|Dynaudio Audience 5.1 Speaker System|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems|
|Written by Brian Kahn|
|Sunday, 01 February 2004|
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Music and Movies
After letting the speakers play for over a week for a much-needed break-in, I began my evaluation by listening to Blues Travelers’ epononymously titled album (A&M Records). The track “Dropping Some NYC” revealed the Dynaudio system to be fairly dynamic, easy to listen to and warm. The speakers are detailed without being overly analytical. They sound ever so slightly on the “soft” side of flat, which is the tendency of many of the finest high-end loudspeakers on the market. The 62s threw a wide soundstage going beyond the exterior sides of the cabinet. The voices were accurate but the imaging was a bit vague. On the track “Gotta Get Mean,” I noticed that the drums seemed a bit weak. The rest of the sound, the guitars and the vocals were still good, with appropriately balanced weight and tone. The speakers themselves pretty much disappeared when I closed my eyes, a very good sign.
I auditioned an old favorite, Al Jarreau’s Tenderness (Reprise). The opening track, “Mas Que Nada,” is a fast-paced jazz piece with a complicated vocal track that tests a speaker’s ability to resolve different voices. The 62s came through with flying colors. I was easily able to discern the difference between Green’s and the background singers’ vocals. The piano was full, natural-sounding and solid. Again, I found the drums a bit light. The track “My Favorite Things” features Kathleen Battle as a guest vocalist. Battle’s voice is very well portrayed, full, detailed and very easy on the ears. The tenor sax sounds silky smooth, portraying a good level of energy without any glare. The highs were detailed and extended, without any noticeable etching or annoying brightness. This track also features a synthesizer, which on some systems I find to be harsh and difficult to listen to, but this was definitely not the case here. I suffered no ear fatigue from the synthesizer.
Moving to 5.1 listening tests, I spun Diana Krall’s Love Scenes album (DTS Entertainment). The track “Peel Me A Grape” featured bass and piano tracks that were beautifully portrayed around the circular soundstage. The imaging, was very good. However, it didn’t quite have the shockingly good imaging of my far more expensive MartinLogan hybrid electrostatic speaker system. The speakers also disappeared during my multi-channel listening sessions, much as they did in my stereo listening sessions. The low end was somewhat more prominent in the 5.1 than in stereo, no doubt due to the Sub-20A augmenting the 62’s low end. The subwoofer was musical and never called attention to itself. The Audience’s warm and relaxed nature lent itself perfectly to Krall’s vocals and provided for a long relaxed listening session.
I then switched to movies, and watched “S.W.A.T.” (Columbia/TriStar). As you may be able to surmise by the title, it is definitely a shoot ‘em up. There were numerous big gunfights, with complex sonic landscapes with shooting and yelling from all directions. These types of scenes often turn into mush with speakers lacking detail, but the Audience speakers had no problem rendering the individual voices and gunshots without blurring them together. The dynamics of the Audience came alive at higher volumes. These speakers need some power to get up and moving, so make sure to team them up with a relatively stout amplifier. The subwoofer rendered the crashes and explosions with a good amount of detail and refinement. My only criticism of the subwoofer was that it lacked some of the bottom end punch and power, favoring finesse over raw power.