DYNAUDIO MUSIC 7 wireless system
Dynaudio’s first tilt at the standalone music system brings new angles to the art of multiroom audio.
Dynaudio takes its first tilt at the wireless music system and — as usual — does things a little differently.
Not merely a wireless music system, this is an “intelligent” wireless music system, or so the packaging of the Dynaudio Music series declares it. The large Music 7 certainly presents itself as something different as it emerges from its long box, the unit itself a wide 82cm from angled edge to angled edge, or 74cm across its button-laden brushed aluminium top, which looks from the side like a walkway across some mountain dam with the outward angles of the Music 7 extended out below.
This is the largest of four models in Dynaudio’s new range, all of which offer multiple paths to music. They all have Spotify Connect so you can target them as a playback device from your Spotify app, assuming both are on the same home network. They can play audio streams via AirPlay from a Mac or from any app on an Apple iOS smart device. They can access internet radio, and they can play music from UPnP-shared music on your network.
And of course they can all make a Bluetooth wireless connection to stream direct from your device of choice.
Then there are direct inputs — on the Music 7 you get a 3.5mm minijack analogue input and a USB socket which will take digital audio from an attached iOS device (and provide USB battery charging at the same time). These are both on the final slope of the unit’s left edge.
At the back, down low, there’s also an optical digital input and, lifting the Music 7 above the crowd, also an HDMI input which can be connected to an ARC-equipped TV HDMI socket, to play the audio from your TV. Dynaudio has opted not to include an Ethernet connection for your network, so all the streaming is done via Wi-Fi.
For control on that top strip there is clearly labelled and intuitive buttonry for track control, volume, input selection and five numbered ‘presets’. But of course there’s also an app which can do all that — and so much more, including set-up.
you set up an account, which requires accepting terms and conditions including, interestingly, a class-action waiver. One thing we’d note about the Music 7 is that you could still use much of its functionality were the app ever to disappear, whereas some smart speakers will become dumb lumps of plastic and metal should their manufacturers ever withdraw support. Dynaudio’s longevity (40th anniversary last year) and long product cycles give further confidence in this regard.
So signed up and signed in, there’s an entertaining bit of interaction displayed like an extended SMS chat — ‘Do you want the newsletter?’ ‘Do you want to connect to Tidal?’ ‘What music do you like?’ It is a truly lovely bit of app design.
For this last option of choosing your fave music, it shows you bands you might like, but then augments the initial suggestions with similar bands once you make a choice — we select The Doors, it offers us The Who; select The Who, it offers us The Kinks. Very smart, this, and the information is used to deliver a ‘Music Now’ section, which provides both suggestions and access to useful artist profiles. Note, however, that this is linked only to Tidal, so if you’re more of the Spotify/iHeartRadio ilk, it’s very much less useful. But once linked to our Tidal account it proved well able to offer us suitable music, as well as easy access to our own Tidal favourites and playlists. These can be saved to the five presets for easy access from the buttons on the top.
The ‘text’-style chat extended to speaker set-up, which is initiated by pressing the unit’s ‘preset 1’ button until it flashes; connection worked third time for us (it flashed faster the time it worked, so perhaps this was our own user error); it used AirPlay set-up from our iPad to get our Wi-Fi password without requiring re-entry, and we were off to Spotify and streaming The Strypes within about two minutes flat. Position and power Dynaudio’s “intelligence” extends to adjusting the unit’s acoustics for variable positioning, but we were pleased to see that they encourage you to give it the best possible start, recommending ear-level siting on a shelf or table. This wouldn’t be easy if you’re using it for TV audio — the TV should also be at eye-level so a centrally-positioned Dynaudio will have to go significantly below, given its 21cm height. So then you can engage the “Intelligent” option in the Dynaudio Music App RoomAdapt settings menu, so that the Music 7 “senses where it’s been placed and continually optimises the speaker’s tonal characteristics to deliver the best performance possible”.
