Danny Richie tears the Dynaudio Special 40s apart

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Puma Cat, May 9, 2021.

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  1. Puma Cat

    Puma Cat Almost "Made"

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    The parts total when Danny did the video was $245, this is quoted at 13:00 minutes; the sheet of No-Res adds $50 (some folks opt for this; some folks don't).

    My hypothesis is Dynaudio elected to use the parts they did for profit, rather than any hypothetical impact on the sound.

    As for a flatter response being less immediate, less lively...hard to say, as the room is the biggest factor of all. And, I'll add that my big Dyns are exceedingly neutral, but have outstanding speed and immediacy; a term I've coined as "dynamic slam". They scale from piano to fortissimo extremely quickly and cleanly, and are like electrostatics in this regard.
     
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  2. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    Alas, my Special Forty’s were sold some time ago. I definitely did not find them over energetic in the mids or top end - quite the opposite actually. Although they were mid forward, they were very smooth and liquid. The bass at certain frequencies was somewhat over-eager/emphasized however in my estimation. My detailed impressions are here:
    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...t-speaker-impressions.8941/page-5#post-310978
     
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  3. Puma Cat

    Puma Cat Almost "Made"

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    Depends how you look at the frequency plots before and after; there was much bigger notch at 1500 Hz with the stock crossover. From 20 to 20Kz, the new XO looks smoother, by eye, overall. Again, whether folks like this is like saying some folks like Lagavulin and others like Talisker.
     
  4. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    The stock FR posted by Danny tells me that they are slightly laid-back with very smooth highs and an occasional emphasis in the vocals. Danny's mod will make it more energetic in the highs.

    Flatter response does not cause less immediacy. The room is not factor if the room is decent. Heck, I can hear the effect of different caps in XOs even in shitty rooms.
     
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    Last edited: May 11, 2021
  5. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    New XO only looks smoother in the mids, but less smooth in the highs. Sweet spot of stock is on-axis to slightly off-axis. Sweet spot of modded XO is just past slightly off-axis. (I don't know the degree increments as they plots are not marked). Vertical response shouldn't matter for nearfields or small monitors.

    FYI, Danny's measurements don't go below 200Hz.

    Totally agree. But why buy Lagvulin, and then trying mixing it up with another to try to make it a Talisker? Make no mistake, Danny's mods will change the sound.
     
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    Last edited: May 11, 2021
  6. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    My bet is they chose the parts (and design) for a combination of profit, sound, and reliability.

    Note that Danny lowered the XO point so the woofer can roll-off earlier and thus miss more of its inherent peak at 1kHz. To cover the lost ground, he likely had to stretch the 1" tweeter to operate lower. The XO for the 1" tweeter is about 1300-1400Hz which is awfully low. Personally, I'd like to see distortion numbers before and after. 1" tweeters do not like going down this low, and if it were me cranking it up, or other customers (some quite a bit more insane than me) cranking it up for an extended period of time, that means dead tweeter. It's easy for a modder to shit on something when they don't have the full picture. I'm sure Dynaudio has stats on just how many idiots blow their tweeters and have selected their XO points appropriately to better idiot proof their speakers. Looking at the raw response of the woofer, there will be lots of difficult decisions, particularly since Dynaudio has an xover philosophy of first order networks and very simple designs. Difficult decisions are normal for practically every design. There's no perfect driver.

    Now as far as cheapening out on XO parts: this is normal too. Dynaudio isn't special or particularly egregious here. Look at Harbeth - shit enclosures (which are "part of the sound"), shit drivers, and shit xover parts. Heck, at least the Dynaudio enclosure is good. There is a good reason I have refused to buy any speakers since 1998, other than the JBL4498b for $600 or whatever I paid (they were $5k speakers in 1985).

    Look, I would have respected Danny more if he actually documented what he did, fully shared his knowledge (meaning the design, schematics, and reasons for specific parts choices), and then made his money from selling pre-built xover boards, instead of shitting on speaker brands to sell his customers a bunch of parts, cabinet damping sheets with a fancy name, and special connectors which are more magical than spade connectors. The Special 40 xover isn't as bad as Danny makes it out to be.

