DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/baby loudspeaker

In the mid-2000s, I worked at a "white-shoe" law firm on Wall Street, ran with renegades, and fancied myself a writer. Fast-forward some 18 years. The firm, like many cash-flush NYC firms, has moved to midtown and I've moved on. Those renegades are now respected members and players in the hi-fi community. I still fancy myself a writer.

Back then, I made friends with a big-eared clique that would influence my future in hi-fi: audio writer Michael Lavorgna (currently editor at; NYU law professor Jules Coleman; former Stereophile deputy editor and current AudioQuest director of communications Stephen Mejias; record-industry veteran Andrew Klein; composer Dan Cooper; illustrator Jeff Wong; vacuum-coffee–machine collector and audiophile Margery Budoff, who regrettably passed in 2015; Tone Imports' Jonathan Halpern; and DeVore Fidelity proprietor-designer John DeVore.

Members of that roving gang typically met at Steven Mishoe's Greenwich Village hi-fi salon In Living Stereo, where new equipment from Art Audio, Cairn Audio, Conrad Johnson, Nottingham Analogue, Pathos Acoustics, Komuro, and Verity Audio was the cause of much fascination. ILS was the first US dealer for several important brands, including Leben, Shindo, and DeVore Fidelity.

A few years before, DeVore Fidelity had set up shop in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the 220-year-old, 225-acre industrial site along the Brooklyn waterfront owned since the early 1970s by the city of New York. Formerly the birthplace of the USS Arizona and USS Connecticut, in the very early 2000s the Navy Yard was a collapsed, wrecked, rancid ruin. I loved the corroding behemoth: the colossal decomposing construction sheds, disintegrating '50s-era machinery rotting into (probably) contaminated earth, the ghost signs and ghost buildings that held many secrets, the decrepit nearby seaman's bars. Here was a major part of New York's and the America's manufacturing and maritime history left to die many years ago like Captain Scott on the South Pole and now, slowly, starting to revive. DeVore's new Navy Yard facility is where our gang decamped.

Not long after moving in, DeVore built his famous Monkeyhaus, a listening room and manufacturing center where this clan listened intently to music in the central listening room as, in the adjacent factory space during these off-hours events, booze was imbibed, cigars smoked, and pizza inhaled. Old Coot and LuluBear, the factory cats, kept an eye out for shenanigans. All genres of music were encouraged, as long as they were played on vinyl, often played through prototype amplifiers and speakers and John DeVore's Frankenstein turntable assembled from parts by Eminent Technology, Empire, Roksan, SME, VPI, and Well Tempered.

After hearing DeVore's Gibbon 7.1 in 2005, I reviewed that speaker for 6 Moons. I bought a pair of Gibbon Super 8s later that year, awarding them "Best of 2005" at 6 Moons. In 2007, I reviewed and bought a pair of Gibbon Nines and reviewed the standmount Gibbon 3XL, awarding it a Blue Moon Award. I purchased a pair of Orangutan O/93s, followed by Orangutan O/96s. I have a long and positive history with DeVore Fidelity products and their designer, which made me keen to try his latest creation, the Orangutan O/baby ($5700/pair).

Little ape
As you'd expect from its name, the O/baby is smaller than the other, older Orangutans, but it's bigger than you might think, standing 14.75" wide, 9.75" deep, and 35" tall when sitting on its custom, dedicated highchair (aka speaker stand). Each O/baby weighs about 40lb, a heavy baby. Key parts include a 0.75" horn-loaded textile-dome tweeter from Denmark's Vifa and a 7" SEAS paper woofer from Norway, both made to DeVore's specifications. John is always tight-lipped regarding his crossover designs (and crossover points), but he will yack copiously about the tweeter and woofer implementation.

"Vifa makes the dome/coil/magnet assembly of the tweeter, which I originally designed for the supertweeter in the O/Reference," DeVore said. "During the COVID slowdown, I started tinkering with the idea of a least-expensive Orangutan speaker model. This led to using the supertweeter mechanism from the O/Reference minus all its pricey bronze mounts and horn. In order for Vifa to make those tweeters for us, we had to order 1000. Even in my wildest dreams, I am never going to sell 500 pairs of O/Reference, so let's do some repurposing! I redesigned the horn profile to work lower in frequency, as a tweeter instead of a supertweeter, and machined that horn right into the front baffle to save on manufacturing cost."

What's custom about the O/baby's 7" SEAS woofer? "Everything," DeVore said. "Only the cast chassis is an off-the-shelf part. The cone is made from the same German paper as the rest of the Orangutan woofers. Unlike the other O/woofers, the O/baby woofer does not have a phase plug; instead it has a rigid paper dustcap. The voicecoil is similar to those on the other O/woofers but wound for 8 ohms instead of 10–12 ohms to make it a more universal impedance load for amplifiers."

