Dynaudio Focus 200 XD
The Focus XD range is right at the cutting edge — these 200 XDs are superb compact speakers, active with 300W of internal amplification for each driver, and also with high-quality DACs inside. On the speakers themselves you get one analogue input (a single RCA socket on each speaker) plus a coaxial digital input capable of receiving up to 24-bit/192kHz. Plus the 200 XDs are wirelessly equipped too, able to receive at 24-bit/96kHz from the Connect hub.
If you’re less interested in the wireless and multiroom operation, then using a preamplifier might make sense to route multiple sources to the XDs; even using a Hub this solution could be useful for handling additional sources and to provide a path for headphone listening.
Meanwhile a couple of caveats on those high-res numbers. To achieve 24-bit/192kHz you must use the XD’s own coaxial digital input and make an additional coaxial connection between the speakers. It’s more convenient to let the speakers share the digital input wirelessly in a master/slave arrangement, but that will put a 24/96 limit on the conversion. Which, lets face it, is probably enough, even given transducers of this quality.
But enough on numbers and signal routing — it’s the speakers themselves that are the prize in this system, simply stunning performers for their size, with driver technology all Dynaudio’s own, and with an particularly scintillating tweeter; they surprise in the bass department and positively shine in the treble. (See overleaf in our 600 XD review for more on the drivers.).
For our critical listening we switched the Connect back from multiroom mode to direct mode (you need to reboot the speakers after this), so we could play 24-96kHz files from our Mac Mini all the way to the 36cm-high 200 XDs. We also gave them analogue feeds from our preamp. The results were entirely delightful, whatever we fed them. Their delicacy and speed was apparent from a 24-96 file of Keith Jarrett’s KÖln Concert, his percussive piano delivered beautifully within the hall ambience amid a breath-holding rapt audience. The bass, meanwhile, proved amazing in its depth and scale given the physical volume here. On a 24-96 file of The Who’s ‘Tommy’, the scintillating jangle of Townshend’s guitar opening to ‘Pinball Wizard’ was joined by a fully scaled Entwhistle bass and punchy pedal work from Moon. Give them an audiophile female vocal (Lydia Gray’s ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ from the ‘Uncompressed World’ series did it for us) and your hairs are likely to rise at the sheer physical presence of the result. After a week with the Focus 200 XDs performing like this, all our set-up challenges were forgotten and we were delaying pack-up just to hear another night of tunes.
So true hi-fi performance, with tech benefits built in. The Focus XD series is not cheap, of course — but you are getting not only very special speakers, but your amplification, DACs too, and a path to wireless convenience and multiroom operation.