Devore Fidelity Orangutan O/96

My neighbor had to move some heavy furniture from one room to another so he asked me for help earlier today. Although, we've been neighbors for almost two years I had never been inside his house up until this afternoon. As I walked through the foyer and into his family room, I saw the speakers hooked up to some McIntosh separates. I have to admit that these were one of the most beautiful speakers I had ever seen. He offered to play some music and of course I was not going to say no. They sounded quite decent, although the sound was not as hefty or lush as I was expecting. Don't know if it was his equipment or room (wood floor, no rug, lots of windows), or maybe the Devore's are not quite going after those big, lush, and slightly warmer sound characteristics.

I'm actually saving up money to buy Harbeth SHL5+, or used 40.1, sometime next year. But boy did the Devore Orangutans caught my attention. And yes I know I shouldn't be basing my decision on looks alone, but if they're comparable to Harbeth in terms of sound quality, I'm definitely interested in exploring.

Just wondering if someone has had a chance to compare them directly to the Harbeth speakers I'm considering. Anyone moved from Harbeth to Devore O/6 or vice versa? This will be a system that I'll be building from scratch so I do have the luxury of building the system around my speakers -- total budget is around $15000. I usually buy used equipment whenever I can.

Please note that I'm not soliciting advice for other speakers at this time. Mostly interested in hearing about real world comparisons between the Devore Fidelity Orangutans and Harbeth SHL5+ or 40.1/2.

I owned the Harbeth Super HL5+ speakers and I had a number of serious auditions of the Devore O speakers to decide if I would buy them.

I absolutely loved the Devore O/96 speakers!   I also love Harbeth speakers because both give more richness and body and organic tone to music than most other brands I've listened to.

The difference to my ear is that the Devore O speakers are sort of like Harbeth on steroids, or Harbeths on "speed."   They are more lively, up front and dynamic sounding, and to my ear even somewhat more rich and full. 

I've rarely heard a drum set sound so real as I did through the Devore O/96.

One way they are different is in the bass, though.  The Super HL5+ is very even and linear sounding from top to bottom, which is wonderful.The Devore O/96 bass performance is more of a "like it or you tire of it" kind of thing.   It's bigger, bolder, rounder, roll-across-the-floor-and-feel-it bass, where the bass of the Harbeth sits back evenly behind the speakers with all the other frequencies.   The result is, for me, that Devores have more impact, and I feel the rhythms of the bass and drummer more than the Harbeth.   They party a bit more, and feel a bit more exciting, and of course they go obviously lower in the bass than the Harbeth's as well.

Set up I think is more tricky for the Devore.   They need good room to breath, especially from the back wall, so they don't overwhelm a room with their bass.  And even at it's best, there are times when the Devore's bass can feel a bit overdone.  But for most material: wow!

Both Harbeth and Defore have a clear, open, organic "wood sounds like wood" tone,  yet both remain relaxed and unfatiguing, so they share that quality.

You say the Devores didn't sound as hefty or lush as you were expecting.   I'm not sure what you were expecting, but yes their squat look suggests a beefy old-school sound, and they are actually more linear and controlled than you'd expect, so I can see what you mean on one hand.   On the other, if they actually didn't sound rich and substantial, something was wrong, because one of the O/96's defining tonal characteristics is a richer sound with bigger image sizes and more body than the average speaker.  That's what attracted me to them in the first place, and was consistent when I heard them in different rooms.

I ended up buying Joseph Audio Perspective speakers because they are great too, and fit my room situation better.  

If you want to go down a rabbit hole, I did a long thread on my auditions of the Devore speakers among many others, here:

any word if a Super O/96 is in the works? it was rumored after the O Reference release, but the pandemic may have delayed one indefinitely.

I have only read the reviews of the DeVore Orangutan’s. I would love to listen to a set but living in Dayton, Ohio I am not sure if there are any dealers nearby me.

But I just wanted to comment that I thought I read that the DeVore speakers are high efficiency, therefore easy to drive with a variety of different amplifiers. The thing is, I believe that you do have to find a speaker/amp compatibility that is complementary and to your taste. You say you heard them with Macintosh separates but didn’t specify model numbers or if they are newer, older, tube or solid state, etc...