The drivers are positioned close together at the top of the cabinet and intended to fire directly at your ears, so toe them in and arrange them so that you can just see the tops of the cabinets, although, within limits, listening height isn't critical. "I mount the tweeter as close to the woofer in all my designs. ... Getting the treble and upper-midrange drivers close together generally means the tonal balance will change less as the listener moves around, all else being equal. The fact that the drivers are so close in the O/baby means the listener can be closer to the speaker, as close as 1.5–2', compared to the minimum 6.5' required by the O/93 and O/96."

The internal wiring, DeVore told me, is "a combination of the same aerated-Teflon–insulated silver/copper wire I designed for the rest of our models and a classic Western Electric–style twisted pair for the woofer." The binding posts are machined from brass and gold-plated.

The O/baby closely resembles the larger Orangutan speakers. Needless to say, the resemblance isn't skin-deep—yet the route from those earlier Os to the O/baby wasn't as straight as you might presume. "I didn't start out to make a miniature O/96. The micr/O"—a 10" sealed cube using the same drivers as the O/baby—"was the original concept," DeVore said. "That project was inspired by a pair of speakers I threw together to appease an employee complaining that she had no good sound out in the assembly area. This sparked the concept of a new, more affordable 'O' model. Working with SEAS, as always, I sent them designs for all manner of 7" and 8.5" woofer variants to prototype, using whizzer-cones, phase-plugs, lossy dustcaps, etc. When that little 7" with the hard-paper dust cap arrived, I loved the look right away. After burning them in, running full measurements, and playing with some simulations, I realized that not only were these the likely solution for the sealed cube; they would also fully blossom in a bass-reflex [speaker] tuned like a mini O/96. Thus the O/baby was born, and the new speaker project turned out to be twins!"

The front baffle of the O/baby's cabinet—made, with the custom stands, by Anthony Abbate's Box Furniture Co.—consists of a 0.75"-thick birch-ply slab veneered with gorgeous white oak. The stands are handmade, with no fasteners, also from white oak to match the baffle. The box is finished in catalyzed (two-component) polyurethane. Mounted on its optional stand, the O/baby reminds me of an Arts & Crafts house: The gently splayed legs give the speaker a homey yet regal appearance.

Were sacrifices required to develop a smaller, cheaper ape? Of course. "Compared to the O/96, the O/baby cabinets are much less expensive to make and 'finish,'" DeVore said. "The cabinets are made from a high-recycled-content MDF made in Europe with black pigment mixed into the pulp to make the material itself have that charcoal gray color. While this is far more expensive than standard MDF, it ends up saving costs in production, as there is no veneering the panels and no staining. We just clearcoat the gray material to get the finished product." Functionally, "the smaller woofer is less expensive and requires a smaller internal volume to work optimally," DeVore said. The O/baby is not as sensitive as the bigger Orangutan speakers, and it won't play as loud.

DeVore Fidelity
63 Flushing Ave., Unit 259, Building 280, Suite 510
NY 11205
(718) 855-9999

Metaldetektor's picture

Ken, thanks for the wonderfully written review. For background, what are your room dimensions (sorry if I missed this somewhere)?

ken mac's picture

My listening room is small, roughly 12 x 15 feet. That info is in associated components, I believe.

MhtLion's picture

Your review made me interested in a pair of Orangutan O/baby. I think it will pair well with DarTZeel gears. Thanks for the great review!

Auditor's picture

Interesting review.

However, it doesn't seem like a good idea to entrust a review to someone who is a long-time and close friend of the manufacturer.

At least, Ken is open and frank about his friendship with John DeVore and I commend that. Still, Stereophile has quite a few contributors; I think it would have been easy, and wiser, to give this review to someone who isn't so close to the owner of the company.

JohnnyThunder2.0's picture

doing an investigation here into a misappropriation of public funds or safety. It's a review of a high end speaker. Wiser to assign another writer? Why? Maybe Jim felt that by assigning Ken to write this, it would simply make for a better article/review and a better understanding of the product. Some of you guys simply do not understand the role of magazines and the economics of magazines. Are you concerned of some great conspiracy between Jim, Ken and DeVore that will allow a flawed high end speaker to be unleashed on the public ? Do you read other magazines? These are all - stereophile included - magazines about luxury goods.

