Looking for advice on these speakers

I'm going to trade my 180 watts tube amps for yet unknown SET amps, and will need a new pair of speakers to go with them. I'm considering speakers from DeVore Fidelity, Coincident, and Deadalus Audio. My budget is up to about $15,000. Unfortunately, I'm not able to audition any of them so I was hoping that I could get some meaningful advice from my fellow Audiogoners. Here are my potential choices:

1. DeVore Orangutan 0/96; Coincident Super Victory II; Daedalus Athena

2. DeVore Silverback Reference; Coincident Total Victory V; Daedalus Argos or Ulysses

The analog front is a VPI Classic with a Lyra Delos (soon Kleos or possibly Etna). My musical preferences are roughly 50% classic jazz and 50% classic rock.

Thank you for any advice or input.
You have good taste and these three brands are highly respected and
admired. I'll offer this opinion, SET amplifiers will potentially sound best
with simpler- minimalist speaker crossovers and higher(and flat) ohm
loads. All three of these speakers are high sensitivity, but the Orangutan
and the
Coincident have higher ohm load and I believe simpler xovers than
Daedalus ( relatively speaking). Of course the amplifier matters, are you
seeking 300b, 845, 211, 2A3 tubes? The Daedalus "may" require
a bit more drive than the other two choices. I'm not sure Daedalus
recommends SET amplifiers with the same unbridled enthusiasm as the
other two models(specifically built with SET in mind) you list. The
Orangutan is a simple two way with one xover. Coincident is a 3 way but
strives for minimal capacitor use. Daedalus models have 3 or 4 xover
boards per the web site description. In reality I don't know how much it
comes into play, but it's a more complex xover network in comparison. At
the very least it's a factor to keep in mind. Good luck to you.
Stereo Mojo were very enthusiastic in their review of the Coincident Super Victory. Speaker of the Year 2008

"The Coincident Super Victory’s are extraordinary in some areas such as their ability to play at significant levels with very low output amplifiers such as SET’s and their uncanny ability to sound very good with many types of amplification without being “forgiving” or compromising the sound quality."


A few months later they reviewed the Total Victory but were more reserved in their review, and James Darby actually thought that the cheaper speakers ($5k cheaper) had more magic.

You can't hear them as I understand, so you may as well listen to what Darby says. Unless you have a huge room, the Supers would be better.

Some have said that Coincident efficiency ratings may be slightly overstated. I own Super Eclipses and got quite an appreciable improvement changing from 8w SETs to 18w SETs.

The Daedalus line have their supporters, and they are very nicely made. They received plaudits at the RMAF last year, and were rated by some as one of the best rooms at the show. But I tend to agree with Charles1dad that they may be slightly more demanding and suited to amps of more than 8w (300B).

I don't know the DeVore range at all, but 96dB/w/m is impressive. The DeVore Orangutan 0/96 could be the one if you are going with a SET with lower power than the 300B.

Back to Stereo Mojo - Darby wrote "I’d buy the Super Vic’s, the Frankenstein monoblocks and the new Coincident Statement Linestage we just reviewed. For about $20k, you’d have a system that takes a back seat to nothing in terms of pure musically and supreme satisfaction."

Room size will determine the appropriate speaker choice as Metralla points
out. The Super Victory is said to work well in small to moderately large
rooms. The Total Victory V better for substantial sized spaces. Devore has
an Orangutan 0/93 for smaller rooms. In the mentioned price range is the
Austrian made Trenner-Friedl Pharoah which is considered SET friendly. A
lot depends on which type of SET will be used and room size. There are
very respected folks on this site who love their Zu Definitions IV speakers,
though they may need some space to sound their best.Many fine choices/
combinations are possible.
Hi Marek,

Excellent comments by the others, as might be expected, including the reference by Charles to your good taste. Those are all fine speakers. Some additional miscellaneous comments:

I would rule out the Silverback Reference, as John Atkinson's measurements in Stereophile indicated a sensitivity of only 89.5 db/2.83 volts/1 meter, which is equivalent to 89.5 db/1 watt/1 meter for its nominally 8 ohm impedance.