When I purchased my Thiel CS 3.6 speakers (a lower efficiency design that requires lots of solid state power to open up) they had them set up with a Macintosh integrated amp. The demo was just "so so". I ended up purchasing the speakers and took them home and reignited the audiophile hobby, chapter 2 or 3 for me. Sort of a mid-life plunge into the audiophile hobby if you will. I first hooked the Thiels up to my big NAD 2200 power amp and Sony CD player. I was quickly being reminded of the concepts of harshness, compression and fatiguing. I ended up purchasing Bryston components. A 4B2 power amp driving the full range Thiels. These speakers reward the listener with a type of transparency that allows you to "voice" different parts of your system to your liking.

I’m not advocating that you try Thiels. I just put it out there based on my experience and awareness of the synergy between amps and speakers. The speaker wires and the room setup and also speaker stands selected can all make a huge contribution.

@prof  -- Wow, what a thoughtful and detailed response. I have the Harbeth P3esr's in my study and absolutely love them. I was pretty much sold on the Harbeth sound until I saw the Devore's. 

I didn't get a chance to see which McIntosh models were playing in my neighbor's house. I'll see if it's possible to go back to his house and hear more music, but as you know it's not easy or welcome given the pandemic.

I'll go through the other thread you mentioned in the next day or two. 
I am in Columbus. I own O/93's and not O/96's but if you ever want to hear the O/93's, just let me know. 
Don Better up in Cleveland is likely your nearest dealer. I bought mine from him. 
I loved the Harbeth sound and went from the 30.1 to the 40.1s. In my room the 40.1 midrange was fantastic, but I could never tame the low end.  I then found a pair of O/96 and ended up selling the 40.1.  The efficiency of the Devore speakers allows you to get away with lower power amplifiers including SET and with higher end Line Magnetic amplifiers sounds sublime.

My one regret was never getting to hear the O/96 in my own home (whereas I did get a home audition of the Joseph speakers).  The O/96 were a wild card for me as to whether their bass would overwhelm (probably not - no other speaker has) but more important if I could get enough listener distance from them.  They really need at least 8 feet away from the listener to come together, which was tough in my room.
I have a pair of O/96's and probably have an ideal room for them.  It's a fairly lively room but pretty well treated.  Listening position is 9 feet from the speakers and I have the DeVore's pulled out 3 1/2 feet from the rear wall.  I sold a pair of Spendor D7's befpre moving to the O/96's and it was just what I needed - a break from the hifi-ish sound with perhaps unrealistically tight bass and leaning a tad bright (D7's) to an easy-flowing, organic presentation with the the O/96's.  Have them paired with a Line Magnetic 805ia (48w SET) as a power amp and a VAC Renaissance MK5 preamp and I couldn't be happier.  I love the versatility of these speakers and will get a 300B amp at some point.  Agree with @jlarryk 's comments.
I went from Harbeth 30.1 to Tannoy Ardens - it is pretty hard to compare as bigger speakers move that air so beautifully - I had been tmpted by the 40.2 for my 7.5m x 5.5m x 3.5m tall room but got a steal on an open box tannoy pair that was too good to ignore. Devore in the UK too expensive with the exchange but would have loved to try a pair.
I was interested in this loudspeaker (and the O/93) but found it very hard to audition/purchase now (with Covid.)  The nearest dealer did not have them in stock (only the Devore Gibbons) and did not seem very motivated to work with me. Even for delivery to the store he wanted a big, non-refundable deposit.  

I've audition many Haberth in my life. Their presentation are generally more homogeneous. My o 96 are positioned close to the wall but silver power cables and silver interconnects as well as basstrap allows me to control the bass with ease. I use a soft tube DAC and tube preamplification because my solid state amp is particularly dynamic and puts too much emphasis on female voices, brass and electric guitars (1khz to 2khz). I'm used to the more controlled Focal Scalla tones and punches. By using the Sophia preamp tubes, the sound is sublime. Beware of speaker cables that are too round like the Wireworld Silver Eclipe. The Auditorium 23 are perfect but ultra dynamic and bring the full potential of o 96s. Still I ended up with more balanced Siltech speaker cables. Transparent would probably be very different but a good match for o 96s as well. And, yes absolutely, absorbent panels and a carpet were game changer in my case. 
So I spent a solid 2 hours demoing the O’96 this past July at In Living Stereo in Manhattan. The room was extremely well treated and the accompanying electronics were Mactone. I don’t remember the cabling.

