Bookshelf / standmount speaker impressions

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by rlow, Feb 10, 2020.

  1. Zurvv

    Zurvv Acquaintance

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    @Vtory Have you thought about treatment behind the speakers? I ordered some GIK diffusor/absorbers ... which will take forever to shipped. That said, i'm waiting on the yggdrasil to month-long-warm-up. (i'm not even a week in yet :()

    waiting for the yggd :)
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2020
  2. Vtory

    Vtory Audiophile™

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    @Zurvv Maybe later? I have a fairly good freedom of placement now (that's more important than treatments in general). And money-spending room treatments are the last thing I'd consider -- honestly most products look too overpriced.

    I also need a little more info and experience before jumping into. Witnessed how music studios turned to terrible listening places when treatments done overly (tonal and timbre weirdness, RT too short,etc etc). Seems there's no single answer.
     
  3. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

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    Proac soft domes with a beefy, warm amp. Think McIntosh, Pass, or Adcom 555 or beefier. Something powerful to get bass out of them while not etched at all, more forgiving treble to deal with the sizz.

    For active, Quested V2108 work great in this situation if your room can handle the bass and wide dispersion. They work best from about 2-3 meters away more than as average computer desk speakers. The huge cabs need some room. They’re not mid centric at all but don’t have suckout.
     
  4. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    Dynaudios Special Forty Impressions

    27B9BD70-ABFA-4FEB-98BF-5698473F4DE1.jpeg

    Intro:

    Not much introduction needed here. These are some of the most reviewed speakers of the last few years, with most reviews being pretty positive/glowing. Stereophile however had some interesting observations that others neglected to mention which I’ll touch on below.

    Build:

    Top notch. Which is what you would expect for a speaker of this size, at this price point. The unique veneer of vertical birch slices looks pretty fantastic to my eye, and the gazillion layers of lacquer shines like glass (and makes them pretty damn hard to photograph without crazy reflections). My pair were the red birch, which I thought looked sexier than the more understated grey birch, but I’m sure I would have been happy with either. They feel solid and the “knock test” on the outside of the cabinet is actually pretty dead, indicative of good MDF and internal bracing, but a bit more on that later. These things are pretty compact and very high quality feeling overall. It’s clear that a decent chunk of what you’re spending on here is definitely fit-and-finish.
    F20F22CA-5879-43FD-BB26-75FCB3CB50BE.jpeg

    My setup:

    I owned these speakers for about a year, going in and out of my system at various times along with some other speakers including the ATC SCM19 and Graham LS6 (impressions of both earlier in the thread) and others.

    They were mainly run with this chain: Sotm SMS-200ultra Neo streamer > Yggdrasil A2 > Freya (OG) > 1 Vidar. Other DACs and amps including Gungnir Multibit A1 and A2, Metrum Onyx, Kinki Studio EX-M1, Schiit Saga and Sys preamps and some other power amps a few other components were used with them at various times.

    Overall sound:

    Punchy and dynamic bass, smooth and sweet mids and highs, warm, clean, refined and a touch dark.

