Dayton Audio B652 loudspeaker the B652-AIR

John Atkinson wrote about the Dayton B652-AIR in February 2014 (Vol.38 No.2):

Stephen Mejias reviewed the Dayton Audio B652 bookshelf loudspeaker in Stereophile's January 2013 issue. Sold direct by Parts Express as well as by Amazon, and priced at just $39.80/pair (including two 9½'-long 20AWG speaker cables), the B652 is by far the cheapest speaker we have reviewed. The B652 is still available, but has been joined by a new version, the B652-AIR ($59.80/pair, footnote 1). Like the earlier speaker, the 'AIR is a small, two-way, sealed-cabinet design with a 6.5" polypropylene mid/woofer and an enclosure made of ½"-thick MDF with a 5/8"-thick front baffle. But the original's 55/8" polycarbonate-dome tweeter has been replaced by a 1"-square, pleated-ribbon AMT driver claimed to add "even more smoothness and detail."

Fig.1 Dayton B652-AIR, electrical impedance (solid) and phase (dashed) (2 ohms/vertical div.).

Before describing my auditioning of the B652-AIR to hear if its AMT tweeter delivered what was promised, I'll discuss the speaker's measured performance. I used DRA Labs' MLSSA system and a calibrated DPA 4006 microphone to measure the Dayton's frequency response in the farfield, and an Earthworks QTC-40 for the nearfield responses. (The grille was left off for all measurements as well as the listening.) My estimate of the B652-AIR's voltage sensitivity was 87dB(B)/2.83V/m, confirming the specification. The speaker's impedance is specified as 6 ohms; its magnitude is the solid trace in fig.1. It rises above 6 ohms at 750Hz, and stays there throughout the upper midrange and treble. As the impedance doesn't drop below 4.3 ohms and the electrical phase angle (dotted trace) is generally benign, the Dayton speaker will work well with modestly powered amplifiers.

The small discontinuities between 200 and 300Hz and around 1100Hz indicate the presence of some sort of resonances in these regions. As with the earlier B652, the 'AIR's enclosure was very lively when tested with the traditional knuckle-rap test, producing very strong resonances between 250 and 350Hz. These were very audible with the half-step–spaced tonebursts on my Editor's Choice CD (Stereophile STPH016-2).

Fig.2 Dayton B652-AIR, anechoic response on tweeter axis at 50", averaged across 30° horizontal window and corrected for microphone response, with nearfield woofer response plotted below 300Hz.

Fig.3 Dayton B652, anechoic response on tweeter axis at 50", averaged across 30° horizontal window and corrected for microphone response, with nearfield woofer response plotted below 300Hz.

The impedance peak at 93.5Hz suggests that this is the tuning frequency of the woofer in its sealed enclosure, which is slightly lower in frequency than in the original B652. The woofer's nearfield output (fig.2, below 300Hz) does peak between 80 and 200Hz, and, as in the earlier speaker, the woofer's farfield response gently rises throughout the midrange, with then a large peak between 3 and 5kHz before crossing over to the tweeter. Unlike the B652's dome tweeter, which was peaky in its passband (fig.3), the 'AIR's AMT HF unit is much better behaved.

Fig.4 Dayton B652-AIR, lateral response family at 50", normalized to response on tweeter axis, from back to front: differences in response 90–5° off axis, reference response, differences in response 5–90° off axis.

Fig.5 Dayton B652-AIR, vertical response family at 50", normalized to response on tweeter axis, from back to front: differences in response 45–5° above axis, reference response, differences in response 5–45° below axis.

The Dayton's plot of lateral dispersion, normalized to the tweeter-axis response (fig.4), indicates that the speaker becomes quite directional in the region of the on-axis treble peak. To some extent, this will tend to ameliorate the peak's audibility. But other than that, the contour lines in this graph are relatively even and well controlled. In the vertical plane (fig.5), a suckout in the crossover region develops above the tweeter axis, suggesting that the B652-AIR should be used on high rather than low stands. (I used 24"-high stands, which meant I had to slouch a little in my chair for my ears to be on the tweeter axes.)

Fig.6 Dayton B652-AIR, step response on tweeter axis at 50" (5ms time window, 30kHz bandwidth).

Fig.7 Dayton B652-AIR, cumulative spectral-decay plot on tweeter axis at 50" (0.15ms risetime).

The step response on the tweeter axis (fig.6) reveals that both drive-units are connected with positive acoustic polarity. The ripples in the decay of the woofer's step will be due to a resonance in the treble; the cumulative spectral-decay plot (fig.7) features a strong resonance at 4.3kHz, and there is another, less severe resonance at 1100Hz, the frequency of one of the wrinkles in the impedance traces.

Footnote 1: The B652-AIR is Part #300-651.
Dayton Audio/Parts Express
725 Pleasant Valley Drive
Springboro, OH 45066
(800) 338-0531

Skyrider's picture

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

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

PeterHH's picture

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 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.

ralphgonz's picture

I kind of agree that if you're broke you should be buying used audio gear on ebay. But you better have the DIY chops to repair a DOA purchase. Shipping can play havoc on 20 or 30 year old speakers, breaking crossover components loose from the cabinet and breaking soldered connections.

