Danny Richie tears the Dynaudio Special 40s apart

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Puma Cat, May 9, 2021.

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  1. Puma Cat

    Puma Cat Almost "Made"

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    Danny Richie of GR-Research recently did his extensive analysis (including measurements with his Clio system) of the Dynaudio Special 40.

    Looks like Dyn cheaped out on this speaker that originally sold for $2995.

    The woofer measures suprisingly poorly with notable peaks at 1110 hz, 3400, hz and 10K. Danny refers to it as "rough".

    [​IMG]

    There is also a significant ringing component to the woofer in the spectral decay. John Atkinson obtained effectively identical results when he measured the Special 40 in Stereophile.

    [​IMG]

    The parts for the crossover, wiring and fill is also problematical.

    Iron-core inductors, sand-cast resistors, cheap poly and electrolytics caps in the XO, and el-cheapo, 16 AWG PVC insulated clip-on leads for the internal wiring, and a poorly-damped cabinet with cheap fill.

    Danny's reaction...
    [​IMG]

    o_O

    Danny did say that Dyn spent an extra 10¢ and used binding posts that are non-ferric, so..that's good.

    Danny went through and fixed the issues with the drivers, their measured performance and improved the overall frequency response to be smoother and within 1-1.5 dB. Also knocked down the knee at 1100 Hz peak in the mids.

    [​IMG]

    You'll also note that the behavior of the woofer is quite a bit smoother.

    He also reduced the ringing component of the woofer to a considerably lower level in the spectral decay.
    [​IMG]

    Looks like the Sp40 was built to a price point, and Dyn used some pretty cheap parts in the BOM. An extra $125 in wholesale parts cost could have fixed the issues with the stock speaker. I'll leave you to watch the video to see how Danny fixed these issues with his mods. Needless to say, he improved it quite a bit. Most notable is the improvement in the vertical off-axis response with the drivers remaining in phase as you go up.



    Total cost of the parts for upgrading the Dyn Special 40 is $245. Having built one of Danny's speaker designs using his parts, wire, and drivers, I would think the Special 40 is quite a bit better with his modifications.
     
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  2. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    What's wrong with sand-cast resistors and clip-on spades? Where in the circuit were the iron-core and electrolytics caps? What's wrong with cheap fill (unless it's actually ineffective like cotton balls). What wrong with 16ga wire?
     
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  3. Riotvan

    Riotvan Got lost for three weeks at Delft City Hall

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    Used to watch his video's but he seems obsessed with tube sockets, no idea why.
     
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  4. Puma Cat

    Puma Cat Almost "Made"

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    Tube sockets?

    I think you're referring to "tube connectors", and the reason that Danny recommends them is simple: they sound better. These connectors provide effective signal transfer, are made out of pure copper, and also are a low-mass connector. They sound better than connectors that are made of brass or have ferrogmagnetic constituents or materials in them.

    These are similar to low-mass connectors that Nordost and DNM has utlized for years: https://nordost.com/leifstyle/14-2-Speaker-Cable.php
     
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  5. Aklegal

    Aklegal Almost "Made"

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    Tube connectors are low mass and don't have huge polished bolts that Danny often complains about. I have used them 3 or 4 times. They are good but not reusable. I found these to be equally low mass and prefer them because they are easier to work with.

    Danny is a salesman but he is a top notch speaker designer. I keep an eye out for his speakers and mostly ignore the other stuff.
     
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  6. Puma Cat

    Puma Cat Almost "Made"

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    Those look pretty good, but I have concerns about the stiffness of the interior "cylinder" threaded portion of the binding post, which looks to be made of plastic, if using a banana plug. My speaker cables are very heavy, and when installed using banana plugs of this type of design on a standmount speaker, could pull on the inner part of the binding post, causing a disconnection. I've already had some of these problems of with the WBT binding posts on my Harbeth 30.2s (shown here), which internally look very similar to the ones you've linked to.
    [​IMG]

    These Cardas binding posts look like they would be a better solution for my application, but I think the best solution would be to have spades on the speaker cables at the speaker end.
    [​IMG]
     
  7. Vtory

    Vtory Audiophile™

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    Let's not copy and paste from Danny's video. I don't think you ever cross-validated if his measurements and treatments on dyn were legit as claimed.

    I frequently watch his video. His opinion sometimes is interesting and giving me some thoughts.

