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REVIEW: DeVore Fidelity Gibbon Super Nine Speakers

71.232.32.91

Posted on October 21, 2020 at 16:13:14
JoshT
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Posts: 6382
Location: Eastern Massachusetts
Joined: July 4, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
July 22, 2000
Model: Gibbon Super Nine
Category: Speakers
Suggested Retail Price: $9,900
Description: Floor Standing Tower Speaker
Manufacturer URL: DeVore Fidelity

Review by JoshT on October 21, 2020 at 16:13:14
IP Address: 71.232.32.91
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for the Gibbon Super Nine


This is a review of the Devore Fidelity Gibbon Super Nines, which are two-and-a-half way floor standing tower speakers with .75 inch tweeters and dual seven inch woofers. They are ported in the back, have a single pair of binding posts and are constructed of solid bamboo, with the front and back panels made of MDF. Their claimed specifications on the Devore Fidelity website are as follows:

Frequency Response: 28Hz-30kHz
Sensitivity: 91dB/W/M
Impedance: 8 Ohms, 6 Ohms minimum
Dimensions: 37"H x 8.5"W x 13.75"D (not including feet)
Finish Options: Cherry Bamboo, Mahogany Bamboo, Mink Bamboo

I bought a pair in the Mahogany finish this past September, and have been enjoying them immensely ever since. At this point they are fully broken in, though I will admit to being wowed by them right out of the box. I would say the improvements during break in have been modest, mostly resulting in a bigger soundstage and more precise imaging.

I'll start with the required audiophile categories, which will include some listening impressions, and then I'll close with some descriptions of how they are to live with.

Please check my profile for the rest of my system.

Dynamics. The dynamics are excellent. As an imperfect illustration, they combine the macro dynamics of my older Klipsch KLF20 speakers with the finesse and micro dynamics of my recently replaced Dynaudio Focus 160 speakers. But really, aside from the sheer sound pressure award going to the Klipsch, the Super Nines do better than either.

Treble and Midrange. The Super Nines have more energy in the midrange and treble regions than the Dynaudios, which were dark by comparison, especially at lower volume levels. The result is a clear improvement: They're more fun, without adding any harshness, hardness, graininess, or other bad "nesses."

Bass Quality and Extension. Both the Klipsch and the Dynaudios lacked the bass extension for music to really open up in my system and room. As large as the KLF20s are, they don't go deep. In fact, the little Focus 160s were in some respects more convincing in the bass. The Super Nines sound bigger and fuller than both, and have terrific base extension and control. I could omit subwoofers (other than for home theater use) without missing much, but I have two REL T7 subs.

Subwoofer Integration. A subcategory of bass, but worthy of its own mention: The Super Nines integrate with subwoofers effortlessly. Truly. Whereas the Dynaudios required careful tweaking of the output and roll-off levels to sound fully integrated with the subs (and even then not consistently on every recording), the Super Nines automatically blend with the subs as though a single source of sound. You find yourself simply adjusting the settings to a preferred sound profile.

Integration of Drivers. There is no sense that these speakers have separate drivers or a crossover network. They present music naturally without any distractions. So, I don't find myself even thinking about how great the drivers are, though I guess they must be.

Soundstage. The depth, width and height of the sound stage are quite large and open. Not universally huge, but recording-specific. Music and vocals can certainly extend beyond the plains of the speakers, and startle you with sounds that appear next to you, behind you, or quite distant, but only if the recording calls for it.

Imaging. The imaging is precise and holographic. As an example, I had forgotten to turn on the amplifier that powers the center and rear channels while watching a stereo TV broadcast and assumed it was in 5.1 because the center image was entirely convincing (as noted in my profile, these are in a dual function system). This misconception continued as I changed channels until I hit a very center-channel oriented 5.1 broadcast, at which point I thought the center speaker must have come unplugged. It took me awhile to realize that the amp was off the whole time. With music, you do need to sit in a relatively narrow sweet spot to get a sense of exact placement of the musicians, but boy does that trick work when it's in the mix. And even off axis, the sound never seems to come from the speakers themselves; rather, you just lose some of the precise placement.

So that's the nuts and bolts of my listening experience with these lovely "apes" (because Gibbons). Now some more stuff about luscious, lovely life with them.

You needn't get a monster amplifier for these, but you'll want one that sounds really good! My Conrad Johnson solid state amplifier, with 120 watts per channel, can drive them as loud as I can take and with excellent control. Also, if you're electronics have outpaced your speakers historically, the Super Nines will let you know just how good they are for the first time. I'm really impressed with my historical choices! Nice job, self!