From my written notes on that day - O’96s throw a wide soundstage, very dynamic. You can feel the instruments, the drums, the bass thumping. These speakers put out a ton of energy but unfortunately this wall of sound is VERY fatiguing and very forward in your face without finesse. Also imaging is a bit vague and smeared.

So that might sound negative but those were my notes from that day and it really was impressive unique sound in that small box which many people love.

Anyway, believe it or not, I would up purchasing the Harbeth 40.2 Anniversary, just an absolutely amazing musical sweet sounding speaker that i listen to for hours at any volume without fatigue. Out of all the speakers I auditioned, this one put the biggest smile on my face and tears in my eyes. 
I heard O/93's at Command Performance a while ago.  They were fine but they really didn't draw me in; there was no magic.  I've never heard the O/96's, but from the name, the price, and what I've read about them, I gather they are a step (or two) up.  On that same trip I heard 40.2's at Deja Vu, which are now what I own.
BTW, I was very impressed by Audio Note AN-E's, which I gather were part of Devore's inspiration for the O series.
I heard O/93’s at Command Performance a while ago. They were fine but they really didn’t draw me in; there was no magic. I’ve never heard the O/96’s, but from the name, the price, and what I’ve read about them, I gather they are a step (or two) up. On that same trip I heard 40.2’s at Deja Vu, which are now what I own.
BTW, I was very impressed by Audio Note AN-E’s, which I gather were part of Devore’s inspiration for the O series.
This is a perfectly legitimate take.

So I spent a solid 2 hours demoing the O’96 this past July at In Living Stereo in Manhattan. The room was extremely well treated and the accompanying electronics were Mactone. I don’t remember the cabling.

From my written notes on that day - O’96s throw a wide soundstage, very dynamic. You can feel the instruments, the drums, the bass thumping. These speakers put out a ton of energy but unfortunately this wall of sound is VERY fatiguing and very forward in your face without finesse. Also imaging is a bit vague and smeared.
And this is also a perfectly legitimate take.

I listened to the O/96’s for hours at Axpona ’19 and the O/93’s only slightly less at Axpona (just for the sake of interest even though I own a pair) and at Axpona, the O/96’s were impressive and immersive and the O/93’s were just so-so. The reason is simple-the O/96’s were set up along the long wall of a small room to listen near-field and with better associated equipment. Bottom line-neither speaker is an imagining champion but both are capable of great touch and tone IF you position them with care and stick to complimentary electronics and speaker cable.

From my written notes on that day - O’96s throw a wide soundstage, very dynamic. You can feel the instruments, the drums, the bass thumping. These speakers put out a ton of energy but unfortunately this wall of sound is VERY fatiguing and very forward in your face without finesse. Also imaging is a bit vague and smeared.

I can understand your feelings about the O/96s there. They do that wall of sound thing. I spent long hours auditioning them and never got fatigued. But there were always moments when the bass was too much, or I wondered if I’d tire over time of their presentation.

Then again, there were times auditioning the Joseph Speakers that their bass got too much as well (to rich, plummy). But I have a very good room, and pull the speakers well out from the back wall, and I never really get too-thick bass. The Josephs ended up very well behaved in my room, so I’d bet the O/96s would have done ok too.

I just widened my Joseph Perspectives again today, pretty far apart, with about a 7 foot listening difference and it’s just a mammoth, deep, wall-melting soundstage and imaging show! That is one thing I could miss if I ended up with a speaker that didn’t do that as well. And it’s not just a wispy sound. The Joseph bass quality has that roll-along-the-floor feel it quality that is engaging and doesn’t let the music just sit behind the speakers like you are viewing musicians in a different room (my main gripe with the Quad ESL 63s I owned, and most other stats).

In fact, it’s one of the reasons I let my Harbeth SuperHL5+ go (before buying the Josephs). Unlike any other speaker I owned, I was getting a bit too foreshortened soundstage out of them, even though I could get them well out from the back wall. My Thiel speakers at the time did most of what I heard in the Harbeths, but with much greater precision and imaging/soundstaging.