troutwitted's picture

I can’t add much to the good points already made in response to JohnnyThunder’s special blend of arrogance and ignorance, specifically this: “Some of you guys simply do not understand the role of magazines and the economics of magazines.” You, Mr. Thunder, are the only one exhibiting a clear misunderstanding of both magazines and economics. Like others, I have no idea why you think there should be a relaxation of transparency or editorial standards because we’re talking about luxury goods. First, Stereophile has probably influenced me more tangibly on big purchases than the Times has; there are products I wouldn’t have considered auditioning had Art Dudley not written about them. Since I can’t comfortably consider any of my income disposable, I need all the help I can get before blowing several mortgage payments on speakers. And if standards can lapse for something decidedly in the private — not public — interest like expensive speakers, tell me where I can find the scale to understand what measure of trust I should ascribe to a speaker review. 37%? 54%? As far as the economics of magazines, no publication — even propagandists — wants its readers wondering about its financial condition as they’re reading. There likely isn’t a single publication that you’ve read, Johnny, that hasn’t fallen on tough times, at least in its past if not its present. Should we tolerate more palm greasing and pay to play because a magazine is experiencing more financial trouble? And if they’re flush with cash, then should we expect them to be able to afford more truth and transparency?

It’s great — required, frankly — that the author disclosed his personal relationship and, as a fellow owner of several pairs of Devores, I’m interested in his knowledge and experience with all manner of apes. What I don’t get is why an editor, reading the ringing endorsement of an author noting that he has purchased one pair of Devores after another, wouldn’t ask that writer to clarify whether he paid full price — the price we’d all have to pay at a dealer — or something considerably less than that. If it was considerably less, then at least we can see a possible incentive the author has to write a positive review — whether or not he acted on that incentive. IMHO, that level of transparency tends to result in more reader trust that the author didn’t allow the discount he was gifted by the manufacturer to color his review. By not disclosing it, the publication easily achieves something less than the reader trust it’s probably hoping for.

Glad to see this debate break out here. Would very much appreciate if truth and transparency, whether in print or politics, were seen again as virtues and not, as JohnnyThunder’s note implies, for suckers and naïfs.

MhtLion's picture

We understand the economy of a magazine that its real customer is the manufactures not the readers. But, once a magazine is considered as if a bible of the industry, I think we can expect a little more. JohnnyThunder's comment may be perfectly suitable for some publications which are nothing more than money grab (I won't mention their names). But, I believe we have a different expectation for Stereophile. Many of us spends a serious money based on the reviews and recommendations on Stereophile. My first speaker purchase was based on the review here. In fact, I was thinking of purchasing (giving it a serious audition) Baby O based on this review. Regardless it's a luxury good or not, I think we can demand some objectivity from the de facto leading publication.

MhtLion's picture

A valid point, Auditor. A very valid. If you skim through Stereophile like watching a Youtube short, then you will say 'Who cares? It's just an audio gear'. But, most of us here are a LOT more serious than that. We spend a SERIOUS money.

Stereophile should take a note of the comment. Please don't think another person's $8,000 is nothing, and have a friend praise another friend. Only after this comment, I realized Ken wrote ZERO negative about the speaker. Is this the first ever perfect speaker? Else, where is the short coming?

JohnnyThunder2.0's picture

Would another writer have asked Mr. Devore tougher questions ? Would he have found issues in the tonality of the speakers? Based on all other reviews of Devore speakers in the pages of Stereophile, they have a pretty great track record of garnering glowing endorsements. So Stereophile in general is a safe haven for them. Recently Ken Kessler also blew these speakers mega kisses in a sister publication. I am not going to argue with the seriousness of Stereophiles purpose in this hobby of ours. But I just don't think this particular example crosses a line. Would I want to read this every issue ? No. But in this case, and with the outcome pretty much predetermined, it didnt really bother me.

Glotz's picture

is just utter tripe. Totally NOT valid point. Everyone has a responsibility to themselves to auditioning equipment for themselves.

Even Stereophile warns all respective buyers of any gear in each and every Recommended Components 2x a year for decades - These reviews are merely signposts to purchase. They are "not telling you who to marry either!"

Everyone just desperately wants to take Stereophile to task because they are one of two authorities that have been along before any of us have been audiophiles.

Every dealer has return policies. Any self-respecting audiophile will audition ahead of time. Anthony Cordesman said it best years ago- If you don't audition a product before buying, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Any self-respecting dealer would also give you leeway to purchase then credit anyone back.

If you took this magazine 'SERIOUSLY', one would realize this review is just a report of an experience. His magazine recommends this- It's not forcing you at friggin' gunpoint.

And if a reviewer got it wrong, big deal. Your experience differed from his. You may be a fake audiophile and not know one thing about system matching to get ANY component to sound its best- and at the level that Ken did hear. Who's fault is that? Yours. Not Ken's.

