Dutch & Dutch 8c active loudspeaker system Page 2

I placed the 8c's some 15" from the front wall (which isn't a wall but a triple-glazed, heavy-duty city window with a 4"-thick slab of fiberglass on the inside ledge). Using lanspeaker.com, one can make all sorts of adjustments in real time. Setting the front-wall distance to 15.75" (40cm) and side-wall distance to 23.6"–27.6" (60–70cm), the bass was strong— almost too strong.

Measurements
I took using Dayton Audio's OmniMic microphone and XTZ's Room Analyzer Pro software defined two significant bass peaks, at 33Hz and 66Hz for the left speaker and 35Hz and 75Hz for the right. I corrected these peaks with parametric filters complementary in gain and Q. Now the bass was tight and extended, but there was still too much of it. After a few days of listening, I settled on a –2dB shelving-down of the bass; my FR measurements confirmed that the 8c's were now flat down to 20Hz. Impressive output from these little puppies.

Sound
I did all my listening with files streamed from JRiver Media Center 24 via AES3 at up to 24/96, or from Roon via LAN at up to 24/192. I heard no differences in sound quality between the two sources.

My immediate impression of the Dutch & Dutch 8c's was one of rightness: They always sounded clean, balanced, and revealing. It was difficult to hear any specific tonal character—nothing stuck out—but I repeatedly noted the remarkable detail and imaging in the lower midrange and upper bass more than in the ranges above. It was a pleasure to hear lower male voices, and lower instruments such as cello, contrabassoon, and tuba, with full, clear resonance.

For example, in John Atkinson's recording of Eriks Esenvalds' The First Tears, from Ethan Sperry and the Portland State Chamber Choir's The Doors of Heaven (CD, Naxos 8.579008), I'd always reveled in the open, spacious sound of the treble voices. Through the D&Ds, I discovered delicious details in the tenors and baritones/basses, which were warmly and clearly reproduced. I didn't get the impression that there was any undue emphasis in this range; rather, it caught my attention because I've rarely heard it reproduced so well.

Low bass, too, was excellent. The D&Ds' power output was surprisingly large for their size and seemed to have no practical limitations for domestic music playback. I tried the 8c's with "The Garage Door or The Dynamic Range of Real Life," from Hi-Fi News & Record Review's Test Disc (CD, HFN/Denon 003). No doubt it frightened my neighbors, but I thought the crashing door sounded slightly damped at the very bottom compared to what I hear and feel from my JL Audio Fathom f113 subwoofer—hardly a fair fight. But for music, including organ pedals and massed double basses, the 8c's created tremors while maintaining tonal and textural clarity.

The treble was smooth and open but somewhat under-stated, if only because the D&Ds' extraordinary performance in the lower ranges drew my attention away. When I focused on the HF, with good recordings it seemed transparent from violins to cymbals but ruthless with poorly miked or older, grainier recordings. For decades, I've loved the sound of soprano Emma Kirkby's voice, but I'm especially thrilled by her older recordings, made when her voice was lighter and seemed spun from pure silver. It's all that in her classic recording of Mozart's "Exsultate, Jubilate," with Christopher Hogwood conducting the Academy of Ancient Music (CD, L'Oiseau-Lyre 411832), but this 35-year-old recording shows its age with notable glare in the top end. The 8c's, though, let all of Dame Emma's characteristic bell-like sound leap across the decades into my room. The D&Ds' treble was clear and extended, and its integration with the midrange, at the low crossover frequency of 1250Hz, presented high voices with purity.

The 8c's subjective tonal balance—likely related to its controlled cardioid dispersion, which minimized colorations created by room reflections—made it easy for me to "hear into" ensembles and ambiences and projected aural images of individual voices and instruments as well as any speakers I've heard, including planar models. Unlike planars, the D&Ds didn't throw the soundstage forward — instead, it began at the plane described by the speakers' front baffles and extended deep behind them. The result was less obviously impressive but seemed more honest.

