The Fleetwood Sound Deville Speaker Review. HiFi Beauty.
By Steve Huff
It’s always so much fun being able to review HiFi products that I thoroughly enjoy. In fact, these days I only review products I enjoy or would buy myself. That’s how it has been here for the last few years.
My VIDEO review of the Deville Speakers – Many have asked me what I used for the lights/stars in the listening space. I use one of THESE from Amazon for that.
For example, these days there are very few cameras that excite me as I have been happy with the same camera for a while. It’s why there have not been many camera reviews here lately. I do not review “new” just because it is “new”. I review “new” when it is something that is worth reviewing (rather than just promoting).
These days in the camera world there is nothing that fits that profile for me. Not the new upcoming Leica M11 (yawn) nor the new just announced Sony A7IV (yawn, yawn). Not even the new Nikon Z9.
I see products like these as products that are made to feed the addictions of those with GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). It’s a fact that people like shiny and new. It feeds the addiction until the next fix. I myself have been a victim of this in the camera world for many years until a couple of years ago. I have been a victim of GAS in the audio world as well, just as quite a few of you reading this have been.
Getting into high end audio can become one expensive hobby/passion but also one that is very rewarding at times.
As for these new cameras I do not feel any of them are worth a purchase for me, as they are just more of the same. More megapixels, more this, more that, a design change here or there. They give “more” of what I do not need to take a beautiful photo. No thanks. I prefer to keep it simple and basic as the camera doesn’t make a photo, the photographer does. I do not desire 20-30 FPS. I prefer slow shooting…taking my time..you know, using skill over technology. Call me old school. That fits me just fine.
Today I use a camera that ended my desire for a shiny and new image maker and I have zero desire to upgrade to anything else.
That is what a truly great product does. It satisfies you long term. It makes you appreciate what it is, what it does for you and the rewards it brings you. It makes you realize you need or want for nothing more.
In the audio world I enjoy two kinds of products. Those that punch above their price point like the little $600 Sprout 100 integrated amplifier or even the recently reviewed Denafrips Pontus II DAC. I also enjoy things that are just so damn special they are worthy of a look or listen.
I ordered the Deville in Black with the Dark Roasted Ash horn, top and bottom.
Bespoke. Quality. Unique.
This leads me to the Fleetwood Sound Deville Speakers and I have to say that these are some very special speakers. They are special for what they do as well as what they do not do. To be clear, I have ZERO affiliation with Fleetwood Sound and I paid FULL retail for my set of Deville Speakers (though I did think I would return them as they have a two week evaluation period). I can not really afford these but as Fleetwood Sound says…
I thought that was all hype but really… that is not the case at all. These speakers do three things like no other speakers I have ever heard or had in my space, regardless of cost or size. I will get to those three things in a bit. These are not speakers that will wow you with their detailed bright highs as there is none of that going on here. These are not Magico or Wilson speakers.
They are also not going for “neutral” or “correct”. Nope, what these Deville’s do is go for amazing musicality, body, soul and they have a way to make anything I play through it sound rather amazing. They have a big large sound with a wrap around soundstage and beautiful organic 3 dimensionality. Amen to that. A speaker not trying to be “HiFi” but instead an instrument that plays real music.
The Fleetwood Sound Deville’s are two way speakers with a 94db sensitivity and 8 ohm impedance. They have a true horn loaded tweeter and a mid/bass driver. They are hand made from real wood in PA. These do not use MDF and in a way they feel old school in materials and build, you know, like they used to make speakers.
With the Deville, “they do make them like they used to“. There is no flashy lacquered parts or bling, nor do they weigh 100lbs each. They come in at under 40lbs each and are easy to move around your space.
I have to admit, I have never heard a speaker like this one.
It’s The Speakers. Always.
When it comes to HiFi the most improvement in sound you will get from a system comes from the speakers. If we choose wisely when selecting speakers we can experience magic in a simple two channel music system. If we choose wrong, it can be expensive, time consuming and frustrating. I have been there and done that 40X in my 35 years of this crazy HiFi journey.
I have made so many mistakes in my audio journey but also learned a great deal about system matching, system setup and what is and is not snake oil in this industry. In other words, I am a seasoned HiFi junkie and have heard almost all brands of high end speakers. Sonus Faber, Wilson Benesche, Magico, Klipsch, Harbeth, Falcon, Wilson, Focal, Q Acoustics, Proac, Dynaudio, Revel, Avantgarde, B&W, QLN, Wilson and so many more have been in my systems over the years. I loved and enjoyed many of them and some not so much.
My faves over the years have been from QLN, Dynaudio, Klipsch, Proac and Sonus Faber. I have also enjoyed a B&W or two.