    Treble:
    • Clean and clear but also very sweet, smooth and delicate/refined sounding - one of the least fatiguing tweeters I’ve heard that still sounds pretty resolving and not super dark or rolled off
    • However it does sound slightly rolled off on top - not quite fully extended as some others (like the ATC and Grahams). I actually ended up toeing these in to point directly at my ears, as I felt them to be a bit too tame for my tastes otherwise (and luckily, because they’re so smooth, you can do this without causing fatigue)
    • Although they’re a touch rolled off, the treble still has a somewhat airy quality with good decay
    • Treble timbre leans away from metallic sounding. Cymbals, hi hats, triangle, and other metallic instruments that play in the upper ranges don’t sound as metallic or have as much bite or sparkle as some other speakers, including some of my other favourite soft dome speakers like the ATC and Graham.
    • Overall very smooth, sweet and a touch rolled up top (fairly dependant on toe-in) but still detailed and somewhat airy.
    Mids:
    • Somewhat mid-forward, especially vocals. Vocals cut through the mix better in these than both the ATC and the Grahams - the ATCs are no slouches at this and I feel are likely more neutral, where the the S40s I feel are perhaps a bit boosted in the mids
    • Female vocals are beautiful, liquid smooth, with perfect body
    • Male vocals also very clear and open - perhaps a touch chesty/warm, but not overly so (at least to my preferences)
    • Acoustic instruments have great body and presence and very good timbre, but again perhaps missing a touch of bite and sparkle in the upper mids (likely due to that tweeter smoothing/softening the harmonics)
    • It can get slightly congested/fuzzy on complex passages though, which is what was noted in the Stereophile review as well. I was glad to finally read this in their review, because for many months there was something in the mids that bugged me, and their review/measurements finally explained this. Certain notes or vocals also had slight blurry or congested quality, which was not consistent on every track (not even most tracks).
    Bass:
    • Bass is fast, punchy and surprisingly impactful considering the size of the speaker - the first listen of these is a bit of an ear opener, as far as how much punch they have
    • The bass is not super deep however and somewhat dry/square - can sound a bit popcorny, like a small driver trying to sound like a big one, which is probably due to...
    • Some emphasis in the midbass region - this can sound exciting and fun on some recordings, but can get a bit too much at times and starts to impart itself across all recordings as a bit of a coloration and “one-note”
    • They absolutely need a decent amount of space behind them to avoid bass bloat (at least 2 feet, 3 is probably better). Or EQ to bring the mid/upper bass region down in level. The rear port is quite large for the size of the speaker and carries a lot of the bass output duties. And using the port bungs IMO reduces the bass too much and changes the character of the speaker in ways I didn’t like
    • You’ll need a sub if you want the lowest 1-2 octaves and to really feel the low stuff. Or you’ll need to get it closer to walls and EQ the bass down to balance things out, as mentioned above.
    Soundstage:
    • Stage width is very good, but I have heard better. Stage height is actually very good too, giving a nice sense of scale to certain recordings that have it. One issue I had was, since I needed to toe-in the speakers so much to overcome some darkness from the highs, the stage narrowed a fair bit between the speakers
    • Stage depth and layering is somewhat lacking and less than a number of other other speakers I’ve owned, due to quite a forward overall presentation - a lot of sound appears to be coming pretty much from the plane of the speakers
    • Quite forward and intimate staging overall, esp vocals that put the singer in your room but don’t give you a sense of the space/depth in the recording studio
    Imaging:
    • Instrument separation is very good, but again, not up with the best. Although I don’t feel that was necessarily the goal with these speakers. The have a more fluid and slightly vague presentation rather than a super precise one, but nothing that bothered me really - it still does a good job sorting out the various instruments on the stage - it’s only noticeable in direct comparison to something like a KEF or the ATCs you notice the slightly less focus and precision.
    Dynamics, attack/decay and plankton:
    • Other than the fast midbass punch, the rest of the presentation is not super lively sounding - more euphonic than fast/exciting. This can be slightly boring with certain recordings, lacking in excitement. But it’s a very good speaker for poor/bright recordings though - no fatigue at all with these speakers.
    • Attack in the bass is dry as already noted. The rest of the presentation seems fairly well balanced from a wet/dry perspective, leaning more wet in the highs.
    • Fairly resolving, but not as resolving as the something like the ATC SCMs or Graham LS6 - some details and plankton are lost. This is not an analytical speaker.
    Pros/cons/either:

    Pros:
    • Fast, punchy bass
    • Beautiful clear mids and vocals
    • Refined, delicate, airy and non-fatiguing top end
    • Good soundstage width/height and is able to dissapear (sound doesn’t appear to come from the speakers)
    Cons:
    • Lacking in soundstage depth
    • Some midrange resonance, as well as congestion on certain/busy tracks
    • Need a lot of room to breathe and tame the bass bloat (but not too much or they go lean).
    Either (depending on preferences):
    • Smooth, silky slightly dark treble that avoids metallic timbre and bite
    • Dry bass that has a bit of midbass emphasis (probably great for more modern music like EDM and Pop, which is not my schtick)
    • Overall euphonic mids and highs
    • Fairly forward vocals and overall staging
    Overall thoughts:

    I owned this speaker for a year because the things it does well, it does very well. This is a refined sounding speaker with a beautiful and sweet midrange with perfect body to me (especially on female vocals - honestly, probably the best I’ve heard), dynamic, punchy midbass that belies its size, and smooth, detailed, delicate and non-fatiguing highs.

    It’s only when I put it up against some competition in its price range when I began to realize some of its shortcomings - namely dry/emhasized midbass, lack of stage depth and a lack of timbre for metallic instruments. Also the occasional midrange resonance on certain tracks that always nagged at me.

    I feel like if this speaker was about $500 less it would have been truly amazing for the price, and could be forgiven for certain aspects. But at this price, and considering its size, I feel like it should been able to do better at least at soundstage depth and it’s ability to control midrange resonances.