That said, the Harbeth 40s are on my list of speakers I’d love to try.I’ve heard them do simply astonishing things in the showroom. And they work at close distances to the listener too. Their size and aesthetics wouldn’t suit my room, unfortunately.

But I also love the tone of the O/96s. As I wrote in my own thread, I adore the tone of my little Spendor S3/5s and the O/96s sounded to me like my Spendors but on a massive, exciting scale!

A new pair of Harbeth 40.2 is waaay out of my budget, that’s why I was focusing on SHL5+. But you guys are not making it any easier for me :)

The following points are working in favor of Harbeth ...
- I already have the smaller Harbeth in my study and honestly I can’t think of anything that I dislike about the sound. Well alright, I don’t think they image as well as my KEF LS50s, but other than that they excel in almost everything else that matters to me, especially vocals, texture, and tonality.
- Harbeth probably has more brand recognition than Devore. It matters because if I ever feel the need to sell it, I can probably get a better deal on it. I just wish that they looked a little nicer.

Having said that, the new set of speakers will be placed in the media room, and I do want the rest of the family to be able to enjoy them as well. So Devore’s ’fun’ factor is not necessarily a bad thing as long as it doesn’t stray too far from the sound qualities I prefer, i.e. focus on midrange, tonality, balance, etc. There’s a dealer in my city who carries Devore, I’ll call them tomorrow to see if they have the Orangutans that I can demo.

@prof You now have me looking into the Joseph Audio speakers. Unless I’m mistaken I think they are in the same price range as the Devore Orangutans, or am I looking at the wrong speaker?

Sorry, didn't mean to divert you from Harbeth/Devores :-)

Yes the Joseph Audio Perspectives that I own are around the price of the O/96.   Though you can also get the stand mounted Pulsar which go essentially as low as the SuperHL5+, and the Pulsars are less money.

Note that the Harbeth and Devore have that certain "old school" sound (even if updated), that rich tone top to bottom.   The Joseph speakers are a more "modern" sounding speaker.  Super clean and clear, precise imaging, all that stuff.  However, they are not clinical but have a relaxed sound, with enough richness especially from the lower mids down, to make them very musically satisfying as well as super resolving. 

But, again, the fact you like one school of speakers doesn't mean you'd necessarily like the other.  (That said, it is very rare to find anyone who is not impressed with the Joseph speakers - where opinions on the Devores, and to some degree the Harbeths, are a bit more divided).

Another thing to note about the Devores:  they have a mild wave-guide for the tweeter (to help match them to the big woofer) which means the high frequencies are more directional than either the Harbeth or Joseph speakers.   So, a smaller sweet spot.  (Joseph speakers in particular have wide, even off axis performance and sound great from almost any angle).

But if you are using the Devores from enough distance, or the other listeners aren't super picky,  the smaller sweet spot likely wouldn't be an issue.

The one fly in the ointment with all these anecdotes is no-one is talking about the amplification and its a huge variable with both of these speakers.

One thing I've noticed at shows is when the room sounds good or bad, the speakers get the credit either way. But if it sounds good the electronics have to sound that good too and vice versa, not to mention that the room itself can have its own problems (standing waves, hard reflective surfaces). I think both speakers are excellent but like any other excellent speaker you can't leave the electronics or room out of the equation!
@arafiq  If you really want complications, throw a used pair of Vienna Acoustics Liszt into the equation.  After 40.2's and Spendor's Classic 100, they would be my #3 choice.

Agreed and I listened in what appeared to be an incredible listening environment with top notch components where many pairs have been sold. I really just think it comes down to listening preference,, personal taste, including your brain and your ears. I only imagined it sounding less optimal in my set up given just how good the demo room was. 

Yes and no...IMO.

I find that speakers have a character that generally carries through associated equipment, at least so long as there isn't some ridiculous miss-matched pairing (e.g. a flea watt amp hooked up to MBLs trying to play loud).

I auditioned the Devore speakers in different rooms, on different types of amplification - 2 different tube amps, and two solid state.   They retained the general character I've described.

Likewise with Harbeth speakers.  I've heard them on all sorts of different associated equipment, in various rooms, and the types of features I've described and which tend to define their house sound remained.