719dutch.life

D&D recommends that the 8c's and the listening position form an equilateral triangle, with the speakers toed in 45°. When I tried this, the soundstage extended beyond the outer side panels of the speakers, which "disappeared" as discrete sources of sound. However, this required that I sit closer to the speakers than I usually do, and moving the sofa has serious consequences in domestic politics. Besides, I strongly prefer that the music be "there" in front of me, not "here" in my lap. When I moved back to my usual spot and reduced the toe-in angle, to keep the speakers' driver axes aimed at me, the soundstage widened satisfactorily. If my room were a bit wider, I could sit farther back and keep all the magic.

Comparisons and conclusions
Like the Kii Audio Three and the B&O Beolab 90, the Dutch & Dutch 8c offers freedom from major room effects to a degree beyond that offered by any consumer automatic room-correction software. All three speakers sound like transparent windows into the original performance space, though they don't sound identical. The 8c's sound is warmer and less obviously detailed than the Kii Three's, but I don't think that's anything more than a slight shift in perceived balance due to the 8c's fuller, more powerful bass. The Beolab 90 produced in my room a bass balance less generous than the 8c's but more generous than the Kii Three's—this without its recently released BXT bass module.

At the other end of the audioband, the B&O and Kii had more expressive top ends and more easily communicated the air and space of recordings than the D&D did. Comparing a speaker like the 8c with conventional speakers is difficult: such a system internally integrates so many functions—eg, controlled dispersion, active amplification, DSP (for crossover, room correction, equalization), and direct digital input — that for a passive speaker are performed by other, separate components. The D&D 8c demonstrates that active, DSP-empowered speakers are the future.

As things stand now, I think that the Dutch & Dutch 8c might be the sweet spot in the new category of active speakers. It's a truly full-range system with enough dynamic range and power for almost any domestic situation. I found it a pure delight to sit with my iPad on my lap and enjoy the high-resolution music from my Roon library through Dutch & Dutch's wonderful 8c speakers.

COMPANY INFO
Dutch & Dutch
US distributor: Dutch & Dutch USA
PO Box 294, Cape Canaveral
FL 32920
(877) 388-2465
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
BillBrown's picture

Clearly "wow." Oh my.

I followed this speaker as it was developed and have been hoping for a review with JA's measurements, so I am now very thankful. Quite an achievement for the developers.

EverymanAudio's picture

So is this just about as good as it gets as far as measurements? If so, I'd like to see pretty much everyone review this, especially Herb and Art to see what the reaction is to a virtually perfect speaker.

medtner's picture

The short answer is no. There is measurements of 8c's THD and the harmonic distortion of its bass is much higher then a truly hiend speaker (Magico S5 or Vivid g2) or other passives at its price-range. Having listened to 8c, I would say that measurement difference is clearly audible.
That being said, the sacrifice in THD or some other untested area seems to be vastly rewarded in other area.

je26's picture

Yet other listeners who have heard both the 8Cs and big audiophile speakers (including Magicos, Vivids, JBL M2s, Revel Salon 2s, Beolab 90s, Wilsons, assorted ATCs, MBLs, Goldmunds, and FM Acoustics' giant pyramids) do not hear these distortion components in the 8Cs, at least at reasonable listening levels. I am among those listeners.

The measurements taken for Soundstage in the NRC chamber were methodologically flawed, but they have conveniently provided a basis for contending that traditional audiophile speakers are better than these loudspeakers, which of course are not perfect but seem to represent a significant step forward.

medtner's picture

I agree that speakers like 8c or kiii would never sound "very distorted" yet their bass and midrange does comes "bigger" and "thicker" ( also to my ears less "transparent") than the more expensive active Grimm Audios, or the less expensive passive Contour20s. This is very evident on small listening levels (60db), but how each listener interprets sound of course is different. I still think 8c and kiii are excellent values and all-around players if you listens 70-90db, just perhaps not as perfect as some measurements show.

ms142's picture

Very curious about this comment:
> The measurements taken for Soundstage in the NRC chamber were methodologically flawed

Would you mind explaining some more?

je26's picture

On another forum, no less an authority than Floyd Toole, who developed the NRC's measurement facilities, pointed out that measurement of a non-monopole speaker (which the 8C is at lower frequencies) would require recalibration for accurate readings at low frequencies. Soundstage did not do that, nor did they buy from the NRC the measurements that Dr. Toole felt would provide the most compelling indication of how the 8Cs would perform in a real listening room.

