DY­NAU­DIO SUB 3 SUB­WOOFER

SUB­WOOFER

Australian HIFI - - CONTENTS -

New driver, new am­pli­fier, new cabi­net, and much better sound… what’s not to like?

Dy­nau­dio’s brand-new Sub 3 replaces the iden­ti­cally-sized Sub 250 in this Dan­ish com­pany’s line of pow­ered sub­woofers. Given that the Sub 250 was such a pop­u­lar model, I won­dered why this model hadn’t just been up­graded and called a Sub 250 MkII or some sim­i­lar name. It turns out that the Sub 3 came about be­cause the com­pany’s en­gi­neers were work­ing on try­ing to de­velop a smaller and lower-priced ver­sion of the Dy­nau­dio Sub 600. To do this re­quired de­vel­op­ing a com­pletely new bass driver, which in turn re­quired a much higher-pow­ered am­pli­fier that had been in­side the Sub 250. In the end, the Sub 3 in­cor­po­rated so much of the ‘DNA’ of the Sub 600 that it was de­cided that ‘Sub 3’ would be a better de­scrip­tor for the new de­sign.

THE EQUIP­MENT

Pho­to­graphs don’t re­ally give a true picture of the size of the Dy­nau­dio Sub 3. It’s tiny. In fact, if it were any smaller, Dy­nau­dio’s en­gi­neers could not pos­si­bly have shoe­horned the new driver into the cabi­net, be­cause the new driver is 240mm in di­am­e­ter. De­spite the cone look­ing like those used on pre­vi­ous Dy­nau­dio de­signs, the cone of the Sub 3 is made from a new ma­te­rial from Dy­nau­dio that com­bines the com­pany’s MSP (Mag­ne­sium Sil­i­cate Poly­mer) with alu­minium and paper in what Dy­nau­dio calls an MSP+ Hy­brid drive unit. This new driver was de­signed specif­i­cally for use in sub­woofers, with the new ma­te­rial pro­vid­ing two kinds of res­o­nance damp­ing.

De­spite the Sub 3 en­clo­sure be­ing only 275×267×325mm (HWD), the front baf­fle is 37mm thick—twice as thick as I’d ex­pect— which has the ef­fect of re­duc­ing the vol­ume of air in­side the cabi­net even fur­ther than the small size would dic­tate, so the vol­ume is around 18-litres. Need­less to say, this means Dy­nau­dio’s en­gi­neers had to use a sealed en­clo­sure, rather than a ported one, and also in­crease the power of the am­pli­fier in or­der to be able to drive the cone hard enough to com­press and rar­efy the air trapped in­side the en­clo­sure. Dy­nau­dio rates the am­pli­fier in­side the Sub 3 as hav­ing a power out­put of 300-watts.

The am­pli­fier plate on the rear of the Sub 3 is un­usual. Yes, it has the usual vol­ume and cross­over con­trols (both rotary, with­out any set­ting in­di­ca­tions), plus a two-po­si­tion phase switch (0/180°), but there’s also a three-po­si­tion slider switch la­belled ‘SAT high­pass’ with po­si­tions marked ‘Flat’, ‘60Hz’ and ‘80Hz’, plus in­puts marked ‘Sub/Sat’, in­puts marked LFE/Slave In, and out­puts marked ‘SAT out­put’ and ‘Slave OUT.’ There’s also a two-po­si­tion ‘Slave/Sat’ switch.

All of which sug­gested to me that Dy­nau­dio has en­vis­aged that the Sub 3 could be used in four dif­fer­ent ap­pli­ca­tions.

1: The ob­vi­ous one, which is that it would sim­ply be added to an ex­ist­ing sys­tem to de­liver ad­di­tional—and pos­si­bly more ex­tended—bass, as a stand-alone item with­out any in­ter­ac­tion with other com­po­nents in the sys­tem, like any other sub­woofer to aug­ment the low-fre­quency out­put of the main loudspeakers. (That is, both the sub­woofer and the main speak­ers will re­pro­duce low fre­quen­cies.)

2: In a two-chan­nel sub/sat sys­tem, send­ing the en­tire au­dio sig­nal to the sub prior to am­pli­fi­ca­tion, then let­ting the Sub 3 take out the low­est fre­quen­cies for am­pli­fi­ca­tion and de­liv­ery, then pass­ing only the high-fre­quen­cies on to an ex­ter­nal am­pli­fier to power the pair of satel­lite speak­ers—or, per­haps, to pow­ered satel­lite speak­ers, thus avoid­ing us­ing an am­pli­fier en­tirely. (That is, only the sub­woofer will de­liver low fre­quen­cies, and not the main speak­ers.)

3: In a multi-chan­nel home theatre sys­tem, in which case it could be con­nected us­ing ei­ther the first or sec­ond meth­ods.

4: As ‘Slave’ sub­woofer in or­der to reg­u­larise the sound pressure lev­els in a lis­ten­ing room to re­move the inevitable high- and low-pressure ar­eas caused by the room’s di­men­sions (a.k.a. ‘room modes’).