    The dry and somewhat emphasized midbass and slightly dark and overly sweet highs also began to bother me over time and compared to other speakers. Those qualities are obviously more preferential however, and to someone who listens to a lot of pop, EDM, or other low dynamic range or poor recordings, they might actually prefer these qualities. For me, the bass sounded a bit too popcorny and too much like a small speaker trying too hard to make bass, and the highs were just a bit too smooth and lacking in bite and metallic timbre. YMMV and all that. Still a great speaker really, but in the end, just not quite my ultimate flavour combination.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2020
  5. Vtory

    Vtory Audiophile™

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    @rlow

    Great review. Thanks!

    By the way, where did you end up with regarding placements? I'm a little surprised that you were disappointed with their staging depth. I had them for a few days in the house, so can't articulate my opinion as solidly as you did. That said, I thought they staged pretty well -- not as deep as elec velas but convincing enough to me. Tricky thing was they didn't open up until I pull them away from the wall a lot (6ft-ish as I recall).

    But except that point, my short term impression was pretty much in line with yours. Maybe my expectation level wasn't demanding enough. lol
     
  6. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    About 3-3.5 feet away from the wall behind them is where I ended up. Can’t really do much better than that in my room. The ATCs, Grahams and Buchardts are far superior to the S40 on stage depth at similar positioning - it seems like almost a conscious choice Dynaudio made to give you a more close and intimate presentation, but I prefer to be able to hear more depth than what they provided.
     
  7. RobS

    RobS RobS? More like RobDiarrhea.

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    Fantastic review of the Special Fortys, @rlow ! Very well written, straightforward and helpful. Just wanted to say I appreciate your reviews and await reading more from you on other gear in the foreseeable future. I'm being sincere; I know we've had our differences in the past (or making you angry when I've trolled a few times), but hope there ain't any hard feelings between us. (BTW this post had me dying in laughter: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/fs-matrix-x-sabre-pro-mqa.9577/#post-308966 )

    I bought a pair of Special Fortys for under $2k used and there's not much for me to add to rlow's spot-on review.

    rlow, if you don't mind me posting in your thread, I would like to say a few things about them.

    Current system: Pass Labs XA25, Schiit Yggdrasil, Rednet D16, Goldpoint SA1

    First, I wanted to say a little bit about bookshelf speakers in general. There seems to be this strange sort of elitism in the high-end world that looks down on bookshelf speakers as being totally inferior to big ass floorstanders. I bought into this idea myself and I was saving my money on speakers with atleast 15" woofers. I would read this thread in confusion and laugh to myself silently "rlow is wasting his time with these tiny bookshelves when big floorstanders would wipe the floor clean of any of them out there." Bigger is better, right? A few months ago, an audio engineer friend and I were looking at some tweeters and woofers from bookshelf speakers. He was very impressed by the Special Forty drivers, marveled at the voice coil, basket, and so on. I just nodded my head while in my mind was like "Those woofers are only 6.7", what's the big deal? These are a joke." Around this time I was still shopping for another pair of speakers that could better integrate in my room and/or ones that would nip the upgraditis in the bud. He recommended the ATC SCM20s or the Special Fortys. I had already owned a pair of BM15s which I liked quite a bit, so I stuck with Dynaudio but was hoping to get a more present midrange and resolution. I read the same Stereophile review @rlow mentioned, and I was also concerned with the resonance and midrange congestion. I forwarded the measurements and concerns to my friend, and he pointed out the review doesn't mention how the woofer in the Special Fortys put most to shame, the simple first order crossover, and so on. My engineer friend seemed to know what he was talking about, so I took up his advice and purchased a pair, despite my strong skepticism towards bookshelves and knowing I was going down from a 10" woofer in the BM15s to a 6.7". I was smugly thinking "These small bookshelves are gonna suck so bad and fall apart at high SPL, I can't wait to prove him wrong." Seriously, I was so ready to immediately trash them and vindicate myself that bigger is moar better.

    But wow I was not prepared for a bookshelf speaker with a 6.7" woofer to sound this fucking good. It upended my long held (misguided) belief that you need big woofers for great sound. I thought I'd be forever compromising with bookshelves until I get a big room to do big speakers justice. They ain't perfect and I'll get into some of my nitpicks with them later, but they were easily the best speakers I've had in my room thus far and I've had speakers with bigger woofers. I just couldn't believe the sound that was coming from these small drivers. I'm now convinced great sounding bookshelf speakers are possible (my experience with the Special Fortys led me to picking up a pair of the Confidence C1s, which were the Dynaudio founder's personal favorites). And I also now take my engineer friend's advice as the word of God.

    Anyway, if you are looking for a warm, romantic, euphonic speaker that has a bit of character, outstanding reproduction of vocals, good PRaT, then the Special Fortys are for you. I can't imagine a better pair of speakers unless you are spending north of $20k. The drivers in them are superb but its such a shame they are housed in a cabinet that doesn't do them better justice.

