I too would love to hear about this comparison. Anyone heard both?
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Well, I have'nt heard them side by side, but considered both in a long search for highish sensitivity, tube friendly speakers. The list included Coincident, Art, Zu. and Silverline. The 2 I enjoyed the most were Devore 9's and the Daedalus DA-RMAs, I eventually bought.
The DA-RMas and Athena are essentially the same, just a floor standing version of the large, near floor standing monitors. I don't think you can go wrong with either company, I just preferred Daedalus by a reasonable margin. Very transparent and neutral with no colouration I could detect. Easy to fit into a room and good imaging. For the price, very hard to criticize. Because they are sold direct, with no dealers, distributors, uou can near double the price to get a match in quality with conventionally marketed speakers. There are a number of users around the place, happy to Demo the Daedalus, just contact Lou for details of any near you.
I've heard them both, and I thought they both sounded excellent. My impression, FWIW, was that the Devore 9's were slightly more transparent in the highs, and the Athenas were slightly more expressive in the midrange. Neither had very low bass, but what bass they did have was musical.
The differences might have been attributable to the ancillary equipment, but that's what I heard.
You can't go wrong either way, IMO.
A point to keep in mind is that the Athena is about 5 db more efficient than the 9's, according to specs I've seen. Everything else being equal (including peak listening volumes), that means you will need about three times as many amplifier watts for the 9's.
Also, the Athena is an exceptionally easy to drive load in terms of impedance characteristics, although my impression is that the Devore is quite good in that respect also.
I've heard the Gibbon Super 8 a lot, and the Athena (a friend has owned both).
Me and the 8 man audio group I belong to that has heard both, all agree the Athena is a very big step up. Bass is deeper and more powerful, but that is the least of it. The midrange on the Athena is truly magical- really 3-d, and the highs are less loud but extremely refined and filigreed. The whole speaker is cut form one cloth, and is very engaging by ANY standard. One of finest sounds I've ever heard, and they are very decor and spouse friendly to boot.
Lovely, handcrafted instruments. If I was to make one more speaker upgrade, I think they would be my choice. At their price, they are a bargain compared to any competition I know about.
Well, I've heard the 9's at a NYC dealer and I own the Daedalus DA-1.1's and have heard the flagship Ulysses often so I can't really offer a comparison as I have not heard Lou's Athena's (though I hope to one day soon). I did like the 9's--a very complete and musical speaker IMHO. I do feel though that Lou's speakers sound like real music in a way the DeVore's didn't. I think there is good hifi, very good hifi and then stuff that is transcendent. I'd say the DeVore's sounded like very good hifi but Lou's speakers are transcendent. I really don't think you can go wrong in either instance and you will certainly want to consider partnering equipment in making your decision. Finally, if appearance matters at all choose the Athena's--all Lou's speakers are drop dead gorgeous.
I don't think I made clear in my post, that of all the speakers I listened to, the Devore and Daedalus were my favourites. The former seemed that little bit more polite, less bite and dynamics, ythen the Daedalus, but very good. They were running by the way, with 20 watt Border patrol tube amps, which did'nt seem to have any problems. They seemed easy to drive.
I've been looking at Daedalus for several years, really like Lou and the Athena is just the right size for me. But at shows, I always find them to sound too soft on top (same with Devore, come to think of it). In Newport, they sounded kind of dead. I suppose I like a more incisive treble, but maybe it's the show circumstances. I'm not sure which tweeter Lou uses, but it doesn't exactly look like a leading edge device. How do you Daedalus owners feel about the treble? For comparison, can you identify any other brands that are similar-sounding up top?
Drubin - I agree that the Athenas sounded slightly muted on top. That was more perceptible with certain recordings than others. Still, I found them very nice to listen to.
So much of this is affected by the ancillary equipment and the room, as of course you know. Also, I'm not a Daedalus owner, so my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt. Or a tablespoon.
Drubin, if you heard them with one of the Modwright amps, it is possible that the amp would play a part in creating that somewhat "soft" sound you are hearing. I think Daedalus and Modwright team up for these Audio shows. Interesting comment regarding the tweeter and I look forward to more comments from owners. A lot of great replies so far!