The music can leap out at you, but always with a sense of trueness to the recording itself. A performance that exemplifies these strengths is Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances conducted by Eiji Oue with the Minnesota Orchestra. Mostly soft and sweet, it has explosive passages that catch you by surprise, and the Super Nines are delightful in how clearly and cleaning they present the entire performance. Any orchestral music will be well served!

They have great drive and rhythm on anything rock or pop oriented. The band Morphine sounds deep and full, as always, but cleaner and more detailed as well. Cowboy Junkies is all subtle, specious and hi-fi-ish, but also liquid, lush and musical. Jonny Cash's voice on mono recordings floats in the middle of the room right out of reach. Beck's better recordings are sublime, and his low fi stuff is low fi but extra fun. I'm now on a Hope Sandoval kick, including her solo stuff and her work with Mazzy Star, Massive Attack and Warm Inventions. Her voice on Fade Into Me will wrap around you and hug you and make you feel all squishy and protected and safe. Her voice on Paradise Circus will make you think dirty thoughts, put a blanket on your lap if friends are over, and go to confession the next day (sorry not sorry). All rock and pop subgenres are fun to listen to. For real.

They make small group Jazz infectious. You can see and touch the instruments! Drumheads are almost palpable! You can taste the resin on them, and feel the drumstick hitting you in the eye, and literally see the glistening, shimmering, undulating umm . . . the . . . umm . . . the . . . Where was I? My point is they bring music with fine detail to life I've been enjoying exploring new jazz on Roon Tidal, including some amazing Fela Kuti stuff. I am probably most impressed by piano, guitar and drums, but horns are great too.

If I have any quibble with the sound, I would say that, perhaps, on some recordings, I feel that there might be a slight dip in the upper bass region. Maybe less punch to the chest at times? But then I don't notice that on other recordings, so it might be in contrast to my old Dynaudio Focus 160s, which reportedly had a bit of an upper bass bump.

They are also quite beautiful in my opinion. The Mahogany colored stain on the bamboo is at once both very convincing and yet clearly something other than wood. The front panels are beautifully shiny and fancy-pantsed in their piano black finish. And they are so much smaller than they sound, so are super easy to place and integrate into a normal room. Some might find their traditional rectangular box design a bit boring, though, and I will say that I'd prefer the screw heads surrounding the drivers to be painted to match the piano black panel. But overall I think their appearance is a strong positive.

Well, what else? Oh. They are expensive! At close to $10,000, they are very expensive, which is always going to call into question their value when compared to any number of amazing speakers at even less than half that price. But they are the best speaker I have ever heard and they make my system in my home sound better overall than any other system I've heard, including at dealers and friends' houses.

This system has now evolved over 21 years. I owned my Klipsch KLF20s for about 14 years and my Dynaudio Focus 160s for about 7 years, so I'm not a flipper. The Devore Super Nines make me listen to music and smile, and I'm expecting they will be my forever speakers for this system. Of course I'm getting old, so I'm not sure if that's such a bold statement.


Product Weakness: They are expensive and so they face a lot of really great competition. Physically, they are traditional boxes, which might not visually impress some people.
Product Strengths: Very musical and fun. They sound big, dynamic, clear, lively and liquid. And with all that, they sound true. They clearly distinguish the quality of the recording without listener fatigue. They are surprising small, and they are easy to place in a room. Made in Brooklyn, USA.


Associated Equipment for this Review:

Amplifier: Conrad Johnson MF2259
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): Rogue Audio RP-5
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Roon Nucleus to Simaudio Moon 280D networked DAC. VPI Scout.
Speakers: As Reviewed
Cables/Interconnects: Various
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Rock, Jazz, Pop, Classical
Room Size (LxWxH): 20 x 18 x
Other (Power Conditioner etc.): None
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner



___
"If you are the owner of a new stereophonic system, this record will play with even more brilliant true-to-life fidelity. In short, you can purchase this record with no fear of its becoming obsolete in the future."

 

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RE: REVIEW: DeVore Fidelity Gibbon Super Nine Speakers, posted on October 21, 2020 at 16:33:33
immatthewj
Audiophile

Posts: 963
Location: Pa. Pittsburgh area
Joined: March 5, 2020
You are living large, Josh!
Nice review.


"The disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning. As you see it gets in the lungs!"

 

Not to be a Debbie Downer but..., posted on October 21, 2020 at 18:56:19
airtime
Audiophile

Posts: 10585
Location: Arizona
Joined: February 4, 2003
The woofer on that $10k speaker is a Seas A26 with a phase plug reglued onto it. Don't get me wrong, the A26 is a legendary woofer. But $10k's worth - aaaahhhh???

