Dynaudio is a name that really needs no introduction among music enthusiasts. Founded in 1977, in Skanderborg, Denmark, they are a preeminent loudspeaker manufacturer catering to all segments of the loudspeaker market including home, professional, automotive and multimedia. They are well known not only for the superb cabinet making skills with real-wood veneers and superior finishing but also for their OEM drivers that are used by many manufacturers. Having owned Dynaudio speakers for many years, I was looking forward to reviewing the Dynaudio Excite X16.
Dynaudio Excite X16
The Dynaudio Excite X16 is the largest bookshelf design from the Excite series, which is a step above the DM Series in the Dynaudio range. The well packed box of the review samples that I received revealed relatively large speakers dimensions of each being 205mm x 350mm x 290 mm (W X H X D) with a substantial weight of 9kg. The cabinet itself is finished in a very attractive Cherry real- wood veneer that covers all sides except the front. The front fascia is beveled and charcoal coloured onto which the two drivers are mounted. A Dynaudio logo along with the removable grille, installed with pegs, completes the fronts.
This speaker is a two way bass reflex design, the driver complement consisting of an 18 cm woofer and a 1 inch silk dome tweeter. Around back is a pair of high quality 5-way binding posts along with a cylindrical port. The crossover is specified at 1.8khz, and the frequency response is stated at 40hz – 23khz (+_ 3db). A lowish 87db sensitivity and nominal impedance of 4db rounds out the specifications. This sensitivity and impedance combination implies that a decent powered amplifier, stable at lower impedances will be required to get the best sound. Other real-wood veneer finish options that are available include maple and rosewood along with black and white piano lacquer finishes. Overall fit and finish is superb and the beveled fronts provide an attractive feature to what, otherwise would have been a prosaic, rectangular box.
Break- in and Placement:
In my past experience with Dynaudio loudspeakers I realized that a good deal of break- in time is required to achieve optimum sound. Fortuitously, I was assured by Mr. Jasvir Bhatty of J.S. Enterprises, the Indian distributor of Dynaudio, that the review samples were adequately conditioned. The on-line manual of the Excite series is very well documented regarding placement options, and I followed the advice of placing the speakers in an equilateral triangle configuration with respect to my listening position. Since these are rear ported, pulling them out into the room, helped smoothen out bass anomalies and the final position I settled on was 86 cm from the rear wall and about 106 cm from the side wall. Any placement closer to corners/rear wall did result in undue midbass emphasis. I employed sand filled 66 cm tall stands to mount the speaker, ensuring that the tweeter was roughly at my ear height at listening position. Next I toed them in slightly to focus the images, and was ready for some critical listening.
I cued up Melody Gardot’s Who will comfort me from her album My One and Only Thrill – Universal (16/44.1, FLAC). Her sultry and seductive voice was rendered very cleanly & realistically. Imaging on this song was razor sharp, Melody’s position pinpointed distinctly in the center of the stage. There was no sibilance or any other distortions. I did notice that the speakers sounded better with the grilles off, and performed the rest of the audition without them. Next I moved on to Tsuyoshi Yamamoto Trio’s album Midnight Sugar – TBM (16/44.1, FLAC). The piano is considered one of the harder instruments for a speaker to reproduce faithfully, but the X16’s did not disappoint in this regards. Tsuyoshi Yamamoto’s skilled playing was credibly portrayed the tonality intact. As the higher registers were struck, the treble rendering of the Dynaudios’ remained smooth and detailed without any harshness. However having heard this track numerous times I felt that the speakers had a slightly veiled presentation, lacking in ultimate resolution of finer details.
Moving on to some Indian Classical, I listened to the album India’s Master Musicians – Delos/Ravi Shankar Music Circle (16/44.1, FLAC). This album features Ustad Alla Rakha accompanying L. Subramaniam’s violin recital, on the tabla. The second track Pallavi and Tabla Solo features an extended Tabla solo, and the X16’s presented the Ustad’s percussive pace with good timing especially as he built up to a crescendo. The macro dynamics of the performance was also well executed by the speakers, from what is otherwise an indifferent recording. Indeed, the Dynaudios’ preferred a diet of good recordings to sound their best but they were reasonably tolerant enough of mediocre sounding CD’s and rendered them somewhat listenable. Switching to one of my favorite genre’s and instrument’s, the Jazz Trumpet and listening to the title track, The Dark Eyes of Martha Hirsch, from Tomasz Stanko’s Dark Eyes Album – ECM (16/44.1, FLAC), Stanko’s trumpet sounded appropriately raspy with plenty of bite. He coaxes the instrument to towering heights during this performance and the X16’s tweeters maintained their composure throughout, never sounding harsh or abrasive.
Listening to another Jazz ensemble, The Claudio Fillipini Trio, Facing North – CamJazz (16/44.1, WAV), the track Scorpion Tail is underpinned by the kick drum along with a double bass accompaniment. The drum was quite impactful in energizing my room and the double bass was equally influential. However occasionally I did feel that there was too much of a good thing going on, with mid bass tending to overwhelm and muddying the lower notes. Ultimately, proper placement will be the key to get the best bass from this speaker, and one can also consider the use of provided foam bungs to block the ports in case of adverse placement constraints.
The ATC SCM7 loudspeaker is a small, sealed box design, that I use as part of my second system, that when available retailed for approximately Rs. 95,000 (now replaced by the SCM7 v3.0). I decided to compare these to the Excites’. Right away I felt that the SCM7 imaged better than the Excite, with more precise and well defined placement though the soundstage envelope as portrayed by both was roughly similar. The ATC’s had a more open, transparent sound with limited, but tighter bass extension. However with the larger, ported cabinet and mid/bass driver the X16 could plumb deeper depths. Large scale dynamics were better accounted for by the Dynaudio, although the ATC had a more nuanced performance and handled micro dynamics better. To my mind there was no clear winner, but in a larger listening space my preference would be the Dynaudio Excite X16.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Excite X-16. Its performance firmly belongs in the all rounder category, where its numerous strengths, engage the listener. Its faults lie mainly in its polite presentation and harder-than-average placement requirement, where-in there has to be a generous amount of space around the speaker for it to sound its best. When that is provided it really shines. Added to its strong musical performance is the aesthetics of the well crafted cabinet that will complement any listening room whether it is dedicated or a multi-purpose living room. And finally at its price of under a Lakh, it is an easy recommendation.
- Sources: Windows Music PC running J River Media Center v19.
- DAC: Merdian Explorer USB Dac.
- Amplification: Parasound JC2 pre., Belles Soloist 5 power amplifier.
- Speakers: ATC SCM7.
- Cabling: Signal cable Silver Resolution Reference speaker cables and analog interconnects, Shunyata Diamondback power cords.
- Room treatment: 4 GIK Acoustics 244 panels.
- Rack & Stands: Sorice equipment rack and Sound Organization speaker stands.
- Listening room dimensions: 4.8m x 3.8m x 2.9m (lxwxh).
E-mail: [email protected]
Dynaudio Excite X16, Loudspeakers
Price: Rs. 97,900 per pair
Warranty: 5 years manufacturer warranty