Dan, the tweeter is a high end Eton 1" soft dome, which I know Lou is particularly proud of.
On my Ulysses there is a three-position tweeter level switch on the back, which can be set to provide a slight boost or cut, the intention being to increase its adaptability to differing rooms. I don't know if the Athena has that same provision, but I would suspect that it does.
With that switch in the neutral position on my Ulysses, I have been sufficiently pleased with the overall tonal balance and with the integration of the treble and midrange that I have never bothered to even try the other two positions.
Yes, I don't think the treble would ever be accused of being etched or over-aggressive. And I would expect there to be some listeners who with some music and some ancillary equipment would find it to be slightly too soft for their tastes, at least with the switch set to the flat position. On the other hand, among a great many comments I have seen here and elsewhere from those who actually own Daedalus speakers, I can't recall ever seeing any misgivings expressed about their treble performance. And whatever small tendency there may be in the direction of softness does not seem to compromise the speaker's ability to accurately reproduce fast transients.
I'd expect there to be some Daedalus owners in your neck of the woods, Dan; as David suggested earlier in the thread consider contacting Lou to see if he can put you in touch with someone willing to give you a demo. Also, keep in mind that Lou offers 30-day return privileges, less two-way shipping and a $300 restocking fee.
Disclosure: I own Daedalus Ulysses speakers. I auditioned the Nines in my system but my dealer couldn't supply a pair of Silverbacks to compare with the Ulysses which made my decision easier.
I have heard and like both products. Your are in a good spot: you are choosing between two terrific speakers. I could be extremely happy with either. As previous posts suggest, this is more about personal taste and system matching than 'better' or 'worse'. Listening in your system will be critical to making the appropriate decision for you.
I would not say I detect any recessed treble. The speaker is pretty neutral across the frequency range. What you don't get, as Al aludes to, is the etched harsh treble I find with many high end speakers, particularly Focal. Not my cup of tea at all. If anything it might be a tad base light, reflecting it's high efficiency, but I don't find it so. The base is tight and detailed.
The DA-RMa does have the treble adjustment toggle at the back, with 1db increase reduction or neutral positions. I am afraid I can't hear much difference.
The aim with the speaker, the design aim, as I understand it, is to make the speaker sound like live music, for me it is pretty successful at that
RE: the tweeter. In shows and in short listens it may note be as flashy as most, but in my friend's system, powered by Shindo amps, the high end is truly wonderful for long term listening. It doesn't call attention to itself, but ALL the detail, natural air and harmonics are there with perfect balance. I'm a big fan of ribbon tweeters, and while the Athenas don't have the ooh-ahh effect on listeners that my RAALs have, I believe the Athena's highs are more true to life, totally balnced and integrated.
Regarding the 9s - one of the members of our circle owns the 9s, and having heard the Athenas, was as jaw-dropped as the rest of us. He hasn't sold his 9s just yet, but he's doing some serious thinking. Just my 2c.
David12 -- I take it you have or are replacing your AZ Adagios with Daedalus? I haven't heard the Adagios in a long while, but the treble on the AZ Crescendo strikes me as a different kind of thing entirely from the Athenas. (I like the Crescendo.) Volume has a lot to do with it, I think. If you tend to listen at comparatively low levels, as I do, then you may not be satisfied with treble that only comes alive at 90dB +
I think Jmbatkh put it pretty well. I've got the DA-1.1's with the AP crossovers and find the treble balance perfect in the middle (neutral) setting. There are speakers that I have heard that impart more energy in the high frequencies and have more sparkle but I've generally found them fatiguing over time and unnatural in their overall presentation. I think Lou's voicing of the speakers with the very capable Eton driver delivers long term satisfaction and a very realistic portrayal of acoustic instruments, which never sound etched, brittle or shrill. I also think the Daedalus speakers deliver plenty of detail and resolution, without lighting up the highs in an unnatural way. I can see how some people might react slightly "ho hum" to a quick show demo and be more seduced by other speakers that provide more "wow" on an initial listen. Daedalus, though, are speakers that you can spend the rest of your life enjoying--they never get old, cranky or bitchy. Everytime I sit down with them they treat me to joyous music.
