Dynaudio Evidence Master loudspeaker Page 2
I found the review samples' bird's-eye-maple veneer exquisite. Every inch of the Evidence shows attention to detail, from the specially molded center section's front baffle to the setup tools packed with each loudspeaker pair. Fit'n'finish are first-rate; the elegant cabinets are solidly constructed, and their overall visual effect is second to none—all as it should be for a pair of loudspeakers costing $85,000.
Although each assembled Evidence tower weighs 297 lbs, each pair is shipped as a set of eight easily manageable modules: two baseplates, two midrange/tweeter modules, and four bass modules. While most customers receive their Evidences in two large wooden crates, the review pair arrived in seven aluminum flight cases: one for setup tools, four for the bass sections, and two containing the baseplates and midrange/tweeter sections. A cardboard carton held the black lacquer side panels.
Two days later, Dynaudio's Mike Manousselis and Jim Halas arrived from Chicago to assemble the Evidences. They began by mounting the base plates on the lower bass cabinets with eight hex-head socket screws. Halas then flipped the bass cabinets right-side up and set them about 22" from the back wall and 82" apart. The middle sections were then added, using the metal rails mounted on their upper and lower sides—similar to a bayonet lock of the lens on a single-lens reflex camera. This was repeated for the upper bass section.
The sections were locked together with hex-head screws. Halas then clipped the black-lacquered side panels to the middle sections. Six large-gauge jumper cables, sourced from van den Hul cables and fitted with WBT spade lugs, connected the bottom bass section to the middle section, while four identical cables connected the middle section to the top bass section. Halas then used a spirit level supplied in the Dynaudio toolbox on the sides of the upper bass cabinet, and leveled each column using the adjustment screws—one at each of the base plate's four corners.
During an hour of listening tests, Manousselis positioned each of the Evidence towers to optimize their soundstaging. The speakers' final placements were 24" from the back wall, 24" from the side walls, and 82" apart (measured from the tweeter centers), facing the full length of my narrow listening room. (My room is 26' long, 13' wide, and 12' high, with a semi-cathedral ceiling. One long wall is covered with bookshelves; the other contains a bay window. At the opposite end form the speakers, the room opens into a 25' by 15' kitchen through an 8' by 4' doorway.)
The Evidence, which has a high specified sensitivity, produced a loud output, with no sign of clipping, when powered by the three different amplifiers I had on hand: the 125Wpc Mark Levinson No.334, the 100Wpc Levinson No.383 integrated, and a pair of 500W Bryston 7B-ST monoblocks. Each amplifier added its own sonic fingerprint: the No.334 was transparent, solid, and dynamic; the No.383 was fast, detailed, and smooth, with extended highs; and the Brystons had solid, deep bass with great dynamic range.
Final adjustments included comparative nearfield (10') and farfield (18') listening, low-frequency sweeps from a signal generator, phase checks, and listening to pink noise to find the best place for my listening chair for optimal soundstage and imaging. For all tests and music sessions, I left the grilles off.
The Evidence's deep bass output fell off smoothly below 30Hz in my listening room, with no doubling. Playing our own Test CD 3 (Stereophile STPH006-2) for channel checks and phasing, I carefully positioned my listening chair in the speaker's nearfield until I could hear the in-phase pink-noise signal as a focused image suspended about 5' from the floor. Soundstaging was optimized when the speakers and my chair were set for an isosceles triangle 10' on a side, measured from the tweeter centers.
The Evidence's lower tweeter was 44.5" above the floor, about 7" above my ear level (37"). Although the tone of the pink noise changed slightly when I conducted a nearfield sit-down/stand-up listening test, there was no change during the same test at the farfield position (18').
The Dynaudio Evidences' most prominent sonic features were their soundstaging—deep, wide, layered, and utterly realistic—and dynamic range. With each CD I played, I heard more musical information, felt more power, and connected faster to the music. No matter the recording—the Turtle Creek Men's Chorus's spacious, layered voices and the deep pipe-organ accompaniment on "Lord, Make me an Instrument of Thy Peace" (John Rutter, Requiem, Reference Recordings RR-57CD); Patti Austin's transparent, etched, holographic vocal on Armando Manzanero's ballad, "Only You" (Hothouse, N2K 10023); the tight, controlled synthesizer rumble that opens Emmylou Harris' "Deeper Wells" (Spyboy, Eminent EM-25001-2)—the Evidences' wall-to-wall soundstage pulled me into the music.
But flagship loudspeakers have to do more than just project a big soundstage. Did the Evidences meet designer Mark Thorup's goals of retaining focus and naturalness when playing in a large acoustical space?
The Evidence's focus was topnotch at both the near- and farfield positions, resolving musical textures in new and unique ways. Its two tweeters and midrange drivers had the speed, frequency extension, and timbral accuracy I've heard only from the best electrostatic screens, and from the midbass through the upper treble, musical notes had a seamless evenness that was remarkable. Even though there was no midrange prominence, all of my recordings sounded as if I had opened a window and was hearing them directly for the first time.
Take the title track of Piedmont blues guitarist Etta Baker's Railroad Bill (Cello Music Maker 91006-2): the Evidences re-created a three-dimensional image of Baker's guitar, but revealed—as have few other loudspeakers—the slightly blurred mix of the plucked strings' metallic sheen and the soundboard's dark, rich wooden resonance. This resolution of timbral detail could be heard from both the near- and farfield listening positions in my room. And in the frenzied, dynamic opening of Dvorák's Carnival overture, on Nature's Realm (Water Lily Acoustics WLA-WS-66-CD), timpani, strings, and winds intertwined while remaining distinct.