CES 2013: DeVore Fidelity

I caught up with John DeVore of DeVore Fidelity at CES in a room assembled by Eugene HiFi, and was treated to a shot of bourbon and a too-short window in which to sit and enjoy his newest, the completed Gibbon X ($11,000/pair — FCS will be in late Q2). Interestingly, prototypes of these speakers were last shown … at CES! Driven here by Naim electronics, John was quick to point out that not everyone uses tubes and that, yes, his loudspeakers sounded just fine thank you, when driven by solid state gear. I’m certainly not going to argue with John (he’s 8′ tall for crying out loud), but I will say that I do prefer the tubes — but I’ll only say that at a safe distance from his absurdly long reach. Ahem.

Preliminary Specs

  • Frequency response: 21-40kHz
  • Impedance: 8ohms (7ohms minimum)
  • Sensitivity: 91dB
  • Dimensions: 44″ x 9″ x 17.75″
  • Weight: 75lbs

A 3-way design, the first in this line, includes all the drivers that John calls NewGen, which means … they’re new. Mmm hmm. The SB/R-3 3/4″ tweeter is derived from the top-of-the-brand Silverback, and according to the literature, “lowers distortion, increases dynamic expression and improves transparency”. The mid range driver is a “hybrid transmission line” arrangement and the mid range and tweeter both sit in their own, isolated, enclosures. The bass drivers, a pair of 7″ treated paper cones, are mounted with a 50% more powerful magnet than the original Gibbon woofers and as a result have double the linear voice coil travel — they “move more air than some 10″ drivers”. The enclosure is handmade in-house and is all bamboo, a sustainable/eco-friendly approach pioneered with the Gibbon 3XL.

Cast of supporting characters:

  • Well Tempered Versalex turntable and tonearm ($4,400)
  • Acoustic Plan Phono Master SE ($4,495)
  • Van den Hul Frog Gold cartridge (w/matched crystal gold coils — $3,650)
  • Naim Nait XS ($2,795)
  • Naim FlatCap XS ($1,445)
  • S4a Equipment rack in anigre finish from Box Furniture ($3,200)

Okay, so. Here’s the scoop. Buy these speakers. Yeah. I keep saying “Best In Show” contender, but I mean it — these speakers are great. I want ’em. I want them with some big tubes — and while I’m at it, I want a pair of Orangutan O/96 for my bitty tube amps, and a pair of Gibbon 3XL for all those places where you can’t fit the other two. Okay? Okay. Good. Glad we have that sorted.

The sound of a DeVore speaker, even one that hits low like the Gibbon X, is still hard to put a finger on as it doesn’t feel exaggerated or particularly excessive in along any particular degree. That is, I don’t really feel like I’m listening to speakers when I plop down unceremoniously in a DeVore demo room. The music is dynamic, deep, detailed, airy, that is, it is what it is, and I don’t marvel at the bits — I’m wrapped in the whole. Color me a fan and no, it wasn’t just because I was treated to “Mr Machine — The Remixes” from The Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble.


  1. DeVore speakers are indeed generally reviewed pretty positively… BUT they don’t measure well. The cabinets resonate, and past models at least have had crossover problems. I’m generally not a fan of “live” cabinet speakers, nor am I convinced that bamboo is a good material for loudspeaker building. Ascend uses it too, and not to particularly great effect.

  2. Your description of the Gibbon X sounds like what everyone describes when they describe what the ideal loudspeaker would sound like, ie. nothing ‘sticks out’ when listening. I never read anything negative about Devore Fidelity. That would be a very positive thing in and of itself.

    • It is … but it’s also something of an Achilles Heel. If nothing leaps out and grabs you, your attention may wander, your inner alarm clock may ring, the ants in your pants may revolt, or something. The flipside of this is fatigue — many speakers can irritate or bore after a short period of time. DeVore has a knack for making speakers that you can play all day, every day, and just get lost. It’s quite a feat, but again, if this is a strength, it’s a rather understated one.

  3. The Acoustic Plan pre amp looks interesting!? Is the Well Tempered arm longer than 9?” Looks like it could be 12″ long…looks nice. Having heard one in NYC, I like the table/arm alot!

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