The Daedalus Argos is designed to have stable imaging and consistent sonics across a wide range of listening angles, making it particularly suitable for large rooms, rooms with open floor plans, and home theatre applications. If your critical listening would be primarily from a centered position, the Ulysses and the Athena would probably be better choices.

I believe that the present cost of the Ulysses slightly exceeds your budget.

As you may be aware, Daedalus offers 30 day return privileges, less two-way shipping and $300.

Although the 6 to 8 ohm impedances of the Daedalus models are lower than those of some of the other speakers, their impedances are extremely flat, with no dips to low values at any frequency, and they have very benign phase angle characteristics. Particularly since the introduction of the "all poly" crossover a few years ago. Nevertheless, I would be hesitant to pair them with a 300B or lower powered SET, even one as robustly made as the Frankensteins which Charles uses. Unless, that is, the room is small, your listening distance is relatively close, and (most importantly) your critical listening does not include recordings having particularly wide dynamic range (e.g., well engineered minimally compressed classical symphonic recordings).

Physical factors may also be relevant, for practical and/or aesthetic reasons. In particular, the O/96 is 18 inches wide, so you would be placing 36 inches of speakers across the front wall. And the TV V weighs 200 pounds, and is 22 inches deep.

Best of luck as you proceed.

-- Al
The Orangs are also designed to be way out into the room and not against the wall like the Audio Notes.
Thanks for the further clarification on the Daedalus speakers. 6-8 ohm flat
impedance could work out pretty well with a "robust" 300b SET
but would probably be a safer bet with a good 845 SET amplifier.
Sometimes it is hard to predict an amplifier and speaker pairing. Al your
caution regarding the Devore Silverbacks is well reasoned. Yet when Jules
Coleman reviewed this speaker for 6 Moons he eventually preferred his 8
watt Shindo W.E. 300b amp over higher power amplifiers he had tried, so
who knows? Jules listens to a lot of larger scale classical music and jazz.
In an ideal world we'd be able to audition everything in our homes prior to
buying them. In reality we're often limited to relying on rational speculation
and the experiences of component owners with their individual
perspectives. Actusreus how large is your room? What particular SET amps
are you interested in?
Thank you all very much for an excellent advice; it's greatly appreciated.

To answer the questions posed, right now I'm leaning toward a 300B SET amp, and actually considering the very amp Charles has, i.e., the Frankenstein from Coincident. I've also been looking at Border Patrol amps, but I think they may be out of my price range when all is factored in. I do not have any experience with the 845 tube (or any other tubes Charles listed, as a matter of fact). I do have some concern about a SET amp not possessing enough steam to offer satisfactory dynamics and punch for rock, which is about 50% of my listening. From what I'm reading, a Coincident speaker or the Orangutan may be a better pairing than the Athena or the Argos. I've read Charles' posts in other threads before posting this one, and it sounds like one can hardly go wrong with a pair of the Franks and a Coincident speaker, especially the SV.

The room size is roughly 20'X12.5'x9', but the long end opens up into an additional 10' by 12.5 kitchen area separated by a large column and a mini bar counter jutting out from the side wall. So it's a decent size room, I'd think.

I spoke with Lou a while ago and he was willing to put me in touch with Daedalus owners in my area, so I may reach out to him again, and possibly Israel, to see if an audition could possibly be arranged.
I don't listen to very much rock or electric blues music ( I'm probably 90%
acoustic small and large scale varieties). When I do play rock it is
"very" good at moderate and loud volumes there's much
palpable energy, flow and presence. Drums are noticeably dynamic and
deliver much impact and the overall sense of timing is exceptional IMO.

