If there’s anything that gets my back up it’s the lament that all the sexiness and excitement in audio resides at the extreme high end of the market. That is just so wrong. In fact so absurdly wrong that i will happily argue that the high end has been enjoying a most golden age of affordable gear. Exhibit one: the Dynaudio Excite X34 loudspeaker.
For the uninitiated, the Excite range is the affordable sweetspot of the broad Dynaudio line and a short step beyond the entry-level DM Series. It’s also Dynaudio’s gateway product to lure enthusiasts along the road to upscale offerings like the Focus and Contour series. Excite is represented by four updated models, the X34 considered here, a larger floorstander the X38, the compact X14, and the X24 center channel.
Even avid Dynaudio enthusiasts might be forgiven for confusing the $3400 X34 for its predecessor the Excite X32 (reviewed by Kirk Midtskog, Issue 205). Yes, the basic bones are the same. It remains a slim two-way floorstander with crisp, clean understated lines, identical dimensions, and a very small footprint. At a mere 36 inches tall, its silhouette is on the shorter end of the scale for a floorstander. Some visual tip-offs for the updates in the X34 include magnetically attached grilles, a fully veneered natural wood front baffle and plinth, and high-quality Torx metal screws in the same color as the driver frames. Stability has also been enhanced with the addition of die-cast aluminum outrigger feet fitted with integrated damping rings and adjustable spikes.
The latest Excite drivers retain the long-throw woofer and smaller, lightweight voice coil that was featured in the Excite X32 model. Bass port tuning has been updated, and thanks to a more amplifier-friendly crossover the X34 draws less current from the amp. The X34 is now a true 8-ohm impedance loudspeaker compared to the 4 ohms of its predecessor.
Dynaudio has also addressed the X34’s directivity—the way in which it disperses sound off-axis. The idea is to reduce coloration caused by floor and ceiling reflections, the prime culprits behind bass cancellations and general image smearing. Dynaudio ameliorates these in the X34 by using a “lite” version of its DDC (Dynaudio Directivity Control), a technology developed at Dynaudio Professional and found on its pro studio monitors and home-audio flagships, like the Evidence Platinum. The process is directed at optimizing the relationship of transducers both mechanically and acoustically, and implementing a proprietary crossover design chosen to reduce, in Dynaudio’s words, “sound reflections from the floor and ceiling of any room by at least 75% through the exact matching of the phase responses of the individual drive units, consequently achieving a sound radiation vertically focused towards the listener.”
In terms of sonic performance, the X34 isn’t partial to specific genres of music; from country to classical, it’s equally satisfying. For Dynaudio it appears that overall balance trumps any two or three specific criteria. The result is a little tower that within some very acceptable limitations achieves a near full spectrum of spirited output and low- frequency authority. For me, if there is a single word that describes the sonic personality of the X34, it’s “Party”! The sound signature is outgoing, with a forward lean and a positively energetic temperament. There are no broad frequency suck-outs, nor does the X34 lay back on dynamics or overly-recess octave ranges to attain an undeserved level of three-dimensionality. The sturdy little towers are also remarkably free from cabinet artifacts and port coloration.
In tonal balance, the X34 is reasonably neutral with the exception of some upper treble shading, and a hint of mid/upper bass ripeness. Anchored by a surprising allotment of low-frequency energy and dynamic punch, the Excite X34 more than lives up to its name, achieving levels of performance that in the proper setting suggest many of the best virtues of a good 2.5-way like the Sonus faber Venere 2.5 (Issue 232) or a three-way like the superb Revel F206 (Issue 234). It’s not a speaker to shy away from an explosive big band recording like Count Basie Live at the Sands [Mobile Fidelity]. Heavy brass has a way of making cowards of smaller compacts, but the X34 pretty much has an answer for every fusillade.
Vocals are well balanced with a good measure of chest resonance and upper-octave air, an impression that was conveyed as I listened to Colin Hay covering his own song “Over- kill,” a mega-hit from his bygone, down-under, Men At Work days. This is an “unplugged” version with only a simple, and slightly muted, guitar accompaniment. The sound, though closely miked, is airy and incredibly intimate, like Hay was singing in your living room.
Goodness knows my loyalty to stand-mount monitors is unwavering, but the X34’s lower mid/upper bass response fills in gaps that many compact-speaker aficionados may not even have realized have gone missing. The weight of bass/baritone singers is one example. A bass or baritone singer’s body is one big, barrel-like resonator, a fact that is plainly heard when he performs live and unamplified. In fact, the weight of his voice is not unlike the darker colors produced by a piano’s soundboard—sustained and rich as chocolate. Speaking to that point, I heard Bryn Terfel in recital at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles under just these circumstances and I was astounded at the weight, the gravitas, of his un-miked voice and the piano accompaniment in this huge, 3000+ seat venue.
At a little over three feet, the X34 is not an especially tall floorstander particularly for American audiences. And, oftentimes the combination of a lower tweeter height and that driver’s dispersion characteristics creates an impression of a low acoustic ceiling having descended over the orchestral venue. However, that impression never materialized in my time spent with the X34. During Laurel Massé’s Feather and Bone the massive space of the Troy Savings Bank venue retained most of the vast acoustic reverberant cues that I’m familiar with. (The Dynaudio Directivity Control at work, perhaps?)
Strings could be sweeter—they tend to be a little dry, and violin section layering is not quite fully explored. This comports with my view that low-level image resolution, micro-dynamics and focus could be more revealing—a conclusion I reached listening for the softly tapped cymbal embedded deep in the soundspace during the March section of Vaughan Williams’ The Wasps or the delicate harp theme that follows the main melody in the opening section of the same piece.
Bass response is very good, audibly descending into the mid- thirty-cycle range and rock-solid to 40 Hertz. It’s fairly uniform in output although it does thicken and diffuse somewhat in the midbass. (Foam port plugs are supplied to reduce bass out- put if required.) Still, the X34 maintains a firm grip on orchestral bass drum and other low-frequency resonances and decay information, even within the complexities of a full-blown symphonic performance. The tight, acoustic bass line during Holly Cole’s “Take Me Home” was controlled and unwavering with a convincing sense of pace and rhythm. In such moments I hear clean stops and starts, devoid of tim- ing artifacts or hangover from the port. I should add that this level of LF perfor- mance should make the X34 particularly attractive to home-theater enthusiasts (especially in concert with the X24 center channel) who aren’t prepared to go the LFE/subwoofer route.
The Excite X34 is one versatile little number that was willing and able to get down and party with the best of them. With few exceptions, it touches all the musical bases and does so with a footprint no bigger than an average-size compact—food for thought monitor- fans. An authentic crowd pleaser in the most musical sense.
SPECS & PRICING
Type: Two-way, bass reflex
Drivers: One 1″ tweeter, two 6″ mid/bass
Frequency response: 37Hz–23kHz
Nominal Impedance: 8 ohms
Dimensions: 6.7″ x 36.6″ x 10.6″
Weight: 37 lbs.
Dynaudio North America
1140 Tower Lane
Bensenville, IL 60106
Sota Cosmos Series IV turntable; SME V tonearm; Sumiko Palo Santos, Air Tight PC-3; Parasound JC 3 phono; Synergistic Element Tungsten/CTS , Wireworld Platinum Series 7, Analysis-Plus Big Silver Oval interconnect & speaker cables; AudioQuest Coffee USB & Firewire, Synergistic Tesla & Audience Au24 SE phono & powerChord, Wireworld Platinum power cords
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