Stop BSing yourselves into thinking a deeper level of percieved transparency will change your buying habits. It's a non-sequitur- like the long-winded, nonsense posing as righteous indignation above.

I got what Johnny was trying to say- and I'm SURE you all did too. 'Audio gear' or any purchase requires all of us to pay attention on what we are spending. Economics 101. He was saying that the magazine article isn't an Article of the US Constitution. He's right.

Laphr's picture

This and your other remarks in this thread are right on. Naysaying around here has reached epic levels. 90% of it is self-indulgent trolling.

On that point, the magazine really needs a proper comments system.

Auditor's picture


Are you replying to Glotz's comment above or the one I posted below this morning?

Laphr's picture

My remark is indented below Glotz's. In no way does it refer to your output.

Auditor's picture

Comments don't always end up where they should. I often put them in the wrong position in the thread, I must admit. Thanks for clarifying that.

Glotz's picture

Regarding righteous indignation.

Jazzlistener's picture

I would almost buy them for their looks alone. However, what I don’t love are their prices. This is an outrageous amount of money for a small, simply built MDF box. At least offer a more premium wood finish. I also echo the comment questioning the choice of reviewer, given he is a self-declared long-term friend of the designer/owner.

Auditor's picture

I would be hard put to say whether the price of the speakers is excessive because I have no idea what the custom drivers might cost DeVore Fidelity. I can say, though, that those $1000 stands seem overpriced. Okay, it's some nice wood and some nice woodworking... But a grand for that?!

Glotz's picture

I'm angry about, but it's something!

This seems like a great place to be upset!


saxman73's picture

I heard those speakers in Munich in 2022 and really liked them! Very natural sounding and musical!

Duval's picture

A nice speaker for smaller listening rooms, but the pricing seems a bit surreal. In Europe, the o/baby costs 6750€/ 7406$, which is about 60 percent more than the Harbeth Compact 7, which is probably one of its main competitors.

Auditor's picture

Johnny Thunder, on a good day your comments are entertaining; interesting even. This is not a good day...

You say we don't understand the role of the magazine. But you don't understand the reader's expectations. That is, some degree of objectivity on the part of the reviewer. If the reviewer and the manufacturer are close friends, readers are going to wonder how objective the reviewer was. That's just common sense.

Don't worry, I understand that audio magazines are part of a business ecosystem and that there is a dependence between the manufacturers and the magazines. And I know that relationship is not always healthy. Still, for the system to function, readers have to be able to place a bit of trust in the reviews they read. Hence, it's legitimate to raise the question in a case like this. (But let me repeat that I recognize that Ken let everyone know he's friends with John DeVore. I didn't accuse Ken of not being objective either.)

I also understand the difference between a newspaper and an audio magazine, thank you.

Why does it matter whether it's a luxury good that's being reviewed or an everyday product? In either case, we want an objective review. Plus, Stereophile doesn't only review ultra-high-end products. A lot of the equipment reviewed here is actually affordable. Your comment about luxury goods is irrelevant.

And what's this about conspiracies?! I can't find anything in my comments that could evoke a conspiracy.

Jazzlistener's picture

I completely agree with you. Well said.

Glotz's picture

And that does sound conspiratorial like Stereophile is hiding something you discovered because of your sleuth-like skills. It really just sounds like you're having a bad day- not him.

You miss Johnny's point entirely-

If Ken wants to create review without mentioning a damn bad thing, that is his prerogative. If he has a relationship with the manufacturer, so what?

You're so rigid that your idea of what constitutes a review has to be objective. Reviews are all subjective less the measurements, right?

The bottom line is if Ken or any other reviewer just wants to write an essay or a story of an experience WITHOUT any desire to go through the positives and negatives of any component's performance- that's his decision this month or any.

The truth is all we ask. If he lied about a speaker he reviewed stating he enjoyed but really thought it was a piece of crap- yes, I would say you have something to bitch about.

Is that the case here? No. As long as someone communicated effectively that they loved the speakers is good with me. I do the heavy lifting of research (product, mfg and dealer) thereafter.

So Johnny is right. You guys expect a strict set of rules on every review. He understands there's more to Stereophile than that. I do too.

JohnnyThunder2.0's picture

I just want to learn something from the article or review. And be entertained by the writing Ken M is a great writer (as is HR, AH, MC and others currently working.) I'm not expecting hard hitting analysis or white papers in Stereophile. What is an objective viewpoint anyway? And who says that Ken M isnt being objective? Of course a different writer may have asked different questions but I'm not really sure if the end result may have been all that different. The objectivity factor for stereophile is handled by JA1s testing and measurements. I don't see anything wrong here. If the magazine business is throwing a lot of easily hittable pitches these days...well that's just the nature of a lot of journalism these days. Having worked at a major magazine for eons, you are often assigning writers w a relationship w the subject matter.