Otherwise thanks for a wonderful and detailed review.

enjoy

 

Sure you do, Debbie. , posted on October 21, 2020 at 19:33:30
JoshT
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Posts: 6382
Location: Eastern Massachusetts
Joined: July 4, 2000
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  Since:
July 22, 2000
It's a tired comment one hears all the time, but I'm surprised to hear it from you.

The woofers are definitely made by SEAS, as are the tweeters. Both are custom made for Devore. Not off the shelf.

So, you're wrong in fact. But who cares even if you were right? Why bring it up other than to embarrass?
___
"If you are the owner of a new stereophonic system, this record will play with even more brilliant true-to-life fidelity. In short, you can purchase this record with no fear of its becoming obsolete in the future."

 

And you are not even looking at the same speaker!, posted on October 21, 2020 at 19:38:18
JoshT
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Posts: 6382
Location: Eastern Massachusetts
Joined: July 4, 2000
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  Since:
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I just looked up SEAS A26. Not even close. My speakers are pictured below. They have dual 7 inch woofers without phase plugs.

The A26 does look like what is on the Devore Orangutan 0/93 speakers. Look them up again. Completely different speaker from a different line. And those are also custom made to spec, not off the shelf.

Good grief.




___
"If you are the owner of a new stereophonic system, this record will play with even more brilliant true-to-life fidelity. In short, you can purchase this record with no fear of its becoming obsolete in the future."

 

RE: And you are not even looking at the same speaker!, posted on October 21, 2020 at 20:30:47
rivervalley817
Audiophile

Posts: 2661
Joined: June 15, 2020
those look like one of the Seas Prestige line or based on it ... might have shorting rings, different former or something added

love the looks

what's going on inside the cab? folded horn, or ... ?

best regards,

 

The look similar to that picture. Sorry, third attempt at a response . . . , posted on October 21, 2020 at 21:11:29
JoshT
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Posts: 6382
Location: Eastern Massachusetts
Joined: July 4, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
July 22, 2000
Those look the same. Sorry, I deleted my first two replies because I the link describes them as 7 inches in one area and 6.5 in another, which confused me.

I have no idea what SEAS does to the woofers before sending them to John Devore. I don't know whether they are purpose built with existing components and look like existing models or are existing models with a few upgrades. Maybe they are exactly the speaker pictured with no modifications, and John's been lying to everyone.

I don't know what is going on in the cabinets. Crossover networks? Bracing of some sort? Foam? There is no folded horn or transmission line - I described the basic design in my review.

From what I understand, John voices his speakers by trial and error until he likes the way they sound. He's been designing speakers that way since the late 1990s, first as a hobby while selling audio gear. The cabinets are made by Box Furniture in the same Navy Shipyard building. Box Furniture also makes audio racks (that are also expensive).

One of the criticisms of Devore's speakers is the pricing, and another is that he designs them based on what he thinks sounds good rather than how they measure. For what it's worth, objectivists on internet sites have been pouring heaps of scorn on them for years as being overpriced "artisanal" products. As I noted in my review, you can get a lot of speaker for a lot less money. The Super Nines are clearly sold at a steep mark-ups over COGS.

Nonetheless, I've wanted a pair of DeVore speakers for over 10 years now because they always left me somewhat spell bound when I auditioned them at Goodwin's High End. When I first posted pictures after buying them, I received friendly feedback and was asked to post more in detail when I'd had them for awhile. So that's all I'm trying to do.
___
"If you are the owner of a new stereophonic system, this record will play with even more brilliant true-to-life fidelity. In short, you can purchase this record with no fear of its becoming obsolete in the future."

 

RE: The look similar to that picture. Sorry, third attempt at a response . . . , posted on October 21, 2020 at 21:40:13
rivervalley817
Audiophile

Posts: 2661
Joined: June 15, 2020
I looked up reviews on them and saw nothing but thumbs up

but nary a description of the build

I'm a big fan of bamboo in general, and they certainly have fine cabinets

that's a beautiful piano finish on the face

I keep seeing references to how sweet that .75 tweet is ...

can you expand on that aspect?

regards,

 

RE: The look similar to that picture. Sorry, third attempt at a response . . . , posted on October 21, 2020 at 21:52:02
JoshT
Audiophile

Posts: 6382
Location: Eastern Massachusetts
Joined: July 4, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
July 22, 2000
I'm glad you like how they look.

Regarding the tweeters, I only know they are made by SEAS, supposedly to John's specs, and are the same as what he puts in the larger Gibbon X.

