These really were a clean-slate design for me, and it's heartening to know that this freshness came through in the listening. The goal was to bring a truly easy-to-drive, high-sensitivity speaker into a home without the tonal or aesthetic challenges that normally come with such a design. A nod to mid-century style with better-than-mid-century imaging. And I ask you, what nobler goal exists than to help Saint Bonham sound awesome?
I wanted to talk briefly about sensitivity ratings, because I've seen a lot of confusion around what is being measured and what the specification means.
As an example, Art found the O/96 to be highly sensitive, stating that the speaker "didn't break up under stress quite as soon as the AN-E/SPe HE"; and later, "the DeVores, which are notably more sensitive than the AN-Es . . ."
Art's reference speaker, the AN/E above, is rated at 98dB sensitivity. At the time of its review it was measured by JA, and he found it to be around 92.5dB. The Orangutan is rated at 96dB, but JA measured it at about 91dB. And yet Art heard the O/96 as notably more sensitive. How can this be?
The simple answer is that JA measures speakers using a solid-state amp. The classic solid-state amp will output half the wattage into twice the impedance. The AN/E is 4-6 ohms, while the O/96 is 7.5-12 ohms. JA's measurement amp is putting out nearly twice the amount of wattage into the AN/E as the O/96.
On top of this, tube amplifiers behave differently from solid-state amplifiers, most preferring higher impedances, and some even putting out more power into these higher impedances. This explains why the O/96s played louder in Art's room than the Audio Notes with the same amps, and why our sensitivity spec is higher than what JA measured.
The Orangutan was conceived as a low-powered-tube-friendly design from the beginning, and so the specifications were calculated on this type of system. (Our Gibbon and Silverback speakers have specifications calculated more in line with JA's approach.)
That is certainly not to say that the O/96 can be enjoyed only with a tube amp, as JA proves by listening to them through an amp that employs a circuit as far from a classic tube design as I can think of: a digital class-D switching amp. Even so, the combination allowed him to "appreciate the O/96's full-range, evenly balanced sound and superb clarity."John DeVore, DeVore Fidelity