The bass it de­liv­ered was ul­tra-fast, with­out even the sug­ges­tion of un­wanted over­hang

In this last case, it should be di­rectly con­nected to an­other Sub 3 sub­woofer (or sub­woofers).

De­pend­ing on how you want to use the Sub 3 will de­pend on what fea­tures and con­nec­tions you use, so it’s hardly a sur­prise that the Own­ers’ Man­ual that tells you what ev­ery­thing does, how to con­nect it and how to use it is 44 pages in length. It also means that it should be hardly a sur­prise that there are mis­takes in the man­ual, one of the most egre­gious be­ing the ad­vice (on page 18) that if you use the LFE in­put, ‘ the sig­nal should not al­ready be pro­cessed by the pro­ces­sor/re­ceiver’. This is in­cor­rect. If you use the LFE in­put, the sig­nal SHOULD have been pre-pro­cessed. (Hope­fully this mis­take will have been cor­rected by the time you read this re­view.) How­ever, my ad­vice would be that un­less you’re go­ing to use the sim­plest sub­woofer set-up (set-up 1 in the pre­vi­ous list), you should ask your hi-fi dealer to in­stall the Sub 3 in your sys­tem for you.

Some of the ob­vi­ous but com­pletely un­der­stand­able omis­sions on the Sub 3’s list of fea­tures and fa­cil­i­ties are bal­anced line-level in­puts and out­puts, and speaker-level in­puts and out­puts. In prac­tise this means the elec­tron­ics you’re us­ing with the Sub 3 will need to have a line out­put avail­able (pre-out or record-out) or a ded­i­cated sub­woofer (or LFE) out­put in or­der to al­low con­nec­tion. There are few com­po­nents that would not be able to man­age this, but since there are a few out there I feel obliged to men­tion it.

IN USE AND LIS­TEN­ING SES­SIONS

Given the qual­ity of the driver, the power out­put of the am­pli­fier, and the ex­ten­sive fea­tures on the Sub 3, Dy­nau­dio was al­ways go­ing to have to make some com­pro­mises in or­der for the sub­woofer to sell at its rec­om­mended re­tail price. One of those is that the rotary vol­ume and cross­over fre­quency con­trols are not of the same stan­dard as I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced with pre­vi­ous Dy­nau­dio prod­ucts, with the con­trols hav­ing a rather coarse ‘feel’ when they’re be­ing ro­tated and on my sam­ple, the edges of both knobs scraped on the am­pli­fier plate for a por­tion of their ro­ta­tion. Nei­ther of th­ese mi­nor fail­ings should be any cause for con­cern, since the con­trols will only have to be set at the time of in­stal­la­tion, af­ter which they’d re­main in the same po­si­tion un­til you move the Sub 3 to an­other room. An­other econ­omy is the pro­vi­sion of a two-po­si­tion phase switch, rather than a rotary con­trol, about which more in the fol­low­ing para­graph.

All sub­woofers need to be cor­rectly po­si­tioned in a room and have their con­trols care­fully ad­justed to pro­vide op­ti­mum per­for­mance, and the Dy­nau­dio Sub 3 is no dif­fer­ent in this re­gard, though the fact that it is so small and does not have a bass re­flex port will mean there will be far more po­si­tion­ing op­tions avail­able for it than would be the case if it were larger and had a port. How­ever, be­cause it has only a two-po­si­tion phase switch, rather than a vari­able one, you will have to pay close at­ten­tion to cor­rect time align­ment, and en­sure that the sub­woofer is the same dis­tance from your lis­ten­ing po­si­tion as your main front speak­ers (though it need not nec­es­sar­ily be in the same plane as them). How­ever, if you’re us­ing the Sub 3 with a home theatre re­ceiver that has time align­ment com­pen­sa­tion built in, you’ll be freed from even this mi­nor restriction.

That the sub­woofer is po­si­tioned cor­rectly in the room and the con­trols are ad­justed in such a way as to en­sure a seam­less tran­si­tion of sound from the sub­woofer to your main speak­ers is so im­por­tant that you should take the time and trou­ble to do both. Full in­struc­tions on where to po­si­tion the Sub 3 can be found at www.tinyurl.com/sub­woofer-place­ment, and full in­struc­tions on how to cor­rectly set the phase, cross­over and vol­ume con­trols can be found at www.tinyurl.com/ sub­woofer-cal­i­bra­tion.

I started off by lis­ten­ing to mu­sic us­ing the Dy­nau­dio Sub 3 in con­cert with a very large pair of floor-stand­ing loudspeakers which al­ready had ex­cel­lent bass re­sponse (with the cross­over con­trol set to 50Hz). Why? Be­cause de­spite what the man­u­fac­tur­ers of large floor-stand­ing loudspeakers put in their spec­i­fi­ca­tion sheets, even large floor-standers have trou­ble re­pro­duc­ing au­dio sig­nals in the 16Hz to 32Hz re­gion, so a sub­woofer can be used to add author­ity to this deep­est au­di­ble oc­tave. The Dy­nau­dio Sub 3 ac­quit­ted it­self mar­vel­lously well in this role, not least be­cause the bass it de­liv­ered was ul­tra-fast, with­out even the sug­ges­tion of un­wanted over­hang. The Sub 3 cer­tainly added ex­tra depth to or­gan mu­sic, but it even added ex­tra ‘body’ to piano. But if you do use the Sub 3 in such a role, you’ll need to keep the over­all vol­ume at ‘rea­son­able’ lev­els, be­cause there’s only so much you can ask a small sub­woofer to do.