I know nothing more about the build than what's on the interwebs. I've tried to describe their sound in my review.
___
"If you are the owner of a new stereophonic system, this record will play with even more brilliant true-to-life fidelity. In short, you can purchase this record with no fear of its becoming obsolete in the future."

 

RE: The look similar to that picture. Sorry, third attempt at a response . . . , posted on October 21, 2020 at 22:10:29
rivervalley817
Audiophile

Posts: 2661
Joined: June 15, 2020
'I've tried to describe their sound in my review'

I'm afraid that's not good enough Josh

you'll need to ship them to me so I can decide for myself

I'll send a set of my home brews back so you'll have something to play thru

you'll like them, promise!

deal?

best regards,

 

Haha. Deal. Sounds like a fair cop!, posted on October 21, 2020 at 22:28:23
JoshT
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Posts: 6382
Location: Eastern Massachusetts
Joined: July 4, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
July 22, 2000
I'll definitely send them to you! After all, trust is important here on AA.

But here's the thing. I'll need some of that home brew in advance. Yeah. Like a few cases, I'm afraid. Trust me, it's a law here in Nigeria. I have to share a few cases with the Minister of Audio Exports and his deputies. But I'll figure out a way to clear customs soon. With enough beer.
___
"If you are the owner of a new stereophonic system, this record will play with even more brilliant true-to-life fidelity. In short, you can purchase this record with no fear of its becoming obsolete in the future."

 

Not to worry, posted on October 22, 2020 at 07:17:38
airtime
Audiophile

Posts: 10585
Location: Arizona
Joined: February 4, 2003
Hey, don't worry. Seas makes the finest sounding speakers in the business!!!! Put in the hands of a competent designer and you have a world class speaker.

For years I've been using the Zaph Audio SR71. It uses a mere $300 of Seas drivers and I wouldn't trade them out for ANYTHING!!!! And I have the funds to buy a big bucks speaker if I wanted too.

I always felt Seas tried to make sure that SOUND comes first, not "flash and specs". I've seen too many drivers in my DIY days that looked good on paper but sounded like crap!

So don't worry, you'd be lucky if these were Seas drivers.

 

Josh - Beautiful speaker! Congrats, posted on October 22, 2020 at 08:27:59
G Squared
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  Since:
December 0, 0000
The reviews I read on Devore (never heard one) have great things to say about imaging from a box speaker. Very nice.
Gsquared

 

+1., posted on October 22, 2020 at 10:37:39
Mick Wolfe
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Joined: October 10, 1999
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  Since:
September 4, 2000
NT

 

Products of small artisinal manufacturers are always expensive, posted on October 23, 2020 at 15:19:42
Brian H P
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Posts: 736
Location: Oregon
Joined: December 18, 2012
Made in the USA, high overhead on the Brooklyn manufacturing facility, each pair probably hand assembled by Mr. DeVore himself, so no economy of scale. He probably pays close to full retail for his cabinets and SEAS drivers, more if they're customized to his spec. Definitely NOT mass produced in a third-world sweatshop. And he has to make enough profit to stay in business and make a living. All of which adds up to high retail prices.

 

Absolutely, posted on October 23, 2020 at 16:17:38
JoshT
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Posts: 6382
Location: Eastern Massachusetts
Joined: July 4, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
July 22, 2000
Thanks. I love the speakers.
___
"If you are the owner of a new stereophonic system, this record will play with even more brilliant true-to-life fidelity. In short, you can purchase this record with no fear of its becoming obsolete in the future."

 

Wonderful review, posted on October 28, 2020 at 15:54:00
steve.ott@kctcs.edu
Audiophile

Posts: 729
Joined: January 16, 2009
I've been thinking about new speakers, and this one got my attention (and the Aerial 7t, and the Treo CT). How big is your room, and how far away do you sit from them?

 

Thanks! Room and Placement . . ., posted on October 30, 2020 at 12:58:42
JoshT
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Location: Eastern Massachusetts
Joined: July 4, 2000
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It's hard to say how big the room is because it's open on one side and one corner, but maybe 20 feet by 15 feet, with about 9 foot ceilings. And there is about 21 inches between the back of the cabinets and the wall behind them. Here's a picture.

The speakers are about 8 feet apart and I sit about 9 feet from the imaginary line they form. I do not use any tow in. The manual suggests not to, and I agree - the soundstage opens up and they image wonderfully when pointed forward.

I use a power wheelchair, which is actually kind of an amazing listening chair because I can tweak my exact sitting position really easily. LOL.







___
"If you are the owner of a new stereophonic system, this record will play with even more brilliant true-to-life fidelity. In short, you can purchase this record with no fear of its becoming obsolete in the future."

 

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