    These are not what I would consider "reference" studio monitor sounding speakers. They lack in refinement. They are not neutral and voiced in a way for more euphony that I think the average music consumer would find quite pleasing. More for rocking out. They also lean towards sounding more wet than dry. If you want brutally honest speakers that are more faithful to what's recorded, then stay away.

    My criticisms of the Special Fortys should be in the context of spending under $2k on a gently used pair and some are more sonic preference related. These are mostly nitpicks and in serious critical listening mode.

    - A pain in the ass to get these placed properly in my room. They are so picky about placement. I went so far as to rearrange furniture around the speakers to get them to work better in my room. Finally I found the "sweet spot" that gave the best response by ear, where I don't feel I'm giving up too much of one thing in the frequency range. You might not have similar issues I did, but I know @hifiandrun was having similar issues, especially in regards to the midrange.​

    - The lack of soundstage depth works against the layering and spatial cue magic the Schiit Multibits are great at. It was immediately obvious when I switched over to the Confidence C1s. With the C1s I can actually hear the room the recordings took place in, instruments have a sense of being properly located within the soundstage, and the sound propagates out from them in a holographic way that makes certain sounds hang in the air which is mindblowingly cool. This was absent with the Fortys, you are essentially looking at a 2D flat plane, there's a lack of separation between the singer and other instruments being played. What's bizarre about this is this problem only seemed to affect the Schiit DACs I had on hand (Modi 2 Uber, Yggdrasil A2 and Gungnir Multibit A2). Using the ESS DAC from my phone actually gave a better sense of three-dimensionality but also more treble detail. The Sabre DAC is a cooler sound overall that helped alleviate some of the warmth and congestion within the midrange. I do like forward sounding speakers but I also need depth to go with it.​

    - A little too much timbral warmth for my liking. I strive for just a little more neutrality because my music collection encompasses everything, so sometimes the warmth can be a tick much depending on the recordings. "Neutrality" is not to be confused with "sterility". I would avoid pairing these speakers with a warm sounding DAC, like a Bifrost 2 could be too much but YMMV. I found the newer Sabre DACs to work the best at addressing this.​

    - Softened shimmering cymbals and hi-hats. There seems to be a dip in the treble region that takes out some of the definition and edge, so the bite is diminished. ​

    - Due to the lack of layering, and resonances in the cab, the midrange can get congested and a bit smeary when it gets busy. The Schiit Aegir I had didn't do it any favors here either, as that amp has its own congestion problems in the midrange. I had better luck mitigating it using a different DAC and amp than the Schiit stuff. The Fortys just didn't seem to work well with the Schiit DACs (but different story with the C1s).​

    - Lack of ultimate resolution and detail (especially here in the treble region).​

    - Excellent drivers in a cheaper cabinet that probably came from the Focus line. If I knock on the sidewall of the cab, I can hear a bit of an echo. Not braced as well as the higher priced Dynaudio speakers. I assume this is where Dynaudio compromised in the construction to keep the price down.​


    Now as far as the immediate positives?

    + Female vocals are intoxicating. Easily the highlight of these speakers for me. They resolve them so beautifully with effortlessness, smoothness and fluidity. It's as if they are performing right in front of you. Most of the music I listen to is dominated by female vocals, so this is appreciated. The vocal ranges, pitch and timbre are spot on.​

    + I hate to use the ORFAS term "PRaT" here, but these have a great sense of rhythmic drive and pacing with the right recordings. The BM15s in contrast sound really dull and not as engaging. These make me want to dance and not simply toe tap. A good rollicking fun time to be had.​

    + Bass is fast, tight and controlled. Plenty of punch in the midbass. Sure it may not go deep, but its gonna be faster and tighter than any big woofer. This is the kind of quality bass I prefer.​

    + Good imaging, accurate and naturally resolving of detail.​

    + Despite the slight congestion, the midrange has a sweetness to it that can be hypnotic at times. Unlike the Schiit DACs, the ESS DAC from my phone imparted a gorgeous delicacy in this range (and treble). Some of the magic can also be attributed to the Pass Labs XA25, but I consider that to be such a transparent amplifier that all that is amplified is however your source sounds like. I know it sounds nuts coming from a phone, but the DAC in the LG V30 is pretty good. It's why I wanted a Matrix XSP (which seems unobtainable).​

    Overall, for less than $2k, and criticisms notwithstanding, these are exceptional speakers. I highly recommend them to folks who like some character from their speakers and obsessed with female vocals. Seriously the way they reproduce them are to die for. The other positive traits are the wonderfully sweet mids, toe tappin' PRaT, smooth treble, and punchy mid-bass.

