There’s this camp in the world of audiophile that champions the use of high-quality/low-power amplification as the One True Path to Audio Enlightenment. The problem with this seems to be that it’s much harder to build a loudspeaker that respects the approach than it is to build the amplifier. Seriously — the number of manufacturers that make a serious, high-quality full- or near-full range loudspeaker that can run on a handful of watts is outnumbered 10-to-1 (or worse) by the number of amp manufacturers that have quality solutions that can run those speakers. I think that’s weird.
So when DeVore Fidelity announced, some years ago, that he’d be introducing a high-efficiency line of loudspeakers under the brand “Orangutan”, I might have done a little happy-dance jig. It’s possible that I even gave a cheer.
But when I first heard the Orangutan O/96, driven by some remarkably inexpensive tube electronics from a new-to-me brand called LM Audio, I think “slack-jawed” might have best described my state of mind.
The speakers do a lot of things in unexpected ways. First, it’s a 10″ driver and a 1″ tweeter and second, yes, that baffle is big, wide and flat. Third, it’s true, the rated bass frequency response dips well below 30Hz. Fourth, it looks smokin’ hot. And lastly, it’s $12k/pair.
A flat baffle is supposed to be terrible for detail retrieval, among other things, so perhaps it’s the horn-loading on the tweeter, but detail just insn’t a problem for them. The 10″ main driver does mean that you’re going to want to sit a bit farther back (John DeVore recommends 8-10′) for the two wildly dissimilar drivers to knit together, but following that, the image is tonally dense within a large, satisfying and fully 3-D sound stage. And yes, not only does it get thumpin’ loud, but that thump would even satisfy Mike Mercer. It’s deep. And all that on a handful of watts. Cue the happy dance!
I stopped by the Eugene HiFi room twice on my circuit and each time it was the big O’s lined up and making music — the smaller O/93 loudspeakers ($8,400) were waiting patiently on the sidelines.
A Well Tempered Versalex turntable ($4,400) with an EMT TSD 15n cartridge ($1,950) and a DPS PSU ($400) was making the tunes flow. An AcousticPlan Phono Master SE phono preamplifier ($4,495) got some help from an Auditorium 23 Hommage T2 SUT ($4,995). I didn’t get to hear the LM Audio 502 DAC ($1,800).
The LM Audio 518-IA 845-based integrated ($4,450), good for 22wpc of SET deliciousness, was in the driver’s seat.
The rack came from Box Furniture, an S3S in Sapelle ($2,550 for 3 shelves) was flanked with a matching A1S amp stand ($825).
Green-clad Auditorium 23 cables and interconnects were used throughout.