The Stereo Mojo review that Metralla cited earlier is accurate and James
Darby captured the essence of the Coincident pairing well. He said he could
listen at 100db average SPLs without sensing any strain or running out of
gas( and he has a very spacious listening room). I don't know what your
volume levels are but I'm much lower, average
for me is 75-85 db range. Most often I'm using fractions of 1 watt of power.
Again withyour speaker list I don't believe that you'll go wrong given you
room size. I think the SV might be the better fit vs the larger Total Victory(
which has two 12"" woofers per speaker).

Based on my experience I believe you would be satisfied with either a good
quality 300b or 845 SET.845s will generally cost more and offer more power
( which you may or may not need). I'd focus more on the amplifier's built
quality and execution.

with its two 12" woofers per speaker.
A slight clarification to the otherwise excellent comments Charles provided. As I read it the mention of briefly listening to 100 db average SPLs in the Darby review was not with the SV/Franks pairing, it was with a pair of 2000 wpc Spectron monoblocks.

Best of luck, Marek.

-- Al
Al, I should have been more specific. Darby also reviewed the Frankenstein
in its own separate report and he mentioned the Frank-Super Victory
combo listening at this 100db SPL level(written below the Jessica Alba
analogy). So yes it was not in the SV speaker review.
Thank you, gentlemen, for all your input. I have to say, I'm a little bit surprised reading opinions about Daedalus speakers as they are appreciatively more efficient than Coincident speakers. Seems they should be a better match for low-power amps than either Coincident or the Silverback Reference. Even if the impedance is hovering between 7 and 8 Ohms above 100 Hz (according to Lou), at 96-97 dB and a flat curve they should be top contenders for SET amps, based on their specs at least. .
The Daedalus does have specifications that would seem to make them excellently suited for low powered SET amplifiers. They very well may be, the one difference may have to do with crossover design. It appears the Devore and Coincident may employ simpler ( minimalist) crossover networks which "could" be easier on a SET(just speculation). Daedalus uses 3 or 4 crossover boards and a number of poly caps. Does this matter? I don't know. Auditioning these various speakers of interest with the SET of choice is the only way to get a definitive answer.Measurements and specifications are obviously useful but no substitute for direct listening.
The Devore Silverbacks can work well with SET although the O/96 may be the better option. I ran silverbacks with an LM218IA, 22W 845 SET which had plenty of drive and power. The current production silverbacks have a different crossover than those original and I have heard that they are more efficient but I don't think John has changed the spec. I have talked to owners of O/96 who love them but I have not heard them myself. There are many articles, reviews, and forum threads that profess the incredible synergy between Shindo and Devore, and it is true.

Given what you are trying to do and the level of investment, I think it would be worth a plane ticket and a weekend to get to hear some of these speakers yourself. Maybe there are people in your area that will host a listen to their gear?
Too be fair Lou doesn't discourage the use of SET amplifiers. He just
doesn't advocate them to the same degree of enthusiasm as John Devore
and Israel Blume do with models specifically designed for these amps.
I agree with Truemaineiac, it's worthwhile to get out and hear these very
worthy speakers driven by a SET.
You raise an excellent question, Marek, which I've wondered about myself at times, and I can't add a great deal to the good responses Charles has provided.

I don't doubt that for MOST recordings for MOST listeners a robustly designed SET employing a single 300B per channel and putting out 8 watts or so would work well with the Ulysses (98 db/1W/1m) or the Athena (96 db/1W/1m). But as I indicated earlier a key variable is the dynamic range of the recording (i.e., the difference in volume between the loudest and softest notes). In my case my listening includes some classical symphonic works on audiophile-oriented labels such as Telarc, Sheffield, Reference Recordings, etc. which have extraordinarily wide dynamic range, 50 to 55 db in some cases (determined by me by looking at waveforms on a computer). So with those recordings brief dynamic peaks will reach 100 to 105 db at my listening position, with average levels in the 70's, and soft notes in the 50's.