Kal Rubinson's picture

There is measurements of 8c's THD and the harmonic distortion of its bass is much higher then a truly hiend speaker (Magico S5 or Vivid g2) or other passives at its price-range.

I have emphasized the last phrase because neither of the mentioned passive speakers is anywhere near the price of the 8c. In fact, they are 3x-5x more expensive and that's even without power amps!

Bogolu Haranath's picture

The red trace in the bass frequency response measurements are taken with the parametric EQ engaged, used by KR ......... JA1 mentions that in the measurements section ........ For some reason measurements after dis-engaging the EQ, were not shown :-) ........

JHL's picture

This probably is about as good as measurements go, measurements related to amplitude (and in this case, time). However such data cannot automatically conflate to "the perfect loudspeaker". One is an assortment of eye-pleasing metrics that describe specific behaviors and engineering aims, while the other offers a rhetorical presumption.

That's not intended to be pedantic: We simply have to detach the presumption from the suite of available data visuals and then go right back to considered and considerable hearing. If hearing the thing induces a strong sense of being in the presence of the original recorded event, then the metrics will be proved out.

Given the enormous importance of the excellent sounds coming from wildly disparate speakers than these, the notion of "the perfect speaker" remains challenged. I'm sure the field will benefit from this particular approach, but whether that approach serves the music over the long haul remains to be seen.

Kal Rubinson's picture

Since word "perfect' does not appear in this review,* your comment is a bit of a red herring. Just go and listen to it as you are advised in all cases.

*Yes, JA does say "an almost perfectly time-coincident shape," in a precisely limited statement.

JHL's picture

My remark was a reply to verymanAudio, Kal.

Kal Rubinson's picture

That was not apparent to me. OTOH, I would curious to hear what Herb and Art would say about this.

JHL's picture

A large, von Langa-class speaker can and does have a distinctive, undeniable relationship to the recording that I suspect technophile speakers cannot match. There must be good reason for the following such things accumulate ... including when it appears in these pages.

Kal Rubinson's picture

If you say so. Not my cuppa.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Art and Herb may say that, that kind of a review is outside their 'purview' ........... Just kidding :-) .........

medtner's picture

I also read somewhere that an amp designer said that the performance of an amp at 0.001w is crucial in replaying the micro details of music and he has a unique way testing showing many solid-state that measures well on 1w and 100w measures badly on 0.001w comparing to tubes. I would guess that for speaker it's quite the same that a speaker performs so well on 80db can be said to be "quite accurate" but not "accurate" unless it can reproduce 40 db signal faithfully. That could be also why some dac that test the same sound so different.
However I still wonder if the previous statement have a scientific base on that : )

MZKM's picture

Most residential rooms are like 35dB-50dB, 40dB is super quiet, almost inaudible, especially if louder sounds are being played at the same time. There is also no meaningful information that is being recorded into the music that low (roughly -65dBFS), maybe you’ll hear a fly buzzing in the recording studio.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

According to Google search, flies buzzing can be loud ........ However ultrasonic pest control generators may repel flies :-) .........

rt66indierock's picture

My office is currently about 40 dB now during the day. I can certainly hear things in the background when I play music.

At night the background drops to under 27 dB and I can still hear things.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Wow .... You must be capable of hearing 'Johnson Noise' in the electrical circuits ......... Just kidding :-) ........

MZKM's picture

Are you using a measurement mic with slow C-weight? A phone app won’t do. It is highly unheard of for an office space to be 40dB, most are 70dB.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

One thing for sure ....... He probably doesn't work on the trading floors of NYSE or CME :-) .........

