DeVore and Sugden and the Dap-Kings

I'm an old friend of DeVore Fidelity's founder and chief engineer, John DeVore. So old that every time I see him, my mind says, silently, "John-Knee Dee-Vore," and I immediately picture one of the Monkeyhaus parties held in his listening room/factory in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. At almost the same moment, I picture our mutual friend and Tone Imports proprietor, Jonathan Halpern, putting a Hank Williams 78 on the Monkeyhaus turntable—but I never want to call Jonathan "John-Knee Help-Porn." No way. Now that he is importing two of my favorite British audio brands—Falcon Acoustics and Sugden Audio—I can only address him as Sir Jonathan Halpern.

Sugden Audio was founded in 1967 to manufacture, in Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire, the first truly high-fidelity class-A solid-state amplifier: the legendary Sugden A21. I have never owned an A21, but I am a forever fan boy.

At RMAF 2016, the DeVore-Sugden room featured a variety of DeVore's own speakers powered by a Signature Series Sugden A21—and I was always joyfully impressed with the sound. Today, in Vegas, DeVore's super-sensitive Orangutan O/96 loudspeakers ($12,000/pair) were powered by Sugden's Masterclass LA-4 line preamplifier ($3750) and Sapphire FBA800 40Wpc class-A amplifier ($7500). The system was playing Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings (on Daptone Records) with super cool but hot-running LP joy.

For those of you not from Brooklyn I must explain the full true-toned coolness of what I just said: Daptone Records is stationed in Bushwick, and they only record in analog—no Pro Tools or digital reverb. The Dap-Kings (with Mark Ronson, Bosco Mann, TNT Brenneck, and Bugaloo Velez) were the backing and touring band for Amy Winehouse's legendary Back to Black. Got it?

I came back a second and third time and got to experience this Sugden gear driving Dee-Vore's flagship speaker, the Gibbon X, and all I can say is: Wow! Dang! And thank you Sir Halpern for bringing the best of old-school United Kingdom to Brooklyn and Las Vegas. Long live the Bugaloo and Monkeyhaus. (And thanks to John Atkinson for taking this pic.)

texanalog's picture

No. My Brooklyn Hipster in-joke decoder ring was not working.

ticten's picture

I have been following Herb's reviews in the past couple of months, and I am a little bit intrigued by his comments. This is kind of subtle and I hope I am not being unfair, but he seems to like things a lot and not necessarily justifying why in an articulate way, with proper disclaimers for downsides and weaknesses takes away from the ultimate credibility of his recommendations. If I am reading about analog, Dudley for example seems to be more objective (as much as this business could be), and will tell you as it is. Or perhaps Herb and I perceive the world very differently.