“The perfect sounding audio product is the one which displays the least audible flaws.”
So suggests Dr. Floyd Toole, one of the influential researchers of acoustics and loudspeakers, within the introduction to his ebook, Sound Reproduction. The quote reads like a tautology at first, however the extra audio system I check, the extra I see — or quite, hear — what Dr. Toole meant.
It’s arduous to meaningfully consider high-end audio system simply by the issues they do proper. There’s solely so good an instrument or voice can sound, in any case; essentially the most you possibly can ask for a speaker is for it to sound “right.”
As an alternative, it’s typically simpler to guage audio system by what they do improper. Maybe voices sound just a bit too shiny, or maybe the soundstage is fuzzy. It’s these flaws that break the stereo phantasm, reminded you’re listening to a pair of picket containers quite than stay music.
All this preamble is to contextualize my admiration for the Dutch & Dutch 8c, a $12,500 pair of state-of-the-art audio system geared toward professionals and audio lovers alike.
Amongst audio system this listener has heard, they may simply be those that exhibit the least audible flaws. For not solely do the Dutch & Dutch 8c supply class-leading efficiency in their very own proper — additionally they dramatically scale back the acoustic issues in your room itself.
The way it works
In contrast to most hi-fi audio system (however like most studio screens), the D&D 8C are energetic audio system, that means the amplification and sign processing is built-in. It’s an method I want extra high-end audio system would observe, because it permits engineers to push the bounds of the , and also you get extra bang on your buck.
In fact, $12,500 continues to be wildly costly, however not essentially by high-end audio requirements. Furthermore, the 8C does extra on the acoustics entrance to earn that price ticket than most of their bracket, primarily within the effort on show to minimizes the unfavorable variables of your room.
All of it begins with the bass.
Audio system are inclined to sound fairly constant inside their center and excessive frequencies from room to room, however the bass is a distinct story. It’s the Achilles heel that always makes a speaker sound nice in a single room and terrible in one other.
That is largely as a result of bass radiation is omnidirectional on typical audio system. When these frequencies bounce off a wall or different reflective floor, they create interference that causes all kinds of audible messiness. Correcting these errors normally requires giant and ugly bass traps or strategically positioned subwoofers and intensive EQ.
The D&D 8C, nonetheless, dramatically reduces bass messiness by merely not radiating as a lot rearward sound within the first place.
See these vents on the perimeters of the speaker? The 8C makes use of them to cancel out rearward radiation from the woofer, yielding what’s generally known as a ‘cardioid’ radiation sample all the way down to about 100Hz.
To see what I imply, right here’s what a typical speaker‘s horizontal radiation sample appears to be like like at 220Hz:
It radiates the identical quantity of power in each route, like a sphere increasing from the drivers— therefore the ‘omnidirectional’ remark.
Alternatively, that is what the 8C appears to be like like:
You’ll be able to see a lot of the power within the ahead route. The 8C isn’t the one cardioid speaker – the Kii Three involves thoughts – nevertheless it’s a small membership.
Taking a broader view, right here is the horizontal radiation of a typical speaker from 200 Hz to 20,000 Hz:
The purple space is loudest. As soon as once more, at decrease frequencies, the speaker is radiating an equal quantity of power in each route.
Whereas the 8C maintains restricted radiation to the perimeters all the best way down:
Except for considerably lowering interference, this has the good thing about permitting you to position the audio system near the wall behind them with out muddying up the sound. In actual fact, the 8C is meant to be positioned close to a wall, because it makes use of the proximity for one more trick: A pair of Eight-inch subwoofers on the again of the speaker use your wall as a launchpad to increase the low bass.
What it feels like
To optimize the response, D&D asks you to make use of the speaker‘s net app to enter the gap to your partitions. As soon as I put the measuring tape away, the following listening expertise was one of many few occasions I’ve been wowed by a speaker in latest reminiscence.