    Now I like most of what the Fortys do, but I wanted a deeper stage and more neutrality. After talking with a few other Dynaudio owners, I got interested in a pair of Confidence C1s. The Fortys seem to use the same woofer as the C1 but they improved it with a better spider material, voice coil material, and a longer throw. C1 has better tuning in its crossover but the way the drivers work in the Fortys is that they overlap to blend together seamlessly.

    I'm currently auditioning a pair and despite sharing the same drive unit, they definitely stage and layer better than the Fortys. That was an immediate difference and the Schiit Multibit filter is working tremendously better here. The way sound is directed towards you as a listener and suspending certain things in the air within the soundstage, was something I had missed with the Event Opals and Yggdrasil. But how the C1 layers the instruments (with Yggdrasil) gives this illusion of a real depth perception as what's more forward in the mix comes forward and those recessed are placed in the back at a lower volume. On some recordings, I can also hear the ambient cues and other spatial plankton that re-create the room in a studio from when the recordings took place. I hear much less of my own room and more of what's in the recording. C1s are definitely more honest and faithful to the recordings, so if tracks are bright, they will sound bright or if there's a hint of that "analog warmth" you'll hear that as well. However it is a drier sound when compared to the Fortys but this is the kind of neutral I am after. The C1s definitely veer more in the direction of sounding like a "reference" neutral speaker than the "colored" warmer, euphonic Fortys. I think I am going to keep them.

    Picture of me trying to get the Forty's to sound their best (later moved them to a different wall in the room to hit the sweet spot):

    [​IMG]

    And the C1s I'm currently listening to:
    [​IMG]
     
  8. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    Great impressions and update Rob, welcome back. Definitely no hard feelings from my end - I have no issue with debate and disagreement (I really don’t) as long as it’s informed and based on experience, as well as balanced and useful/informative in how things are described vs hyperbolic or ideological.

    Also feel free to post as many impressions as you want on speakers here - this thread is open to anyone/everyone who wants to post bookshelf speaker impressions, not just me. I think I’ll highlight that more in the first post.

    Anyhow I’ll be interested to hear more details about how you feel the C1s differ from the S40s as you continue to try them out - I’ve thought about the C1 many times, but they’re getting a bit up there in price for me, even used. But have heard they are one of the best out there. Glad they preserve more of the plankton and spatial-ness of Yggdrasil, because this was something the S40 didn’t really do well, especially compared to the Graham and ATC, and to some degree, the Buchardt.
     
  9. RobS

    RobS RobS? More like RobDiarrhea.

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    I'll let you know after I break-in the C1s. The Dynaudio manual said 100 hours until they operate as designed but other owners have said anywhere from 350-1000 hours. Give me a few months to live with them. I will say out of the box they sound very similar to the Fortys but without their weaknesses. The woofers get much more of a workout than the Fortys do too.

    In terms of value, obviously the Fortys are the better buy. I think the C1s give maybe around a 20%-ish increase in performance, but it's still too early to say definitively. For me, in my setup, they are a clear upgrade from the Fortys, not something where I'm splitting hairs over like a 2% difference.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that I am using a very low powered Class A amplifier. Per this C1 review:

    "While the C1s will perform admirably with small amplifiers, prepare for a completely different experience if you have a large, high-current power amplifier at your disposal. The character of these speakers changes, now having more reach and control in the last octave. Concentrating on music with a lot of LF output, I never really felt like these speakers needed augmentation at the low end of the frequency spectrum. The famous heartbeat that opens Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon rumbles the room with authority.

    Even when delivering large-scale orchestral music, the small Dynaudios thoroughly convince, especially with the Simaudio 880M monoblocks that just arrived for review. Again, power goes a long way with these speakers."
    https://www.tonepublications.com/review/dynaudio-confidence-c1-ii/

    I have no way to confirm that as I don't have a beefy power amp to try, but this does make sense. So perhaps my review of the Fortys (and C1s) should be taken within the context I am using low powered amps to drive them, possibly not to their full potential. Perhaps the bass gets even more tighter, faster and articulate? More room for dynamic swings? Bass and dynamics are amazing from the XA25, however, so I don't know.

    You may ask what the hell am I doing with a 25W (in 8ohm) amp powering moderately efficient speakers? Well I calculated how many watts I needed from my listening position and it seemed I needed maybe at most 10W. Based on that, I decided to go for a lower cost Class A amp. I did have some difficulty on the Fortys getting loud enough volume on particular Classical tracks. Part of the reason I went for the C1s is to have a more greater range of volume on particular quiet albums I have, where I was limited with the Fortys.