Jazzlistener's picture

Your arguments are all over the place, and none hit the mark. Stereophile is one of the pre-eminent audio review print/online publications. I can guarantee you that most, if not all, of their reviewers consider themselves to be journalists. As a reader, I hold them to a high standard. Especially when reviewing products that cost this much (yes, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to a lot of higher-end products, but still a significant chunk of change for most of us). I don’t have an issue with Ken’s review per se (although it plays it very safe - e.g. no comparisons to competing speakers, no comment on their high price compared to said competition, no comment on the basic build quality/materials) and I’m sure he does rate these highly. That’s no surprise given that he owns Devore speakers, has listened to Devore speakers for years, and has been friends with John forever. It would have been more brave to assign a set of fresh ears to review these. This would have benefited both the readers and John Devore, as it would have (presumably) shown that other Stereophile reviewers also rate these highly, and removed the perception of bias. Hopefully Stereophile will do a “second look” review by another reviewer. In terms of your comment that the reviewer doesn’t need to be objective because that’s what the measurements are for, give your head a shake. If all we needed were measurements (and I am not in that camp) then we wouldn’t need reviewers like Ken.

teched58's picture


JohnnyThunder2.0's picture

for many years (between 1 and 2 decades). Big company. Starts w a T and ends w E. On the creative end of things. I don't work there any longer. I don't work for Stereophile or TAS or any other stereo magazine but I know how magazines work and how they have to operate to survive in today's market (it has evolved , it's different.) I am a music lover and a modest audiophile. I can hear differences in interconnects, speaker and power cables. I like tube amplifiers and also have a Linn LP12 w a Naim Aro tonearm and an EAR 834 phono stage. What else ? I just read Stereophile to learn about new equipment and music. Herb and Alex are currently my favorite "writers" at the magazine. I aspire to have my system duplicate some of the sounds they own, experience and respond to. Before he sadly passed, I adored Art Dudley's writing and the equipment he chose to review (I bought one of the amps he reviewed favorably.).

teched58's picture

Deleting comment cause it offended Jeff Glotz

Jazzlistener's picture

that says it all. I am sure you were good at your job, however working the creative side of things is not handling the business side of things. I’m sure you gleaned some stuff in your time there, but ethical standards and running the business end were not among them, as clearly evidenced by your comments.

JohnnyThunder2.0's picture

have a Ph.D in electrical engineering right? I was quite well acquainted w the business side of things. I understand magazine ethical standards and conflicts of interest very well. I was on the front lines and not a freelance creative w a semi-understanding of the business. I assure you that some of the people we dealt with were powerful people in popular culture not the manufacturers of limited edition tonearms. If Ken is not a relative, a former employee, doing freelance writing or consulting work for Devore, then the only issue w the assignment is that you don't like it. There are no ethical issues. In your mind maybe but not to JA2. Ken would have said no if he thought his "in" w Devore would be a detriment and not a benefit to the review/interview.

Glotz's picture

It's just Jazz being butt-hurt. He expects you to stay to a high-standard when posting in here. Lol.. he justifies his criticisms of you by reminding you that Stereophile and its reviews HAVE RULES. Jazz always declares victory after 3 or more people gang up on one person, no matter how faulty their logic and arguments are. Which THEY ARE.

Yet he can't create paragraphs like every other modern professional. I love how TechEd also started respecting you after his personal, Doxxing attack of you as well above. Another butt-hurt casualty of those who 'Don't Get It Their Way'.

Yeah, Merry Christmas everyone!

teched58's picture

Jeff, you are reading comprehension constrained. Calling someone creative is meant as a compliment. I was complimenting Johnny, not insulting him and not doxing him.

Glotz's picture

You asked him what he does for a living and directly (and perhaps mockingly) called him out
The Who lyrics were way over the top and inciteful.

georgehifi's picture

Auditor:"If the reviewer and the manufacturer are close friends, readers are going to wonder how objective the reviewer was. That's just common sense."

Ya got that right,

Cheers George

cgh's picture

I'd expect more capacitors at that price point.

Love Devore sound. Never owned. I have Wilson upstairs and a bunch in storage downstairs, including Focal Utopias that I am too lazy to try and hagglesell. Maybe if I do I can buy some Devores and pull my sweet tube monos out of storage to try and impress (at that point) my children's new mother.

georgehifi's picture

cgh: "I'd expect more capacitors at that price point."

