Dunlavy Audio Labs Signature SC-VI loudspeaker JA Listens to the Dunlavy SC-VI
In my own auditioning of the big Dunlavy, performed with an Adcom 5800 amplifier in Dunlavy's own listening room when I drove up to Colorado Springs to measure the speaker, there was one aspect of its sound that struck me as almost unique. I used the opportunity to audition the test pressing of the Robert Silverman Liszt Sonata CD that we released in June (Sonata, STPH008-2). While visually the SC-VI is an enormous loudspeaker, I agree with SS that, if you shut your eyes, it doesn't sound "big." By this I mean that its imaging was so precisely focused, so stable, that you could be listening to the best minimonitors you've ever heard. The relationship between the image of Bob Silverman's 9' Steinway and the acoustic of the Albuquerque church in which he was playing the piano was more clearly revealed over the pair of SC-VIs than I had heard up to that point—and since!
In addition, an apparently ubiquitous aspect of "big speaker sound" that consistently turns me off, and has led me to prefer minimonitors overall for my own pleasure, is that they sound bass-heavy, often even boomy. They almost always lack transparency throughout the low-frequency region, often having clarity problems up into the lower midrange. As the late Spencer Hughes of Spendor used to say, "Big speakers tend to have big problems." The only exceptions to this experience that I could point to prior to auditioning the Dunlavys were the Wilson X-1/Grand SLAMM, the B&W 800, and, to a lesser degree, the Thiel CS5i. The Signature SC-VI now joins that select company.
With the Dunlavy Audio Labs SC-VI, Wilson WITT, Aerial Acoustics 10T, Avalon Acoustics Radian HC, Snell Type A Reference, JMlab Grande Utopia, Jadis Eurythmie II, and Thiel CS7 all eligible to be Stereophile's 1996 "Loudspeaker of the Year"—to be announced in the December '96 issue—the voting is going to be...how shall I phrase it?...interesting.—John Atkinson