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Munich High-End 2015: Dynaudio Focus XD active loudspeakers

  • munich_high_end_2015_logoNot only do reviewers meet with manufacturers at shows but they meet with each other. That’s invaluable for the writer plying his trade in an Antipodean bubble – aka yours truly.

    During this year’s Munich High-End Show I spent large chunks of time swapping intel and stories with Michael Lavorgna of AudioStream/Stereophile. Learning of my active loudspeaker lens he suggested I visit the Dynaudio room to check out the Danish company’s Excite X14A monitors. A is for active. €1500 nets a loudspeaker from their professional series: 5” mid/bass driver and 1” silk dome tweeter. Analogue inputs only: XLR and RCA.

    Each box load in a pair of amplifiers for which deluxe power cord owners should note the figure-8 power socket. Re-enforcing the gulf between pro and home hi-fi worlds, the domestic-focussed Dynaudio rep wasn’t equipped with necessary divisional info to expand on amplifier topology and implementation.

    Like the Canton AM5, rear-paneled, three-position EQ switches permit user-tweaked lows, mids, highs and bass roll-off (high pass filter). Ditto 3 x input sensitivity positions.


    Turning right to face the main demo space brought fresh surprises. Yet more active loudspeakers but this time offering digital inputs.

    When partnered with the Connect box (€350), the XD range – 200 standmount (€5000, pictured above), 400 floorstander(€TBC) and 600 floostander (€10000, pictured in article header) – address the 16bit/44.1kHz limitation of the XEO range. Wireless streaming up to 24bit/96kHz PCM is now possible with the Connect box splitting the signal to stream left and right channels independently.

    Twin S/PDIF coax sockets expand sample rate compatibility to 24bit/192kHz and extend digital connectivity permutations: hard wire from source to one speaker and then hard-wire bridge to the other. If 192kHz isn’t required, hard wire from source to one speaker and then wirelessly bridge to the other.

    Again, input sensitivity switcheroo is located on the back plate. So too is +-1db treble attenuation. Recalling the Manger S1, a rotary attenuates bass via DSP to accommodate loudspeaker landing in free space or in close proximity to front and side walls.


    My ears pricked up with news that the Dynaudio XD range circumvents traditional D/A conversion – no need to BYO. The arriving PCM is converted to PWM for direct driving of the amplifier output stage. Here the XD recalls the direct digital approach of the Wadia 151PowerDAC Mini or the NAD C390DD. Analogue signals arriving via any XD model’s single-ended RCA socketry is swiftly returned to the digital domain via an ADC.

    The upshot for the minimalist is the obviation of a digital pre-amplifier. At the M.O.C. the XD 600 could be heard sourced from a NAD M50 music player. One can only deduce that the device supplying ones and zeroes requires in-built digital volume attenuation.

    Further information: Dynaudio

    Munich High-End 2015 coverage sponsored by LH Labs:


    John H. Darko

    Written by John H. Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has also contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram


    1. These sound incredible. I had the chance to demo them recently. Huge sound but soooo well balanced across the spectrum. Kudos on your coverage of this show John. I’m loving it!
      A streamer and powered speakers=bliss.

    2. Ouch that last comment in your report. Talk of in built digital volume attenuation is a little bit lo fi for the purists audiophile surely. So much of the active speaker system rips up decades of current best practice thinking. Isolating circuits and cables from vibration, alps motorised volume pots all gone. Has decades of current thinking been that wrong? Lifestyle convenience surely?

      • Surely the gains made from having amps tuned directly to the transducer far outweigh the concessions you mention?

      • These are edgy waters indeed. Decades of current thinking are not always correct right? In a strange way, it makes supposedly counter-intuitive discoveries like the benefits of powered speakers, even more fascinating (for eg, like digging for gold but finding diamonds, or while looking for Neil Young on TiDAL and finding “Alvvays” 🙂
        There is no substitute for short signal lengths. The price to performance ratios are so much better with powered speakers, and they have been around since the late 70s. Paul McGowan once told me that “powered speakers are no-brainers but….” (that too around the time that the BHK was being released). After trying a few, I can safely say that he is right.
        Having said that, I think the biggest problem with powered speakers is that if the amp goes bust, you throw the whole speaker away. Sometimes, they can be hard to sell on too, although the market has/is changing considerably.
        I think digital attenuation done right works wonders. You only need to look at audio software players like JRiver MC where the software up-converts the input signal to 64-bit before sending it to the DAC. Heck, they even let you preset the volume so that the downstream equipment never sees the full signal and blows up or something. I have never heard any signal degradation whereas if I remember correctly, John himself found and confirmed with the Auralic fellow that the Vega DAC degrades sound at lower volumes.
        John, if at all possible, I implore you to check out the Event Opals? They are in fact located ‘down under’. I have heard beautiful >10,000 dollar passive speakers but at $3000, the Opals are at least their equal and dare i say, better!

        • My earlier attempts to contact Event came to zero. Will try again once back in Sydney.

          • Thanks John. I hope they realize what they can tap into potentially.
            A question that’s been on my mind a little while. Since powered speakers are heavier due to all the electronics, boards, etc., are they also better damped (i.e., less resonance)?

    3. Good point, we will have to hear if this gain is sufficient to overcome the perceived detrimental effects of placing all those sensitive electronics in what is quite a hostile environment. A one box does it all approach will no doubt attract those who want all the gains of high quality without the fuss, would I buy one? I’m not sure.

    KIH #22 – More time delay with Kii Audio

    Questyle demo QP1, QP1-R DAPs at Munich High-End 2015