There is no doubt in my mind that an 8 watt amplifier could not handle that kind of dynamic range with the Ulysses cleanly, if at all. I suspect that a well designed amplifier rated in the vicinity of 30 watts would be able to, though.

Most classical recordings, however, do not approach that kind of dynamic range. And rock and pop recordings are commonly compressed to vastly smaller dynamic ranges, often less than 10 db, although they may be played at somewhat higher average levels.

So as I indicated I think that most listeners would do fine with 8 watts with most recordings, with the Ulysses and perhaps also with the Athena. But substituting "all" for "most" in either of those two places makes the question problematical.

-- Al
The saving grace is that the "vast" majority of recordings won't approach the 50 db dynamic range. Genre of music, room size and typical listening levels will determine sufficient power needs . classical and jazz seem to have less compression and thus a broader dynamic range in their recordings. Most pop and rock recordings are generally much more compressed as you noted. 8 watts is fine for my needs and listening levels but may not be for another listener. Another consideration is quality level of the SET amp (transfomers and power supply). One 8 watt amp could struggle while another sounds effortless.
What Al said but DR constraints likely extend to other genres as well with good quality recordings.

HE speaker manufacturers often underplay this issue in order to demonstrate their speakers with low power SETs. Results are OK but may be limited dynamically compared to the best. Zu is one maker I have heard where a demo fell flat and the Zu guy admitted the SET was probably underpowered for the rock/pop material being demoed.

Maybe with the absolute most efficient horn designs, like say Avantgarde, if things are going well.
I'll disagree with you on this point. The example Al cited of dynamic range
45-55db is actually quite rare for the overwhelming# of recordings ( his are
very special cases). My 8 watt SET replaced my 100 watt push pull tube
amp well over 4 years ago, it simply outperformed it. Dynamics, authority,
overall scale are very, very cose ( minimal loss) all other parameters
improved noticeably, tone, nuance, inner detail, presence and most
importantly, naturalness. If this weren't so I'd gone back to the 100watt
amp. So much is predicated on the speaker involved. Some of this really
depends on preferred listening volume, my SET can go louder than what I
care to listen to.

What was and remains highly successful for me may not be for others
true of most anything). My jazz and big band recordings have comparable
dynamic range to classical music and more than most rock and pop
recordings. When I do play orchestral music it is very involving and
satisfying. I know of others who've had the same happy results as me in
this type of switch. Again each of us may have different experiences and
will choose based on that knowledge. All I can say is in my case the 8 watt
amplifier is an unquestionable upward move and there's no looking back.
I can't speak to your Zu example obviously, I wasn't there. Many happy Zu
users on this forum would probably give a different account of their
experiences. The truth is lower power amplifiers won't be the answer for
everyone and the same can be said for higher power amps. There are quite
a few people on this forum who listen to multiple genres of music and are
well satisfied with their low power amps.
Charles, yes, I think it all depends case by case as usual when it comes to what is good or good enough versus not as good....a lot is always a judgement call plus no two combos are exactly the same.

The key is always knowing what your goals are and working to achieve them. Lots of ways to skin the cat. You never know for sure until you hear.
You summed it up succinctly and I agree with you. This audio quest is an individual pursuit for certain.
If I may weigh in. . . There are SETs and then there are SETs; there are too many variables to lump all SETs together. I have Zu Def IVs and am happy with my Ancient Audio 300b SET (using Takatuski 300b) that seems to be able to drive these speakers successfully. (I have very eclectic tastes in music that include both solo instrument and fullscale orchestra, jazz, classic rock, female vocals, etc.) I started with a 45 SET and then tried a 2a3 SET; both sounded underpowered in my large space. I have also tried higher powered amplifiers, but was not impressed. On the other hand, Phil (213Cobra) swears by his Audion 845 SET with his Def IVs and his Audion 300b PSET with his Druid Vs and considers a 300b SET underpowered with insufficient drive for Zu speakers.
My post may be better suited for the amplifier forum, but since it is related to this discussion, I hope you'll indulge me.