It wasn’t simply the amount that was spectacular; I’ve examined loads of audio system with deep bass extension and I exploit subwoofers for my on a regular basis listening. Somewhat, it was the truth that with hardly any effort on my half, the bass was appeared so actual. Not an excessive amount of, not too little, and every thing sounded snappy and ‘tight.’
Wanting on the measurements, it’s straightforward to see why. Under is the sound as captured from my listening place for 3 audio system:
In orange is the D&D 8Cs frequency response. Under are two different audio system with extra conventional radiation patterns for comparability.
See these large dips within the bass which might be absent or lowered on the 8C? These are room artifacts messing up the bass. They’re current in each single speaker I’ve measured from my listening place till I examined the 8Cs. It’s clear the cardioid radiation is working.
As famous earlier, I can considerably clear up these issues with my subwoofers and cautious room EQ, nevertheless it includes a number of trial and error. Even then, I’m undecided I ever optimized different audio system sufficient to outperform the 8C’s sound out of the field.
The clear bass units a basis that by no means infringes on the opposite frequencies, and it’s arduous to explain any specific sonic qualities of the mids and treble when the primary impression was of transparency. The 8C merely sounded impartial, and if I ever wished a bit extra bass or treble, it was straightforward sufficient to regulate these parameters within the 8C’s app.
When it comes to soundstage, the 8C introduced one of the exact stereo pictures I’ve had the pleasure to hearken to. Its tendency is in direction of a sharper, extra front-row expertise than, say, the huge however extra diffuse soundstage I had with the JBL L100. I want the latter presentation, however 8c’s soundstage could be influenced considerably by the way you place the audio system.
In contrast to most audio system, the 8C change little in tonality with toe-in, so that you’re free to experiment along with your most well-liked soundstage width. Level them proper at your ears and the soundstage snaps into focus. Should you level them straight ahead to invoke extra sidewall reflections, the soundstage expands considerably on the impact of slightly sharpness. Unsurprisingly, I most well-liked the latter setup, although I nonetheless discovered myself wishing for a extra expansive soundstage than the targeted one the 8C offers.
Extra measurements for the audio nerds
You is likely to be questioning why the audio system sounded impartial given their tilt from the bass to the treble in my earlier measurements. That is truly a very good factor; research present such a tilt tends to be perceived as impartial and fulfilling for audio system measured in a typical room.
The lean occurs as a result of a room will have a tendency to bolster bass frequencies and attenuate treble. Regardless of this, our brains are nonetheless fairly good at listening to the speaker ‘although’ the room, the identical means we will acknowledge a buddy’s voice whether or not in an open subject or in a closet. Take away the reflections – akin to by measuring in an anechoic chamber – and also you’ll see such a speaker with such a tilt will truly measure ‘flat.’
Certainly, such is the case with the 8C. Utilizing a technique that permits me to take away room reflections from my measurements, I can approximate the speaker‘s response as measured in an anechoic chamber, on the expense of decision at decrease frequencies.
Under is a graph colloquially referred to as a ‘spinorama,’ so-called as a result of it includes rotating the speaker at 10-degree intervals to seize its sound all the best way round within the horizontal and vertical instructions – a complete of 70 measurements. The spinorama distills all that information right into a extra digestible type that provides us an in depth image of a speaker‘s efficiency.
- The On-Axis and Listening Window curves ought to be comparatively flat. They characterize the ‘direct’ sound of the speaker earlier than any reflections; the on-axis as a single level in house, the listening window as a small spatial common to account for the very fact most individuals don’t sit nonetheless. These have the most important impression on our notion of timbre.
- The Early Reflections curve estimates the few wall reflections that can attain your ears from each route, as these considerably have an effect on timbre too. We would like the ER curve to tilt down however in any other case be fairly much like the on-axis response. This curve additionally predicts the ultimate in-room response fairly properly.
- The Sound Energy curve represents a mean of the speaker‘s sound in all instructions. Just like ER, however helpful for audio system that principally radiate sound ahead.
