Dayton Audio B652 loudspeaker

I was ready to have some fun with Dayton Audio's B652 loudspeakers—the ones with the outrageously high price of $39.80/pair.

Available from Parts Express (catalog #300-652), the Dayton B652 is a simple two-way, sealed-cabinet design with a 6.5" polypropylene mid/woofer and a ferrofluid-cooled, 5/8" polycarbonate tweeter. The cabinet is clad in black vinyl and has a removable grille of black cloth. The B652s sounded pretty much the same regardless of whether the grilles were in place, but I preferred their looks with the grilles off, so that's how I listened. Better looks often equal better sound—at least in my home.

And as far as looks go, the Dayton's not so bad—neither excessively flashy nor terribly chintzy, but simple, modest, and fine. I would never feel embarrassed to have the Daytons in my listening room, which is much more than I can say about some of the overbuilt, honky components I saw at RMAF. The B652's rear panel is as clean and tidy as its front baffle: There's a discreet key-hole hanger near the top, and a pair of plastic spring-clip speaker terminals in the center.

The B652 measures 11 13/16" (300mm) high by 7 1/16" (180mm) wide by 6 7/16" (165mm) deep and weighs only 5.8 lbs (2.6kg). Knocking on a side panel produced a clearly audible resonance. Dayton specifies the speaker's impedance as 4 ohms, its frequency range as 70Hz–20kHz, and its sensitivity as 87dB/W/m.

Listening
Believe it or not, music through the little Dayton B652s was always very enjoyable. Unlike the Klipsch Synergy B-20s ($279/pair; reviewed June 2011), which had an unnaturally bright and unforgiving top end, and the Energy Connoisseur CB-10 ($269.99/pair; reviewed November 2011), which had an upper-bass boost that I simply couldn't forgive, the Dayton B652 never got in the way of the music. Its sins were of omission: Though it could sound big and dramatic enough to fill my listening room, the Dayton lacked deep bass, high-frequency extension, and ultimate control, sounding a bit hard and bothered during the most complex passages of music and when pushed to high volumes.

Listening to "The Nightcaller," from Flying Lotus's excellent new Until the Quiet Comes (LP, Warp WARP230), I heard an impressively large soundstage, good image separation, and a very fine sense of momentum and flow, the up-tempo track moving steadily along with no hint of temporal distortions. High frequencies, however, sounded etched, instrumental colors muted, textures thin.

I noticed some hardness in the highs, some softness in the lows, and the overall picture wasn't as big or as clean as I'd heard it before. But those flaws were easy enough to forgive and forget. The music remained intact.

By comparison, my PSB Alpha B1 speakers ($299/pair) produced an even wider and especially deeper soundstage, with greater overall clarity, openness, and detail. High frequencies were far smoother and better controlled, bass was more forceful, and there was a greater overall ease to the sound—when the music grew in complexity, scale, or volume, the PSBs didn't break a sweat.

Summing Up
But still. You could buy seven pairs of Dayton B652s for the price of the Alpha B1s. Keep a pair in your dorm room, a pair on your desktop, a pair in your office. As long as your expectations are realistic and you're willing to have fun, the Daytons are sure to please.

Company Info
Dayton Audio/Parts Express
725 Pleasant Valley Drive
Springboro, OH 45066
(800) 338-0531
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Comments
Skyrider's picture
Is it Music?

I will tell this story often.  My roommate had a pair of Celestion Ditton 110 bookshelf speakers, probably $100 or so apiece.  They were hooked up with skinny wire to my JVC boombox and all was sitting on my living room carpet. I was listening to a classical FM station and was absolutely riveted to the music.

This is what matters most: "Does it make Music"? Does the music draw you in and keep you there.  Scintillating highs and earth-shaking lows don't mean beans unless your system makes MUSIC.

Don't ever forget that.

kevon27's picture
Well said.

This industry has built itself on the notion that It's about the gear. You can spend $100000 on speakers alone so you can finally hear that cow bell in the far background being struck by the drummer no more than 10 times during the entire song. But it's all about the fine detail you say. REALLY, you need to get a life.

We need to get back to the music..

JIGF's picture
Fine detail, indeed.
PeterHH's picture
Too cheap to review

I can't begin to afford 90% of the stuff reviewed in stereophile but reviewing a $40 pair of speakers is silly. If all you have to spend is $40 buy something on ebay or at a flea market. There are some decent speakers for around $100 from Cambridge Soundworks, whose late founder Henry Kloss made cheap but good a specialty. But really if all you have to spend is $40 you are a pretty unusual audiophile.

I have heard very enjoyable sound from unlikely systems, like the car radio in my father's 62 Cadillac - far superior to the one in his 67 Cadillac! But there is no science or system of finding such setups: they are just stumbled upon. There would be no point in reviewing them. You just have to hear them, and if you do hear them you may not share the owner's enthusiasm.

One of the great mysteries of audio is how mini-speakers can sound good enough to justify their price tags. These speakers are simply incapable of giving you the music on the record. Never mind the explosions or bass drum whacks; they can't even give you the bottom notes of the piano or cello. And yet we often prefer them to perfectly fine full range systems at the same price or a much lower price. Maybe we tell ourselves we're going to add a subwoofer (doubling the price before we're through!) But the little speakers sound good without a sub and sometimes adding a sub ruins it. Maybe the question is whether you listen to the equipment or to the music. If the latter you will probably want something that can produce bass notes from time to time. But if you just like to marvel at the clarity of your tweeters, the hell with the bass!

ashwinsrf's picture
You are shortsighted if you

You are shortsighted if you think anything can be too cheap to review.These speakers can give 300 usd speakers a run for their money. So to hell with your too cheap to review comment.

Get your facts right before posting. Your post just sounds like the rambling of a man who thinks money makes everything right.

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