Dynaudio notes that this isn’t just a bass-cut filter to temper the reinforcement of walls and corners — “the technology optimises volume and tone simultaneously, and on the fly, by sensing the room and calculating as it goes”. Making music And my, the sound is big and rich — we thought at first it was our high-quality standmounts bursting into life through some wireless link but no, this fine sound was emerging from the wide Music 7.
Leaving Spotify to shuffle all our ‘My Music’ songs ad infinitum, we returned to the Dynaudio app and found we could control Spotify’s volume usefully from there, and again with a nice graphic app interface; you simply slide the whole screen up or down, moving a tinted panel and getting a bloomin’ great percentage readout of level. It proved both sensitive and reasonably short on response lag; there’s no safety brake on sliding it up to 100%, though, so take a modicum of care. Some apps allow a sensible maximum to be set for app use — we can’t imagine many users pushing the Music 7 much above 80% with material recorded at normal levels. That 80% is extremely loud, and going anywhere above had us subconsiously leaping to pull it back — a combination of receiving too much in a medium-sized room, fearing for the Dynaudio’s drivers, and an edge of distortion finally creeping in.
Equally importantly the Music 7 has the valuable talent of sounding fine indeed at lower levels, where it maintains its balance of bass so that ‘quiet’ doesn’t mean ‘weedy’.
Delivering all this is are six 50W internal amplifiers quoted at 50W each, driving six transducers, the positioning of which was not easy to discern through the fabric grille — until we discovered this was removable (with care, pull from the bottom first), to reveal that both the tweeters and midrange drivers are on the angled sides to deliver width of sound, with the two woofers on the main front surface (see picture above left). The six drivers are configured as a three-way stereo pair in a vented cabinet, each channel using a 25mm tweeter, 76mm midrange and five-inch woofer.
It doesn’t always do music favours — overcompressed pop is delivered as received; Shania Twain’s Swingin’ With My
Eyes Closed was open enough on the down verses, with the Music 7 also betraying perhaps suspicion of some autotune work on the vocal… but then the fist-pumping chorus was dynamically boxed. But not through any playback fault — that’s how it was recorded. So give it something more natural — the recent Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile collaboration, say, which is like a negative image of Angus & Julia Stone. This guitar combination was delivered as open, wide and large, the vocals very impressively shaped with hi-fi reality, and underpinned by large tuneful bass. As on other tracks, the bass is given prominence that works great up to medium levels but did begin getting bloomy when pushed hard. This was one time we engaged RoomAdapt, which did tighten the bass somewhat. A solid support also helped; we had the Music 7 on a pair of shot-filled speaker stands at one point, to some sonic advantage — and a certain sculptural minimalism at the front of the room.
Being lower than a standmount speaker this also left our TV above its top edge, making this a working arrangement for using the Music 7 for TV. The ARC connection worked, though for conve- nience we ended up listening mainly via the optical input. The Music 7 delivered a big rich TV sound, bigger than a soundbar, massively preferable to TV speaker sound. It delivered well the difficult voice of Police Chief Hopper in Stranger Things, whose voice boasts all the close-mike quality of a California DJ, here gaining a slightly strange push in his deep mids but all the required presence to inform rather than obscure. Meanwhile the Music 7’s musical prowess made the most of the fabulous music in the soundtrack to this series.
Our red sample of the Music 7 was a bit distracting in soundbar position, of course, but we can see things working nicely with a wall-mounted TV and the Dynaudio Music 7 stretched out below. As for its position being slightly below ear height, we thought its sound also to be fine when the Music 7 was slightly below listening level, despite Dynaudio’s advice.
We had until this point entirely forgotten the system came with a high quality minimalist remote, with three track control buttons, volume and input select. It’s no cheapie — reassuringly weighty and the key volume controls exactly where they should be; slightly finer adjustment steps might be nice, but it’s not too brutal.
You can also use the Music 7’s own buttons, of course, and it’s slightly alarming at first that the Music 7 senses your approach and turns on via proximity, as well as via a button press either local or remote, or from an audio signal on its inputs, or a prompt via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Smart thing it is.
