It's no secret that interior design has been trending modern for quite some time now. The trend was originally labeled "transitional", a blend between contemporary and traditional that remains popular with Boomers and Gen X. But "modern", in the flashback of "Mid-Century Modern" has caught the fancy of anyone younger than that. In furniture, there is a strong minimalist theme to Mid-Century Modern, but in a lot of other categories (think: cars and cutting edge hair styles) there is a lot of swoopiness happening, and in clothing and personal accessories (think: watches and jewelry) there is a lot of bling being bought. I suspect a lot of this is due to the homogenization of global cultures brought on by the smart phone with its built-in camera and internet access. Almost everything can be seen by almost everybody. And a lot of those "everybodies" aspire to what the wealthy have, as unbridled capitalism threatens to enslave even the most powerful of national governments.
While High End audio is certainly a capitalistic enterprise it is kept in check by its goal of seeking high quality playback of recorded music. Yet it is not completely impervious to creating outrageously expensive products affordable by only the top few percent of civilization. Let's face it. Creative people and corporations love to create a masterpiece or statement product, particularly as their life or their company reaches maturity and their wisdom and experience gains momentum or approaches its peak. But very few companies can survive solely with the production of statement products. And there is opportunity in giving the masses what they want. (In the case of High End audio "masses" may be a relative term.) The surging popularity of headphones and the sub-set of High End headphones that accompanies that surge is a gateway to traditional speaker-based High End listening. A lot of manufacturers are paying attention to the possibilities of that gateway and a major trend in High End audio today is the development of high quality sounding affordable equipment (again, a relative term) coexisting with the development of statement products. Which brings me around to the product under review here.
Israel Blume is an astute businessman as well as a designer of some of the best High End gear available today. He has worked hard to keep his manufacturing base in Canada and his speakers and amplifiers at least moderately priced, if not modestly so. They aren't inexpensive, nor are they outrageously priced considering the outstanding performance they deliver at their various price points. But it's been a long time since they've offered a full-range floorstander for less than $3000, and given the trend for high quality affordable equipment mentioned above, Israel was not about to miss out on the opportunity. Unfortunately, there was no way the speaker could be built to that price in Canada, so the cabinets have been outsourced which allowed for the complex CAD design and high level of finishing. Still, the Dynamite is completely assembled in Canada near Toronto.
The Visual Design
The Internal Design
Israel has since upgraded the spikes to a shorter, beefier design, shown here, which he says adds to the stability of the speaker. If you have children or large dogs running about, you might want to invest in aftermarket spike extenders. I made a similar comment about the Coincident Partial Eclipse II speaker I reviewed in 2002 and Israel responded with an outrigger spike design that he uses to this day. I've continued with the original inset spikes on my Partials, but the grandkids seldom visit and I've never had a tip-over. The Partial is a heavier and somewhat shorter speaker at 54 pounds and 38" tall. Since I must pass close to the speaker to operate my electronic gear (and do it a lot in the reviewing process) this may be of more concern to me than a typical listener so simply be aware.
The tweeter height is about 39" on my carpeted floor, two inches higher than my reference speaker, and I seemed to be looking slightly upward at the tweeter from my listening chair, about 8' away. The distance between the speakers settled in at just under seven feet — a little closer together than usual in my room. And the baffle of the speaker was a typical 57" in front of the wall behind the speaker. I did a lot of listening with the speakers angled toward the outside of each ear, initially thinking this provided the best sound. Normally, with wide dispersion speakers such as this, I get the best result facing them forward in my room. Placing Sound Damped Steel Isofeet (now branded Soundeck) or Boston Audio Design TunePlates under the spikes increased resolution a bit, but not as much as with heavier speakers I've reviewed. I used these square, flat footers throughout the review. In the course of the saga that follows, I ultimately reverted back to facing the speakers straight ahead, but your room and your listening preference will tell you what works best for you.
Setting The Stage
It didn't take long to realize the D'Appolito arrangement tweeter and midranges was exceptionally resolving, but there were now problems in Bass Land. I found myself thinking that the upper part of the speaker would make a terrific stand-mounted monitor, but the bass sounded like speaker from the 1970's. It was plenty deep, but the notes had no attack and the body of the notes was blurry. I couldn't even begin to get a taste of the kick drum or kettle drum or jungle drum skins. Snare drums in the mid-range were spot on, but man....
