an excellent, insightful review - such as was the case with the recent MBL or Quad reviews. I may sound like a one trick pony from time to time but that is essentially because the circumstances tend to repeat themselves. I prefer not to pick on a manufacturer but they sometimes get caught in the crossfire when they produce a substandard product and Stereophile starts making excuses.

John Atkinson's picture
Professional affiliation required, please

mrplankton2u wrote:
I've designed and installed dozens of custom home and a few mobile systems over the past 5 years. So who cares?

We do, for the reasons expained in my reply to JohnnyR. If you are professionally involved in the audio industry, you cannot hide under a cloak of anonymity in order to criticize products made by someone else.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

mrplankton2u's picture
There is an important flip

There is an important flip side to your weak argument. People who work for a company in the audio business do not necessarily speak for the audio business they work for and are not at liberty to discuss who they work for or what their company's official stance is on any product in the marketplace. My comments stand on their own. I have praised products where praise is due and criticized obvious flaws that are evident in the measurements and the overall design itself ( like pairing a 10 inch woofer to a 1 inch soft dome tweeter).  Anyone with the slightest bit of reading comprehension can see that the thrust of my concerns/arguments have centered around Stereophile's approach to its job - not the competency of the products being reviewed.


Furthermore, what do experienced engineers/designers who've retired do? Your argument has enough holes in it to rival swiss cheese.


Further, furthermore, a number of salepeople and audio retailer establishment owners have commented in these threads. They actually have a very high level of conflict of interest - advocating products they sell and casting apersions on those they don't or those they compete with. Have you ever requested disclosure of their affiliation before?

The difference between myself, JohnnyR and others that have voiced informed comments and the BS artists pretending to be experts that occasionally sling poo on here is that we focus on that which is incontrovertable - measurements published in black and white and design aspects that are obvious from visual inspection. We don't waste our time with blathering nonsense like "the turntable/cartridge combination effectively sweeps all obvious vinyl surface noise to the side walls of the listening room". That's your job.

John Atkinson's picture
Company affiliation required regardless

mrplankton2u wrote:
There is an important flip side to your weak argument.

It is not a weak "argument" it is our policy. No exceptions.

mrplankton2u wrote:
People who work for a company in the audio business do not necessarily speak for the audio business they work for and are not at liberty to discuss who they work for or what their company's official stance is on any product in the marketplace. My comments stand on their own.

Nevertheless, if you are professionally involved in audio and do not wish to include your company affiliation, you will no longer be allowed to post to this website.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

mrplankton2u's picture
You apparently do like to

You apparently do like to make up the rules as you go along. The Online Community Code of Conduct specifies no such thing. As a matter of fact, "your" requirement runs counter to rule 10(d):




You will not post or upload User Content that includes personal or identifying information about another person without that person's explicit consent.

John Atkinson's picture
A solution

mrplankton2u wrote:
You apparently do like to make up the rules as you go along.

No, this has been our policy since 2005.

mrplankton2u wrote:
You will not post or upload User Content that includes personal or identifying information about another person without that person's explicit consent.

Okay, as you don't appear willing to give that consent, you will no longer be allowed to post to this website. I will ask Ariel Bitran to delete your user account.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

JohnnyR's picture
What A Sore Loser You Are

ANY excuse to delete people that don't agree with your personal outlook is the reason you are doing this Atkinson. Pathetic. You can't stand anyone criticising your precious opinons. So out they go. You are one sad person.

John Atkinson's picture

JohnnyR wrote:
You can't stand anyone criticising your precious opinons. So out they go.

Not at all. You will see that mrplankton2u's comments have not been deleted. However, he had a choice: either stop posting to the site, or, as he is, by his own admission, professionally involved in audio, add his affiliation to his comments and be allowed to present his opinions. He did neither. Instead, he argued that the rules were inappropriate and by extension didn't apply to him, leaving me with no option but to ban him. Arguing with the ref is never a winning strategy, please note.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile


JohnnyR's picture
Just a Convenient Excuse

You never liked the guy, never liked that he criticised you and your magazine, never liked that he showed you up as the buffoon you are........shall I go on?  Yeah yeah the rules and you are the "ref" Tell me just how many professionals have you banned over the years due to your "rules"?  Too many sadly, so all you are left with in your precious forums are dullards, morons, halfwits and the gullible. No wonder it's so empty in there. They all left for better places to talk about FACTS instead of magic bowls, cables, rocks and rainbow foil. So it goes. You must be proud of your "great" forum lmao.

King of the Dullards all hail the King!

Regadude's picture
Does JA like you?

Your argument about JA banning plankton, because he did not like him, is wrong. If JA banned everyone who was a nuisance and caused problems, you would have been gone a long time ago Johnny. 

All hail king troll!

pi's picture
Speaker measurements

Really don't get your arguments - there is any number of speakers (some of them commonly highly regarded), that measure much worse than this one - none of those has the excuse of being guided by the effort to make it tube friendly. For example:

Vandersteen Quatro $7,000: Significant on axis suckouts at 800Hz (very problematic) and 4000Hz, off axis response is not offsetting like it is for the Devores. In room response shows a major in room depression for the midrange and bass emphasis, which even careful placement does not remove.

Verity Sarastro $40,000: 10dB depression from 100-300Hz, uneven response above 1KHz, off axis dips at 3KHz. In room depression for the critical lower midrange/upper bas and with significant 10dB lower bass emphasis. Midrange driver of the verity is crossed over at a very high 4KHz.

MBL 101E MKII $70,500: Questionable concept (radial transmission), low impedance with significant phase roller coaster down to 3Ohm, so difficult to drive. Several resonance above 10KHz. Again, in room depression for the critical lower midrange/upper bass and with significant 10dB lower bass emphasis. 

In this context, it seem Devore HAS actually taken the effort to carefully balance the design to achieve reasonable measurement (e.g. balance off axis reponse with on-axis response), while providing a speaker that is extremely easy to drive and sufficiently compact to place in small NY style apartment.

So, JA seems spot on with his assessment.

JohnnyR's picture
Flawed is Flawed

The above speakers you mentioned obviously are flawed also and poorly designed regardless of them being"highly regarded" There are "reveiwers" that will give a turnip praise on some websites. Just because the OP review is about a speaker that doesn't have the same flaws , doesn't make it a $12,000 speaker nor a well designed one. We can always find something worse than what we are listening too to "compare". Doesn't make it worth buying though,

tmsorosk's picture

 Mr. A, please don't ban or delete mrplankton2u's comment's , he's the Archie Bunker of audio. Haven't had this many laughs in years. 


 Hot nobs, LOL.

Glotz's picture
He needs to be gone.

I was really hoping half-way through the posts he would admit his obvious ignorance regarding the neccessity of multiple measuring points for an accurate picture of measurements.

Instead, he did turn into Archie... and showed his true self. 

I just hope he doesn't slap Edith around when he's mad. 

JohnnyR's picture

Multiple measuring points are a good way of getting an overall picture but can't turn a sows ear into a silk purse. $12,000 worth of speaker? Hardly.

 What's with the Archie Bunker reference one fo your heros?

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