“Three words: sub­tle, con­fi­dent, mus­cu­lar”

FOR Bold, dy­namic sound; ex­cel­lent build and fin­ish AGAINST Easy to un­der­es­ti­mate

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - First Tests -

We have a con­fes­sion. Our first im­pres­sion of Dy­nau­dio’s 40th an­niver­sary speaker is more one of mild dis­ap­point­ment than any­thing else. It’s not that there is a lot wrong with the Spe­cial Fortys, just that they seem a lit­tle too fa­mil­iar.

Dy­nau­dio has made any num­ber of two-way stand­moun­ters of this size with drive units that look pretty much iden­ti­cal to the ones used here. Put aside the gor­geous fin­ishes – the op­tions are Birch in ei­ther grey or red gloss – and there seems lit­tle to dif­fer­en­ti­ate the Fortys from any num­ber of prod­ucts the com­pany has made in the past. And pretty much all of them were way cheaper than these speak­ers.

Things start to look brighter once we delve into the de­tails. These speak­ers are in­deed de­signed as some­thing of a homage to the com­pany’s past, but they’re not meant to be mu­seum pieces. That drive-unit ar­ray may look straight out of the £600 Emit 20 (or even the Con­tour 1.1 from more than a decade ago), but it’s ac­tu­ally based on the driv­ers used in the com­pany’s high-end Con­fi­dence C1 model that re­tails for 10 times as much.

All change

Dy­nau­dio didn’t just plonk the units from the C1 into the Fortys. The driv­ers have been fet­tled ex­ten­sively, and the en­gi­neers worked on im­prov­ing the air­flow and damp­ing be­hind the 28mm tweeter dome. The idea is to re­duce back­pres­sure as the di­aphragm moves, which in­creases de­tail and low­ers dis­tor­tion. The mo­tor sys­tem has also been tweaked.

That 17cm mid/bass driver still uses the com­pany’s tra­di­tional MSP (Mag­ne­sium Sil­i­cate Poly­mer) cone – it’s a one piece cone that uses the large dome in the mid­dle to aid rigid­ity – but much else has changed, from the sus­pen­sion, to the voice-coil for­mer, to the mag­net sys­tem. Dy­nau­dio says this is the best 17cm mid/bass unit it makes, which is quite some claim con­sid­er­ing it has far pricier two-way mod­els on its books that use sim­i­lar driv­ers.

These drive units are mated by a rel­a­tively sim­ple first-or­der cross­over that is de­signed to min­imise phase and im­ped­ance is­sues. Each drive unit can cover quite a wide range – the tweeter can delve to 1khz while the mid/bass is com­fort­able up to 4khz – but the cross­over point is fairly con­ven­tional at 2khz.

Our Spe­cial Forty re­view sam­ples weren’t new, so it didn’t take long for them to come on song. Po­si­tion­ing is sim­ple; we end up with them placed on solid stands, a me­tre or so from the rear wall with just a hint of an­gle to­wards the lis­ten­ing po­si­tion.

These Fortys don’t pro­vide a par­tic­u­larly di cult elec­tri­cal load – nom­i­nal im­ped­ance is a claimed 6ohms – so most price­com­pat­i­ble am­pli­fiers will be happy driv­ing them. We use both our ref­er­ence Gamut D3i/d200i pre/power and a Rok­san Blak am­pli­fier for this test with­out is­sue.

How do the Fortys sound? We keep com­ing back to three words in our notes: con­fi­dent, mus­cu­lar and sub­tle. We start with Holst’s Mars and the Spe­cial Fortys re­spond with glee. They sound far big­ger and more au­thor­i­ta­tive than a speaker that stands 36cm high has any right to.

Part of this is down to a pow­er­ful, well-ex­tended bass that bal­ances weight and agility su­perbly. The rest is down to a com­bi­na­tion of com­po­sure and dy­namic reach that al­lows these boxes to cope with the de­mand­ing crescen­dos of this piece.

The or­ches­tra is or­gan­ised with pre­ci­sion and sta­bil­ity. There’s a good sense of depth, which ex­tends the pre­sen­ta­tion well be­yond the con­fines of our lis­ten­ing room. We like the tonal­ity too. There are more neu­tral al­ter­na­tives – ATC’S mighty SCM19S come to mind – but the Spe­cial Fortys are even, co­he­sive and nicely bal­anced.

They’re also mag­nif­i­cently de­tailed, dig­ging out the low-level acous­tic clues that de­fine the record­ing venue with ease. This res­o­lu­tion is ap­par­ent what­ever genre of mu­sic we play. We love the way these speak­ers re­veal the tex­ture and at­ti­tude in Jill Scott’s voice on Get­tin’ In The Way.

Stand out in a crowd

There’s a nat­u­ral flu­id­ity to the speak­ers’ midrange dy­nam­ics and we ad­mire their abil­ity to tie a mul­ti­tude of in­stru­men­tal strands to­gether in a con­vinc­ing and mu­si­cal way. They’re sure­footed when it comes to tim­ing and rhythms, ren­der­ing the chang­ing mo­men­tum of the piece well. Play­ing Bruce Spring­steen’s Ra­dio

Nowhere shows the Fortys can cope with dense pro­duc­tion while de­liv­er­ing a sound with drive and plenty of en­ergy. While these speak­ers are great at re­veal­ing low-level in­for­ma­tion, they’re just as happy to rock along and en­ter­tain.

The Spe­cial Fortys are easy speak­ers to un­der­es­ti­mate. They’re not an overtly cut­ting-edge de­sign that uses the lat­est in high-tech ma­te­ri­als, nor are they styled to stand out in a crowd. But once we start lis­ten­ing, none of that mat­ters – we’re far too busy hav­ing fun.

The lovely gloss Birch fin­ish lends these speak­ers a lux­ury feel

A large rear-fir­ing port means you’ll have to leave a bit of space be­hind the Spe­cial Fortys

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