At the Monkeyhaus

The quiet evenings leading up to a DeVore Fidelity Monkeyhaus event are passed by searching through your record collection for the perfect LPs. Every attendee will offer their own ideas of interesting and exciting music, and you will not be outdone by some other audiophile. You decide to bring one of your 2009 R2D4 selections, Lo Dice Todo by Grupo Folklorico y Experimental Nuevayorquino; Richard Hayman's Genuine Electric Latin Love Machine, not only for the persuasive content but also for the outstanding album art; and El Guincho's Alagranza! because you're pretty certain it'll shock and impress the crowd.

You leave the office a bit earlier than normal knowing that the party is already well under way. F to York, F to York, F to York. You will repeat this to yourself as you weave through the cool rush of Bryant Park and Fifth Avenue. Once on the train, you will exchange glances with some pretty young women, also on their way to Brooklyn. You will consider inviting them. Wouldn't that be something? You figure they've already got their plans set and you let the fantasy fall to the tracks. Before you know it, you've reached Broadway-Lafayette and then 2nd Avenue and all the memories it holds for you, and then Delancey and then East Broadway and then York and you're there.

The long, ascending corridor to the stairs and the night. A pretty girl stopping to ask a homeless woman if she needs help. Where has this girl come from? Why has she arrived in Brooklyn? Perhaps you should ask her if she needs help. The night. The clouds above the Brooklyn Bridge. The cars and trucks and trains overhead.

You're too cheap to take a cab and so you retrieve the walking directions and you walk. It's not too far. A left at the first light and continue straight until you can't go straight anymore. You're surrounded by red brick memories, the housing projects. In the headlights of the cars the shadows grow large at the corner of Gold and Sands. You act as if it doesn't matter to you, as if some part of you isn't scared. Why should you be scared? You were born in a place like this, fool. How long has it been? You try to remember what it was like, you try to remember who you are. A little black boy sings a song as he makes his way home. It can't be all that bad. A right at the NYPD's Brooklyn Tow Pound and a left on Nassau. You must be close. The Navy Yard is to your left, beyond the tall, iron fence and the tangle of trees and the rotting, forgotten officers' houses. But now the walk is feeling long. You should've taken a cab, you cheap bastard, you should've taken a cab.

And then you see it: The bold blue letters against the dark purple sky. The Brooklyn Navy Yard. At Cumberland, you take another left and you walk right in and you sigh. Speak to the guards. They are kind and wish you well. Building 280 is just behind you now. You walk into the fluorescent light and into the elevator and up to the fifth floor and it always smells like spices in here, like an organic market, like Earth Matters on Ludlow Street. The floors are bricks painted blue-gray and the walls are blue-gray, too. Furniture makers work here, and electricians and graphic designers and general contractors and a loudspeaker manufacturer.

Suite 510 belongs to DeVore Fidelity. Come in, the door is open. Inside, finally inside, you are greeted by so many smiles and handshakes and hugs. The good kinds, the real kinds, the kinds you want to return. These are your friends. This is who you are.

Hey, man! We're playing tapes. Reel-to-reel.

You drop your bag and your coat to the blue-gray floor and before anything else you are led through the warehouse, past the cabinets and the drivers and the cats, to the whiskey and the beer.

We have all the usual and a few new things.

You pour yourself a glass, shake a few more hands, and become part of a circle discussing music and perception and pop culture. Soon you will be led back to the listening room. But you can't find a seat just yet; three listeners crowd the entrance and all seven chairs are taken. It is almost like the Consumer Electronics Show, but there is much less pressure. When you finally get a seat, you are sort of surprised. The music is not what you are used to. It sounds different, feels different. And it's everywhere. The room pulses with it, as if the floors are making music and the walls are making music.

I don't even know how to describe this.

I know.

How do you describe this? It sounds bloody.


It's painful.


It's painfully good.


Besides the music and friendship and conversation, you're there to hear John DeVore's newest speakers, the gibbon 3XL, an upgraded version of the speakers you'd loved so much. They match the tweeter found in DeVore's Silverback Reference with an all-new 5" treated-paper woofer. They measure just 15.25" x 7.25" x 10.75" and boast a gorgeous bamboo cabinet with sleek matching bamboo stands. DeVore claims a 90dB sensitivity and a flat 8 ohm impedance, which should make the speaker very amp-friendly, and especially so to energy-saving, low-powered amps.

You are tempted to speak solely of the speakers, but of course you cannot. The speakers are part of a system, which includes the room and the listeners, the music, the amplification, the turntable, the cables. Together, it sounds wonderful. The music sounds wonderful. There is air and presence and coherence, so that individual instruments and sounds appear in their own special places within an enormous stage, yet come together in a most natural, believable whole. High frequencies are pristine and extended, the midrange is smooth and liquid, the bass is spectacular. You can hardly believe it.

What the hell are those paper-cone woofers treated with?

Are you hiding tiny subwoofers in those bamboo stands?

What the hell?

You know there is something about all DeVore Fidelity speakers: They seem to respect the music in a way that you've come to feel is right. Music breathes through them. They care more about the music than they do themselves. They vanish like no other speakers you know. The gibbon 3XL shares this quality. They fill the large room with so much generous sound and then they are completely gone. From blues to soul to classical to punk to electronic to folk, it all sounds right. Strangely, in your mind, you relate the sound of the relatively small 3XLs to that of the flagship Silverbacks, not to that of their smaller siblings. You've never heard a small speaker offer such an effortlessly large presentation.

You quit thinking about it. You sit back and listen as your blood stops still to Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time and your heart fucking collapses to the Dirty Three's "Cinder."

Trey's picture

Dude, wonderful writing.I am a bit jealous of the full contact group listening sessions you have become part of! Have fun pal.Trey

ken mac's picture

Lo Dice Todo by Grupo Folklorico y Experimental Nuevayorquino? How did I miss that? Wow.

Stephen Mejias's picture

I wrote: The speakers are part of a system, which includes the room and the listeners, the music, the amplification, the turntable, the cables.But I failed to mention the other pieces of the system. We listened to:EMT TSD-15LZI cartridge on an EMT 927 "banana" arm
Spiral Groove SG-2 turntable
phono section of the Shindo Monbrisson preamp
Ensemble B-50 "Tiger" integrated amp
Auditorium 23 interconnects and Audio Note AN-SPX speaker cables
Jonathan Halpern's "bloody" Otari R2R deck

david's picture

Is there a possibility you might do a review of the new Gibbon 3XL? You likened it to the sound of the Silverback --does it then play on a par with the Super 8 and 9, or does it seem more like it belongs as a monitor version of the Silverback? From your comments, it seems to be quite a capable speaker.

nunh's picture

Another great article/ post - I love these visits and I also am quite jealous ;)