Danske Dynaudio is one of the speaker manufacturers that has embraced the digital development with skin and hair. Passive speakers are still being produced at the factory in Skanderborg, but the future is active and digitally controlled, they believe .
Dynaudio Focus 20 XD is the new compact model in the company’s active Focus XD series. It is the successor to the Focus 200 XD. Or rather an update of it. Although there are differences in appearance, they are mechanically identical. The external differences are seen in the form of a gorgeous high-glass lacquered finish in real veneer and a build quality that matches the solid price.
In terms of technology, it is a compact two-way tripod speaker, equipped with a 6.5 ″ bass / midrange with magnesium polymer membrane and a 28 mm silk dome. The latter is almost a matter of course when it comes to Dynaudio. The newly developed tweeter is, like most other Dynaudio tweets, a distant descendant of the company’s first tweeter, the D-28.
When it comes to an active speaker, a lot more happens on the back than usual. There is both digital and analog audio input, as well as a digital output to connect the two speakers. With an adjustment wheel, you can adapt the bass reproduction to the placement of the speakers – from freestanding to corner placement. You can also adjust the treble level 1 dB downwards. There are also buttons for use with the Dynaudios Connect box, which expands the range of inputs with optical, USB and Wifi Bluetooth. The box costs extra, but the speakers can work well without, and the test is done with a wired connection, directly to the speakers.
Inside it approx. The 15-liter cabinet contains two amplifiers of 150 W each, for bass and treble, respectively. And of course the digital electronics. All signal processing in the Focus 20 XD is digital, so there is nothing to gain from an external digital converter along with the analog input.
The big difference between the Focus 20 XD and the Focus 200 XD lies in the hardware. That is, the program that controls the built-in digital signal processor, the DSP. It is the DSP that controls the frequency and phase response of the speaker. The crossover filter is also a program in the DSP. In fact, those who have the original Focus XD series can get a free upgrade with new software to the built-in DSP, which will provide the same performance as the new models.
The sound of the Dynaudio Focus 20 XD
Where compact speakers fall short compared to their floor-standing siblings, is in the deep bass. With good DSP programming, however, one can go far, and the Focus 20 XD has a weight and fullness at the bottom that would have been impossible in a passive construction of the same size.
Focus 20 XD manages difficult bass pieces with bravura, whether it’s organ bass and choir singing on Phillip Glass Koyaanisqatsi , funky beats on Chris Jones No Sanctuary Here , or the large orchestral ensemble on Johan Strauss’ Banditen Galopp in the Telarc edition. In fact, the bass control for placement had to be adjusted down several times. These speakers in no way need subsidies from the room to give impact in the lower regions. But if wall or corner placement is necessary, you can happily adjust it. And the bass is not only powerful, but also lightning fast and firm.
At the other end of the spectrum, the treble is rendered well-resolved and uncolored. Cymbals sound like cymbals, and the crisp overtones of violins sound natural. But the 28 mm dome is not as weightless and airy as the best band tweeters, or the “free in the air” -mounted carbon dome on the B&W 705 S2 . Whether this should be seen as a defect or just an expression that it does not exaggerate is a question of sound ideals. Focus 20 XD is not dark in sound, but sober and without an importer effect.
The midrange range is important and challenging for a two-way speaker. Here are the vocals and the basic tones of many instruments. And here is also often the crossover frequency between a heavy bass unit and a small and light treble. Dynaudio has solved the task flawlessly. The reproduction from the two devices merges seamlessly. Focus 20 XD reproduces voices excellently. In a piece like Right Hand Man from Hamilton, it is easy to distinguish the individual sounds of the three overlapping male voices from each other. And it is no easy task.
The room reproduction is like the treble competent without being boastful. On a good classical recording, you can easily sense how the recording space extends deep and wide behind the speakers, but listening to music on the Focus 20 XD is primarily about closeness and intensity in the music.
At a price of almost fifty thousand kroner per couple, one can expect to meet qualified competitors. However, in order not to compare apples with pears, you must remember that 4 x 150 W amplifiers are included in the purchase, as well as a digital crossover filter with DSP correction and a DAC in high-end quality. And then the field narrows considerably. In fact, we can only think of the equally amazing Devialet Gold Phantom , which with thousands of watts under the hood and subwoofer deep bass is a tough competitor. Which one you choose becomes a matter of taste. But it is difficult to find as much quality and performance from a passive speaker when it comes to making room in the budget of the amplifier.
Connect a digital or analogue signal source and you are up and running. But only one of each. If you have several, or are thinking of connecting a game console, TV or computer to the speakers, an extra few thousand kroner must be added to the disk.
Dynaudio Focus 20 XD is a completely successful and healthy speaker, of which they will probably sell a part. This is not a revolution, but an update of an already excellent construction. The price may look daunting, but it also includes two amplifiers per channel, so you only need one signal source to have a very well-sounding and even elegant high-class stereo system. Should you want more, there will be more inputs and wireless sound in the speaker itself.