A quick shuffling. Half of us were pointed one way, the others went to the other car.
DeVore had been rather deliberately vague. If Darko had any idea of what was about to unfold, he gave no sign. We found ourselves ushered outside into the temperate Vegas air. Back home, the family was “enjoying” single digit temps, but out here, it was 60. Almost balmy. I could get used to January’s like this.
Origami time. Watching first John Darko and then John DeVore fold up into a car — any car — would be hilarious. But into a Citroën SM? Well. I admit, I almost missed it. This thing was art. We pulled out from Circus Circus, merged, found an open lane. DeVore handed me something from the front seat. Night vision goggles. Wha -?
And that’s when The Driver gunned it. 30 hours later, we were in Miami.
I’d heard about Alex Roy‘s cross-country cannonball in a modded BMW M5 years ago. On numerous occasions since, I’ve tried to imagine what it would take to make it from Manhattan to Long Beach in just over one day. In a car. In any car. My reaction, then and now, is the same: that’s f***ing insane. The average speed has to be well over 100 miles an hour …. Look, I’m intimately familiar with the M5, and I know that 100 is just about the sweet spot in that car’s highway cruising attitude … but you still have to stop … to buy gas, if nothing else! But that means that a lot of the drive time would be spent going way faster than 100 mph in order to make up for that … WAY faster. That’s 30 hours of nail-biting terror — flying — crammed into a tin can jammed full of only partially legal cop-detecting gear, just you and the certainty that, if caught, you were DEFINITELY going to jail.
These finer points, I remember ticking over and over with a couple of friends. Usually over beer … yeah, we visited this technological marvel a lot. 30 hours. Coast to coast. Un-f**-ing-be-LIEVE-a-bull. No way. NO-F***ING WAY! I remember all of us just shaking our heads at the massive, clanky brass ones Roy and team must have had to even attempt that run.
So, I might have been a little pie-eyed sitting next to him at dinner, that night. And yes, for the record, he clanked when he moved.
The trip to John DeVore’s “top-secret Vegas steak house” was book-ended by a ride in Roy’s completely cherry SM. Roy was offering some supplements, but it was John DeVore with the spooling commentary filled with odd little facts about the car. He was practically giddy sharing as we floated through the Vegas night on mint-condition 30-year-old car tech. I’m pretty sure I caught Darko’s eye several times that night, marveling. DeVore’s eyes would get round, and he’d talk faster and faster, the enthusiasm pouring off like steam. Great food, plentiful drink, wildly diverting conversation and not a word about hi-fi all night. My face still aches from the memory of the grin I had plastered across it that night.
Seems that Roy and DeVore have been friends for years, both having done time at Manhattan’s Stereo Exchange in early 90’s. At some point, DeVore went off to build loudspeakers, and Roy, well, he did something different. “Some folks, growing older, seem content with just cultivating a whole new smell,” says DeVore. “And then some just unfold into a whole new level of wonderful weirdness.”
Here’s Alex Roy explaining some of the mods to his car.
Back at the Venetian earlier that day, Roy and DeVore showed me around the suite. The room was typical DeVore Fidelity, in the best way: vinyl, Japanese tubes, and loudspeakers that vanish into the soundstage. During my tour, I was treated to the new Gibbon X ($15,500), DeVore’s latest loudspeaker and one of Part-Time Audiophile‘s Best of 2014. I loved this speaker back at RMAF, but John shrugged and grinned and said, “Yeah, well … about that ….”
The X was not that X. That is, this was a whole new thing.
Since RMAF, DeVore had made a … few changes. Like all new drivers. Yeah. Apparently, the final midrange driver was something he’d developed to work with a special new, fully suspended tweeter, but the samples coming from SEAS had never managed to get it quite right. So, the speaker at RMAF had pulled in the already-excellent tweeter from the flagship Silverback and he’d modded out a midrange driver to match it.
But then, SEAS nailed it … so DeVore dusted off the matching mid, and pulled in a pair of the significantly more expensive and upscale woofers he used in the Silverback, and bam, done. Say hello to the new Gibbon X.
“Hello there, you temptress.” Sorry, did I just say that out loud?
DeVore says that this new, and totally, completely and most definitely final version of this Gibbon has a higher output at lower distortion than the version shown at RMAF, with a bigger and bolder sound and more bass energy. I can’t comment on that — but I will say that this may have been the most impressive sounding room at the show. Yeah, I’ll stick to that.
Availability for the new Gibbon X will be in about two months (Q2). Some more specs: Frequency extension: 26Hz – 40kHz, with a flat 8Ω (min 7.5Ω) impedance at a 91.5dB sensitivity.
About the other bits in the room ….
A Brinkmann Bardo turntable ($9,490) was paired with an EMT 997 tonearm ($5,295), mounted with an EMT TSD15i stereo cartridge ($2,200). An Auditorium 23 Homage T2 MC SUT ($4,995) fed into a Leben HiFi RS30EQ MM Phono pre ($2,695).
The amp was one of my favorite bits of eye-candy, a Leben CS600 integrated ($6,495). This amp has gold-plated knobs (no, really, it does), wood side panels, a vintage chic that puts modern designs to absolute shame, and, almost uniquely, it features LEDs in three different colors. I love that.
Box Furniture, the company that also makes DeVore’s speaker cabinets, supplied the racks. All analog cables were from Auditorium 23.