Manufacturers' Comment

Editor: I would like to thank Art Dudley and John Atkinson for taking the time to get to know our Orangutan O/96 speakers. Art, you made me blush, calling my babies "classically beautiful" with a "lovely backside." I'm one proud papa.

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

DeVore Fidelity
Brooklyn Navy Yard, 63 Flushing Ave., Unit 259
Brooklyn, NY 11205
(718) 855-9999
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ChrisS's picture

Mother Russia Broadcasting didn't allow you to watch "All In The Family" did they, JRusskie?

ChrisS's picture

Please check your messages, JRusskie. Siberia is calling.

ChrisS's picture

Being obnoxious and annoying = Being on topic?

tunesmith's picture

Wow! I've seen and heard the DeVore Orangutans at the past 2 Rocky Mountain shows and you are crazy if you think they are cheap. The finish is just stunning, easily among the best at the show at any price and the wood on the fronts is amazing. Sonically the DeVore room was definitely in the top three at the show both years, with all-around system prices that were much lower than the other top rooms.

John Atkinson even agrees with the manufacturers comments, and from what I heard at the show with a single 300B amp, I believe it too. The sound was huge, with amazing bass driven by 6 watts. Actually JA comments on the great bass with the same system here:

MVBC's picture

$12,000 for that? I have a bridge to sell too...

Dario's picture

A lot of interesting discussion here. The summary of the review would seem to be that this is a somewhat flawed yet surprisingly compelling loudspeaker. I read that it sounds great in spite of some shortcomings.

To those who are complaining about the price and suggesting their cost to build a similar speaker would be about 25% as much: ok. So don't buy this one and do build your own. This attitude shows a lack of business knowledge. I have no doubt somebody could build a similar speaker for less if you just account for the parts. How long did it take to get the knowledge? Where to do you do the work?

A real business needs to pay rent and utilities. And likely pay employees. And that's a retail price, which has to allow for a dealer to make some money. Saying you could make it for 25% of the retail cost is about right for a product that goes through a sales channel (rather than direct). But it's irrelevant - a company can charge whatever it wants for their products. The market decides the value.

I don't work in the industry and don't have formal training in electronics or acoustics. However I am an engineer and I like to see data. I'm also generally critical of Stereophile and other audio publications for praising the differences in equipment that can really make no significant difference (cables in general, power cables in particular). These difference all tend to disappear under measurement or controlled listening test. So what's the point?

I'm critical and skeptical of most audio equipment reviews. Speaker reviews are about the only thing I read. This review has the data, and nobody seems to be challenging it. I think it's fair to say the measurements are good enough to give an idea of how the speakers performs.

To those who are critical of the design, why don't you to listen to the speakers. Rather than sitting back and speculating about how terrible it must sound, maybe (just maybe) you'll have to ask yourself how it can sound as good as it does with that design. Or maybe your suspicions will be confirmed.

I'm impressed with how Stereophile has responded to and managed this discussion. For that you have earned an returning subscription. I'm not in the market for new speakers, but would go listen if there was a dealer near me.


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