    I know it's backwards thinking to try to get a speaker to work with an amplifier, but I truly do not want to give up the XA25. The worst case scenario was I go for a high efficient horn speaker but so far the C1s are working splendidly with the amp. And I'd rather stick with soft-dome tweeters than go with compression driver horns.

    BTW I wanted to know if you have a similar experience with the Gungnir Multibit A2 that I had on loan recently. Maybe I will post it in the Gungnir Mulitbit thread because it was quite a jarring experience with what sounded like steep treble rolloff, absence of midbass and bass slam, and no height in the soundstage. It was a weird sounding DAC and I disliked the presentation of the midrange. I feel you get 100% of the Multibit experience with the Yggdrasil and it is worth the price difference IMO. I actually think the Yggdrasil sounded less compressed and had harder hitting attacks (while still maintaing an organic quality to them) than the Gungnir did, which seemed at odds with other impressions here.
     
  10. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    @RobS, I think the XA25 is not a typical class A amp. From everything I’ve read, it seems to have better dynamics and slam than a typical low watt class A amp, and can handle high current needs. I don’t see any reason to assume it would be inferior to the high powered stuff unless you are looking for the ultimate slam from the Dyns, otherwise I suspect you might give up many of the other great qualities of the XA in the mids and highs. I’m not a bass head, so I suspect the XA would do the job well for me, but it’s outside the price bracket of what I’m willing to spend on this stuff right now. Hoping Schiit come with a higher powered Aegir stereo amp at some point, otherwise I may try Aegir monos.

    As far as the Gungnir Multibit A2, yes your impressions are virtually spot on with mine. I never really wrote a complete comparison of the Gungnir Multibit A2 vs Yggdrasil A2, but in various scattered posts I believe my basic assessment was of less extension at either end (highs and lows), a much more square and dry presentation which blunts the treble and bass notes, and a lack of soundstage height, and somewhat depth as well. Yggdrasil was far more incisive and natural sounding from a wet/dry perspective, leaning somewhat bright depending what you paired it with. YA2 slams way better too and out-resolves GA2 easily. The only thing I preferred about the Gungnir Multibit A2 was the density of tone through the mids - which sounded much closer to a Metrum NOS DAC than Yggdrasil, Yggdrasil being much leaner and cleaner though the mids. This was the only part I had a hard time giving up going to YA2 from the the GA2 - I love full/dense mid tonality (as long as it’s not muddy).

    I dug up a few previous posts and quotes below to further elaborate what I found:
    And more:
    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...-multibit-impressions.158/page-46#post-258237
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2020
  11. RobS

    RobS RobS? More like RobDiarrhea.

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    Thank you rlow for confirming what I was hearing with the Gungnir A2. It was shocking the performance gap that exists between both. I had read about the midbass being "cool" but I was not expecting it to be this detracting. It takes the oomph out of a lot of old school hip hop albums I listen to that are more mid-bassy and I like the punch provided in that area by the Yggdrasil. Dynamics are quite a bit better on the Yggdrasil too. Might have something to do with the Gungnir sounding more suppressed in the midrange, where electric guitars don't pop out like they do on the Yggdrasil. There's a greater sense of openess and clarity and resolution on the Yggdrasil as well in comparison to the Gungnir A2 unit which sounds more muddied. I don't want to use the word "compression" but I do think "suppression" might make more sense when describing the midrange. It sort of blends too much in the midrange region to delineate various instruments in the same class playing similar notes. The treble rolloff was surprising, or maybe the Yggdrasil A2 is more extended in this region as you said? The guy who made the Prism Callia thread remarked that Schiit DACs mask treble detail in recordings. I wasn't so sure of that with my Yggdrasil A2, but that comment definitely makes sense in light of hearing the Gungnir Multibit A2 unit. It's too dark sounding, where I start hearing rolloff beginning in the higher frequencies, think 7k-ish onwards. I lose all sense of "air" in recordings as well.

    If I could visually represent the soundstage it would look like this:

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Collusion

    Collusion Friend

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    I've been procrastinating a bit when it comes to writing something about the Revel M106's I purchased a while ago. When the speakers first came into my house, I still had my old and trustworthy Rega Elex-R integrated amplifier. It was fed from a Massdrop Airist R-2R dac, which in turn got it's signal from a Bluesound Node 2i streamer. Since the beginning my equipment situation has changed and I've undergone four different amplifiers with them. And to this day, I've also had the priviledge to listen to my friend's brand new Dynaudio Special 40's at my home, as well as the Dynaudio Evoke 20's I purchased for myself a week ago. So, rather than writing solely about the Revel's, I decided to do a three-way comparison (plus throw in some earlier impressions of Dynaudio's Focus 110 models), since all of the speakers are relatively similar specification and MSRP wise.