No reviewer likes to give a product a bad review. It's one thing to point out shortcomings or minor flaws, but to reject a product outright...especially from a company that has consistently produced such outstanding products...it just doesn't feel very good. And while it may seem like Israel over-hypes his products in his descriptions on the website, my experience in reviewing many of them has always verified the hype. I got depressed and on a warm winter day I went out to the back yard and started raking the leaves that should have been herded into the compost corral back in the fall. Maybe I'm being hyper-critical of the Dynamite, I thought. After all, the previous speaker I had auditioned was the $266,000 YG Acoustics Sonia XV with separate aluminum woofer towers and virtually no distortion in the bass — definitely a tough act to follow for a speaker little more than 1% of the XV's cost.
I called my friend Tom and asked him to come over for a listen. He's about my age so I was quite surprised when he saw them and proclaimed them to be "beautiful" and "rich looking." (His wife is an expert quilter and their meticulous home looks more like colonial Williamsburg than architecture befitting of the Dynamite.) I had given Tom no inkling of my thoughts or perceptions of the speaker. He took the prime listening chair and we put on some familiar music he had brought with him. I said nothing. When we paused after a long cut he turned to me and said "The treble and midrange sound real good, but the bass isn't seamless. It would make a great monitor without the bass."
My opinion had been validated, but I felt compelled to try and make this speaker work. I aimed the speakers straight ahead, which rolled off the treble only slightly but didn't touch the bass. A few days later I borrowed a Musical Fidelity A3 dual mono solid state power amp thinking that a larger damping factor might better control the bass driver. It did, but only slightly. In desperation I decided to plug in the Dynamo 34SE MK. II in place of its big brother, the Coincident Turbo 805SE integrated that I had been using. It didn't make any sense that the smaller amp would be better... and it wasn't. But something occurred to me as I was connecting the inputs to the amp.
In my previous reviews of the outstanding Codia 3000 BAB equipment rack and the Synergistic Research Black Fuse and UEF Duplex Outlet I had been playing with the idea that running my digital front end and turntable as completely separate systems on separate dedicated lines would produce superior results than having everything running off the same circuit. This involved only a single swap of interconnects and one shift of a power cord. The only compromise was that my turntable and tuner would be on the same circuit, but since I never used them concurrently, it didn't seem to matter. Furthermore, I could feed the output of the tuner into the line input on the phono stage, thereby avoiding another cable swap. Since that line input bypasses the tube amplification of the Coincident Statement Phono Stage, I didn't even have to turn the phono stage on. The signal simply went in, passing directly through a toggle switch to the dual volume controls on the phono stage and out to whichever Coincident integrated amp I was using. And since those volume controls on the phono stage were run wide open, I thought little harm could be done.
As I was connecting the two-meter interconnects from the phono stage to the Dynamo amp, it occurred to me that I could bypass the phono stage altogether and come directly from the DAC outputs to the integrated amp. (I had been running the DAC into the phono stage instead of the tuner so I could switch from analog to digital front ends with minimal fuss simply by flipping the toggle switch on the faceplate of the phono stage.) So after listening with the phono stage in the loop for a while, I ran my long interconnect from the DAC directly to the Dynamo integrated amp.
Once again I pushed aside the listening chair and mounted my Radio Shack SPL meter on my tripod, right between where my ears were positioned, slightly below the level of the tweeters. The measurements validated some important perceptions I have of the Dynamite. First, a peak in the upper bass region is a room related peak that appears in all my speaker measurements. The bass is strong, as I heard, but also goes down to 32 Hz before falling off significantly. Others have had similar results and the website now reflects these findings. The midrange and treble, while not as flat as typical measurements taken on axis in an anechoic room, are actually reasonably smooth for in-room measurements from the listening position. That the treble is down only a couple of dB at 10 kHz shows the strength of this wide dispersion tweeter. And it being down only 10dB at 20 kHz is also better than most speakers I've measured. The upper treble would have measured even stronger if I had angled then toward the listening position, but I preferred them facing straight ahead. Like most people who have grown up in urban/suburban society, I cannot cognitively hear anything that far out, but the needle danced.