Next I switched over to a fairly sub­stan­tial pair of book­shelf loudspeakers and this time, rather than just ‘adding’ the Dy­nau­dio Sub 3 as I had with the floor-standers (that is, not us­ing the Dy­nau­dio’s in­ter­nal cross­over), this time I wired the Sub 3 so that it was pro­duc­ing all the low bass, so the book­shelf speak­ers now had to han­dle only the up­per por­tion of the au­dio spec­trum. I started my ses­sions with the high-pass switch set to 60Hz, but the Sub 3 was so eas­ily han­dling the bass that I changed the set­ting to 80Hz, so the Dy­nau­dios were de­liv­er­ing even more of the bass. They rose to the oc­ca­sion, de­spite now hav­ing to de­liver high-im­pact, high-en­ergy bass sound from such in­stru­ments as drums, bass gui­tars, dou­ble-bass… plus of course, key­board in­stru­ments such as piano and syn­the­siser. Lis­ten­ing to Bruce Dun­lap (gui­tar) and Dan Kolton (dou­ble-bass) play­ing Three­dle­dum (from Stereophile Test CD3) the depth and tone of Kolton’s dou­ble-bass was re­pro­duced beau­ti­fully. I was also en­am­oured of the way the Dy­nau­dio Sub 3 de­liv­ered the elec­tric bass and fre­netic drum­ming on Ha­ley

Grace’s Run­ning (from her al­bum ‘Ghost of a Girl’). This proved to me that the Dy­nau­dio Sub 3 is a very mu­si­cal-sound­ing sub­woofer, with very low dis­tor­tion, and that the bass it de­liv­ers is as clean as a whistle, with­out any sonic ‘char­ac­ter’ of its own, so it will meld with all loudspeakers you match with it, ir­re­spec­tive of their brand.

My fi­nal foray with the Dy­nau­dio Sub 3 was us­ing it in a 5.1-chan­nel home theatre set-up, sub­sti­tut­ing for the much larger sub­woofer and much more ex­pen­sive that usu­ally oc­cu­pies the real es­tate of my lis­ten­ing room floor, this time con­nected via the LFE in­put. At low lis­ten­ing lev­els the Sub 3 was to­tally im­pres­sive: I could very well have been lis­ten­ing to my own sub­woofer (sob!). It was only when I re­ally cranked up the vol­ume and played movies with some se­ri­ously ri­otous and un­mu­si­cal sound ef­fects (foleyed rather than real, in most cases) that the Sub 3 again re­vealed slight lim­i­ta­tions in ex­actly how loudly it can play. That said, my room is very large, and I was play­ing very loudly. In a typ­i­cal home-theatre set-up in a nor­mal-sized room, I think you’ll find the Sub 3 will eas­ily be able to de­liver far louder sound than you will ever need.

CON­CLU­SION

It’s a cruel trick of physics that the smaller a de­signer makes a sub­woofer the more ex­pen­sive the com­po­nents in­side it have to be, be­cause you need a hugely pow­er­ful am­pli­fier to com­pen­sate for the lack of vol­ume in­side the cabi­net, and then a su­perbly-spec­i­fied— and su­perbly ro­bust—low-fre­quency driver to be able to deal with the mo­tive forces gen­er­ated by that am­pli­fier. So Dy­nau­dio is to be con­grat­u­lated for de­liv­er­ing such a high-per­for­mance sub­woofer in such a small cabi­net at such a low price.

But when it comes to pric­ing, it isn’t only Dy­nau­dio that’s de­liv­er­ing on this count, be­cause the com­pany’s Aus­tralian dis­trib­u­tor is ob­vi­ously also do­ing its bit: My googling showed that (ad­justed for the ex­change rate) the Aus­tralian RRP is ac­tu­ally lower than the dis­counted price for this model in the USA.

So whereas most Aus­tralian dis­trib­u­tors merely aim for par­ity pric­ing with the US, BusiSoft is aim­ing even higher. Win­ner! Stan Sa­muels Read­ers in­ter­ested in a full tech­ni­cal ap­praisal of the per­for­mance of the Dy­nau­dio Sub 3 Sub­woofer should con­tinue on and read the LAB­O­RA­TORY RE­PORT pub­lished on the fol­low­ing pages. Read­ers should note that the re­sults men­tioned in the re­port, tab­u­lated in per­for­mance charts and/or dis­played us­ing graphs and/or pho­to­graphs should be con­strued as ap­ply­ing only to the spe­cific sam­ple tested.

A very mu­si­cal­sound­ing sub­woofer with very low dis­tor­tion, and the bass it de­liv­ers is as clean as a whistle...

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