I have to say one speaker brand I have always wanted to try in my system are from Devore Fidelity. They have such lovely designs and I have heard them in a showroom at Arizona HiFi. I have always wanted a set of o/96 speakers. They are so gorgeous…
I will try these one day…Devore O/96. So beautiful.
In the audio world sometimes you pay for a name, materials or prestige over the sound. Sadly this is a reality when you get to the really high end… for some brands (but not all). Also, feel that some brands have changed over the years and IMO lost sight of who they once were.
You can special order the Deville (at an up-charge) in almost any color you like
The speakers are what pushes the sound into your room and into your heart and soul. Today we have so many choices when it comes to buying a set of high end speakers that it can be mind numbing at times. Many of us do not have access to audio dealers where we can audition in store let alone their own home.
An in home audition is important for serious speakers if at all possible because what sounds good in your dealers showroom may sound different in your room. Sometimes better, sometimes worse. If that is not possible at least listening in a showroom is nice as you can get an idea about a speakers sound character that way.
While it is not always true that the more you spend = better sound, sometimes it is indeed very true. Sometimes when you spend more you get something more special, unique and yes it can even sound better. Today’s review will be focused on something very unique in the speaker world. They are not cheap speakers but they are beautifully made speakers that are different from what you will find from any other manufacturer. I see them in the same ranks as Devore, Avantgarde, etc.
Unique. High Quality. Heirloom type of Stuff.
These speakers intrigued me for almost a year and then finally, I caved. I do have three systems these days. Two in our guest house/office and one in the main house. The main house is where my reference system lives and my Klipsch LaScala have been doing wonderfully in this system playing music almost daily.
I love those LaScala’s to death but I was curious if these Deville Speakers would give me the massive LaScala sound but with actual bass. The LaScala’s do not do deep bass but their huge wide open sound is what I love about them. I figured if the Deville could be like a LaScala with deeper bass and maybe even a warmer midrange then it would be a win-win. Smaller, lighter, more attractive (personal pref), and easier to move.
These are larger than you think!
These beauties were really out of my price range, by a lot. Even so, I was very intrigued by what I saw of them online at the Fleetwood Sound website and YouTube Videos. Something within me told me that I had to at least give them a try as I was drawn to them like a fly to a sticky trap. The force from these was strong my friends. They just looked so cool, and I just knew they would sound incredible. Well, I hoped so anyway.
One thing is certain…take what you think you know about Horn speakers and throw that out the window.
These speakers do not exhibit any obvious horn coloration. They do not shout and they are smooth as silk. These offer up a meaty tight bass with almost unlimited volume potential and zero harshness or hardness. To some, that lack of big splashy brightness may be a turn off as these do not sound alive or super dynamic like some Klipsch models do.
Compared to Klipsch these sound a bit muted, a lot smoother and softer but with a much bigger bass with vocals that are even bigger and more holographic. A different sound altogether but one that is much more refined and well, high end.
I mean, these not only can play soft or loud, they can go VERY LOUD while not sounding even the slightest bit hot or bright. They also keep their composure at high volumes unlike anything I have heard before. Seriously. You will not be able to muddle up or confuse these speakers with loud volume.
FLEETWOOD SOUND. WHO ARE THEY?
Have a spare $100k? Well, if so these “Ironic” speakers can be yours. INFO.
Fleetwood Sound is a new division of OMA and OMA makes insanely beautiful and expensive bespoke quality speakers for insane money. I am talking $25k and up to the stratosphere. They have been in business since 2007 and was started by Jonathan Weiss. The guy who appears in their videos on YouTube. One thing is for sure, he is confident in his creations, especially the Deville.
The Mini – INFO
The good news is the Deville is not $25k or $100k. Rather they are a cool $13k without stands. Add in stands and you are looking at $14k and up. Sounds crazy right? Well, maybe.
As I said SOMETIMES we do get what we pay for in this crazy audio world.
THE WAF – (Wife Acceptance Factor)
As my wife Debby said after a two hour listening session with me.. “These are worth whatever they are asking for them”. As she said that a tear ran down her cheek and that is no lie. She felt the emotion from the music we were listening to. She is not an audiophile nor does she listen with me often but she was intrigued with these big unique looking speakers that arrived one day. She loved the design and wanted to hear them.
She went on and on… “You have never had a speaker that sounded like these…YOU ARE KEEPING THESE“. A week later she said “I keep thinking about that night we listened to those speakers…they are AMAZING”. I guess she really dug the sound. She NEVER EVER has really cared for what I have in my audio system. It’s always been my thing. While she listens with me at times, she never really reacts or hears what I hear. This time she did.