    My listening space a smallish living room, with asymmetric speaker positioning (relating to side walls) and lots of reflective surfaces. Far from an optimal situation, I know - but since I lack a dedicated listening room and I am currently unwilling to re-decorate my place to resemble a mancave with odd furniture placements, this will have to do for the time being. This might make my subjective impressions less comparable with those gained in better acoustics.

    room_revels_3.jpg

    It's also worth of note, that I rarely sit in the sweetspot in the middle of the sofa, I mostly just lay on my back and listen to music that way. I still fit into the projected sound stage, but I am certainly too far to the right to enjoy all aspects of the speakers' imaging capabilities. This may affect how much I give value to imaging in general, though I try to be as impartial as possible.

    triangle_revels.jpg

    I had four amplifiers available for my listening tests:

    1. Rega Elex-R
    2. AVM C9
    3. SPL Phonitor 2 + SPL Performer s800
    4. Hegel H200

    The amplifiers are in chronological order. Unfortunately I was able to sample the Evoke 20's only with the two last ones. Dacs used in this comparison: Schiit Bifrost 2, Massdrop Airist R-2R, Burl B2 Bomber (but only with the SPL combination and Hegel). Music was sourced from Tidal via a Bluesound Node 2i streamer, connected with a coaxial cable.

    Revel M106
    They really don't stand out in any special way, when you first make an acquaintance with them. Then slowly, their ability to isolate instruments, singers and sounds from each other starts to creep in. There certainly was a (studio) monitor like approach to how everything was voiced. No obvious colorations any where in the audible band, though part of the midrange seemed always to be slightly recessed or veiled. Changing amplifier or listening position didn't really fix this. Depth wise everything was a little 2D. Revel's were able to deliver a good amount of volume when needed without sounding compressed or distorted. Even if the overall delivery could be described as accurate and cohesive, it hardly was nuanced and sometimes I felt they sounded a bit "forced" or bleached. Maybe this was a timbral thing and related to the aluminium drivers. I still would hesitate to call them bright sounding, but they certainly didn't delivery an easygoing sound. Pairing these with more warm or soft sounding equipment didn't really work out - everything just turned out unfocused and/or timbrally weird. Out of the amplifiers I was able to sample them with, the Hegel H200 stands out as bright, but very fluid, slightly sweet and dynamic sounding companion.

    Dynaudio Special 40
    After the Revel's, Special 40 was the next speaker that ended up in my setup. Bear in mind this pair was brand new and hadn't undergone any burn-in. Compared to the Revel's, the treble had now very different kind of sparkle. Now there was a ton of nuance in an overall more intimate presentation. Soundstage wasn't tied to the speakers so tightly anymore, a third dimension emerged and there was an additional amount of fluidity. However, there seemed to be a slight discontinuation somewhere in the vocal range - for example, in Natalie Merchant's Tigerlily, the singer's upper octave seemed to be slightly more forward compared to the lower one. This made the overall presentation more lively than would otherwise be considered as neutral, but I didn't really mind it at all during my home demo perioid. As a whole, midrange was more prominent than on the Revel's. The overall delivery of the Special 40's compared to the Revel's was slightly softer (but not soft) and perhaps a tad warmer and mellower. They were also voiced slightly darker than what I'd consider as strictly neutral, but I still wouldn't characterize them as dark sounding speakers. Bass was faster and more "tactile" than Revel's had, perhaps more pronounced in the upper bass region. Not so well-rounded, but in the end Special 40's delivered a more fun sounding bottom end (to my ears and in my acoustics, that is). As both the Hegel H200 and the speaker itself has a slight forward nature that manifests itself in the vocal range, I'd go with the tonally more balanced SPL combination with these ones.

    Dynaudio Evoke 20
    After the Special 40's went back to their rightful owner, I put the Revel's back on and I got these Evoke 20's a little later on. They were a second hand unit, already burned in. I've got to admit, I've been eyeing them for a good while, especially since having gained good experiences with their (smaller) predecessor model Focus 110 in the very same listening environment. Based on my memories alone, they share some similarities, but are also slightly different. I'd be hard-pressed to say the newer Evoke's are better. Technicalities wise they are close to each other. The old Focus line had more present, or lets say, bitey treble somewhere in the 5-6kHz range (or maybe even lower), though it necessarily wasn't more extented in the very upper end. Evokes' treble sounds slightly smoother tonally, but I feel it's at the slight expense of overall detail/plankton. Evoke's midrange has a warm and liquidy quality to it (maybe even a tad dark), mostly in the lower midrange and depending on the setup, this can be almost pervasive. I'd say dynamics wise the older Focus line either matches or bests the Evoke, but I'd certainly like to do a side-by-side comparison to say this with confidence. Evoke's bass as a whole sounds slightly loose on my setup, but certainly not out of control. I am not detecting any emphasis on upper or slower bass. Overall I remember the Focus 110 having a slightly snappier kick, but the room acoustics are very much in play here too.