As an amp manufacturer...I'm sure you have a different take :-)

Dr. Floyd Toole showed that the total room energy of the speaker says a lot about how it will be perceived in many rooms- this moreso than on axis and off-axis response (both of which also have to be smooth...). It would be interesting to see how these compare in that regard. 
Dr. Floyd Toole has also argued that, while room effects are an important part of the equation, especially from a certain frequency downward (I'm forgetting the exact numbers),  the influence of the room has been overblown by many people.   He has pointed out that our hearing/braiin evolved to identify similarities in sound despite different acoustic situations, so our brain sort of "filters out" enough of the acoustics (which is why you can identify someone's familiar voice in a wide variety of acoustic scenarios).

So, basically, if you get the on axis and off axis pretty even and smooth, that will dominate in our perception vs the room. 
So I made an appointment in the afternoon to go listen to the O96s at a local dealer -- Audio Concepts in Dallas. First of all, a big shout out to them. They were super helpful, courteous and allowed me to listen to as long as I wanted to without any pressure or the typical sales tactics. Excellent experience!

After listening to the speakers for about an hour or so, I have to say that my impressions are very much in line with @aj523 -- great dynamics, good presence, but a little too ’in your face’ for my taste. I also felt that the upper midrange was a bit too pronounced. I was definitely feeling listener fatigue after about 30 mins or so. I also felt that they were lacking a bit in finesse. The bass was there but not as tight or punchy as I thought it would be. I’m very much aware of the fact that it might have been the room, although it was pretty well treated.

I had a brief listen to Sonus Faber Olympica Nova III which the same dealer also carries. Now these babies are very, very impressive. I had heard the previous version of Olympica III about 2-3 years ago at the same dealer, but these are definitely a step up. I felt emotionally connected to the Novas, they just had that little something that was missing in the Devores. More refined and laid back but not in a boring way. I’m now seriously considering the SF Olympica Nova as another option to explore.
Correction: The Sonus Faber speakers that I demoed were Olympica Nova II, not III.

That's great that you got an audition of the O96.  They aren't easy to find for auditioning.

That's why asking other opinions only goes so far.

I did note a liveliness/forwardness in the O sound (as mentioned in my own thread) but didn't personally find it fatiguing at all.  In fact that's one of the things that attracted me, that they sounded so open and lively but in a warm-toned way that didn't bite my ears.   Wall of brass sounds that could make my scrunch down a bit in my seat on other speakers (I'm looking at you, Focal!) were easy to listen to on the Os.
Sonus Faber used to have a rep of having a somewhat dark, rich sound.But they've changed over the years toward more neutral, it seems.  Their latest are getting great notices and I'd like to hear them.
The last SF I auditioned was a pretty expensive model, around 4 years ago, and it was one of the worst speaker auditions I've had - just lean and blanched of any compelling tone.   But, as I say, the new ones get lots of good notices and clearly you report they sound good.

I'm a former Gibbon X owner, have heard the O96s several times. To me, all comes down to their bass characteristics - either you love it or don't. I personally wasn't enamored by the fleshy bass of the Os especially on electronica. Now, if jazz is your thing maybe its a better fit.

@arafiq   Out of curiosity what amp were the O/96's paired with?  It seems that most people who have shared their impressions of the O/96's aren't specifying the amp that was used which makes a huge difference with these speakers.

FWIW...I heard the Devore O series speakers on about 4 different amps.2 that I can remember are the Leben  (CS300 I believe) commonly paired with the O series.   And Nagra (classic integrated...I think).  I believe one of the other tube amps was a WAVAC.

Wow.  Right on point with me. That's rare. Anyway, glad you liked the Olympica. Now that we clearly have the same musical ear and listening preference, see if you can demo the Harbeth 40.3 XD.  Prepare for happy tears! 

FWIW...I heard the Devore O series speakers on about 4 different amps.2 that I can remember are the Leben (CS300 I believe) commonly paired with the O series.   And Nagra (classic integrated...I think). I believe one of the other tube amps was a WAVAC.

Those are all good amps to demo DeVore's although the Leben CS6000 sounds much better than the 3000.
A close friend is a dealer. Over the years we spent hours listening to one room with top of the line McIntosh or VAC gear through two Harbeth speakers the 5 and 40. He recently has the DeVore line of speakers.
Direct comparison he likes DeVore. I like Harbeth best but the DeVore are also amazing.
I may be impartial as I own Harbeth Super HL5+'s and just love them.
As others have pointed out DeVore are sensitive if that is important to you.
The dealer was driving the speakers with Audio Research separates. I don't remember the exact model but I think the combined price for the premap and amp was upwards of $15000. My opinion is that this is a great choice for folks who like the modern sound of Focal and KEF but still want a dose of the old school magic.

