ProAc Response D Two loudspeaker

ProAc's Response D Two is a stand-mounted, two-way, ported loudspeaker with a a proprietary 1" silk-dome tweeter and woofer using a proprietary 6.5" cone of glass-fiber with a copper phase plug. At 17" high by 8" wide by 10.25" deep, the cabinet is taller and narrower than usual, owing to the fact that the port is centered below its mid/woofer.

The D Two is built in mirror-imaged pairs, with the tweeters offset to the inside edges. The cabinet is claimed to be made of thin-wall birch plywood with rigid damping. The speaker is available in standard real-wood veneers of black ash, mahogany, cherry, or maple for $3500/pair—or, for extra, bird's-eye maple or ebony (my review pair). Woodwork and build quality in general are excellent. The speaker is built at ProAc's plant in Brackley, Northamptonshire, England. Black stretch-fabric grilles were provided that attach with the usual front-panel grommets, but I didn't use them. A small fillet or shelf of wood at the bottom of the front panel gives the speaker slightly more visual interest with the grilles on. The rear has a recessed connections panel with two pairs of non–EC-compliant, rhodium-plated binding posts, and a jumper for single-wiring.

ProAc states a nominal impedance of 8 ohms, a sensitivity of 88.5dB, a frequency response of 30Hz–30kHz (no range of error specified), and recommends that the speaker be used with an amplifier providing 30–150Wpc.

I've already commented on the sound of the Response D Two (as did Robert Deutsch and John Atkinson) in my report on the Leben CS600. Both in Montreal and in my listening room, the Leben-ProAc pairing had a finely balanced combination of transparency and clarity that coexisted with musical weight and warmth—not an easy trick to pull off.

Switching from Harbeth's excellent P3ESR to the larger Response D Twos, it quickly became apparent that the ProAcs did not have the classic "nearfield monitor" sound, with an exaggerated upper bass. I ended up positioning the D Twos about 3' farther back from me in my listening room from where the small Harbeths had been. From that position, the tonal balance was better and the speakers did a better job of filling the room. The Response D Two's tonal balance remained consistent regardless of whether I sat or stood.

With Mirror Canon, Tor Espen Aspaas's recital disc of mostly solo works for piano by Beethoven, Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern (SACD/CD, 2L 49SACD), which I recommended in my December 2009 column, the predominant impression was one of great clarity. There was a satisfying sense of heft, but only when that heft was actually in the music. Hand in hand with the clarity went speed. The Response D Twos did not flatter the music by making things sound richer than they were. However, in order to prevent this virtue from turning into a vice, the source components and amplification need to be of excellent quality.

Playing Mirror Canon in Luxman's DU-50 universal player with the Leben CS600 tube amp, the left-hand chords were a bit plummy, the right-hand lines punchy. Switching over to Luxman's solid-state, 100Wpc L-505u integrated amplifier, which at $3500 is $2395 less expensive than the Leben, there was a "bigger" sound, with more of a sense of sustain in the held-down notes of the left-hand chords, and a sound that did not give up all that much in refinement. I heard the same results when I switched from Leben to Luxman with Nathaniel Rosen's recording of J.S. Bach's Solo Cello Suite 4 (CD, John Marks JMR 6/7)—a noticeably larger if not quite as refined sound, though by no means whatsoever shabby. But regardless of the amplifier, the Response D Two never gave the impression that there just wasn't enough bass.

US distributor: Modern Audio
PO Box 334
Stevenson, MD 21153
(410) 486-5975