Sorry caps won't help you there sunshine, but there are two nasty box resonance at 200hz and 300hz should "color" the upperbass/lower mid nicely for you.

Cheers George

Ortofan's picture

... "If I were in the market for a pair of floorstanding speakers costing about $5000/pair, the Spendor A7 would take my cash."

The price of the A7 has since risen and is now quite close to that of the O/baby with its stand.

So, between these two speakers, which one would KM choose today?

donkeyshot's picture

Funny, I was wondering the same. The A7's review is easily my most-reread piece of Hi-Fi journalism.
So, KM, here's your $5K cheque – O/Baby or A7?

Auditor's picture

If I were Ken, my answer would be "it depends". They're probably both excellent speakers, but your choice will depend on the partnering electronics, the room, the type of music you mostly listen to, your sonic preferences, etc.

windansea's picture

I have to agree that the reviewer should not be a long-time friend of Mr. Devore. Also the reviewer has purchased Devores several times. Should have been Julie instead.

ChrisS's picture

Doesn't anyone know how to shop anymore!?

And celebrate the friendship!

(Give it to 'em, Glotz!)

ChrisS's picture

...told me why I should buy a Ford Ranger.

I told him he was full of shit.

That's what friends do.

Auditor's picture


If someone posts a rabid comment, but you happen to agree with the person's opinion, that person is fantastic and and their comments are all praiseworthy.

If someone posts anything you don't agree with (even if the comment is very mild and deliberate), you will simply tear into that person.

Take a couple seconds to think about that.

You know, it isn't a battlefield here. It's the comments section and we're just giving our opinion and debating.

Glotz's picture

My tone was a bit strong. My apologies if it offended you. My intention was to generalized, not call out one person- but I did that to Jazz. Apologies to him and you.

But really, it's not about what I agree with. This magazine doesn't have strict rules about how one has to write a review. I love technical reviews that check all the points- But it's not required. Debate fairly.. there were attacks on Johnny directl- Several times. It was a gang up.

Auditor's picture

I appreciate your post.

If we're commenting here, it's because we're passionate. And when we're passionate, we can all get carried away. It's happened to me too in other threads.

Yeah, a few comments above (by other people) are almost ad hominem attacks on Johnny Thunder. And that's not right. Folks might not always appreciate his tone, but it's not a reason to attack him like that.

Glotz's picture

We are such a passionate group! Thanks for insights and the acknowledgment of Johnny with that statement.

This place does need everyone commenting all the time! I view everyone's involvement as valuable. Jazz has brought up important points many times. As have you and everyone else. Truly.

I am also guilty as getting carried away. I will work to add my position without overdoing it on tone, as I have in the past. It's a journey as we all get to know each other - from a reader standpoint.

JohnnyThunder2.0's picture

but I was truly not that offended - you know the tone of these posts is often read with a decent helping of unintended vitriol (usually projected.) I just needed to state what I know based on my experience in the industry. There are reasons for why things are done that may seem rife with subterfuge but are sometimes just the way things are done and the path of least resistance AND (believe it or not) with the reader's best interests at heart (as in - what will make for an interesting read.) Other's may be angry at that - in the same way that some are angry that certain reviewers and manufacturers claims are made regarding sound qualities or enhancements that cannot ever be measured ! But we all know that when it comes to the creative arts, that measurements only tell us part of the story. Even noted audiophile and cosmologist/etc. Stephen Hawkings said that "One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn’t exist… without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist." So, thank you again mr. Glotz (and others) and I'm going to listen to music on my imperfect stereo equipment.

celef's picture

this is the norm in the industry, the reviewer is most often a personal friend with the manufacturer, so please do not believe any word written in any magazine, the word is just entertainment and not a truth in any way. But stereophile is better then many audio magazines thanks to the their measurements, they usually says a lot that is pure facts, and that is the beauty with measurements

georgehifi's picture

"and that is the beauty with measurements"

Yeap measurements: are not friends with anyone, they don't bullshit, they're fact, not romantic, and not on the payola to anyone.

PS: If you don't believe in them, you can't read or understand them, because nearly all our equipment is built to a manufacturing "cost level" using them, if not you're looking at buying junk!!