For everyone else, these Dayton speakers look like an amazing deal. It would cost twice this amount to build your own entry-level speakers.

tubeampking's picture

After some hemming and hawing I figured I'd drop the $40 and get a pair of these. They should be here in a day or two. I honestly am eager to hear them after all the press surrounding them.
First let me say that I'm a working class schmuck who can't afford speakers costing in the thousands, although I have heard some "high-end" gear and am considered by some to have a very good ear. That being said, I was surprised to see that the B652 has a sealed cab...anyone have any feelings or insight on this that they'd want to share.
I have yet to own a speaker that does all things current set up has a pair of Optimus Pro LX10s, a pair of Infinity SL 20s, a pair of JBL 2500s, a pair of Optimus Pro LX4 with the crossovers tweaked a la Black Dahlia site. Low end is delivered by a pwered Polk Audio sub. I can say that each of these have strengths and weaknesses. The LX 10s have a mushy midrange ( I hope to improve that with some tweaking ), the 2500s have fizzy tweeters, the SL 20s are great for live recordings...very open and airy...and the tweaked LX4s have made more than a few people soil themselves. I'm thinking about building my own cabs for the SL 20 woofers and a pair of Linaeum tweeters...more on that later. Any input on any of this would be well appreciated...

yogacraig's picture

One of my first enlightening listening experiences, regarding audio equipment anyway, was when a roommate's friend counseled him to buy a used Dynaco stereo 70, the corresponding preamp (I forget the model of Dynaco),and a mostly plastic Lenco TT with a Linn Basic cartridge, the sum of which played through a pair of 1970's Lloyds speakers that the roommate already owned. No mods, no expensive cables. I would never have guessed those speakers had any music in them, but they sounded musical and enjoyable, despite still having limitations. Music and fun making things sound better.

Johnda's picture

I enjoy seeing what can be found for folks at the lowest prices available but can give them an enjoyable experience. The Dayton B652 sure caught my interest! Being under 12 inches high, and a sealed system , it can fit in a lot of small spaces for today's apartment dweller. I have a living room credenza that holds my living room system and if we eventually downsize to a condo from our home, it would be my only system. It is nice to know that choices such as the Dayton B652 are available today.

BAbuoy's picture

There's a reason why the appeal to snobbery is a logical fallacy and I love it when products like the B652 are so revealing of said fallacy within this hobby.

The B652s paired with any number of inexpensive class D amps are excellent speakers for those that like to actually listen to and enjoy music. Imagine that concept.

For those desiring to measure SPL and stare at graphs while scoffing at the idea of spending so little money. Move along. The hifi marketing bus has left the station.

bbqjoe's picture

I really love this speaker.
I'm using this on my desk, which is rather large, and built with quality woods.

There are speakers out there that are just too in your face.
Then there are some that are just way too laid back.
To me, this speaker is somewhere in the middle.

I personally don't need 10,000 db's of 20hz bass ripping my windows out and cracking my foundation.
But I do like bass.
Maybe a bit more than bass, I like the punch of low mids.
My lust for for super high tweeters has faded over the years, but I still love clear high end, and the snap of a well tuned snare.

This speaker represents all of those elements to me.
At a moderate level, maybe 25 watts, these speakers sound excellent.
The 6 1/2 inch woofer behaves its best with a bit of power behind it, although it really isn't bad at lower levels.

The bass is clear and tight without flab.

I have some decent "audiophile" quality Dahlquist speakers, and quite frankly when I want to hear some full drive, I sit behind the Daytons.
These speakers do have some resonance, and whatever that frequency is, I like that too! To me, it's perfect.

Do these speakers have "soundstage" and paint a "holographic" image?
I'd say probably not, at least the way I have them set up with 2 foot triangulation, but still, they just sound good to my ears.
They possess a sound that my ears are hungry for, and I never tire listening to these. They just make me want to find more stuff to listen to.
They may need to be EQ'd to the sound you like, but what do you want for a $50 dollar pair of speakers?

I've listened to speakers costing many hundreds more than these, and yet, these beat them for overall sound.
I just wish I could find a house sized floor speaker that sounds like these do.

I have no idea how these might sound spaced apart in your 8x12 bedroom, but I just love sitting right in front of them.
I'd suggest wiring them up with a bigger gauge wire than they come with.
I'm running them with 12 ga.

I'll go as far as to say you won't find any better audio experience for $50 anywhere new.
I'd still be happy with these if I paid $150 ea.

Thanks Dayton.
To the doubters: Give them a try. If you can't wrap your head around them, give them to your kid, and you're only out the price of a few happy meals.

Mike Bradley's picture

Nice review Stereophile. Guys these are standard 6.5 inch woofer 2" tweeter "bookshelf" speakers which blow the doors off my 22' trailer using my old Sony 575W receiver. Gets loud enough at max that you have to take the dogs for another walk outside. Most reviews don't match the system to the environment - Stereophile probably has several dozen article re how to match your system to your environment -- like you don't really need Stadium Concert Cerwin Vegas and Marshall Amps in your dorm I'm old school and once had the apartment manager complain that she could hear my stereo where she lived "down the street." Those were jamming Led Zep etc., days....we blew our paychecks on stereos back then, now kids blow their paychecks on the latest 6" Apple or Samsung S10-5G.....only $ 1200 at your local Verizon (well, you pay over a two year contract anyway, who cares???) I just tore my hair out with eBay finding a cheap BT Speaker for my new Echo Dot, All the Chinese want to sell you is a Pill Box which means 6" x 2.5" with 2" crap speakers, worse than the built-in Echo. Finally found a cheap Sylvania BT with 5" speaker "10A" (at 2 Ohms marketing BS) which can hang with the Echo. Curtis still knows what guys REALLY want even if lots of their stuff is old-school boom boxes, etc. The only reason for a $10,000 dollar system these days is to put in your $ 1M mansion to impress your off impressing HER with a tennis court / pool.