High end distributor Absolute Sounds has launched a new concept called Ten. The products selected for Ten are made by audio artisans – perhaps less well-known, more specialised and smaller in scale, but no less accomplished in their pursuit of sonic perfection.
Ten will not necessarily carry a featured maker’s full range. Instead, each piece is selected for its outstanding individual attributes, lovingly crafted in limited quantity to satisfy the specific tastes of audio connoisseurs. Only adventurous designs of exceptional quality stand a chance of making the grade, and only makers who specialise in a singular concept – a specific type of loudspeaker, or amplifier, or source component – will be considered.
Absolute Sounds founder Ricardo Franassovici draws an analogy from his music industry background: “I would describe the main Absolute Sounds catalogue as a ‘major label’ to which many of the world’s most critically acclaimed artists are signed, while Ten is a specialised subsidiary with a more ‘indie’ ethos, shining a light on exceptional creative talent from every corner of the globe.”
The first piece selected for Ten comes from New York City’s DeVore Fidelity – a loudspeaker named Orangutan 96, or O/96 for short. Made in Brooklyn by John Devore (above), the O/96 is not a speaker intended as a crowd-pleasing commodity; but for those who appreciate its singular artistry it is pure revelation. The O/96 is a rarity in these modern times – a wide-baffle, high-sensitivity loudspeaker. The ’96’ in its name alludes to its quoted electrical sensitivity of 96dB; to put that in perspective, most modern speaker designs are rated in the 85dB to 90dB region. Decades ago, when low-output valve amps were commonplace, high-sensitivity speakers were all the rage. Now, in the age of powerful solid-state amps for which high-sensitivity is less essential, they are often viewed as a curiosity from a bygone age.
Those who hold that view have yet to experience a speaker like the O/96. It forms a perfect partnership with single-ended triode (SET) valve amplifiers, which have a modest power output – SET amps and wide-baffle, high-sensitivity speakers are a classic combination delivering spellbinding tone, texture and musical engagement. But the O/96 is not only made for SET amplifiers; other types of valve amp as well as low-power Class A solid-state designs and even amps with higher power outputs thrive when driving the DeVore speakers, prospering from their masterful skills in the art of musical communication.
The O/96 incorporates a bespoke mid/bass driver with a 25cm wood fibre cone and a motor system developed from DeVore Fidelity’s Silverback Reference drivers. This combines with a 25cm silk-dome tweeter built into a concave flange that lends a subtle horn-loading effect, driven by a powerful double- motor magnet system with a tuned chamber at the rear.
Each speaker is handmade, its veneered cabinet finished with polyester lacquer. The baffle is fronted by a choice of richly patterned veneers, with ebony wood, lace walnut, wild cherry and bird’s eye maple among the options. Paint finishes are also available; in fact, DeVore Fidelity will endeavour to match any finish that is requested by a customer.
The sound this speaker produces is energising, life-size and full of emotion, with free-breathing dynamics and an effortless quality that just flows into the room. It is a true work of art for passionate music lovers, distinctly different to the contemporary high-end loudspeaker ‘norm’ in a way that perfectly embodies the Ten concept.
The DeVore Fidelity O/96 loudspeaker is available in the UK from the start of 2021, priced from £13,500 per pair including stands (custom cabinet and finish options are also available). Three other DeVore Fidelity speakers are set to join the O/96 in the Ten collection – the O/93 (£8,998 per pair), Gibbon Super Nine (£9,998 per pair) and O/Reference four-piece speaker system (£POA).