    Heck, if you really wanted to, you could take the stock xover apart and replace with better components of same value, knowing that the iron-core coil will require you to get an air core coil with larger gauge to have the same DCR. At least this will retain Dyaudio's vision for the voicing and first-order phase and time coherence of the Special 40. If the parts values are not marked, get a cheap LCR meter: https://www.amazon.com/Proster-Multimeter-Capacitance-Resistance-Inductance/
     
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    Last edited: May 11, 2021
  7. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

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    This Danny guy is going to blow that tweeter. That is going to blow sky high.

    Dynaudio makes overpriced but fairly durable speakers. The electronics in the actives die but the drivers live. Their crossovers have almost always with choice exceptions sucked. If he didn’t like the sound, he shouldn’t have bought Dynaudio. Instead he bought it to shit on it and pretend that a few tweaks will improve the speaker which he probably just made worse.

    Imagine if this Danny guy heard anything with the related Morel tweeters that are always 1 and 1/8” and designed to be crossed over lower. He would flip due to the roll off and then put some dumb filters on the top end that kill detail and induce massive stridency.

    He also builds plate amps with OPA2134. There’s no top end detail to be found in those old school Burr Brown ics.
     
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  8. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    Just to be clear Danny does not purchase most of these speakers. The iron core (see what I did there ;) ) of Danny's business appears to be measuring and reworking XO's of speakers his customers purchase and send in to him later to "fix".
     
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  9. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Maybe not. Many audiophiles listen at like 60db SPL.

    The Special 40s were oriented toward audiophiles, unlike the BM15s, although I think Dynaudio's philosophy of making shit that won't break after being used for 14 hours straight at fairly high SPL still applies.

    It's like many mods. It was possible to mod the 80s era Ford Mustangs to go around tracks faster than Porsches of that time. However, no guarantees that the motors wouldn't blow, the front strut wouldn't go through the strut tower and through the hood, or the rear control links wouldn't be ripped off the torque box.
     
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  10. Aklegal

    Aklegal Almost "Made"

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    ^^^Yeah. If he isn't going to stress-test the speaker after mods then the kits should probably come with a disclaimer. Stress tests are probably impossible given that people just send him random speakers to re-do.

    @Psalmanazar I have seen Danny build small chip-amps for personal use but I have never seen a plate amp of his. Using a plate amp on a full range speaker would seem to be completely out of character from what I know about him. Where did you see this?
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2021
  11. DigitalMaven

    DigitalMaven Acquaintance

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    Most entertaining thread! I think Danny's look when talking about price/performance says it all. Sure he's selling parts but I think the main gist is that the Special 40 is not so special to justify the $3,000 per pair. The previous high end full range speakers by Dynaudio (That some of you own and are very happy with) might be better designed and engineered than this expensive Bookshelf by Dynaudio. I think Danny was more shocked that he had to go in and fix this than anything and Danny will more than happy tell his customer base That he really can't improve on a design because it's fairly good. The counter argument is that its designed for a certain sound style or longevity with abusive playing. I'm in the encampment that Bad is Bad and Good is Good. Dynaudio makes good stuff and this just might be their Turkey speaker.
     
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  12. Puma Cat

    Puma Cat Almost "Made"

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    In the interests of accuracy, Danny did not "pull" down the lower response of the tweeter, he pulled down the upper frequency of the woofer, which may well make it operation more effective and thus, more durable. Also, the frequency response across the board is within 1 to 1.5 dB, which is very even, puts less stress on the drivers, and the drivers are now in phase with respect to vertical off-axis response, which is going to improve the presentation. Moreover, the moste important parts in the XO were replaced with much higher-quality parts, so if anything were to fail, it like would be the poorer quality parts in the original specified speaker. Also, I wouldn't worry about the durability of Dynaudio Esotar 2 tweeters, they have massive 3" voice coils and can handle pretty much anything thrown at them.
     