She also loves the looks of these speakers in the room. In person these are impressive to say the least. Again, even after owning big time money Sonus Faber speakers these Deville Speakers just have something more human about them in the build and looks. These speak to me when I see them in the room. Yes, they look cool in my opinion and the wife loves them as well. A Win/Win.
Yes, she knew I spent $15k on them with the stands and shipping. She knew I put them on my credit card. She is cool like that as she knows how much I get from music. She knows it heels me, de-stresses me and keeps me positive, happy and its my one big “hobby” in life. The Deville is the only speaker that she has ever fell for and no, she doesn’t ask for anything in return. She’s amazing and I am lucky to have her in my life.
I have also had sone people over who absolutely drooled over the looks and build of these speakers. They have been a big win in the looks department.
The custom made horn loaded tweeter of the Deville
With that out of the way let me start this review by bringing up something from the past. I promise I will get to the meat of this review in a bit but I have to speak of the other high end horn speakers I once owned.
Long ago, around 2001-2002 I bought a pair of Avangarde Uno speakers. The very first version of these now well known speakers. They were huge, had a big silver horn up top, a mid driver and a plug in powered bass unit. I loved the design back then but never could jive with the massive horn coloration that they had in the sound. They had that horn shout as well.
Good old “Uncle Kevvy” at Upscale Audio sold me on them back in the day as he raved about their sound playing any kind of music ; ) I visited his home where he had a demo set in his living room. This was before he was a huge dealer and had a showroom. It was just Kevin and one younger guy working for him. He specialized in Cary Audio and other tube amps which were clearly his passion. His personal speakers at the time were the Avantgarde Duo’s in a stunning blue. That is what he had hooked up for me to hear and they sounded pretty sweet.
I bought the Uno’s as a demo pair from him and paid cold hard cash which at the time was around $7k if I remember correctly. I drove them back home to Arizona at the time, no boxes. Hooked them up to a set of custom made Wavelength Audio 300B tube amps (I think they were called Cardinals) and away I went!
The first generation UNO’s.
Those first gen Uno’s looked unique (they look much nicer in the new versions today) but the sound lacked. It was dry, somewhat flat and very “horn” sounding. Nothing like the Duo’s I heard. Of course it could have been my room or gear but I kept them for about 2 years just because they looked so darn cool. I even tried a few different amps with them. Eventually I sold them and had to have crates made for them to ship. I believe I sold them for $6500. I moved on to my Sonus Faber stage shortly after that.
The newest UNO’s look pretty nice.
After the Uno’s left I stayed away from Horn Speakers until I bought a pair of Heresy III from Klipsch many years later. I enjoyed those immensely, more so than the Uno’s. While not truly “high end” there was something about the HIII’s I adored. While most call Klipsch speakers “fun” I call them something different. They can be serious speakers indeed and are much more than fun.
In fact, once I heard the massively alive Klipsch sound I fell for it hard. Today I have Heresy IV and LaScala and while the Heresy IV have not been hooked up in a while I love them and will always keep them. They are so good for the money and offer up a nice big live sound that I just can not get from other speakers even close to the price. The LaScala offer me a massive scale and vocal sound that is to die for. They lack in bass, but for some music they are magic. If I have too nitpick they can sound a bit sharp at times, and they do have a coloration but it is not nearly as bad as they used to be. They just have a way of sounding alive, big and exciting.
I also own other speakers. Dynaudios, Wharfedales…as they offer something different when the mood strikes.
A Better Horn?
This leads me to the Fleetwood Deville Speakers. They are Horn Speakers but use a very unique horn and high end drivers along with high quality real wood build. Instead of me explaining it, I will let Fleetwood Sound tell you about the horn tweeter.
The speaker body, tops and bottoms and horn are all made of real Pennsylvania Ash. I have not seen anyone else do this in the audio world yet besides Fleetwood.
I sent in my order for a standard black set but with the dark terrified wood top, bottom and horn. An extra cost but worth it as I really liked the darker “roast”. I chose the least expensive stands (I feel the stands are overpriced for what they are) made from reclaimed hickory wood in black as I had to keep the cost down as much as I could. If I loved these to death I would have to keep them, and pay for them. They also have a lifetime warranty and while Fleetwood is a new company, their patent company ONA is not.
See this cool piece on them below
When I saw the speakers themselves though I was surprised by the size. THEY ARE BIG! These are not small speakers nor what I would ever call “bookshelf” speakers.
They stand taller than the LaScala and Forte IV when on the stands and are also wider than the Forte. They are close to Heresy IV size in height and width though about half the depth. Each speaker is maybe the size of 3 Dynaudio Heritage Specials. Contrary to what some online comments say about these (by those who never saw them in the flesh) they are far from small.
