Driven to success
Dynaudio’s design-led drive to innovate and its ability to deliver world-class driver technology have brought 40 years of success.
Dynaudio was always going to be a company that took control of sound quality by developing its own drivers. It was founded in Denmark in 1977, after Ejvind Skaaning and Gerhard Richter left behind a driver manufacturing company called RMS and established Dynaudio, soon joined by Wilfried Ehrenholz, who is still with Dynaudio as a special advisor today. In its very earliest days Dynaudio’s products used in-house crossover designs but relied on OEM drivers. It was a situation which clearly wasn’t going to last.
“Using OEM drivers you are always dependent upon the development level of your suppliers,” says Ehrenholz, remembering those early days. “But we had ideas that were a long way ahead of the products we could buy, and it was always our intention to aim for the quality end of the market. Within three years, all of our loudspeaker systems were equipped with our own drivers which were developed by our in-house R&D team.”
The Model 100 loudspeaker was key in this development, the company’s first to incorporate a full complement of in-house drivers designed and manufactured by Dynaudio itself. And it was a success, lauded for its bass quality in particular — “an impulse precision that to our knowledge is unsurpassed by any other product”, was the verdict from Electronic Sound magazine in 1981.
A series of design innovations have followed — Centre Magnet Systems, Symmetrical Magnet Design, Magnesium Silicate Polymer cones, Ferrofluid damping, and many more. The Dynaudio 80, 100, and 200 models brought the earliest of these Dynaudio R&D efforts to life, and by 1983 Dynaudio was ready to unveil its extraordinary Consequence loudspeaker. Later upgraded around 1985 and released in an Ultimate Edition in 2010 that is still available today by special request, this was a no-compromise statement loudspeaker and priced accordingly — Ehrenholz says at the time the most expensive speakers were about a quarter of its price. Dealers met this with some incredulity, but the sound quality from its
three individual enclosures was incontestable, using an inverted driver array with the nowlegendary D28 tweeter and D21 super-tweeter, as well as a 17W midrange and a 30W woofer. Despite its price, the Consequence went on to become one of the world’s best-selling high-end loudspeakers ever.
By now Dynaudio had turned the OEM tables to become itself the world’s premiere high-end driver manufacturer for kit-built and OEM speakers. And the company’s developments in raw driver technology continued, introducing MSP (Magnesium Silicate Polymer) driver diaphragms and a new soft-dome tweeter. This pairing, along with additional innovations like a second, internal bass driver and an acoustic airflow resistor called a Varioven, were integrated into a new range, the Dynaudio Compound Series. This key range used the new drivers in sturdy, high-quality HDF (high-density fibreboard) enclosures finished in natural veneers — furniture-grade cabinets in the best Danish tradition of the art.
The first ‘Special’
The end of the 1980s saw a string of further notable products. The ‘Special One’ was the first of the company’s ‘Special’-tagged products often used for their anniversary editions. The ‘One’ might be claimed as the very first truly high-end compact monitor, and the same concept but with the latest and greatest drivers yielded the now-legendary Contour 1.3 SE. Dynaudio’s Contour models became the heart of the company’s product offerings: standmounts and floorstanders with the company’s latest advances in drivers showcased in hand-crafted wood cabinets. The first generation sold for over 15 years before the range was updated, and many considered the secret stars of the Contour offering to be those smallest models.
Also in 1989 came the Crafft Studio monitor, which opened doors in the pro community for the company (Dynaudio Acoustics was founded around this time), and the distinctively shaped Dynaudio Facette, one of the first design-orientated high-end loudspeakers to be released.
Dynaudio performance was made more accessible in the early 1990s through the new Audience models, starting with the ultracompact Audience 10 and the floorstanding Audience 20. By the mid-1990s as surround sound continued its rise, the Audience range widened to include home cinema centrechannel speakers and subwoofers.
Car hi-fi became increasingly important to Dynaudio from the 1990s, working with first Volvo (the Volvo C70 in 1996 with its 10-driver system is seen as a shining early achievement) and later Volkswagen.
But hi-fi was never neglected, indeed a new level even beyond the Consequence was prepared for release in 1999 — the Evidence Master and Evidence Temptation. The key to their development was Dynaudio Directivity Control (DDC), using elaborate crossover topology and vertical symmetrical drive unit arrays to reduce the energy dispersed to floor and ceiling “by approximately 75%, removing these reflections and their added time delays for a cleaner and more faithful sound”, as well as making the loudspeaker far less dependent on the room and much less influenced by positioning. “The Evidence was soon widely regarded as the best loudspeaker in the world”, says Dynaudio with pride, “today remaining at the forefront as the leading examples of available loudspeaker technology”. Many ‘Product of the Year’ and design awards followed.
The DDC topology was used again in the 2002 Confidence C2 and Confidence C4, along with
a new star, Dynaudio’s Esotar2 tweeter, which fast developed a reputation all its own as the best dome tweeter in the world. It was a fitting way for the company to celebrate its 25th anniversary, alongside a second-generation Contour series, and a new ‘Special’, the ‘Special Twenty-Five’, finished in an exclusive veneer.
In 2005 custom-installation speakers were first released — in-walls and in-ceiling models applying Dynaudio’s driver expertise to the acoustic challenges of those environments.
More conventional, at least at first, were the first models in a new Focus range, classic traditional designs in a contemporary hi-fi loudspeaker shape. It was to be nearly a decade before these were re-imagined as the Focus XD range that is with us today — high-end speakers, but active (no amplifiers required), with digital inputs and the ability to stream wirelessly from a connections hub elsewhere in the room.
These followed from the Xeo range released originally in 2012 and now in a second generation. The Xeo had a claim to be the first wireless speaker that could be called properly high-end, and the Focus XD models took this still further. Any of these can work alone as active speakers — the first-gen Xeos only wirelessly, the rest all having analogue and/or digital inputs on the speakers themselves. But if you add one of Dynaudio’s wireless hubs, then you
can plug sources into that, and send them to your speakers — up to four different sets of speakers at the same time in the case of the Connect. It’s an offering that puts Dynaudio right at the forefront of modern speaker design — still hi-fi, but now Wi-Fi. A pair of Focus XD speakers is just about the simplest possible high-end audio system imaginable — no external amps or cables required.
Continuing the anniversary theme, Dynaudio has this year released the ‘Special Forty’, its first special since the 30th anniversary Sapphire. The Special Forty was on demo at the recent Australian Hi-Fi & AV Show, proving they could combine finesse with out-andout dynamism, ample testimony to the quality of the unique 28mm soft-dome Esotar Forty tweeter and “the ultimate incarnation of our legendary 17W75 MSP woofer”, with an AirFlow Basket and hybrid magnet system, and its presentation of Dynaudio’s values from the start, being fully designed and engineered in Dynaudio Labs, and built across the road in the Skanderborg factory.
We wish Dynaudio, already 10 years old when Sound+Image began its work, a very happy 40th anniversary.
On the wall, Dynaudio’s latest wireless Xeo 2. On the floor, the 1978 Model 100, the first Dynaudio speaker to use all in-house drive units.
Traditional Danish cabinet cra smanship combines perfectly with Dynaudio’s longstanding expertise in driver design.