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  13. Puma Cat

    Puma Cat Almost "Made"

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    In the interests of accuracy, Danny did not "pull" down the lower response of the tweeter, he pulled down the upper frequency of the woofer, which may well make it's operation more efficient, and thus, more durable. Also, the frequency response across the board is within 1 to 1.5 dB, which is very even, and puts less stress on the drivers. The drivers are now also in phase with respect to vertical off-axis response, which is going to improve the presentation. Moreover, the most important parts in the XO were replaced with much higher-quality parts, so if anything were to fail, it likely would be the poorer quality parts in the originally-specified speaker, not the new ones. Also, I wouldn't worry about the durability of Dynaudio Esotar 2 tweeters, they have massive 3" voice coils and can handle pretty much anything thrown at them.

    I think it's pretty clear this speaker was designed for profit, and the parts used were from the parts bin and chosen to the keep the cost of the BOM as low as possible. And, he did improve on the performance, the FR is now ± 1 - 1.5 dB, which is quite flat and smooth, and both drivers are now in-phase for vertical off-axis response, which they were not before. As I mentioned to Aklegal, its most likely the speaker is more durable now than before with higher quality parts and the drivers (notably the mid-woof) not being used up past its nominal performance envelope.

    i'd agree with you that Danny is straight-up with his customer base. The way this mod came about is that someone had a pair of these speakers, wasn't completely satisfied with their performance (likely for the reasons that Atkinson mentioned during his testing of them) and sent them to Danny to see what he could do to improve them. Danny does "one-off" improvements to speakers all the time. He developed his fix, and then made up a list of, and the parts, available for other S40 owners that might like to do the same improvements themselves. Personally, I see this as a good thing. Modding and upgrading our stereo gear has been happening since hi-fi became a hobby back in the 50's. Danny's upholding that tradition by making these parts available for folks that might like to do that. No one's arm is being twisted here to purchase this upgrade kit, customers can decide for themselves if they'd like to do a straightforward improvement mod themselves. Cheers.
     
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    Last edited: May 23, 2021
  14. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    Dude tweeters are way more susceptible to operating outside of their range than woofers are. Woofers just tend to have distortion and breakup modes when they work above their intended range. But run a tweeter on frequencies that are too low and you’ll overexert it and overheat the coil and break it. Now whether the S40 tweeter is robust enough to handle the lower crossover point, possibly (Dynaudio claim it can play down to 1k comfortably), but it’s a bit of a dangerous move nonetheless, especially for those that like to crank the volume. To make a woofer more reliable and avoid breakage, you typically roll off the bottom end, not the top. Of course, taken to an extreme, yes you can cause damage to a woofer with high frequencies, but in this case I’m sure that driver is capable of playing very comfortably and reliably in the range Dyn set it to. The problem is it had some stored energy when playing up that high, which is why Danny lowered its output at those frequencies.
     
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    Last edited: May 23, 2021
  15. Puma Cat

    Puma Cat Almost "Made"

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    Danny didn't change the original operating range of the tweeter, only the woofer.
     
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  16. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    I'm pretty sure he did.

    The problem is that no one knows exactly what Dannie did because there isn't any documentation on his approach and he's intentionally vague in his YouTube video. It's a bunch of parts, I guess a manual, after you buy the stuff. He's not like Tony Gee who documents his designs.