- The Directivity Index and Early Reflections DI curves inform us how comparable the off-axis sound is to the direct sound, and supply clues to soundstage efficiency. These are calculated by subtracting the Sound Energy and Early Reflections curves from the Listening Window, respectively. We would like these curves to be freed from any main bumps, as this means the off-axis has the same tonality to the direct sound.
There’s simply not a lot to report right here: D&D 8C performs admirably on each entrance. It is likely one of the flattest audio system I’ve measured, and it reveals within the sound. D&D‘s Martijn Mensink says the speaker required nearly no handbook voicing – its measurements have been sufficient to make sure clear sound.
For the speaker nerds, the gallery under accommodates a extra detailed breakdown of the 8C’s sound, together with detailed horizontal and vertical response, and deviation from linearity (how the sound modifications at completely different quantity ranges).
I’ve solely talked about sound to this point as a result of should you’re spending 13 grand on a pair of audio system, I’d hope acoustics are your precedence.
However the 8Cs get a lot of the different fundamentals proper too. I personally love the look; they adeptly stroll the road between skilled utilitarianism and living-room pleasant decor. Although the all-black mannequin I examined appears to be like elegant, I significantly dig the white-on-wood colorways.
Granted, they’re large for ‘bookshelf’ audio system, however they don’t visually dominate a room the best way many towers do, and a have extra trendy, minimalist design than most studio screens.
The net app is a welcome little bit of modernity as properly. You get entry to fundamental changes for sub–bass, bass, and treble, which makes it straightforward to regulate these parameters on the fly for various recordings. However you may also go deep into EQ filters to good sound on your tastes and specific room utilizing a measurement app like Room EQ Wizard. The place different high-end speaker producers appear too proud to allow you to alter sound past their tuning, Dutch & Dutch embraces it. There’s even an evening mode that reduces bass frequencies prone to disturb your neighbors.
This brings me to my greatest qualm: there isn’t a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, so that you want an Ethernet connection to make any modifications. Whereas for skilled studio use this won’t be an issue, there aren’t any Ethernet ports in my front room, nor do I need there to be. I had to make use of a spare router simply to arrange a separate community for the 8Cs. It additionally means it’s essential to run three thick cables per speaker if you’d like instantaneous entry to sound setting – energy, sound, and ethernet – which fits in opposition to the minimal aesthetic.
Lastly, it’s value noting that in testing one in every of my audio system all of the sudden stopped working as a result of an electronics failure. This was disappointing given the speaker‘s worth, nevertheless it finally highlighted one thing I appreciated concerning the 8Cs. As an alternative of getting to ship the speaker again to the producer, D&D‘s US distributor instantly shipped me a alternative board, and it took lower than 5 minutes to interchange the defective element. The whole set of electronics is straightforward to drag out from the speaker after eradicating a couple of screws.
A few consumer expertise points apart, the D&D 8c is essentially the most irreproachable speaker I’ve had the pleasure of listening to.
The 8c’s uncommon design is a breath of contemporary air in a world of hi-fi audio system which might be all variations on the identical fundamental theme. It merely sounds higher than any speaker I’ve listened to with out intensive bass EQ, and its cardioid design makes it adaptable to nearly any listening house with minimal effort. That you would be able to shortly and simply modify the sound to your style is additional icing on the cake not normally obtainable on such high-end audio system.
Did I point out the 8C is Dutch & Dutch‘s solely speaker to this point? What a strategy to enter the market. Right here’s hoping the corporate branches out into extra mainstream (learn: reasonably priced) design into the longer term. Should you do have the $12,500 to spend on audio system — whether or not since you’re an audiophile otherwise you work is dependent upon good sound — it’s arduous to think about a greater strategy to spend it.
Revealed April three, 2020 — 22:07 UTC
Tech specialist. Social media guru. Evil problem solver. Total writer. Web enthusiast. Internet nerd. Passionate gamer. Twitter buff.