Cheers George

JohnnyThunder2.0's picture

That may be the case here but everywhere? I'm not that that cynical. You can be if you want - no one is stopping you for not believing anything you read.) Professional acquaintance is way more likely - and I think the rules regarding interviewing "friends" would be different at Stereophile than at the New York Times. For example, read this profile in today's NYT and you will see that even accepting certain foods at a lunch is forbidden - - Everyone in the media has contacts and sources. Let's not be naive about that. Stereophile, Motor Trend, Condé Nast Travel will have different standards for interaction w sources than news organizations or things that can impact stock prices. I know for a FACT, that no one at the magazine I worked at was a personal friend with anyone they ever interviewed. Friends with a publicist? Sure. Preferential treatment or attention? Maybe. That is how the game is played. Why are certain reps products in the magazine more than others? This is a small industry. this is not GM and Ford. Relationships are usually a mutually beneficial thing. But there are lines that are not crossed.

donkeyshot's picture

Thanks for this review, I was waiting for it. And, as always, a nice read too.
I've been saving up for these for a while now and hope they'll stay in the DeVore lineup over the next years!

David Harper's picture

Two dynamic drivers in a wooden box. $5700. hooooo boy. Price must be inversely proportional to value in "high end" audio.

ChrisS's picture

David Harper = goldfish

Ortofan's picture

... Polk Audio TSI500 - five dynamic drivers in a wooden box, on sale for a mere $658/pair.
(Floorstanding, so $995 stands not needed.)

MatthewT's picture

Since you seem to be deaf as well, any tips?

ChrisS's picture


Anton's picture

Simply have a different reviewer do a comparison review and reach the same conclusion.

Same way that broken gear gets re-reviewed: "Everything I said before remains true, now even more so."

I'm just stirring pot.

I am fine with the review. These sort of issues are long term things. If every review was, "Here's my best buddy's great amplifier..." we'd catch on pretty quick. I think Stereophile's body of work stands to show that friendly hand ups are the exception (or non-existent) to the rule.

Carry on, Ken!

georgehifi's picture

"I have a solution to this conflict...
Submitted by Anton on December 4, 2023 - 5:50am
Simply have a different reviewer do a comparison review and reach the same conclusion."

Same, same no good, that would only work if each reviewer came from different opposing magazines.

Cheers George

ChrisS's picture

...not life or death.

MBMax's picture

Additionally, I just can't see Ken risking his professional reputation by giving an overly favorable review due to the friendship. All it would take would be one or two folks experienced with these speakers to call him out and game over.
And if you can't audition them in person, you can always request a 30 day home trial.
Yes, they are "overpriced," but John DeVore has some secret sauce that makes his (O series anyway) speakers quite special.

JohnnyThunder2.0's picture

the overhead costs are factored in. These are artisanal creations. They are not mass produced. These are not sold in the thousands in Best Buy like KEFS etc. Hiding behind all of this is that Devore speakers are like the "poster child" on the ASR site for speakers that have adoring fans but don't measure well. Oh those horrible awful "resonant" peaks that may actually add some bloom and body to acoustic instruments and ruin the entire listening experience. It's funny that one man's "poorly engineered" is another person's "sounds great!"

Jazzlistener's picture

and this is either a flaw or positive, depending on your viewpoint. John doesn’t sell enough speakers for cost efficiencies. This means you pay 2-3 times the price for what a more mass-produced speaker company would charge you for essentially equal performance. Part of the secret sauce of Devore speakers is their aesthetics (both in their beauty and the fact that there really isn’t anything on the market that looks like they do). So owning a pair of Devore speakers means you own something esoteric that sets you apart from others, and let’s be honest, audiophiles love that. If I could afford the O96, I’d get me a pair in a second. That being said, there are many mass market companies hitting it out of the ballpark at stupid affordable prices. I’m not sure if your reference to KEF was a putdown, but having owned the LS-50 Metas and the non-meta R3’s, I can attest to the fact they are some of the best speakers I’ve heard. I could care less if everybody owns them. They are outstanding and relatively cheap.

JohnnyThunder2.0's picture

just a comparison of high end sold in more quantity than hand made products like Devore (and how that impacts pricing.) I agree with everything you said. Some of us want value and some of us want something bespoke. You will pay for that choice. Thank you.

Glotz's picture

Amazing in many areas, as is the whole lineup.

If I were hunting for value, definitely.

I haven't heard the Devore's at length, but the brief glimpse, it's worth it.

The stands? I guess if it's synergistic. Otherwise I would look for Sound Anchor or something else in the interim.

Ortofan's picture

... automatically mean that it is artisinal?

The drivers are made in the VIFA and SEAS factories.
The cabinets are bought in from Box Furniture and are mostly made from recycled-content MDF.
Whatever resistors, capacitors and inductors may be in the crossover are likely factory-made, as well.

Aside from the initial design, how much artisanal work is required to assemble the various parts that are mostly (if not all) sourced from outside suppliers/subcontractors?