One thing that I'm learning about myself is that I generally don't care for high sensitivity speakers. This is not to say they're inferior in any way, just not my cup of tea. Having said that, I don't mean to imply that the Devores are not great speakers, far from it. Just not for me.

Right now, I'm leaning heavily towards Super HL5+, or Sonus Faber Olympica Nova. @twoleftears Thank you for suggesting Vienna Acoustics. I'm not sure if there are any dealers in my city that carry it, but I'll definitely check it out.
@arafiq it's good to see that you are on your path to finding the speaker that works for you.  I may have missed it but what are you currently using in your house?

Some of the speakers I've owned over the years (my wife as my witness) have been from Wilson, JM Reynaud, Verity Audio, Vandersteen and Devore.  One constant has been a pair of Devore's in our house since 2009.  Some of the amps have been from Audio Research, Simaudio, Luxman, McIntosh, Mastersound and Leben.  I've tried Spec and Sugden recently but not long enough to put an opinion out to the world.

I've come to be very careful with amplification because some speakers, and I think higher sensitivity speakers in particular, are more influenced by amplification and sources than others.  I agree with Prof that speakers have a signature all of their own, but again, the amp completes the circuit, so careful pairing matters, at least to me.

When the O/96 first came out I heard them in a shop and the dealer hooked them up to an Audio Research Ref 110 and Ref 3. This is what I purchased my Verity speakers with after hearing this combo so it was a seemingly "good" comparison to the salesperson.  After spending some time with them, I asked if we could hook up the EAR integrated that was on another rack.  To my ears the speakers came to life with this amp- lower powered, lower cost amplifier, and I finally understood the speaker..

I don't have a horse in this race but if I did it would have the proper shoes.            

I have owned the 0/93's for 3 years now.  Originally had it paired with Line Magnetic 518, and now for the last year with a Leben CS600x. Cabling is all Auditorium 23.  Having listened to Harbeth's, I prefer the O's. 
Placement is key, but the amplifier behind it is crucial.  I think the O series speakers are absolutely fantastic.
I almost bought a pair of 096’s after the CAF a few years ago I was so impressed with them. In fact, I was close to starting negociations on the pair on display at the show. My hesitation was the system was so different than mine that I was concerned they would not be a drop in.  

My amplification is Mcintosh 501’s or Classe built around Thiels. Plenty of tubes and vinyl upstream but worried about the amps. However, John Devore says they also love big power. They are still on my short list however as their sound left such an impression on me.

One plus I have is my room.  Big and acoustially designed by Rives with pleny of space to experiment with placement.

I would rather not buy another amp right now.

Recently auditioned a pair of O/93’s in my house alongside my Line Magnetic 805ia 48W SET amp. (Previously using Spendor A7’s). An intoxicating wall of richly textured sound would be my summary. But they were on the long wall with limited space behind them and side walls far away. Soundstage was wide but flat and imaging was meh. Bass flabby unless negative feedback cranked up on the amp, which had other undesirable consequence. As @mrmanisundaram said, I think placement and amp pairing is critical. Lots of space behind them and maybe a class A SS amp. So with my space and amp they didn’t work. Also, the stubby wood feet are a real PITA for leveling on old sloping hardwood floors!

Ended up stumbling upon a pair of mint Spendor D7.2’s for half the price of new O/93’s. They don’t have the rich tonality and texture of the O/93’s - indeed they are known to be *too* neutral - but the bass is deeper/articulate/punchy, they image exceedingly well, and aren’t as forward. Much much easier to place. The LM 805ia SET complements the D7.2’s very well and along with a little bit of PEQ (which I use for the room regardless) brings out the mid bass that is required.

That said, I know that O/96’s are often paired with low wattage SET amps and seem to have better imaging and bass control than the O/93’s, so I am looking forward to hearing them sometime soon.