The crossover points are 150 Hz for the bass, which falls within the room induced peak. The first order roll-off from the midrange to the bass is accomplished by computer calculation of the volume of the sealed enclosure for the midrange, eliminating the need for an active component in the signal path, thereby increasing transparency. The twin midrange drivers then run from 150 Hz to 4 kHz, covering not only the entire midrange, but a major portion of the treble as well. Most of the fundamental range of most of the instruments falls within this range as well, with the exception of some instruments such as piano and organ that exceed this range in both directions, and instruments like brass horns, wind instruments and drums that are designed to dip into the bass region. Harmonics of most instruments will extend into the treble region, but at lower volume. As with the mid-range and bass, there is only a single electronic component in the first order crossover to the treble. Consequently, with the Dynamite there is a lot of continuity teaming up with a high degree of transparency that makes for an easy leap of the imagination to being in the venue of the music, whether it is a live recording or a concocted studio creation.
While the Dynamite does not get down to 20 Hz with any authority, I think most people would readily call this a full-range speaker and be more than satisfied with it for most kinds of music. Its strengths include its excellent transparency and focus, particularly in the midrange and treble. The treble was never hissy. While the "S"s were sharp when the recording was such (Paul Simon's Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes) the treble retained control without crossing over into irritating distortion. Cognitively, the Dynamite pulled lyrics out of the groove that were previously too obscure for me to decipher. Brass instruments had authentic bite. The bass was strong and tuneful but in conveying timbre ("Planet Drum") it was not quite as excellent as the midrange and treble. When wearing my "analytical" cap this was noticeable, but when that cap was off it was very easy to get into the music, reveling in the revelations this speaker brought to familiar music and simply enjoying the music that was new to me. Leonard Cohen's "You Want It Darker" cut right to my soul and will show young adult's what's behind the mask of their grandparents. When the music demanded it, the listening experience was emotional. Even rap music, while not my favorite genre, was especially well communicated through the Dynamite with its strong bass and articulate vocals.
The Dynamite does not get in the way of great recordings and it is sensitive enough to reveal the differences in the components upstream. My saga with the poorly chosen signal path is an extreme example, but the Coincident Dynamo Mk II, the Coincident Turbo 845 SE and even the solid-state Musical Fidelity A3 each imparted their particular strengths and shortcomings to the Dynamite while allowing very enjoyable appreciation of the music. With a 90dB/W/m efficiency, 8 Ohm load and easy-to-drive first order crossover makes for an easy load, thus allowing the use of a wide variety of amplifier types and power output. Unfortunately, I don't have an affordable Class D amplifier on hand to try as that will likely be the amp of choice of many younger people. But if you're willing to explore the High End, venturing into tube gear is no more risky than buying a turntable and jumping into vinyl — and a lot of younger people are doing that these days.
House Sound And Value
Coincident Dynamite Speaker Addendum
Overall, the presentation took a huge step upward. Specifically, the bass tightened up providing a much more musical presentation in the mid and lower bass, down to the 32Hz limit I had previously measured. As I am fond of saying, I could taste the skin of the drum heads and this accuracy of timber continued throughout the audible range. Not surprisingly, the tonal balance and continuity became seamless from top to bottom. With the improved attack of bass notes the pace, rhythm and timing (PRAT) also picked up to the point where toe-tapping was incessant. Other parameters improved to a lesser degree because they were already at a very high level.
So what does this mean for a prospective owner of the Dynamite? Well, you're not going to get first class sound with entry level electronics and cables, obviously. But you can expect to get excellent return on investment if you choose wisely as you upgrade the rest of your system. And if you are looking for a full-range speaker with styling that goes far beyond the traditional box, there are precious few options in this price range between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans of which I'm aware. The Dynamite owns the category of moderately priced, high styled speakers. And it sets the bar as high as you're willing to spend on its supporting system. To leave no doubt, very highly recommended.