    Nevertheless, there are several critical issues I can't confidently recommend his video here
    1. He has very very strong conflict of interest in all videos he post. The worse (the unmodded unit's) measurements he claims, the more potential profit he expect from the modding order. Rarely his measurements were somewhat consistent with JA (Stereophile), but the vast majority remains not cross-verified. Not to mention his post-modding results never verified elsewhere.
    2. He always bitches manufacturers use cheap (even when not necessarily defective nor error-generating) parts, which violate sbaf culture not to look at individual parts based on the price but also to respect engineer's decision to harmonize everything as a whole system. I am in the sbaf-culture camp, too.
    His assertions may (or may not) be true. But the fundamental problems as described above made me step back and think his youtube material (particularly recent modding ones) "harmful -- need strong caution" at best.
     
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  8. Puma Cat

    Puma Cat Almost "Made"

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    With respect to critical issues, I find ironic and disingeuous with respect to having a requirement that someeone "cross-validate" someone else's measurements in order to post here when I've never seen anyone, ever, at SBAF perform a statistically valid Measurement Systems Analyis prior to making measurements and posting them here. No qualification of the measurement system, no precision-to-tolerance data, no smallest effective measurement increment determination, and certianly no p-values or F-statistics demonstrative that the measurement systems are statistically fit-for-purpose. And with respect to a point you made here, never seen anyone post their R&R (repeatibility and reproducibility) data. No Operator*Gage interaction data, Part*Gage interaction F-statsitics, Part*Operator interaction data, either.

    With respect to harmful, I fail to see how objective data is harmful; the data is the data. Isn't that what SBAF espouses? Or, do they only espouse it when it suits SBAF's "culture"?
     
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  9. nishan99

    nishan99 Friend

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    It's about engineering and not slapping the most exotic parts and calling it a day.
    If Dynaudio can cheap out and still can make a successful product then kudos to them. That's engineering right there.

    You would be surprised how most "expensive" speakers have cheap parts. Are manufacturers dumb? Are they cheap greedy scumbags? Is it a conspiracy against the end user?. Little logic please.
     
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  10. Puma Cat

    Puma Cat Almost "Made"

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    It's all about "margin"; Dyn could have spent an extra $125 on a $3000 product and had a much better-performing speaker, with minimal impact on their margin.

    And those are your comments about "dumb, scumbags and conspiracy" are your comments, not mine, nor Danny's.

    And just so y'all know...I'm a Dynaudio owner and big fan of the company.

    But I am disappointed at the route Dynaudio took here with respect to an Anniversary edition product.
     
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  11. nishan99

    nishan99 Friend

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    It's not.

    It's about how much money you can save and still have a successful product. Engineering 101.
     
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  12. Stuff Jones

    Stuff Jones Friend

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    I have no idea who this Danny fella is but who cares if a company makes a huge profit. If it's so easy to put together together 250 dollars worth of parts to make a 3k dollar speaker that sells, then a competitor should undercut them and sell it for 2k. Or 1k. This is capitalism. The problem is that many audiophiles seem think the correlation between price and sound quality is close to 1. But that's not Dynaudio's fault.
     
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  13. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Spending $295 extra bucks on a GR research mod kit on top of $3000 for the Special 40s won't improve them that much. Danny's telling people it's shit value for many reasons, among which is that magnesium impregnated poly woofer. I don't like how the latest Dynaudio MSP woofers reproduce bass (think their version of low-end AKM Velvet) compared to the older passive monitor stuff from Dynaudio. Just ask @Psalmanazar who's heard them all.

    TBH, Danny should just tell folks they are retards for getting the Special 40s because they are piss poor value and instead buy his X series speaker kits which are extremely high value. Why throw more money (GR mod kit) to something that is already shit value, especially if the mod kit doesn't fix the woofer.
     
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  14. JayC

    JayC Resident Crash Test Dummy

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    I currently own these speakers and I admit, they do have some "faults" - like the exaggerated bass and a slight bump at 1k but I think there's a missing perspective here, which is subjective preferences. The bump at 1k makes it more forward sounding, which I happen to enjoy and it's probably 3db or so, based on a measurement I made a while ago. Not sure how his measures at +6db.

    Also, id never call this speaker "rough". Far from it.
    And finally, the decay improvement he points out is 1ms. I'd find it very difficult to hear that.

    The speaker makes Dynaudio good money, but like others have said - that's the sign of good engineers. You'd be surprised what your car's BOM looks like. Or your phone, or (add other device here).

    Overall the kit might flatten the response a bit but whether or not that's an improvement depends what you're looking for. If this speaker is so close to your ideal sound and these mods make it ideal for you, go for it! I don't see why we can't discuss this, especially if someone here has the speaker and wants to/has tried the kit.
    Personally it's not for me (atleast for the moment). I'd rather find another speaker if these things bothered me so much. Currently a touch of minidsp magic gets the bass where I like it and I call it a day, sit back and enjoy

    I could see what you mean with the woofer, although I dont see it as badly as you. What other options would you consider for a bookshelf speaker without a sub?
     
