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
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.
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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