    Some of my thoughts given the information that we know:
    1. When you pull the woofer xover down, you also need to bring the tweeter down otherwise there will be a gap, a dip. This is especially true for first order designs. For second order designs, we can trade values between the cap and coil to change the knee of the xover, and maybe cover that new gap.
    2. Dynaudio specs say the xover to be 2kHz. 2kHz is already pretty darn low for a two way design - but per @Psalmanazar's comment, low xover points are part of Dynaudio's philosophy - cross them down low and use bulletproof parts that will take abuse. (The truth is, in the pro world, tweeters get blown all the time). Danny's post modification graph with woofer and tweeter has the xover point around 1.3-1.4kHz, which is much lower than the spec of 2kHz. But we all know specs sometimes are not totally accurate.
    3. Around 9:10 in the video, Danny implies he moved the tweeter xover down because the tweeter is "robust" and because he mentions the need for a notch filter - presumably because by moving the xover lower to cover the gap or the dip that was already there, it created a bump.
    4. The stock Dynaudio has smoother low and mid-treble on-axis or slightly off-axis. Evidently there was a tradeoff here.
    A notch filter essentially violates the design intent from Dynaudio. Notch filter means cap, coil, and resistor. This will affect transparency. Whether the new design is better or worse than Dynaudio's minimalist first order xover + zobel approach is a matter of debate or personal preference.

    The only thing which is clear is that Danny improved it for Danny.

    Though I'm not a fan of Dynaudio's latest Mg impregnated poly woofer, I actually have a lot of respect for Dynaudio for being able to create a minimalist first order design without more frequency response oddities with the Special 40 measuring as good as it does. The measured 1kHz bump is narrow and subsequent dip is minor. JA even mentioned that he could not hear it. I know it wouldn't bother me in the real world.
     
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    Last edited: May 23, 2021
  17. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    Exactly. He very clearly implies he moved the tweeter’s operating range lower. Not saying it can’t handle it, but seems clear this is what he did.
     
  18. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    How don't we know that Dyaudio's design is Good and Danny's design is Bad?

    We already know regardless that the value of the Special 40 is poor.
     
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  19. JoshMorr

    JoshMorr Friend

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    A refrence point on GR Research upgrade kits: I snagged a "upgrade" lot for Klipsch Forte III from Danny, which included parts for new crossover, damping, some higher quality hookup wire and some "tube connector" terminals.

    This dramatically changed the sound of the speaker for the better. A mid hump was removed, more spacious, more precise, tighter low end, all around overall improvement. To no one's surprise, Klipsch has very very cheap components in their stock crossover and parts provided in the kit were higher quality. So, it made my speaker better and I am biased.

    Is actually see Danny kits similar to Troels kits. Troels does a better job of showing how he fixed things, but still withholds component values so you buy upgraded Jantzens. This is how they make money, it's not all for love of the hobby.

    All that said, he does appear to love things that he designs, believes he is the smartest man in the room, and dips his toes into cables, connectors, and pseudoscience based on his experience. I tend to look the other way for this stuff, but he is widely followed on Audio Circle and has sold lots of speaker an ld upgrade kits.
     
  20. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    The Klipsch xovers are truly bad / cheap. I wouldn't argue with you there. The Forte III are $4k a pair?

    However the stock xover in the Special 40s aren't that bad. Bennic film caps throughout except two electrolytics used only on the woofer. No iron-core inductors and no cheap poly caps (as implied by Danny). FWIW, Bennics have been used in Moth / EC gear. Craig mostly uses Audyn now - still probably "cheap" by Danny's standards.

    If I wanted to upgrade, I would have moved one of the 6.8uF film caps on the tweeter side to replace the 6.8 'lytic on the woofer, and then upgraded both 6.8uF film caps on the tweeter to a boutique part. Everything else can stay. I would have lived with the small 1kHz peak and subsequent dip to avoid a notch filter. There are other correction circuits in Dynaudio's XO which I think results in smoother response in the highs on-axis.

    There's worlds of difference in stock FR between the Forte III and Dynaudio 40. Some stuff on the Forte III cannot be helped. It's a horn. There's no reason for the that midbass though. The Dynaudio also has a midbass hump, but it's more tasteful, and IMO a nice thing to have on small monitors.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here's the Forte stock xover part:
    [​IMG]

    Here is the Dynaudio Special part. What I said, it's pretty good. No iron-core coils. Two electrolytics, but in a spot that won't matter much. "PVC lamp cord" is fine.
    xover.jpg
     
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    Last edited: May 23, 2021
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