Col­lect­ing the set

Back in Fe­bru­ary we re­viewed the largest and sec­ond smallest of Dy­nau­dio’s four Mu­sic sys­tems. Now we have the oth­ers. Dy­nau­dio Mu­sic in­tel­li­gent mu­sic sys­tems

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Not mere wire­less speak­ers, th­ese, but ‘in­tel­li­gent wire­less mu­sic sys­tems’ — that’s how Dy­nau­dio styles its first tilt at the stand­alone and mul­ti­room mar­ket. And as usual, the com­pany does things a lit­tle dif­fer­ently. We played with two of the four-strong range very early — in­deed a few things changed after our re­view came out, no­tably the re­moval of Spo­tify, for reg­u­lar read­ers who have held onto the re­view from our Feb/March 2018 is­sue. Now we have the other half of the range to ex­am­ine — the sec­ond largest in the range, the Mu­sic 5, and the smallest and most por­ta­ble model, the Mu­sic 1.

Full range

Dy­nau­dio does aim to de­liver a dif­fer­ence, no­tably in sheer size with its Mu­sic 7, which presents it­self an im­pres­sively wide 82cm from an­gled edge to an­gled edge, or 74cm across its but­ton-laden brushed alu­minium top. Even the Mu­sic 5 is still quite the pres­ence. And of course Dy­nau­dio’s longevity as a speaker man­u­fac­turer of renown gives some fur­ther ex­pec­ta­tion of qual­ity to their build, and their au­dio per­for­mance.

All four mod­els of­fer mul­ti­ple paths to mu­sic. They all have Blue­tooth, with the higher qual­ity aptX codec if your An­droid phone sup­ports it, whereas iPhone and Mac own­ers can achieve CD-qual­ity stream­ing us­ing Air­Play. When con­nected to your home Wi-Fi they can ac­cess in­ter­net ra­dio, and they can be made to play mu­sic from DLNA-shared mu­sic on your net­work.

Then there are di­rect in­puts, which rise through the range. They all have a USB slot into which iOS de­vices can play, and from which other de­vices can be charged — es­pe­cially handy on the por­ta­ble mod­els to keep your phone charged while play­ing mu­sic from it. The small Mu­sic 1 and 3 mod­els have a mini­jack aux­il­iary in­put; the Mu­sic 5 adds an op­ti­cal dig­i­tal in­put, and on the Mu­sic 7 you get 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. Set-up & con­trol We like the fact that each unit can be op­er­ated en­tirely through its but­tonry, while the top two mod­els also have

a phys­i­cal re­mote con­trol (min­i­mal­ist, but ef­fec­tive). We like the in­tel­li­gent Dy­nau­dio Mu­sic app as well, but we’re al­ways slightly ner­vous if an app is the only way to use a prod­uct, just be­cause apps ain’t for­ever.

They are very use­ful for set­ting up prod­ucts, mind you. A help­ful first note if you’re look­ing for the Dy­nau­dio Mu­sic app on a tablet — set your App Store fil­ter to show phone apps, as there is (at time of testing) only the phone ver­sion. Once you’re 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?’ For this last op­tion of choos­ing your fave mu­sic, it shows you bands you might like, and aug­ments the ini­tial suggestions 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 (shown on the phone, pre­vi­ous page), which pro­vides both suggestions and ac­cess to use­ful artist pro­files. Note, how­ever, that this is linked firmly to Tidal, so if you’re more of the Spo­tify/iHeartRa­dio ilk, it’s much less use­ful. When it comes to ac­tu­ally play­ing mu­sic, the app does its own thing with Tidal, and has in­ter­net ra­dio. For ev­ery­thing else, it’s Blue­tooth, Air­Play, third-party apps, or the ex­ter­nal in­puts.

Sen­si­bly, then, a gen­er­ous nine-month Tidal sub­scrip­tion comes with each pur­chase, to avail you of the full Dy­nau­dio in­tel­li­gence ex­pe­ri­ence. 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 also be saved to the pre­sets for later ac­cess.

The ‘text’-style chat ex­tended to speaker set-up. Us­ing Air­Play set-up from our iPhone, the app whizzed through the con­nec­tion to Wi-Fi with­out re­quir­ing so much as a pass­word. We al­lowed each unit a firmware up­date, and after the few min­utes that took we were quickly en­joy­ing mu­sic — and again with a nice graphic app in­ter­face; you sim­ply slide the whole screen up or down for vol­ume con­trol, moving a tinted panel and get­ting a bloomin’ great per­cent­age read­out of level (above left). 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.

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 the Mu­sic 7 for TV au­dio via HDMI (or the Mu­sic 5 via op­ti­cal) — the TV should also be at eye-level! But you can en­gage the “In­tel­li­gent” op­tion in the app’s RoomA­dapt set­tings, 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”.