Dodgealum precisely, a detailed but unfatiguing, essentilly musical sound.
Did you have you're DA1's upgraded to the new AP crossover? Mine had them when I bought them. I know it's hard to do a comparison when the speakers may have been away some weeks getting upgraded, but can you comment on the difference you heard, with the new crossover?
The AP crossover is not a minor upgrade. I have a pretty good sonic memory and so even though the speakers were in Lou's shop for a while (actually the transport across the country and back took longer than the upgrade) I recall vividly how significant a change the AP crossovers made in increasing dynamic range, resolution and the ability of the system to simply project music into the listening space. The crossovers made the speaker load seem non-existent--like the power rating on the amp had been somehow doubled. Imaging improved, soundstage width and depth improved and everything got tighter, leaner and more refined. Honestly, I thought the speakers sounded really great before the upgrade but the crossovers brought things to a whole other level. Acknowledging the hyperbole that is so often connected with this hobby I really cannot say enough about the crossover upgrade. In a world where different cables can "transform" the sound of a system or where one highly regarded preamp "blows away" another of similar reputation (or the model that preceded it) the crossover upgrade offers MARKED performance gains that go well beyond the types of "improvements" wrought by upgrading, for example, cables or cartridges. It is like moving to a speaker that is double the cost of the one being replaced.
Finally, circling back to the DeVore vs. Athena comparison, I think one thing that is not mentioned enough in these circles is how differently people hear--not just auditory acuity but also auditory preferences that are the result of both physiological and pyschological factors. I think that is why these forums (and professional reviews) have only limited value in helping consumers make decisions about equipment. Daedalus speakers aren't for everyone. They have a certain presentation that will appeal to people like me--my hearing is very acute and I have a very low tolerance for excessive high frequency energy or distortion. I like my sound ever so slightly warm and full, rather than cool and lean and I need my bass to be tuneful and controlled rather than bloomy and big. But that's me and may not by you. I know this is stating the obvious but I think we too often get into pissing contests that are counterproductive given the fact that none of us hear exactly the same way and with the same set of sonic preferences. The DeVores and the Daedalus are both very good speakers (and quite similar in some respects) and you really couldn't go wrong with either. I would counsel taking the time to listen to them yourself since only you can (and should) decide which is "best".
Dodgealum, you bring up some very interesting points. Unfortunately for some of us, a speaker demo is not possible. There are a limited number of Devore dealers here in Canada, and Daedalus is only available for demo in the U.S., so these forums are a valuable tool for getting "general" comments and information. This thread has been very interesting, but definetly not a substitute for a home demo.
I think Dodgealum really did an excellent job summarizing the differences in the speakers' relative sound signatures. One thing to consider is a visit to a locale with a DeVore dealer and Ulysses owner. Burning some airline miles or the cost of plane ticket seems a small price for a transducer, especially if you plan on keeping it for a while.
One other thing, Lou Hinkley of Daedalus and John DeVore are two of the best guys in audio and both are true music lovers.
Taylor514 I think Daedalus are available for demo wherever there are speakers made by Lou. I live in the UK and mine can be demo'd any time. There is at least one pair in Australia and a dealer in New Zealand.
If you have'nt checked with Lou, don't assume there are'nt any users near you, there may be.
I just came upon this thread, and while I have nothing to contribute to the original question, I'm about to burst with excitement, which I felt the need to share!
I was one of the early settlers in the Daedalus camp, but have been off of the audio "grid" for over a year, while going through some home rennovations, which involve my listening space.
My new DA-1.1's (AP X-Over) arrived yesterday!!! ...Now, I am anxiously waiting for my new Daedelus Speaker Cables to land.
That's all. Sorry to selfishly hi-jack the thread. Thanks for listening.
Seriously though, as we all know, system synergy & room acoustics are critical to how you perceive a component performs/sounds.
I highly recommend that you make every effort to audition the speakers in other settings, with other systems. You just may be happily surprised.
