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Reviewer: Jules Coleman
Sources: Shindo-Garrard 301/Shindo Mersault RF-773 12" arm/Shindo modified Ortofon SPU classic cartridge; Exemplar/Denon DVD 3910 universal player
Preamplifier: Shindo Catherine dual mono, full function, all-tube; Transcendent Audio Grounded Grid line stage

Amplifiers: Shindo WE 300B Ltd. monoblock; Cr Development Artemis Gold monoblock
Speakers: DeVore Fidelity Silverback Reference; Duevel Jupiter [for review]
Cables: Stealth Indra, M-21; Shindo silver; Audience Au24 Extreme Phono; Stealth Hybrid MLT speaker cable; Auditorium 23 speaker cable; Audience Au24 speaker cable; Harmonic Technology Cyber Light Wave and P2A with battery pack; Stealth M-7, van den Hul Mainstream and Shunyata Python [on loan] power cords
Power Conditioner: Shindo Mr. T; Audience adeptResponse [for review];
Equipment Rack: 2 x Harmonic Resolution Systems M1R; HRS amplifier isolation bases
Room size: 30' w x 18' x 9'
Price of Review Component: $26,700/pr (without optional Star Sound Technologies Sistrum stands)

Approaching the frontier in omni-directional loudspeakers
Though not yet well-known in the United States, Duevel has garnered "best in show" awards at several European high-end audio shows and own a well-deserved international reputation for their innovative loudspeakers. The current line-up includes the Venus, two versions of the Bella Luna and the flagship, the Jupiter. Whereas all models are omni-directional, the Bella Luna and Jupiter sport horn-loaded compression tweeters. I previously reviewed the Venus and was sufficiently impressed by its performance to purchase the Bella Luna Diamante with which I lived happily for some time.

I also had occasion to listen to the then-current version of the Jupiter in the showroom of the Duevel importer, Ted Lindblad of High End Audio. The Jupiter made an immediate impression with its powerful dynamics, expansive soundstage, its comfort with large-scale classical pieces and its overall natural and lifelike presentation. Tonally it favored the midbass and upper bass at the expense of a bit of air, light and top-end extension.

Long in the works, a revised version of the Jupiter finished in a beautiful apple wood veneer debuted at the most recent CES. The major revisions include changes to the crossover, a reduction in overall size and volume of the bass unit and internal rewiring with Stealth wire. The revisions were designed to improve bass tautness and impact, driver integration, high frequency response and overall transparency.

At T.H.E. Show supported by electronics from VAC, music sourced from vinyl by Pluto and from compact disc by VRS, with cabling and power cords provided by Stealth, the sound was tonally well balanced, rich, warm and expansive, with musical details nicely rendered. The net effect of it all was an enchanting and seductive presentation easy on the ears as well as the eyes if not necessarily the pocketbook. The new Jupiter checks in just south of $27,000. This clocks in at nearly twice the price of the very fine Bella Luna, which in turn is twice the price of the very fine Venus.

Soon after both CES and conferring with Markus Duevel, Ted rang to ask whether I would be interested in the world premier honors on the newest iteration of Duevel's flagship. In short order, I found myself looking forward to a Jupiter landing.

Ted Lindblad brought the Jupiter to my home where it replaced my reference DeVore Fidelity Silverback. A massive two-way design, the Jupiter features an upfiring but otherwise conventional looking paper cone woofer and a larger than standard compression and horn-loaded 4.5-inch titanium down-firing midrange/tweeter. The speaker stands 50 inches tall, sits on a 2-inch thick 16.5-inch square base that's integrated into the overall design and weighs in at roughly 155 pounds each. The woofer cabinet itself is approximately 32 inches tall. Atop sits the 12-inch woofer. The truncated bottom corners of each cabinet open into four slotted ports, each tuned to 32Hz and releasing energy down onto the speaker base.

The midrange/tweeter sits atop the speaker and fires through a down-facing horn. The down-firing mid/tweeter and the upfiring woofer connect by four 12" solid aluminum tubes, one at each cabinet corner. Nestled between the drivers is another large laminate wood block sculpted in a shape between a double-sided Hershey's kiss candy and a flying saucer. It too is bolted to the same four aluminum uprights.