Finally there’s multiroom operation to consider, for which we unboxed the smaller Music 3. Dynaudio Music 3 Dynaudio has followed the common multiroom system ecosystem of larger mains-powered speakers and below them smaller units which can run on battery power when required, though
of course their networking abilities disappear when they’re outside the home, leaving Bluetooth or direct connection as the main options. Quite why so many multiroom systems ‘happen’ to follow the 1/3/5/7 oddnumbering system pioneered by Sonos we’ll leave them to explain, but that’s the deal here — the smallest is the 1, while we had a play with the Music 3 (pictured right) to hear its powers, while testing out the multiroom playback abilities in combination with the Music 7.
In size (and kinda shape) the Music 3 reminds us a little of the HEOS 5, but it adds extended facets at front and rear extending its depth; again it’s hard to see exactly where the drivers reside through the woven grille, supplied this time in a tasteful and décor-friendly blue-grey, tucked into a surrounding frame which has the power button confusingly hidden on the downfacing left edge, while on top are the volume and transport keys along with a single preset button which shuttles through the five available presets. Those drivers comprise, we gather (having discovered the grille here is not removable), a single five-inch woofer and twin 25mm tweeters, each receiving 40W of power, and the result is a rather livelier performance than from the larger unit, an octave lighter on the bass, but nevertheless retaining the characteristic of musicality, free from the fizzed-up and bass-bloated sound that comes from many rivals in this space. Dialling up the bass via the app doesn’t improve the depth, rather boosts what is already there, so that we reckon Dynaudio has set the defaults just right. We’re not saying it can’t punch — streaming Fleetwod Mac’s The Chain from Tidal proved it could, the bass drum firing out with great weight, all the more impressive given we’d now taken it off mains power and were running on its internal battery, which promises something like 8-10 hours of play time. Beyonce’s Daddy Lesson revealed that the Dynaudio Music 3 is particularly fond of the bottom A of a bass guitar (55Hz), its response just dipping down by the bottom E. Even oldies like Booker T & The MG’s Green Onions were given a lively, rich yet accurate delivery. There is usually a trade-off in listenability at a certain distance for speakers of this ilk, and certainly you get more of the Music 3’s treble content if it’s positioned desktop in front of you as opposed to tabletop at a distance. But even at close quarters the treble was never insistent, never reeking of DSP. We had the auto RoomAdapt selected, so that may have been playing a part in these different scenarios (though it couldn’t know where we were seated, of course).
Within your home network the Music 3 retains all its networking abilities on battery power; go beyond and you still have Bluetooth and a choice of analogue minijack input or USB-A socket into which an iOS device will play and charge at the same time — a perfect solution for data-streaming of music. The one downside to its portability is the lack of any handle or easy way to carry it around.
Grouping up was easy with both speakers available from the app — you drag and drop speakers into a circle (see left), and have the option of group playback or assigning them to become a stereo pair, with each working in mono. For the two different speakers we had, we grouped, of course. Synchronisation was as near perfect as we could discern. Conclusions The Dynaudio Music 3 is not for out-and-out bass heads, then, but balances its pretty impressive delivery of bass against a cheery and never insistent treble, achieving one of the purer sounds from a speaker of its size in this market. Battery power is a bonus, though the size of the Music 3 could only be considered borderline portable — let’s call it ‘easily relocatable’, a music buddy for deck and holiday, rather than one to take to the beach.
As a range, these two of the four models indicate that Dynaudio has bided its time sensibly in entering the wireless speaker market at this relatively late stage, thereby achieving a sensibly chosen range of inputs and streaming abilities. We might have wished for Chromecast, or for Spotify to be an option in the Music Now playlisting, but otherwise all its abilities combine to complement the delightfully musical delivery from both these speakers. We’d suggest that before you opt for any rival multiroom system, you should put them side-by-side with the pricecomparable Dynaudio, and give them a good listen with the music you love.
ABOVE: We gently removed the front grille to see where the Music 7’s six drivers resided. LEFT: The Dynaudio Music app interacts like a friendly stream of text messages during set-up.