Tone Imports’ Old-Fashioned Way & the DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/96

In a show dominated by forward-racing technologies and innovative solutions to complement the ways in which we consume media, DeVore Fidelity and Tone Imports continue to find inspiration in old-fashioned pleasures.

The DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/96 ($12,000/pair) is a full-range, 2-way design with a claimed sensitivity of 96dB and 9ohm nominal impedance—“It doesn’t drop below 7.8 anywhere,” emphasized John DeVore.

The O/96 is the first in what will be a growing Orangutan line, differing from DeVore’s Gibbon and Silverback speakers in many ways. While keeping in mind everything he had learned in the development of those speakers, DeVore wanted to take a “blank slate” approach, focusing on something specific—in this case, optimizing the loudspeaker for low-powered tube amplification—rather than maintaining the general, room- and system-friendly approach of his previous designs.

But DeVore wasn’t only interested in building something electrically different; he also wanted to build an aesthetically different loudspeaker. “I wanted to build a loudspeaker that wasn’t hiding the fact that it was a loudspeaker. Basically, like what a 12-year old boy would come up with if you asked him to draw his idea of a loudspeaker.” Obviously, the larger (10”) woofer necessitated a wider cabinet, and, as is typical in DeVore’s top-to-bottom approach, one change led to another.

Right on cue, Jon Iverson walked into the room and exclaimed, “Gee, these look like a pair of speakers I made in Junior High.” Clearly, John DeVore had succeeded in at least one aspect of his plan. Meanwhile, the sound of the O/96, ending a system made of a Well-Tempered Record Player (modified by Toffco's Mike Pranka to play 78RPM discs only) with a Dynavector tonearm and EMT OFD-65 cartridge, Auditorium 23 step-up transformer, Leben RS30 EQ phono preamplifier, Leben CS600 integrated amplifier, AcousticPlan electronics, and Box Furniture Co. racks, was marked by a compelling midrange, round lows, expressive attack transients, and long decays.

Everything clicked, said DeVore, when he found a new supplier (SEAS) for that 10” woofer. “The entire transaction went from painstaking to fun. It was a sigh of relief. That first pair of woofers, right out of the box, was much better.” The tweeter is a 1” silk-dome with a double-magnet motor system, “gently loaded by a waveguide.”

Tone Imports’ Jonathan Halpern dug into his stack of records and cued up an old, scratchy Hank Williams 78RPM. The music leapt from the soundstage with an otherworldly sort of presence.

“This actually sounds really good,” Jon Iverson said, “but I guess you already knew that.”

Buddha's picture

A totally easy going speaker that seemed to like the listeners in the room. Better than some 80,000 dollar similar speakers in the same genre. Plus, one enjoys the delectable musical taste put forward by the proprietor. I'm saving up for the Model 3. The Big O model had much more flesh and blood. My bro in law had this to say: "Those are better than my large Advents!" He never says that. Great sound, great host, great ancillary electronics.....