So yeah, it’s all about complementing your space and electronics ...
Lot of good comments.
I had a pair of O/93 but then had a chance on pair of O/96 and "upgraded". In my room, and to my eras both are great. No overwhelming bass - the speakers are far from the back wall. About 2 feet from side walls. After 50+ pairs of speakers it is possibly the end of the road for me.
I use Shindo entry level electronics (which these speakers are being voiced to/by?). John DeVore is a big fan of Shindo...

I used several other tube and SS (mostly vintage) gear with the O/96 but they sound by far the best with Shindo.
I would recommend that you check them out with Shindo as well as try in your home.
For reference - my McIntosh Mc30 and MX-110Z cost me as much and don't sound (with or without Devore) as good. YMMV.
I haven't compared them back-to-back but I find their tonality and response rather similar (O/93 and SHL5+). Based on your recent O/96 assessment, I doubt you'd like the Harbeth sound better. With exception of the P3ESRs, the Harbeths I've heard sound similar to your description of the DeVores: *almost like a Focal with a hint of old-school warmth, only less dynamic than DeVore.

If you seek a little more warmth, the Sonus Fabers are indeed a good choice, as are some of the Spendor models. 

As a point of comparison my O/96's sound substantially better paired with a LM805ia than a Pass XA30.8.  The SET circuit just allows the DeVore's to shine.  I do want to get them paired at some point with a Shindo 300B amp but very happy for now.


I was never able to get a lot of depth from the soundstage of the O/93 in auditions (even though they were well away from the back wall).  The "wall of sound" seems to be a fairly consistent take on that speaker (though I did find that the imaging was quite good - specific enough to satisfy me).

I've heard the O/96s do nice depth, they they too tend to draw things closer to the listener vs many other more sound-stagey speakers.
I was auditioning the same two speakers you were and also the Joseph Audio, along with Vivid speakers. I heard the same as people have described with the Harbeth and DeVores, I ended up with a pair of KEF Reference Series speakers. I felt they blended the best of both the Harbeth and DeVores. The are a lot different sounding than the little KEFs everyone is crazy about.
Heard O96s sound spectacular on Moon electronics today  - better than LM Audio tubes in the same room. Was very surprised. 

I was never able to get a lot of depth from the soundstage of the O/93 in auditions (even though they were well away from the back wall). The "wall of sound" seems to be a fairly consistent take on that speaker (though I did find that the imaging was quite good - specific enough to satisfy me).

I've heard the O/96s do nice depth, they they too tend to draw things closer to the listener vs many other more sound-stagey speakers.
Same experience here. Width yes. Depth no. These are my everyday loudspeaker. No loudspeaker does it all. An argument can be made that the O/93 is more refined and balanced than the O/96. A cogent argument at that. If I had a larger room, I would choose the O/96's. To heck with "refined", the O/96's make you want to dance. 
Yesterday I went to the house of a local seller who has listed his Harbeth Super HL5+ for sale. Suffice to say I was totally underwhelmed. I don't know if it was his setup (some Line Magnetic tube amp) or room, but I just found the sound to be bland. I have had P3esr's for more than two years now, so I'm quite familiar with the Harbeth sound. I was expecting a bigger, more expansive scale which was completely missing.

Based on what I've read about the speakers, I'm inclined to think it must have been the setup. Also, despite the size I think pairing them with a subwoofer is almost a necessity if you want to venture outside of jazz or classical at all. Any owners of SHL5+ please feel free to chime in if you feel that my impressions are way off target. The reason I say this is because when I first got the P3esr's I was similarly disappointed, but after pairing them with a Cronus Magnum II they have become one of my favorite all time speakers. 
i don't think i could own a speaker called the orangutan

maybe if i heard them LOL
Here's an excerpt from Stereohile regarding HL5+'s measurements ...

The Harbeth is specified as having a sensitivity of 86dB/W/m, and my estimate of its voltage sensitivity was the same: 86dB(B)/2.83V/m. Though this is 1dB or so below average, I commend Harbeth for not inflating this specification. Although the Super HL5plus has a specified impedance of 6 ohms, my measurement (fig.1) indicates that the speaker's impedance remains above 8 ohms for almost all of the audioband, and that the electrical phase angle remains relatively small. The HL5plus will therefore be an easy load for the partnering amplifier to drive, and a good match for tubed designs.