My 180-watt tube monoblocks have a switch for ultralinear and triode operation. When I first got them a few years ago, I settled for the ultralinear mode and never thought to re-audition the decision, I guess since the mode was arguably the best compromise between low distortion and most power. This thread made me go back and revisit my choice and oh my. Perhaps there was something in the air today and it will disappear, but it was a revelation. The sound may have lost a fraction of the punch with rock music, but I just can't get over the overall improvement. Hard to describe it, but it's as if the sharp edges have been smoothed out, and a new quality to the sound emerged and made familiar recordings sound so revived and fresh they became literally intoxicating. In an A-B comparison, I could tell some difference, without a clear preference, leaning toward the triode mode, but not to the degree that the subsequent listening confirmed.

My amplifiers are obviously not SETs, but I'm curious to understand why switching to the triode operation made such a positive difference. Am I getting a taste of a true SET amplification with my 180-watt amps operating in the triode mode?
I can relate to your revelatory experience. I had two Push pull amps that
were switchable between modes.
1) 40 watt UL and 20 watt triode.
2) 100watt UL and 60 watts triode.
In both of these amplifiers I much preferred the triode mode as the sound
was simply better/more natural IMO. It gets even better if you use true
triode tubes ( rather than pentodes strapped as triodes). I'm bias toward
DHT(directly heated triode) tubes which are very linear(and can get by with
little or no NFB added). When used in a SET or push pull configuration (if
good design and implementation) can further what you've described. It
must be emphasized that a proper speaker must
be chosen to extract the full potential sound that SETs are capble of.
I think you're headed in a good direction. The 300b is a very popular DHT (
but there's other good alternatives as well). My amp is SET, Al's VAC
Renaissance 70/70 is an excellent example of 300b push pull amplifier.
Just depends on what you want/need to drive your speakers.
As Gsm18439 alluded to, all SET amplifiers aren't created equal.
Once you find your desired amp-speaker combo I belive you'll be amazed
and very pleased.
I'll second all of Charles' comments, and Gsm has provided some valuable perspectives as well, IMO. And although I've had no experience with Rogue products, yes I would suspect that going to triode mode on your 180's is shifting their sonics at least slightly in the SET direction.

I've had two amps that were switchable between the two modes, the classic and highly regarded vintage monoblock Marantz 2's and 9's, from the 1950's and 60's respectively, both of which I owned about 20 years ago. Both were EL34-based, with the 2's rated at about 20W/40W in the two modes, and the 9's at about 35W/70W. In both cases I much preferred the richer and in other ways subjectively better sonics of triode mode. Although the 20 watt triode mode capability of the 2's was inadequate on some recordings with the speakers I was using at the time, rated at 90 db/1W/1m and having fairly easy to drive impedance characteristics. In that mode with the 2's I actually caused the power tubes to arc and flash brightly a couple of times on Telarc bass drum beats, although no damage resulted. I don't recall having any problems with 40 watts.

BTW, a point of interest: In principle, if implemented in a certain way UL mode is capable of providing the sonic benefits of triode strapping, while providing considerably greater power capability at the same time. See this post by Atmasphere. You'll also find in that thread some varied reports of experiences comparing the two modes. As usual, implementation of the specific design seems to trump all.

-- Al
Al, I may have asked this question some time ago.

The output stage coupling of most ARC tube amps, at least my Ref 150, "is a combination of 'ultralinear' and Audio Research’s patented 'partially cathode-coupled' topology, which is superior to conventional pentode or triode operation." The foregoing cite is off of the ARCDB web site link to the Ref 150.

I have absolutely no idea what ARC is talking about, but suspect it may be a form of local negative feedback of sorts. ARC also touts that its circuit topology makes for better performance than "conventional pentode or triode operation." No comment.