Jason P Jackson's picture

Yeah. "Low level detail" and what a system is doing at .001w is a major one. On a similar note, there exists a couple European made ribbon tweeters that are held in high regard and have found their way into some revered multi-ways. Yet they measure pretty average when subjected to high level steady-state sweeps. However, it's with the quieter sweeps these tweeters surpass most domes. Their spectral decay (or at least the variants that have come my way) is up their too.

TJ's picture

Thank you Kal and John for such an informative review. Fascinating. Eager to see your review of the B&W Formation Duo, as a long-time B&W 800 series listener.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

If D&D could come up with a floor standing model with a couple of larger diameter subwoofers, say 10" or 12", priced around $25k/pair, with similar type of DSP control and web access, they will have another world class loudspeaker :-) ........

JRT's picture

I think that you are in the right ballpark, though maybe a little low for the parts cost to MSRP multiple that Dutch and Dutch is charging on these.

The well developed performance may be worth the extra money, at retail.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Check out Eikon Audio Image-1 ........ Somewhat similar concept ........... Around $25k :-) ..........

AJ's picture

Go figure ;-)
Now someone please get Kal a heftier pair of stands, he must not have kids!

Kal Rubinson's picture

I don't really have or need any stands. And while I do have kids and grandkids, they are all adults. (I wish I could see better what is in your tiny picture.)

AJ's picture

I confused the article photo with glass windows behind speaker (and bicycle) with your room described "with glass windows". The stands in that pic looked a bit small given the heft of the speaker. Maybe you don't have a bicycle either ;-).

Larger photo (where I got it from)
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/soundfield-audio-suncoast-audiophile-society.1813/

Kal Rubinson's picture

Ah. Those are fantasy photos and not from my room but I used to have a bicycle. Consequently, the stand is one I have never seen or used. This is a poor picture of what I used for the D&Ds. http://soundanchors.com/uploads/6764906e5780fb15c75269479f3bc9be4bc74c93.JPG

symphony1010's picture

Having returned to Stereophile in the last few months I was interested to find any active loudspeaker reviews. I have been seeking quality and simplicity in music reproduction because this ultimately ensures that I can focus on the music. A few years ago I purchased some actives from a UK manufacturer and these have replaced the mix of boxes, wires and dust(!) from before.
I can see that it is in the interest of manufacturers to sell more boxes but sometimes it does seem as if they prioritise profit over the best result for the serious listener. Magazines play their part here also I fear.
It's therefore good to see these actives positively reviewed here. I agree that they are the future, although for me they are the present.

Kal Rubinson's picture
  • I can see that it is in the interest of manufacturers to sell more boxes but sometimes it does seem as if they prioritise profit over the best result for the serious listener.
  • Isn't this an issue for any manufacturer? The best result for the serious listener is not always coincident with the product that will garner the most sales and profit. A business must make money to survive.

  • Magazines play their part here also I fear.
  • Sure but there is a parallel. What do our readers want to read about? It should be apparent that Stereophile readers have strong opinions about what they want.

    P.S.: Welcome back.

    ednazarko's picture

    I've used studio monitors for years from various manufacturers, for providing music at photo shoots in rented locations, in guest bedrooms, and in a gallery I partly owned. Had a Y connector to plug into the jack on my portable music player or phone, and they were great for that purpose. But - I listened to one of the nicer sets I had for almost a month, M-Audio 8 inch, while my main system speakers were out for repair, and I can tell you I was very, very happy to get my regular speakers back. The M-Audio weren't bad... but they weren't as good as my other passive speakers.

    Recently got a set of KEF LSX - needed something small for a small room - and I'm floored by how good they sound. Yeah, they're small, probably miss the bottom two or three keys on a piano keyboard, but they're precise, musical, decent enough bass, and actually image when used in a pretty sub-optimal setting. When I'm listening to them, I find myself looking at them and thinking... I could swap 5 boxes out (DAC, pre, amp, two speakers) and replace them with two powered speakers. Not LSX, which are great in a small room, but something bigger.