The speakers attach to the stand very nicely. You slide them into the metal grooves and lock them into place. Took a few seconds.
As I was setting them up I told myself “for $15k these need to really sound better than the Heresy IV”! At the same time I was enjoying the beauty and quality of the build. These were drop dead gorgeous. While my Klipsch has a veneer that is easy to scuff (and my heresy and LaScala’s have indeed gotten scuffed easily) these are on a different level in the materials department. It is evident instantly that these are made with care and quality. Then again, the price of these warrants this quality. I would not accept anything less.
While the looks may not be for all I love the style of them. Some will find them gorgeous and others will see them as ugly. One thing is for sure, they are indeed different from any other speaker in design.
Setting them up
Just to note my room is 13X18 with wood walls, floors and big windows. I cover the windows when listening with full cloth blinds. The floor has a 12X13 rug and I also have a couch with pillows in the room. The music sounds absolutely stunning in this room.
I positioned the Deville’s in the room where I normally have stand mounts but knew I had to remove my LaScala’s to place them correctly. Debby and I tackled that job by moving them to a different system (man those are heavy) and then I got to work. I hooked up the Pass Labs XP10/XA60.8 combo along with the Denafrips Pontus II DAC. Hooked it all up with Cardas Clear Reflection cables (LOVE these cables) and sat down to see what these were all about.
I did experiment with position and found they sounded best only slightly toed in. I mean slight. This seemed to give them a much bigger wider and precise soundstage along with a deep ethereal sound with air and “in the room” very realistic quality.
As soon as I played some familiar tracks through ROON via Tidal and Qobuz I melted into my chair. These can “melt you” as the sound they put out is about slight warmth, soundstage realism and my oh my the vocals…on a new level for these ears. Big, Rich, Lifelike, and never compressed or squashed sounding. They were wide open, rich, and what I would call “softly detailed”.
Nope, no big thrilling super sharp dynamics like I get with Klipsch but more of a full throated living breathing experience. The top end seems a tad rolled off compared to Klipsch yet it doesn’t sound muffled or bloated, at all. They still send music to the room in an uber real way with just the right amount of top end. It’s silky and airy rather than ragged and hard.
These were sounding as big as my LaScala but with real bass quality and oomph along with a bigger midrange where the voices live and breathe. The top end though…I wasn’t sure about it at first because it was the opposite of “hot” and gave these speakers a truly smooth sound. I kept listening day after day and I discovered something else about the Deville.
No matter how complex the music, these dig in deep and delivered each instrument and sound with ease. These speakers want to reach out and hug you, and they do just that with an extremely sweet shout free – bright fee sound. My Klipsch can get a bit mushy/flat/brighter when turned up, meaning the instruments start to squash together and sound compressed. I did not even notice this until the Deville’s were in my space for a while.
With the Deville the instruments stay separated in the stage even if I play them louder than I can stand. It’s stunning to experience as it’s usually much more expensive speakers (even more than $15k) that accomplish this feat.
The left half of the Pass Labs XA60.8 Monoblock Amplifiers. End game amps for these ears and budget. Muscle, delicacy and sweetness all in one.
NOT for those who like NEUTRAL SOUND and a tipped up TOP END.
These will not wow you with crazy micro details (though they do micro details very well) nor will they give you that thin detailed midrange like so many speakers do today. They will not assault your ears with splashy highs or that electric vibe that can get old and fatiguing over time.
Nope! These speakers are about as musical as I have ever heard any speaker. Regardless of cost. Musical. Meaning, the music flows and no matter what I played they were making music. Jazz, vocal, classical, rock, heavy metal, EDM or even old 80’s pop…whatever it was they sounded absolutely musical and gorgeous.
The way instruments are presented are with a fullness, roundness and realistic size. It’s organic sounding. These produce recordings that sound like real humans and instruments are in the room rather than hyped up versions that sound fake or more exciting to wow you up front.
The bass is incredible on them as well. Not as in “Beats Headphones” incredible but as in what real bass sounds like. These are as balanced as they come.
When Fleetwood Sound says these can be your last speakers ever, there is truth to that and here is one reason why.
I was playing all kinds of music and genres through them and these did it all with effortless ease. They do it all while sounding ethereal, airy, deep, rich, layered and with the most incredible soundstage I have ever experienced in my lifetime. I mean…I have waxed poetic about speakers that deliver that wide and deep soundstage but these…holy wow. Night after night, week after week…I waited to get tired of them but that never happened.
The more I listened, the more I wanted to listen.