I mention that here because of your last several posts which recommend caution in using some very low power SETs, especially if the amp will be called upon to drive dynamic music. Certainly, there are higher power amp options that may get one close to the presumed benefits of a SET amp, e.g., Ralph's zero NF OTL amps, or VAC amps, etc.

Maybe you can push the fog away.
Hi Bruce,

Yes, as Ralph had indicated here the ARC topology you are referring to is indeed a form of feedback. I have no idea, though, if that topology would cause the resulting sonics to be to some degree more SET-like, or if its presumed benefits might be in some other direction.

-- Al
I'd suspect that a circuit that is reliant on a feedback loop(as Ralph described) is not in the direction of SET sound (generically speaking). One of the "major" attractions of SET amplifiers is their simplicity and lack of need for NFB. Now which direction one chooses to follow is certainly individual choice.
Al and others, I appreciate that adherents of low power SET amps believe, and perhaps with some justification, that the benefits outweigh the downsides (e.g., low power output).

My only point is that opting in favor of that direction necessarily limits the universe of speaker options -- that is, speakers having high sensitivity specs. I'm not sure if SETs also have high'ish output impedances, but if so, then other trade-offs may be required.

I for one like flexibility and options. My bias (pun intended) would be to shy away from this class of amps.
Flexibility limitations can exist in both directions (inevitably). Low efficiency speakers lessen the choice of amplifiers that can drive them. Honestly either option can work out successfully. Fortunately there are enough fine high efficiency speakers available to satisfy the low power amplifier aficionados among us, so all is good.
Compromise at some level is expected when making decisions concerning
audio components. It's true that opting for low power amplifiers does rule
out the use of some speakers due to insufficient drive ability.
On the flip side there are those who believe some of the best sound they've
heard has been via good quality lower power amplifiers( SET or PP, tube or
transistor). The selection of the lower efficiency (hard to drive) speaker
would eliminate the opportunity to take advantage of these types of
amplifiers. There isn't an universal "fit all" amplifier available
the will suit every circumstance favorably. Even an ultra powerful amp that
could drive virtually any speaker load known to mankind doesn't imply that
necessarily sound "good" with every speaker. Capability to drive
also providing desired sound quality are two different things. This why
we're all lucky to have such a wide range of choices in what is actually a
small niche endeavor (high end audio). Most of us eventually find what
sounds best to our individual ears playing the music we love.
Personally, I find the number of high quality speakers available for audition overwhelming. Limiting the options to SET friendly speakers narrows the options and makes the selection process more manageable.
Gsm ... in a somewhat paradoxical way, your post makes a lot of sense. If I had only 2 dozen speakers to seriously consider, it would make the task of selecting a speaker, as you say, "manageable." Fair point.

Even still, many such highly sensitive speakers are not carried by B&M stores. That means, as Al suggested in the case of Daedalus speakers, going with reputation, buying with the expectation that if not satisifed, then being able to return the speaker, incurrng reasonable out-of-pocket costs re shipping and restocking fees.

I am fortunate that in the DC and NYC areas there are B&M stores that carry a number of high sensitive speakers. However, as I learned the hard way, there is no substitute for a "longish-term" audition of speakers in my own home - with all the know vagaries in room acoustics, listening position, speaker position, etc. As a result, I consider the costs and time involved in dealing with companies such as Zu and Daedalus - who allow 1-2 month in home auditions - to be a bargain.
Agreed again. That might be my next move, if and when I try it. At this point, I am inclined to tweak my rig (e.g., cables, dedicated AC power) and room, and buy hi-rez CDs and LPs. Too much voodoo out there.
With the vast reduction of B and M stores around now there's limited opportunity to hear speakers in a showroom anymore. Once you step outside the usual high end brands the pool of candidates to hear in dealer showroom are small be they high, moderate or low efficiency speakers. As Gary said, you don't know until you have the speaker in your own room to carefully audition. So most of us face the same dilemma regardless of the type of speaker being sought.