WASHINGTON DC (PTA) — Stereologie? What is that? I’ve no clue, and I don’t think I ever found out what exactly Stereologie is either, other than the brainchild of Black Cat Cable founder and hi-fi magnate Chris Sommovigo. Curiosity got the better of us at Capital Audiofest as it prompted Jameson Mourafetis and myself to scurry up to the “Stereologie Room” to find out what the fuss was all about. There we find speakers from Fleetwood Sound Company, electronics from Concert Fidelity, and analog delight from Fern & Roby.
I’m quickly becoming a sucker for the big audacious horn loudspeakers I encounter at audio shows. There’s something sexy about how they impose themselves spatially and yet take a seemingly delicate approach to music reproduction in comparison to their outward appearance. For the uninitiated listener, to sit in front of horns is intimidating, as the average life experience around them is usually comes in the form of PA systems or handheld police bull-horns. However, here at Capital Audiofest 2019, I’ve stumbled across a set of small horns that have not only left me a sucker, but sucker-punched. More on that later.
Jameson Mourafetis is a hi-fi guy’s hi-fi guy. He knows his stuff, can talk about any aspect of the hobby/industry at length and is also a lover of the headphone side of the hobby. Knowing this I tell him “There is a $13k priced Concert Fidelity headphone amplifier that I heard was coming to the show. It’s not in the HeadSpace area, but up in the Stereologie room. Wanna go?” That was enough to peak his interest and now we’re both off to see the wizard.
Jameson and I walk into the first open door we see and there it is, a glorious looking Concert Fidelity XHP-7 headphone amplifier that looks every bit Japanese craft, and every bit Bauhaus German design. It’s amazing. I begin clicking and twisting the knobs and they feel snappy. Exactly like what you would expect to find on the console of a space shuttle. Mission ready equipment.
Headphones on head, we both jump in for a listen and really like what we’re hearing. I defer to Jameson for the verdict, it’s a thumbs up, a gentle nod, and the usual “It’s good” — which means a lot coming from Jameson. It’s right about this time when Chris Sommovigo shows up to the room and petitions us to come see something new.
“What is it Chris?” I ask, to which he replies — “Eight watts of horn magic.”
We are then escorted over to the second exhibit room to experience “the magic” and the new horn speakers from Fleetwood Sound Co., which is a division of Oswalds Mill Audio (OMA) that was founded in 2006. OMA is more widely known for creating massive horn loudspeakers that are equal part art-installation as they are sound creating machines.
What comes to us from Fleetwood Sound Co. is the new DeVille monitor loudspeaker, which is also made in the the Oswalds Mill Audio factory in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania. The DeVille is a two-way horn loudspeaker, that thrives on its high-efficiency and conical horn drivers. The horn is made from a 6-inch thick, solid wood conical horn made from thermally modified (torrefied) Pennsylvania grown and harvested Ash. Cabinet construction utilizes a mixture of materials that include wood, and phenolic composites. The Composites are chosen for their anti-resonant properties.
The DeVille specifies a 94dB (1w/1m) sensitivity at 8-ohms, which is remarkable for a balanced sounding speaker of this size. The cabinet is ported on the bottom, which requires placement on the Fleetwood Sound Co. stands, or on flat surfaces with spacers to provide ample venting. On the front you’ll notice a phase plug in the horn. It’s a 3D printed bronze alloy phase plug that helps with early reflections, helps in taming the super efficient horn (which left untamed would measure 110dB 1w/1m efficient), and with room dispersion characteristics.
The DeVille comes in standard black with a natural solid-wood horn, top, and bottom. Each natural wood portion is hand rubbed with beeswax and natural linseed oil for an heirloom finish. Also offered are a wide range of optional finishes including: denim, leather, cork, and Farrow and Ball paint finishes sourced from England.
“Chameleon like quality.” is scribbled into my listening notes. The DeVille monitors initially gave us a vintage sound that anyone would have sworn was a product of the loudspeakers, not the recording. We switch up to something a little more modern and on digital and everything changes.
The sound from the DeVilles is anything but that vintage paper waving in the wind sound. There’s strong dynamics and attack. The DeVilles can fool you, lull you, have you up on the ropes and sucker-punch you. I like this kind of fight in my loudspeakers. Music doesn’t sound like it’s coming from the DeVille loudspeakers, it sounds like it’s coming from the source.
Fern & Roby
– Tredegar Reference Turntable – $16,500 USD (as shown)
– Prototype Phonostage – (price unspecified)
– CF-i300B Integrated Amplifier – $15,595 USD
– XHP-7 Reference Headphone Amplifier – $12,595 USD
– KR 300B Reference Vacuum Tubes – $995 pr USD
Black Cat Cable
– Setsuna Interconnects (1m) – $1,295 pr USD
– Setsuna Speaker Cables (2.5m) – $2,195 pr USD
– Silverstar! Power Cord (1.5m) – $459.95 USD
Fleetwood Sound Company
– DeVille Monitor Loudspeakers – starting at $9,600 pr USD (without stands)