These speakers at times make it sound like my entire room, or the air in the room has become a speaker itself. This only happens when the volume is turned up a bit. With some music, well recorded music, this effect can be mind blowing and yet it’s warm and lifelike. You have deep bass that can be felt, you have a sweet warm top end that doesn’t hurt your ears. You have the most incredible vocal performance you may ever hear from speakers up to 3X the cost (or more).
SPECIAL THEY ARE
There are many HiFi high end speakers that are special. There are many that are special in the $3500 range as well. So are these worth the price tag? That depends on what you like. While I write this I am listening to Jewel’s “Foolish Games” and I have goosebumps at this moment. This is not a very well recorded song and on most systems I have had it sounds thin, boring and a little lifeless.
But right now, Jewel is in the room as if she is singing to me. I feel the emotion. I hear her emotion. Her voice is so real and so “in my room” that I wonder how in the hell it can get better than this. I know it can if I were to go up the OMA Speaker ladder but that is not happening. My bank account tells me this is not possible. For me, this is as good as it has even been in a mid sized speaker. While I LOVE the Dynaudio Heritage they are a true bookshelf and are the best bookshelf I have heard. Even so, these are a much better speaker for me and my dedicated space. The Dynaudio are not in this league nor can they sound this large, real or organic. The Dynaudio are spectacular but at half the cost do sound about half the size.
The Deville’s are bigger sounding, richer, smoother and fill my space in a way no other speaker has (even my LaScala).
These breathe music, emotion, and excel at three things.
My first sound demos…I will have better ones in my upcoming video review. Of course these demos will never ever sound anything like what they sound in the room. You miss out on the soundstage, the imaging, the 3 dimensionality and the overall experience. Even so, you can tell the character of a speaker in a sound demo.
These speakers are superb at reproducing the reverb/space in the recording. The way the vocals are reproduced are delicate, detailed and yet at the same time very powerful. Yes, you can hear the breaths, the lip smacks, the emotion in the voice. The vocals are my favorite things about these speakers as they sound as large as life. As large as a human. As big as we are. You can hear the reverb in the tracks so well, and the sounds float out into the room in a way other speakers I have had here do not. Again, realism is the key word of this review. They do the 3D thing as good as the best of them.
I think it is the body and warmth thing. They are so full yet detailed and transparent at the same time. It’s crazy. Acoustic instruments sound absolutely lifelike and are portrayed with such Beaty.
The imaging is precise yet natural. Vocals are dead center. Debby asked me if I these had a center speaker as she couldn’t believe the voices were coning from the side speakers. She thought there was a center channel in the cabinet that played the vocals.
One day I decided to see what these sounded like with a low cost EL34 tube amp. I bought this one from Amazon, and it’s a steal for the money. It may not last forever but for what it costs it can bring that lovely EL34 tube sound into your space for about half the cost of the excellent Willsenton R8 I reviewed last year. I have to say though…the first one I bought was DOA (dead on arrival). I tried again and the second one was great.
With the tubes hooked up in triode mode the sound was gorgeous. It was a tad brighter now over the Pass Labs as the Pass gear leans on the ever so slight side of warm from neutral. The Pass Labs XA 60.8 amps are pure class A as well, so this brings a meaty big powerful yet delicate sound. The tubes brought more detail on the top which opened the speakers up more. I lost out on the big full midrange that the Pass gear excels at but only by a little. The bass was lighter with the tubes as well but man, the sound was beautiful, haunting and showed me how well these respond to gear changes.
With Diana Krall’s “Sway” I was in musical heaven. Her sultry smoky voice was holographic.
I then placed in the Willsenton R8 which brought a little more refinement and silence as this amp doesn’t buzz, hum or make any odd noises. The tubes brought a more immediacy to the sound. A more tangible presence. I loved it for jazz, vocals and softer music. When I wanted to rock out or have a bigger more powerful sound the Pass gear was unrivaled.
SPEAKING OF ROCKING OUT
The Fleetwood Deville speakers are superb for rock/metal speakers. In fact, I do no remember ANY speaker in my lifetime sounding this fantastic with rock and metal. It’s due to the meaty mid bass and low end and more tamed top end (compared to Klipsch). They make metal sound brutal and powerful and HUGE. Others have said this as well about this speaker but if you like classic rock or metal this speaker was 100% made to rock. The Pass class A amps bring out the best in these for this genre of music as well. Pass Labs INT-25 or INT-60 could be a great hassle free integrated for these speakers.
While they truly can rock out they can also do subtlety and romance as well. They sound good with EVERYTHING and that is huge. Have you ever stopped listening to some kinds of music because it didn’t sound good in your system? I have, and that is just wrong. What is the point?