There is also a NoiseA­dapt op­tion, one mar­vel­lous de­scrip­tion of which is that the speak­ers “ac­tively sense the vibe in the room… and then they roll with it”. We pre­sume this ‘rolling’ in­volves push­ing the EQ to over­come, say, party chat­ter, rather than can­celling air­craft noise… we had hoped it might can­cel out lo­cal Meri­ton con­struc­tion noise to leave our test room in per­fect peace. Alas, not quite that in­tel­li­gent.

Fi­nally, there’s the mul­ti­room side of things once you have more than one of the Mu­sic units on the same net­work. The app makes this group­ing process su­per-sim­ple — you sim­ply drag and drop speak­ers to cre­ate a group (above right), un­drag to re­lease them.

Dy­nau­dio Mu­sic 1

Given we pre­ferred the two larger units to the 3, it seemed likely we might en­joy the ju­nior $699 Mu­sic 1 less again. It turned out oth­er­wise, and given the lower price, we think this Mu­sic 1 a de­light­ful com­pan­ion, and in some ways ex­tra­or­di­nary. Like the Mu­sic 3 it has an in­ter­nal battery ready to run, and the same wire­less con­nec­tiv­ity. We left it on warm-through du­ties stream­ing ABC Jazz us­ing the Dy­nau­dio app, and at first lis­ten had thought its sound to lack some­thing in the way of cut-through, a lit­tle soft up top. But the more we heard, the bet­ter we thought it, and then up came Nick Hay­wood’s

Wiggy Blues (that’s Aus­tralian jazz bass Nick Hay­wood, not Hair­cut Hey­wood, de­spite the track ti­tle) and the kick drum was emerg­ing with quite as­ton­ish­ing depth and weight for a unit so small. The walk­ing up­right bass on Noah Preminger’s Walk­ing On Eg­gshells de­scended to notes far deeper than our ex­pec­ta­tions, while the in­ter­twirling trum­pet and sax were well toned — not ra­zor crisp or sharp, not washed in airy room acous­tic, but very much present and cor­rect, pre­sented with a good power be­hind the mu­sic, yet with lower au­di­ble dis­tor­tion than many (maybe any) ri­vals in a unit this size. Even when we ramped the Mu­sic 1 into the last three LEDs of its vol­ume in­di­ca­tor the sound held to­gether, and even had enough in re­serve to al­low some dy­namic squeals from Kenny Bar­ron’s sax­o­phone on Blue Waters. The more re­mark­able this given the Mu­sic 1 is a mono speaker, and the source was 80kbps in­ter­net ra­dio. (So well does Dy­nau­dio’s Mu­sic EQ serve this genre that we sus­pect a jazz fan some­where high up on the tun­ing team!)

It was not genre-re­stricted, how­ever. The same EQ that al­lows acous­tic bass its depth also grabbed elec­tronic bass and rolled it out in a sonic boom on Child­ish Gam­bino’s This

Is Amer­ica — not per­haps with the full hi-fi qual­i­ties of agility and tune­ful­ness, but as they say, it’s not that the horse speaks French which is re­mark­able, but that the horse speaks at all. In­deed some may find the EQ dis­tract­ingly deep for ca­sual lis­ten­ing, and it had one side-ef­fect in push­ing plo­sions on male spo­ken word, so that Triple J’s DJ had lit­tle bass ex­plo­sions un­der each pop of his ban­ter.

But how suc­cess­ful it is when you re­move the mains cable and carry the Mu­sic 1 away as a por­ta­ble de­vice. We were greatly im­pressed with its al fresco per­for­mance — this thing could cre­ate a pulse in open air out on the pa­tio. It’s a bit pretty for the beach, per­haps. Con­clu­sion There are a few things we’re sur­prised to find omit­ted from the app, at least at the time of our re­view (th­ese things can, of course, change). Spo­tify Con­nect for one, DLNA/UPnP net­work stream­ing for an­other — shown in spec­i­fi­ca­tions but only pos­si­ble us­ing a third-party app such as MCon­nect, which goes against the gen­eral ease of use. High-res 24-bit/96kHz au­dio is also men­tioned for all mod­els, but again only pos­si­ble via third-party DLNA stream­ing, or on the up­per two mod­els through the op­ti­cal in­put. But the Dy­nau­dio sys­tems score highly on au­dio qual­ity, three of the four re­ally sur­pris­ing for their size, no­table im­me­di­ately for their bass con­tent, and over time for their low dis­tor­tion and gen­eral so­phis­ti­ca­tion of tone. With Tidal sup­ply­ing the mu­sic, they do in­deed pro­vide the in­tel­li­gent stream­ing au­dio sys­tems the com­pany prom­ises.

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