The Gearhead: Material Science and the DeVore Gibbon 3XL

“You don’t see too many speakers made out of bamboo,” my coworker Ian said as he looked closer at the DeVore Fidelity Gibbon 3XL speakers/stands I was testing this morning.

He’s right, you don’t. MDF is so widespread in use that the expectation is that if you have some bamboo on a pair of speakers, it’s going to be the veneer, not comprise the main walls of the enclosure.

But DeVore Fidelity is different. In more ways than this, that’s for sure. But speaking purely of materials, designer John DeVore leans toward using natural materials and does employ wood laminates (like birch plywood and the Gibbon 3XL’s bamboo) in his Gibbon and Orangutan designs.

When it comes to cabinets, I’ve seen all kinds come through the testing queue at The Music Room. From ‘90s-era Sonus Faber stand-mount speakers' solid walnut / marble boxes to Egglestonworks Rosa speakers made with Italian granite. Wilson Audio’s new X material is their latest cabinetry claim to fame, and KEF’s latest “Meta material” is apparently adept at taming back wave interactions.

Harbeth are well-known to produce slightly resonant cabinets, where the resonance is factored into the driver selection and crossover design. I imagine that DeVore’s choice of bamboo means he must then factor in the higher-than-average resonant frequency of the type of wood in the design as well.

Whatever he did, these little bamboo beauties and their matching stands are extremely revealing and musical. Low level listening presents nearly as much satisfaction for the detail and soundstage junkie as do higher volumes of playback.

Amazing, amazing little speakers. If you too have a penchant for the natural materials, take a look at these Gibbons before they’re gone.