One thing I have learned after having the Deville in my system is that a speaker should sound good with all genres. When this happens you can just sit back and enjoy whatever you want to listen to. It’s amazing. With the Deville I do not analyze the sound or wish for more or less. I just listen and enjoy. That is what makes these so special even if they are not an electric, exciting and dynamic listen. They are a welcoming listen. A beautiful listen. An emotional listen. A realistic listen. A Human listen.
These may be my favorite finish of the Deville. The uncharge was deep so I couldn’t swing them but I think these looks beautiful.
AZ HiFi is a Dealer. If you are in Phoenix…
One of my favorite audio dealers carries these speakers. I no longer live in Arizona but I highly recommend AZ HiFi as you can go there and possibly listen to a set of these. I sent the owner Glen an email the other day about the DeVille and asked how he liked to run them. He stated Class A and/or Tubes do great with the Deville just as I have discovered. Fleetwood says any amp 10 watts and up can run these but they can also do well with super high power amps.
But if you are in Arizona, do visit AZ HiFi. They have some truly beautiful gear. Tubes, Solid State and yes, Deville Speakers. ; )
No Fake HiFi Sound Here.
Some speakers that try to be neutral, crisp or overly detailed sound very fake to me. They sound overly HiFi. That is not real nor does it let you truly soak in the performance. You start listening to the sounds, the cables, the DAC and your gear. When you have a speaker that plays music that truly sounds like real music you enjoy that music so much more and all of the sudden do not worry about your other gear.
The Fleetwood Deville’s do not sound “juicy” or “plump” they just reproduce recordings of all kinds in a way that is special.
- Beautiful to look at.
- High quality parts and construction.
- Fast shipping/Great packaging.
- Bespoke Quality!
- Easy to drive at 94db efficient.
- Lightweight at 38lbs each.
- The sound is massive and can fill a small or medium space nicely.
- Warm and Human sound.
- Fatigue doesn’t exist with these. Nor does boredom.
- Superb imaging.
- Strong bass performance.
- REAL WOOD construction.
- Lifetime Warranty.
- Made in the USA.
- To me well worth the asking price. Without question.
- Some may like it a bit more extended in the treble.
- They come way more alive at mid to high volume (still do good at low).
- Stands are overpriced for what they are (imo).
You can even upgrade to a set of these that use all 100% roasted Ash wood. In the standard models only the horn, top and bottom are “roasted”. Here, the entire speaker is. These also have premium silver wiring inside which I feel would tip up the top end a little. These are also gorgeous but again, a big price jump for the upgrades.
I AM SOLD – JAMES BLAKE – TIDAL
I always listen to this track when I install new gear to test out. The reason is that it brings it all. Bass, treble, rich vocals along with space, details, transparency, etc. When you have speakers that offer up a complete frequency range this track can transport you to another place. The music floats in the room, the voices come out of dead center and there are effects that make it appear sound is pouring from the side walls at times. On a truly great system this track is insanely 3 dimensional and is a great demo track to showcase all of these traits.
The Fleetwood Deville presented this track with tight deep bass that gently vibrated my wooden floor at time without any boom or mush. The treble was perfect with this track. Crisp and extended without going over the top as some speakers can do. The way the Deville does “space” is world class. James’s voice floated into the room while the music was separating and spreading all over the room. This may be the best I have heard this track. One other speaker that I felt did justice to it was the Sonus Faber Guarneri Evolution but with those the bass was a little flabby and too much when compared to the Deville.
For fun I hooked up the Dynaudio Heritage and these brought forth more high end and sizzle but lost out in the body and warmth in direct comparison. They did the 3D thing just as well but the voice was thinner/flatter. The Deville does absolute magic with the voice.
PILOTS (on a star) – Goldfrapp
Trippy. I remember listening to this song one night on my old Dynaudio special 40’s and was blown away by how the instrumentation just jetted out to my face as if I was bring attacked by music. Lol. It was a bit much looking back but when I play this track on the Deville Speakers the sound reproduction is world class. It is refined, it is balanced, it does all of the things you want them to do (depth, texture, layers, imaging, soundstage) but does so in a way that is just smooth as silk. The vocals are scary real showing me again that the Deville is the best I have heard for vocals.
Listening to “Deer Stop” on the same album continues the magic. I feel as if Alison Goldfrapp is with me and yes, it gave me goosebumps just due to the realism in the vocals, and the way I could hear the texture in her voice while it was presented large as life with warmth, body and soul. Again, you will not hear sizzle or an exciting top end here. You will hear a very smooth and refined treble that brings detail and highs without bite or harshness. It’s amazing to hear but some may want for more bite and attack. Personally, I prefer this to my beloved Klipsch speakers. When I placed in my Heresy or even LaScala it was more exciting and had more “wow” but the body was gone. The voices were sharper and a bit thinner. The sound was not refined but when directly comparing the two sets, I could now all of the sudden hear some fuzziness in the Klipsch speakers.
