Graham Nash Visits DeVore Fidelity in the Venetian

[Note: click here for background on this project and here for how we set up the equipment.]

We had spent the morning and early afternoon listening to systems in the big suites, and now it was time to downscale the room size and budget a bit. I promised Graham Nash that we'd try to mix up the types of products he heard, so we headed down to DeVore Fidelity on the 30th floor of the Venetian.

John DeVore is what I think of as a bespoke speaker designer, creating products that strongly reflect his personal vision about music, craftsmanship and aesthetics. I reckoned his room would be an interesting choice and contrast to what had come before.

When we arrived, Nash was quite intrigued by the Well Tempered Lab Royale 400 Turntable set up between the speakers, with its oversized plinth and spindly tonearm. Turntable designer William Firebaugh watched the proceedings from the back of the room but politely kept his distance. Graham's new album will be available in 180 gram vinyl and he's now got some new MoFi discs (and I'm pretty sure a nice collection somewhere), so I'm thinking he should get a turntable one of these days.

But we were here for digital file playback, so the laptop was connected to the Totaldac D1 and off we went.

Nash's new album has a very primal feel in many of the songs, a swampy sound like Robert Plant has been getting on his last couple albums. We focused on those kind of tracks in the DeVore room and it suited our mood perfectly.

AudioStream's Michael Lavorgna had rejoined us by the time we arrived and later he sent me a note: "To sit and listen to Graham's music through the DeVore Fidelity gibbon Xs, which I listen through in my barn, with Graham Nash and John DeVore both present, is akin to a triple or quadruple treat of listening delight."

Lavorgna continued: "To my ears, there's a lovely warmth present in this system's sound, which imparts a natural humanness to music I find missing in other systems. This isn't about being flashy or showy or instantly gratifying boom and tizz, it's about getting music: The kind of sound I yearn for and among my favorites of CES 2016. I requested another helping of Nash's new track 'Back Home' and it washed over me, us, like a warm wave of sorrow."

John DeVore summed our visit up from his perspective rather succinctly: "Still seems utterly surreal…"

After we left the room, Graham commented about the experience: "This was a lower end system, still expensive, but smaller in scale than some of the others, but I thought it stood up very very well to what we've heard so far." Again I would agree, since in the smaller space and tighter listening triangle that DeVore had set up, there was an alive feeling to the music. Organic is the word that kept coming to mind.

Nash added: "I liked it's warmth and strangely enough, I prefer this size of speaker. Not the 'oh my god I can't fit these in my room' size speakers we've seen elsewhere. I think these are built for real living rooms. Yes, they were fabulous."

Later in the day as we were walking across Las Vegas Boulevard back to the car, Nash told me that after his experience at CES he's thinking about setting up a better system in his new apartment in New York City. "And these DeVore speakers might fit right in."

Equipment List (used for demo):
Totaldac D1 Tube Mk II DAC $11,000
VTL TL5.5 Series III Signature preamp $10,500
VTL MB-185 Series III Signature monoblock amps $17,500/pr
DeVore Fidelity gibbon X speakers $15,890/pr
Box Furniture Co A1AL Custom stand $1,100
Auditorium cables

Anton's picture

John has a fantastic ear and translates it into what his products can do.

I hope he caught a glimpse of the 3XL, which is the finest small monitor I have heard.

My wife doesn't know it, but I am secretly saving for the next iteration of his Silverback.