    With these, or the Kii, I could also ditch the subwoofer. Now I'm surfing the second hand market trying to figure out how much I'd get from dumping those six components in my studio/print shop to pick up a powered setup.

    symphony1010's picture

    This is my experience also. As a busy professional musician and educator I simply haven't got time to evaluate whether cable 'Y' makes a difference with amplifier 'X'. However, recently, I took some time out to read, explore and, above all, listen.
    If the high-end audio industry is to find a wider customer base then it surely has to find straightforward in-roads to the best quality without complexity.
    Active speakers seem to be part of that answer but I would suggest that wireless playback was also, until recently.
    Instead of continuing to improve Chromecast Audio and Airplay both Apple and Google have discontinued the simple, straightforward (and cheap) products that are essential to follow the simple route. As things stand, Airport Express and Chromecast Audio are only supported in 3rd party devices and many of these include unnecessary features or poor remote control.
    To cut to the chase I suggest that the best high-end system could be produced with a streaming service from Tidal/Qobuz feeding an improved Airplay type system connected to active speakers. Job done and no need for cables, DACS, pre-amps or any other add-ons.
    What is more important? Access to well-reproduced music? Or a complex route that may still fail to satisfy and induce yet another bout of upgraditis?
    We have a lot of this with instruments. 3rd-party manufacturers develop all kinds of add-ons to 'improve' clarinets but, watch most professional players and you see simplicity with few frills. Like
    wise in pianos, a Steinway Model 'D' from Hamburg or even New York(!) just needs a good tuner/technician and the job is done. Why are audiophiles still messing around with so much kit in the 21st century?

    jeffhenning's picture

    Sorry for all of you fans of passive speakers and those that are digi-phobes in general, but this has been where speakers have been heading for a while. This is just another example of how you can use DSP to make a great speaker.

    The only thing I can see as a "design flaw" is that they are attempting to cram too much into one box. Not having your tweeter and mid shaken about by subs in the same box is preferable. For a one box solution, though, this is pretty impressive.

    If this thing is profitable, I imagine they will have a version where they have separate subs and, maybe, a MTM mains cab.

    When you consider all of the things this speaker offers, it's a great deal.

    Ortofan's picture

    ... already good sounding/measuring passive speakers - such as the Revel Performa3 F208 - when driven by an amp with a built-in DSP room acoustics correction function - such as the Yamaha R-N803 - compare to the D&D speakers reviewed here?

    Would the D&D speakers be worth twice the price?

    https://www.stereophile.com/content/revel-performa3-f208-loudspeaker

    https://audio.com.pl/testy/stereo/amplitunery-stereo/2984-yamaha-r-n803d

    Bogolu Haranath's picture

    Another passive speaker, Vandersteen Model 3A Signature ($5,500/pair), are also in the price range of Revel Performa3 F208 ........ Vandersteen speakers can also do time-coincident wave launch ........ KR could probably review the Vandersteen 3A Signature :-) ............

    Lorton's picture

    JA wrote: "DSP operates at a fixed 48kHz sample rate, and that digital data with a higher sample rate are downsampled"
    Is that true? Do you want your input to always be down/upsampled to 48K? I certainly don't. What am I missing?

    Kal Rubinson's picture

    First hand experience, perhaps.

    jmsent's picture

    ...simply means that the upper frequency cutoff of the system is 24kHz. Given that the aluminum/magnesium (mostly aluminum) tweeter's "oilcan resonance" is at around 25kHz, what point is there in going higher than that? Frequencies fed to the tweeter at or above its resonance run the risk of creating IM products in the audible band. The specs also state the SN ratio as 118dB. Though not verified, this suggests that the built in DAC's are probably 24bit. So, I can't see where this setup would be a limiting factor.

