Dynaudio to Auction Last Pair of Sapphires

Three years after Dynaudio released its highly coveted 30th Anniversary Sapphire loudspeaker in a limited run of 2000 units, the final pair will be sold online by Danish auctioneer Lauritz. All proceeds from the auction, which begins Wednesday, May 12, and ends at 2pm MEST on Saturday, May 22, will benefit Doctors Without Borders.

The pair, finished in exclusive Sapphire Blue clear piano lacquer over a natural veneer of bird's-eye maple, bears the serial number "No.1,000/1,000" engraved on a metal plate on the rear panel. During the auction, the pair will be on display in Lauritz's showroom in Hamburg, Germany. The auction itself, however, will take place only online. This loudspeaker, a collector's item that lists for $16,500/pair, should generate a substantial sum for Doctors Without Borders.

John Atkinson reviewed the Sapphire in the January 2009 issue of Stereophile. At the review's end, he commented, "I can't think of a more pleasant way to have spent my summer than with the Dynaudio Sapphires. They offer big-hearted lows, an uncolored midrange, and clean, grain-free highs. . . . Recommended with a bullet."

Wilfried Ehrenholz, founder and CEO of Dynaudio International GmbH, explained by phone the thinking behind the auction. "We are in a very terrible time," he said. "The world is crazy. So we decided to do something good that would also get people's attention. We intentionally picked an organization about which no one had any questions. We know Doctors Without Borders. They do a terrific job all over the world, helping people in need."

Auctioning the speaker online seemed especially appropriate because the Sapphire had a huge launch on the Internet. After the speaker was displayed at an audio show in Hong Kong, thousands of people clicked through to the speaker's webpage on Dynaudio's website.

Dynaudio had always planned to produce the Sapphire in a limited run of 1000 pairs. The only reason it has remained available for three years is that its manufacturing process is so complex that only a few pairs can be made at a time. At one point, there were so many back orders that some people had to wait eight months for delivery.

Anniversaries Past and Future

That was not the case with Dynaudio's coveted Special Twenty-Five (25th anniversary) bookshelf speaker, whose first production run was 2500 pairs in a finish of burled birch. After those had sold out, the next run was available in all of Dynaudio's standard finishes. In the two or so years the Special Twenty-Five was available, approximately 4000 pairs were sold.

Rather than contemplate releasing a 40th-anniversary model in 2012, Dynaudio will bring back the Special Twenty-Five later this year for a final production run {of how many pairs?}. Priced at $5800/pair, and tentatively slated for October relaunch in limited markets, the two-way bookshelf uses the same 8" plastic-cone woofer as Dynaudio's top speaker model, the Evidence Master, and the same 1.1" Esotar2 fabric-dome tweeter as the Sapphire. Stereophile's John Marks called the Special Twenty-Five "fabulous." And while John Atkinson, in his June 2005 Follow-Up, noted that the speaker's treble balance was on the forward side, he nevertheless called it "a superb loudspeaker, with a smooth, grain-free treble, a natural-sounding midrange, excellent soundstaging, and extended low frequencies when given a little bit of boundary reinforcement.'

Michael Manousselis, director of Dynaudio's sales and marketing in the US, confesses that the Special Twenty-Five sold so fast that at times he felt like a data-entry clerk, spending day after day entering sales figures in columns.

Computer Audio

What, I asked founder Wilfried Ehrenholz, are Dynaudio's plans for the future? Noting that Dynaudio's line of professional monitors for recording studios and TV stations has made it one of the world's top three suppliers professional speakers, and that the company supplies car speaker systems to Volkswagen, he pointed to the company's new partnership with multimedia computer manufacturer MSI, of Taiwan. "We are developing sound for their high-end notebooks," he said of the forthcoming MSI GT 660. "The first product will be on the market in June."

The gaming notebook computer, which will display on its keyboard a "Sound by Dynaudio" logo, will benefit from Dynaudio's research into driver baskets, voice-coils, diaphragms, driver housings, and cabinet architecture, as well as the positioning of drive-units in the computer, which will also include soundcard enhancements and DSP by Dynaudio.

"High-end audio customers are getting older and older," Ehrenholz said. "This gets our name out to young people. Maybe we can make them interested in real good-quality sound. It's an education process. A lot of audiophiles say our time is over, but people are listening to music more than ever before. It's our task to educate people and make them interested in real quality. I think, in the future, we'll have a big market for high-quality audio products."