    Well, how do the Evoke's fare against the Special 40's? I'd say they actually manage to sound slightly more coherent&balanced tonally (but still not perfectly neutral) and that's about it. Special 40's win easily on detail, micro&macrodynamics, soundstage - eh, almost on everything. That's not to say the Evoke's suck, but Special 40's are just on their own level. I wouldn't partner the Evoke's with anything that's even remotely warm or smooth sounding - in my case the SPL's are the way to go.

    Lastly, here are the 3 of them ranked in each performance category:

    Clarity
    Revel M106 > Dynaudio Special 40 > Dynaudio Evoke 20

    Dynamics
    Revel M106 >= Dynaudio Special 40 > Dynaudio Evoke 20

    Resolution / plankton

    Dynaudio Special 40 >= Revel M106 >> Dynaudio Evoke 20

    Soundstage
    Dynaudio Special 40 > Revel M106 > Dynaudio Evoke 20

    Cohesiveness

    Dynaudio Evoke 20 > Revel M106 >= Dynaudio Special 40

    Tonal balance

    Dynaudio Evoke 20 >= Dynaudio Special 40 = Revel M106

    Timbre
    Dynaudio Special 40 > Dynaudio Evoke 20 >> Revel M106

    If you read my ramblings and interpreted that I am not exactly enamored with any of the speakers above, you are probably right. I actually just bartered the Revel's for Quad Z3 floorstanders. Evoke's are probably going up for sale very soon.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2020
  13. Nbees

    Nbees Acquaintance

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    Some really good info in this thread. I have been mostly bookshelf user for a long time. Gone through a number of models over the years. Currently I have Dynaudio Emit M 10. Dynaudio Focus 110 (2 of the smallest of dynaudio monitors), and Totem Sky.
    I agree with impressions of dynas being strong on bass/port output. It can be a bit much especially with certain recordings. Covering the port with the foam always changed the sound in a way that I did'nt like, I could see models like the special 40 needing a larger room and some space to work best.
    The Totems are way less in terms of port output, more agile, but also a lighter bass sound, there is not that foundation underneath that the dynas have. The totems are very fast and clear. Image well. Tonally dryer than dynas. Comparitively the dynas can seem a little sluggish. There's just no fat on the totem. Sometimes that's a good thing. And I can always change to another pair. I have in recent years given up on the idea of a "the one speaker". So now I like to have options, I keep more than one kind around. I never owned totem model one but heard it a lot. The sky while more forgiving than either model one or rainmaker, is as close to an "all rounder" Totem as I've heard. But its still a Totem and very much within their "house sound".
    The Emit 10 has a little bit of a cult following in some circles. The price is attractive. The driver quality is very good. The crossover simple. The finish is so so (not complaining). The emits don't image like the Kef LS 50, the Totems or the focus 110. But yet they have this punchy midrange coupled with a convincing timbre/presentation that makes music through them enjoyable for me. That's usually the way I am, always go for that X factor thing, even if on paper and in actuality the speaker is "not as good" as that other one. It has some extra bite somewhere up in the mid treble, sometimes this works in its favor sometimes not. It is still a very good tweeter at that price level. The emit 10 sound was generally considered as a slight departure from Dynas "house sound". Instead of refined and erring on the conservative side, it leans more sprightly. Is it the perfect speaker, hell no. But it has some qualities that I have'nt often experienced particularly at its price.
    On to The focus 110. Bottom line for me with this speaker is it does'nt really begin to shine unless played moderately loud to loud. Also likes some juice. At least that's how I found it to be. And it can go quite loud while remaining composed. Unlike the emit 10 which fall apart a bit when approaching loud territory- the port starts getting kind of funky. Of course the focus 110 is still pretty good at lower levels too, but the others do better. If I sat down with these and took notes on all the usual categories, they would win above the others. But somehow I overall don't enjoy them as much, nutty as it may seem.
     
  14. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    The totem sky was a turning point in terms of Totem voicing. Much leaner, relatively speaking, than say the Hawk. Great clarity and imaging though, easy placement...just thought... They might pair quite well with my Morpheus and a tube amp...
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2021

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