I find it strange that I received zero replies regarding this same question on the Daedalus (Audiocircle) site. I do realize that some of the replies here on Audiogon are from Daedalus owners, and very much appreciated. Lou thought that posting on the Audiocircle website would be my best bet for replies but I received no replies on the Daedalus Audiocircle site!
This has been a very helpful thread and I appreciate all input.
Late to this, but I auditioned the 9s and the Daedalus DA-RMa, and I'd take the latter, which I found a more relaxing speaker (and one that compared quite favorably to Daedalus' big Ulysses). To be fair, the 9s were set up and a hard room, and I'm pretty sure I listened to the poly version of the DA-RMa, which I believe make the Daedalus option more expensive than the Devore. But for me, worth the $, esp. with the lovely Daedalus box wrk.
Very informative thread! I've heard the Silverbacks awhile back at the NY audio show and they sounded exquisite, however I didn't fancy Mr. Devore' lack of interest for my questions that day so I never pulled the trigger and probably never will due to that first impression. Good to know Daedalus compares very well, a shame they don't receive as much press.
I auditioned the Silverback's as well as part of my two year speaker search. Heard them at In Living Stereo with some fine Shindo electronics (if I am remembering correctly--this was a few years ago). The Silverback's are nice but they do not hold up in comparison to my DA-1.1's or my friends Ulysses (both with the AP crossovers). In fact, I would say my DA-1.1's sounded better than the Silverback's before I had the crossovers upgraded.
Hey Michael--how about an update on your new speaks?
Clearly, I need to check the forum more frequently.
First off, I must say that I have not dialed in the perfect location of the new speaks, I'm not using my best source gear or power amp, and a few other things in my system have not been "tweeked."
With that said, having just a "make shift" set up, they are friggin AWESOME!
As expected, they are a wonderful refinement of the original DA-1.
I'm expecting a few more items from Lou, in the near future and then we can head to the finish line.
Update for all, I'm integrating my 2-channel rig into a 5-channel surround system. ...Daedalus - all the way around...DA-1.1, Custom Rear Speakers, Center Channel, Bass Optimization Woofers (Subs) with Low-Pass X-Over.
Stay tuned for more, as things continue to progress.
I listened to devore 88 and daedalus athena at capital audio fest. What suprised me the most was the lack of mid and lower frequency on the athena's. I did like everything else about the sound and the look. I just felt that for price of admission it was complete deal breaker. The devore sounded more balanced through the frequencies. However these are show conditions so its difficult to get the full potential of either speaker.
Don't judge the Athena by what you heard at last month's Capital Audiofest. The Athena can definitely sound better than it did in that particular room with that setup. I heard the Athena in at least 3 maybe 4 rooms at the 2011 RMAF, and it sounded very different from what I heard in DC. I have no idea what the problem was at the DC show, but I went by the room several times on Friday and Saturday and each time what I heard was a very thin, anemic sound. I didn't have the impression at any of the RMAF rooms.
Been following this thread, but hesitated to comment because I have know experience with Daedalus. The Athena, according to a recent online review, retails for 10K. When I bought my Nines several years ago, they were $6500 retail. In the here and now, it would seem that the Orangutan's would be a closer comparison, price wise. Beyond that, perhaps the forthcoming 99's will be closer to 10K.... I thought of the Orangutan's not only for their price, but also the sensitivity/impedance being closer to the specs stated on the Athena. I can't vouch for the point Npdang raises, but I can vouch for the Orangutan in that respect. They are IMO, a very easy load to drive. Hope this helps.
I agree with Bob (Rsimms) that the Athena sounded very nice in the First Sound room at last year's RMAF. Clean, detailed and musically interesting. At the time, I thought the system sounded a tad lean but I didn't know whether that could have been due to the source (CDs) or the electronics which I had never heard before (First Sound linestage and AMR hybrid amps). Regardless, however, of what was causing what, the tonal balance in the First Sound room was more natural than what I heard at the Capital Audiofest.
It could be that the Athena's where not fully broken in. I own the Ulysses and almost gave up on them before I put them thru a formal break-in process. Prior to break in, they sounded anemic, lacked midrange, bass and were very disappointing. IME, a formal break in process (250 hours at high volume) is essential to get these speakers to hit their stride.