JohnnyThunder2.0's picture

are artisanal. Devore's speakers are hand made in limited quantities even if you are un impressed w the components and the simple construction. No one is saying that every aspect of it has to be made my hand in a little lab. People make artisanal belts and bags. they are buying leather not slaughtering their own cows in the backyards in Williamsburg. You're just looking to be a contrarian and poke holes in everything.

Ortofan's picture

... the line is drawn between mass-produced and artisanal products - at least in your mind.

By way of comparison, would you consider the similarly priced Klipsch Cornwall IV speaker, which is "designed and assembled in Hope, Arkansas [and] with cabinetry proudly handcrafted by men and women in Hope, Arkansas", to be an artisanal or mass-produced product?

JohnnyThunder2.0's picture

larger scale end of things. Im not sure all Klipsch speakers are made by hand in Arkansas. If they are I applaud them. They are a larger operation and sell probably 1000s more speakers because of their price points. Devore is very much a specialty operation. By the way, because something is artisanal it doesnt necessarily mean it is good. Different strokes. Volti is the uber artisanal version of Klipsch.

Glotz's picture

There is a price for his craft, art and time.

I do think these are artisanal. Even the stands are custom.

The whole lineup is really well reviewed, like everywhere.

JohnnyThunder2.0's picture

this is a non-issue. It's an issue for people looking for something to complain about. I am reminded of this quote "remember that is better to create something and be criticized than to create nothing and criticize others." (insert stick my tongue out emoji here.)

MBMax's picture

Or are audio reviews not meant to guide people what to seek out to audition (not necessarily what to buy)?

Reviews help to guide the audio gear buyer what to CONSIDER given his / her listening preferences, associated equipment, room size and acoustics, visual ascetic, and so on. Yes? No?

Back in the day, I took a shine to Art's listening and equipment philosophy, so I auditioned gear he loved and found I resonated with his approach. After awhile, I came to trust the man's judgment and have yet to be disappointed, God rest his soul.

Ken loving these O Babies gives a nice bump in interest to DeVore no doubt, but the beauty of the free market is this: if the speakers don't hold up under consumer scrutiny, they don't succeed. If these sound like something that interests you, go listen, or purchase with a 30 day audition clause. If Ken has failed in his analysis and description, it will become widely known very quickly in our small community.

In the end, I find that the "upper echelon" reviewers (as I call them) are very dependable. Of the few pieces I've purchased w/o audition, I've not returned one nor found that the reviewer in any way led me astray.

Most importantly, enjoy the art of music and pray for the world.

georgehifi's picture

MBMax: "Back in the day, I took a shine"

Too much money to be made today, from those that can't see the forest for the trees.

Cheers George

Glotz's picture


Reminds me of Henry Rollins barking "Yeah, what do YOU do?!"

And yes, bless this earth! Thank you everyone for dissenting comments and for your input, everyone included.

I wish you all new stereo purchases in 2024!

Anton's picture

I think we have obvious transparency on the part of Ken, so no issue there. Then comes a classic 'choice of reviewer' issue. Ken has experience with the entire "O" line up. This seems a perfect situation for him to be able to place this speaker in the line with regard to comparative performance. For that purpose, they could not have chosen a better reviewer. I understand that some may want a 'more independent' or disinterested opinion, as well. This would be a great chance for Stereophile to add a follow up with another listener in a future issue.

I recall a reviewed kerfuffle from some place back in the day where a publication assigned a classical reviewer a new Peter Gabriel album. He hated it, hated the type of music, wrote a screed about how terrible popular music was, etc.

Then they had the pop/rock critic who was already a Peter Gabriel publish a follow up review and the album was praised as a 5 start A+ work of art.

Same album, vastly different reviews: which one was correct?

We might be able to see how that goes as the dust settles and maybe JA or Kal or Herb or whoever take a listen.

All reviews are contextual, we get to decide for ourselves if they are accurate for our purposes, or not. Was Ken's review "truthy?" It seems so, but I don't know this speaker. His opinions regarding over speakers in this line and his experience with other gear aligns OK with my take, so I think his review is very reasonable!

Could be fun.

Ortofan's picture

... attempt to explain why someone might choose this DeVore speaker instead of, for example, the (less expensive) Revel Peforma3 F208, which JA1 called a "textbook loudspeaker design." Likewise Erick Lichte said it "brought me closer to my music in ways I hadn't thought a $5000 pair of speakers could" and "it offers uncolored, open, neutral sound, full-range extension, superb imaging and dynamics, and beautiful enclosures."

Laphr's picture

Well, because it sounds better, comes the obvious answer. And looks better, is made with better stuff, and so on. Preference, we call that. Judgement.

Are you sure you know why you asked that question or did you really expect it to turn up some Factor by which all things are made right according to your views?