Both drivers fire into opposite but symmetrical sides of the Hershey's kiss, the tapered point of which reaches far into the mid/tweeter's horn throat to approach touching the titanium driver's surface. The midrange/tweeter is significantly more directional than the woofer and this loading is essential to insuring an optimal omni-directional dispersion pattern for it. Both mid/tweeter and woofer emissions are dispersed over the full 360 degrees, hence the omni-directionality of the design. Duevel claims 93dB sensitivity and a flat 6-ohm load. My Shindo WE 300B Ltd amplifier drove the Jupiters easily, suggesting that despite being omni-directional (and in stark contrast to its main competitor from mbl), the Jupiter offers a friendly hand to modestly powered tube amplifiers.

The Duevel Jupiter is available in a mind-boggling rainbow of seventy-or-so finishes. Fit and finish are exemplary, equaling the best I have experienced. The Duevel loudspeaker is aesthetically distinctive and great care is
taken to insure that each speaker embodies Markus Duevel's commitment to excellence in all aspects of music reproduction. Whether one falls for the look of his speaker is certainly a matter of taste. Whether one admires the effort that goes into the design and its execution is not. In that regard, it's simply state of the art.

Positioning is everything
Instead of attempting to minimize room interactions and reflections -- as do typical horns and electrostatics whose tendency is to beam over much of the frequency range, a feature both among their strengths and limitations -- an omni-directional loudspeaker brings the room into play at nearly every turn. It thus makes the room/speaker interaction even more integral to in-room performance than it would be with a loudspeaker of virtually any other design.

Ted and I began by placing the Jupiters where the Silverback had been and where most speakers – regardless of design – have performed well in my room. The Jupiter proved extremely responsive to changes in positioning. Like other omni-directional loudspeakers, it requires support from the side and back walls to perform optimally. Moving the speaker far out into the room (more than six feet in my case) led to a more ethereal and disembodied sound, with lower midrange and upper bass gone missing. Too close to the rear wall (a foot or less) and the sound loses clarity and balance as proximity to the rear wall initiates a hardening in the presence region and an overripe mid-bass that also muddies matters in the midrange. Believable soundstaging, imaging and satisfying tonal balance were secured when we tentatively positioned the speakers 2.5 feet from the back wall, with 3 feet for the left speaker and 4 for the right speaker from their respective sidewalls.

The next order of business was to lock in a stable, dense and palpable center image. In the case of the Jupiter, this meant placing them 9.5 feet from one another, measured from the midpoints of each speaker. This was somewhat closer together than the Silverback had been and increased the relative distance of each speaker from its respective sidewall by 5 inches.

We then turned our attention to speaker toe-in. In principle, omni-directional loudspeakers minimize (but need not eliminate entirely) the relevance of toe-in. Indeed, the Jupiter proved sensitive to it. The reason is the four ports at the lower corners of each speaker. The relationship of those ports to room boundaries -- especially corners -- can have a dramatic impact on bass performance, which can be heard all the way up the frequency range. Improve the clarity, weight and reach of the bass and experience a more open, clear and detailed midrange as well as a more even tonal balance - especially with an extended tweeter.

Over the next few days, I experimented with toe-in and distance from the rear wall settling on very modest toe-in and rear wall distance increased by an additional two inches. Toe-in improved image specificity without affecting tonal balance. Moving the speakers a tad further into the room improved tonal balance by tightening and lightening the bass while putting ever so slightly more air and sweetness in the upper registers.

The speakers were then set on Sistrum speaker stands from Star Sound Technologies who also build the Caravelle monitor Srajan is about to review. Ted brought along their stands after discovering them at CES. All Duevel speakers arrive with stock rubber feet that are
integrated into the base platform of the speaker. Duevel manufactures an upgrade set of feet to further decouple the speaker from the floor. I had used these previously with the Bella Luna, found that they made a nice improvement and reported my experience to Ted who has since provided the optional feet gratis with the purchase of any Duevel loudspeaker.

The Sistrum stands take decoupling to another level and made a huge difference in bass tautness and control, translating immediately into improved performance throughout the frequency range. The Sistrum stands thus proved to be well worth their additional cost.