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  15. Metro

    Metro Friend

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  16. JayC

    JayC Resident Crash Test Dummy

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    I've heard those and wasn't completely convinced. I agree with rlow's comments, staging/imaging is lacking. I was disappointed that I could tell where they were in the room with my eyes closed. This is why I asked the question because it seems that there's no way to really make an upgrade in a meaningful way rather than make tradeoffs and move sideways.. I'd love to be shown otherwise, I've been looking around in the last few months to see where I can go from here

    Edit: I see you have a pair of the S400s as well, i'll send you a PM to take the conversation off this thread
     
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  17. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

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    That woofer sound dominates the tweeters too. I’d rather listen to the mediocre and dry as a nun’s cunt Yamaha HS8 you can buy anywhere.

    The only Dynaudios anyone should even consider buying are recreations of 20-40 year old bookshelves: the BM6A, BM15, and maybe Special 40. And they are all overpriced. I was incredibly disappointed with the recent hifi bookshelves and Lyds. The detail and punch was gone and replaced by pillows and processed harshness respectively.

    You can get much better bookshelves for about 1000 to 8000 dollars a pair. The ATCs and @Parker repped Sound Smith Monarchs make them sound like shit. I’m on some recent KRKs that are way more real world than the recent Dyns but they hiss

    If anyone wants warmth and processed sound like the recent Dyns, there are much cheaper recent Focals (Shape 65 and Aria 906) for about 2k a pair with the flax woofer and overdamped (vs beryllium overshoot) alu/mag M shaped tweeter that are warm as hell and have some detail without making drums sound like a pillow fight. They’re just very processed sounding on raw tracks. Anything close miced and uneqed should not sound that pleasing imo. They’re not the most detailed but not bad sounding at all and you can buy them everywhere.
     
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  18. Puma Cat

    Puma Cat Almost "Made"

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    If memory serves, an increase of 3 dB is perceived as "twice as loud" compared to "flat" (0 dB rise) at a specific frequency. Everyone's preferences and sensibilities are different, but for me, 3 dB up at 1K would be pretty hot in a key part of the midrange.

    The reason I'm mentioning this is that when I did the measurements on my big Dynaudio Contour S3.4s last week, I noted there was a pretty notable rise of ~5 dB at 3.5 KHz. This supported a subjective experience I had that evening when listening to reference material to the big Dyns, where the upper mids were quite a bit brighter than I remembered and on some material, uncomfortably so. The reason for this is likely due to the fact that I upgraded to the Esotar 2 tweeter in 2016, as I was told by the NA Dynaudio rep, Mick Tillman, that I could do this upgrade w/o any issues arising from the crossover, which was originally designed for the stock Esotec OEM tweeter. Based on this data and my experiences, looks like some values of components in the crossover would need to be changed to bring this response down to "flat", or "neutral".

    [​IMG]

    I think that was Danny's point when he showed the frequency response plot of the woofer; it impacted the performance of the tweeters as well

    From your recommendations above, I don't know your professional background, but I'm assuming that you're a professional audio mastering engineer or producer, and are familiar with Dyn's pro audio products. The products you reference above, the BM6a and BM15 are professional nearfield audio speakers, not home audio loudspeakers. I may wrong about this, but is my understanding is correct that Dynaudio designs their pro audio line of products somewhat differently than their home or mobile audio series? Thanks for your reply. Cheers.
     
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  19. JayC

    JayC Resident Crash Test Dummy

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    I think you might've made a mistake here; An increase of 3dB doubles the sound intensity but a 10dB increase is required before a sound is perceived to be twice as loud


    These are mostly nearfield/pro monitors or significantly cheaper models. The ATC stuff does need a sub (up to the SCM19, haven't heard further), even if everything else is spot on. Do you have other suggestions from the non-pro world at a similar price point as the Special 40?
     
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  20. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Oh, you'll get no argument from me with respect to personal tastes. I was merely pointing out that Danny's arguments eventually leading to "buy my mod kit" are quite incredulous and make no sense. If he's gonna do that, he may has well go all out, crap on the Special 40s, and tell everyone to buy his X series stuff instead.

    I don't see a big issue with the frequency response. It's good enough. For all we know Dynaudio could have intentionally voiced it that way. I've made dozens of designs myself and can honestly say that sometimes it's better to let the ear decide over a frequency response measurement.

    Also, any butthead with enough time on their hands can improve the frequency response of almost any speaker. Heck, we do this here quite a bit do we not? Tweaking headphones to suit out tastes, even some very expensive ones.

    What we don't do is a hatchet job analysis nit-picking shit to death, claiming our way is the right and only way, just to sell an overpriced mod kit.
     
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