    Lorton's picture

    but that will be like arguing that lossy digital audio signal is good enough (and all cables/amps sounds the same, etc.).
    Kal, the pro-audio world has been using 48K sampling rate back in the DAT days (they don’t do that anymore for a good reason). It is a problematic rate as far as 44/88/176 sample rates are concerned (uneven multiplier = lossy conversion), you are basically arguing against all hi-res formats, and compromising Red Book, the majority of the media. Not an ideal, anachronistic, way to run a DSP.

    Bogolu Haranath's picture

    Most of the Hi-Res PCM digital recordings made these days are 24/96 and 24/192 ....... They can be down-sampled to 24/48 :-) ..........

    Kal Rubinson's picture

    I am not arguing it one way or the other. I am advocating that you try to listen to it with an open mind despite your knowledge and experience.

    JRT's picture

    I do not doubt that these Dutch and Dutch 8C sound very good while also solving many problems in system design and application setup. The reduced resolution in the electrical signals is not a major limiting characteristic in the design solution.

    Most conventional tweeters, midrange, woofers use steel top plates with the center bore, the pole piece providing the gap, the focused magnetic field in which the voice coil operates. There are nonlinearities associated with that steel material, (exacerbated by use of ferrite magnets) called the "Barkhausen Effect", discovered by German physicist Heinrich Barkhausen in 1919. It is doubtful that most drivers can provide anything near the resolution available in the electrical signal in some high resolution audio.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barkhausen_effect

    The use of Alnico and rare earth magnets does not solve this problem.

    Electrostatics, plasma tweeters, or field coil electromagnets can provide some improvements in this problem area, but at the cost of bringing other bigger problems in need of better solutions.

    As you heard with the Dutch and Dutch 8C, and with your own Revel Ultima Studio2, two very different designs, but both properly focused on solving the more audible problems in the design trade-offs at the expense of less audible problems. I can see that if someone is going to review separate components and has need to swap those in and out of the reference system, then your choice is the better one, but in other applications the D&D_8C ability to make use of close proximity room boundaries rather than needing to avoid close proximity to room boundaries could be advantageous.

    JRT's picture

    I would like to see D&D offer a matching active bass bin to go under the 8C in lieu of a stand. The stand uses similar floor space but provides no additional volume-velocity. The bass bin could be useful in further spreading reflection off of the floor boundary, mitigating that interference, ameliorating the associated Allison Effect.

    A D&D bass bin could be connected to the D&D_8C analog XLR output chassis connector marked with the "SUB" reference designation. Perhaps DSP within the 8C could provide the needed forcing functions.

    That brings up another comment directed at Dutch & Dutch. The 8 inch woofers on the back of the 8C are "woofers", not "subwoofers". You have an analog signal balanced XLR output chassis connector that has a suitable ref des marking, "SUB", and it will confuse some of your customers if you continue to also refer to the integrated woofers as subwoofers. The midrange driver on the front is a "midrange", or perhaps a "midwoofer", but in that 8C 3way it is not used a woofer.

    And D&D, I read your manual for the 8C and found that rather deficient in explaining details of the functionality. I would suggest that you read some of RME's manuals to get a better idea of useful detail and structure. Putting a better effort into the manual might save you much bother in post-sale customer support.

    Lastly... Good job. Nicely engineered. My negative comments are only at the margins, not in the core product.

    garmtz's picture

    Normally, speakers are to be measured at tweeter height, but this design is meant to be listened to midway between the tweeter and woofer. The reason is simple: it eliminates any path length differences, regardless how far you are sitting from the speakers. This might have slightly influenced the vertical and lateral responses as well as frequency response and especially the step response.

    Bogolu Haranath's picture

    These D&D speakers are DSP controlled 'time-coincident' ....... JA1 mentions that in the measurements section ....... Most of the conventional dynamic speakers are 'time-coherent' :-) .........

    nadeauu's picture

    hi

    nadeauu's picture

    Selling 2 months used dutch and dutch 8c with Sound Anchor stands and Aurender N10 streamer.

    JRT's picture

    There are other websites aligned to sales of used audio gear, decidedly not the focus of this website.

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