This is only in direct comparison. The Deville’s are so refined. It’s what you would expect a high dollar high end speaker sound like.
KISS – MAKIN’ LOVE – ALIVE II – TIDAL MASTERS
I have owned this album since I was nine years old. This 1978 recording can sound thin and flat on some systems but this track when played via Tidal Masters is the best I have heard it, besting my remastered vinyl from a few years back. Even so, I couldn’t listen to this track on all of my systems over the years as some were just too thin to rock and roll. With the Deville’s it ranks among the best I have heard it (though not the best). I dug it on the Heresy IV’s but the Fleetwood’s take it up a notch as the bass is much better as is the mid-range.
Big, bold, smooth, powerful, rich and “in the room” is how I would describe this song on the Deville. On the Heresy IV I would describe it as energetic, lively, LIVE and electric. I enjoy both but at the end of the day the Deville takes the prize. Again, it should as these are $11k more than the Heresy IV’s. The fact that I am even comparing the two says alot ; )
With the Dynaudio Heritage I lose that big bold sound and oomph needed for rock and metal. They deliver more detail and top end but in comparison to the Deville I lose that body that delivers rock music so convincingly.
I LOVE this track and entire album the most on my LaScala’s though. They just offer up such a live real sound for this kind of recording. No, they do not do low bass but they do mid bass and they do it very well. The LaScala is an end game speaker for me, and seeing that I own them I will never part with them. While the Deville sounds better with a lot of music, the LaScala have a special magic about them that just brings a live performance to your space.
I will be setting the LaScala up in a bigger room for those kind of moments. I will either use a Pass Labs INT-25 or a Tube Integrated. Haven’t decided just yet.
I cold live with any of these speakers, without question. All are fantastic. I just have to point out the differences I hear so you, the reader, can get an idea of what I hear between them. But make no mistake, all are wonderful and each do their own thing very well.
TORI AMOS – REINDEER KING – Tidal/Roon
I often listen to this track to test systems and it is another tough one. In a good system you will hear the weight of the piano. In some systems the piano can sound thin. In a truly remarkable system you will hear not only the weight of that piano but the sweetness in the vocals. The atmosphere and space of the recording and it will expand to your walls and ceiling. The Deville’s present this song to me with weight, sweetness, space and a wall to wall soundstage. This is such a beautiful sound. The Deville’s reproduction left me wanting for nothing.
The Fleetwood Deville speakers are one of a kind. They bring a bit of the uber high end tech from OMA’s much more pricey speakers and they do so with beauty, class and a superbly human rich big sound. These lean warm and do not have a bright splashy treble. They are not crazy dynamic but rather they offer an ethereal sound with a soundstage as big as I have ever experienced. The vocals that come out of these speakers are as real as I have ever heard and truly life-size which makes these sound so much like real life.
The build and quality is second to none and while these will not wow you with lacquered up flash and glitz what they will wow you with is the unique style along with their capability to deliver amazing sound no matter what you listen to. I bought these out of pure curiosity. I fell for the looks and hype. Fleetwood gives a 2 week trial so if you do not like them they can be sent back. I fully expected I would be sending them back as I really can not afford them.
After two weeks of listening I could not stop listening nor could I give them up. These are like my LaScala yet sound even bigger, smoother, warmer, more ethereal and offer a much better bass performance. They are smaller, use real wood and have higher quality parts as well. The LaScala are in my “Dream Speaker” list so what does that mean for the Fleetwood Deville? It means they are my “Bucket List” speaker.
There were times I was listening and I could not believe what I was hearing. They are leagues above something like a Heresy IV or Forte IV when it comes to refinement in sound and build/quality parts. They have no real coloration nor do they ever sound ragged, edgy or glaring. With vinyl? AMAZING.
I paid full price and will be keeping them. If I sent them back I would regret it and would always long for the sound they brought to my space. They rocked out with Pass Labs class A gear and gave me all the subtlety and delicacy with a $750 tube amplifier. These respond well to gear changes, even cables. One thing they will never do is fatigue your ears. These will never shout at you or get aggressive when the volume gets cranked. They stay composed and deliver music in a 3 dimensional way that is gorgeous.
When I swapped my Cardas Clear Reflection speaker cables for my old Nordost Blue Heaven some of that warmth left, and more high end emerged but I also lost some smoothness. I much preferred the Cardas here as they truly allowed these to shine. The Nordost was a bit thinner but still sounded amazing. The character of the speakers stayed the same.
I can play old 80’s records or any genre I like. They deliver on all fronts. Fleetwood says these will be the last speaker you ever buy. I can now see why. These are truly one of a kind instruments of sound.
That’s it. They are instruments. I have heard other speakers in my lifetime that I consider instruments but these have more soul than just about any other speaker I have heard. That its not hype, as I have zero affiliation with ANYONE in HiFi, I get no kickbacks from Fleetwood nor did I get a discount. I do not have any affiliate links here and I do not have to kiss the behind of Fleetwood Sound as they do not send me review units.
I paid my own money for these and if they did not live up to my expectations for them you better believe they would have been sent back within the 2 week trial. $15k is a ton of money for speakers for ANYONE. I am not rich, nor well off. I am just a passionate music lover who is always in search of a sound I long for. At the start of this review I spoke of how the Leica SL camera ended my GAS for any new cameras. I believe these have done the same when it comes to speakers.
While I will still try new amps, DAC’s, etc my speaker journey has ended. I own Dynaudio Heritage, Klipsch LaScala, Klipsch Heresy and now the Fleetwood Deville. I love them all but the Deville’s are the most special of them all and I will spend many days and nights listening to them make beautiful music.
Can it get better? Sure it can. Do I want to spend what it would take to get there? No way.
What sets these apart from others in the same price range?
- Real wood build.
- Unique Design.
- Lifetime Warranty.
- Easy to Drive at 94 db.
- Their Sound bests anything (for my tastes) I have heard no matter the price (up to $50k).
- Heirloom Quality.
- Direct Ordering with 2 Week in home Trial
- Brings emotion out of the music.
- Can be customized to your color preferences
- Made in the USA.
- Addicting and 100% non Fatiguing (when driven correctly).
- Same designer as OMA Speakers which are True End Game.
- Easy to place in your room.
- Wide sweet spot.
- Superb imaging.
- Rich, deep, holographic yet warm and full.
- All of your music will sound wonderful.
- Great recordings will sound magical.
I’m an owner. I paid full price. I have no affiliation to Fleetwood Sound or OMA. I own a few speakers and enjoy them all. I could have returned these within 2 weeks. There was no way I was doing that. : )
With that said, these must be driven right like any great speaker. The pre-amp/amp is important as is the DAC and cables.
The room matters as well. I feel these will do best in a smaller to medium sized room but I have to admit, I have not heard them in a large room.
Overall I feel something like a Pass Labs INT-25, INT-250, Accuphase Class A integrated or a nice EL34 Class A tube amp will bring out the best in these. Class A just sounds so good with these, but I am in love with Class A sound. Luxman? Probably a match made in Heaven.
UPDATE November 12th 2021
These speakers have just gotten better with more use. They have opened up dramatically after around 200 hours of use. The highs are more extended now but are very silky. The midrange warmth is there but not as prevalent. They have gotten better since I wrote this review and I did not think that was possible. These are indeed “Bucket List” speakers for me. No where else to go for this music lover.
With the Deville’s, The LaScala and Heritage Specials I am blessed indeed. These speakers are just something to behold each and every night. I have been listening to more music than ever and even Debby sits in with me at least a couple nights per week. She has fallen for them as well.
These speakers can indeed get you off of the upgrade train. They are costly but worth it if you love MUSIC.
UPDATE NOVEMBER 15th 2021 – Links
Many have asked me what I used for the lights and ambience in my listening space. The lights you saw in my video review are linked below along with a few other things I have in my space.
UPDATE November 18th
I just am over the moon with the Deville. No desire to hook up anything else. They just sound like music. Not the most exciting or dynamic but man oh man, surely the most beautiful sound I have had in my lifetime. Doesn’t sound like HiFi, sounds like music. Because of that, these speakers speak to me in a way no other has. The only change I may make is to the pre-amp in my reference system as it seems to be the weakest link now. I feel I need a Pass Xp-22 to achieve 100% audio nirvana.
If I end up not getting any other speakers sent to me for review, and that may happen, this will be my last speaker review. Sad to think about but I will not purchase another set of speakers though I may consider THIS from Fleetwood Sound in the future for my studio/office.
UPDATE November 23rd
These have opened up more and more and are now super transparent yet at the same time full bodied and 3 dimensional. These have indeed improved with burn in. I was told 200 hours for a full burn in, and at about 300 hours these have truly become even better. Listening at 12:52 AM right now and these are taking me to another world. Sounding better each day and without question has bested any speaker I have ever owned for my tastes and room.