Multi-room speakers are a convenient and simple way to have music all over the house without dragging cables everywhere and filling rooms with equipment. And the category has matured to a point where traditional speaker manufacturers have joined the (multi-) space race. Among them Danish Dynaudio.
We recently tested their top model, Dynaudio Music 7, which performed very well. This time round we’re tackling the smallest and cheapest in the series, Music 1. We use the word “cheap”, however, only in relation to the rest of the series. Because with a price close to 400 Euro, there is virtually free choice when it comes to multi-room speakers.
Dynaudio Music 1 is a small piece, about the size of a handbag, but with a little more edginess. As with the rest of the series, the design is prism-shaped and actually quite elegant. The front and back are covered with woven upholstery fabric, and a metal strip goes all the way around and accommodates the controls. A button on the side of the speaker allows you to choose between five pre-set modes. This might be web radio, a playlist, or the Music Now feature that ensures that music tailored to your tastes streams continually.
Behind the fabric you’ll find a 1-inch dome tweeter and a 4-inch bass/midrange driver. Each of them with its own 40-watt power amplifier. There is an analogue input and USB port for iOS devices.
Over the years, various manufacturers have offered their versions of tailored, constant musical accompaniment. At Dynaudio they call it Music Now. When the system is first set up you are asked to select your favourite musicians. The speaker mainly plays music from these, but will continually spice up the selection with “similar” numbers. When a number is playing, you can rate it with a plus or minus that will then guide the program to choose either more or less of the same kind.
At the time of writing, only the Tidal streaming service is supported by Music speakers. So no Spotify. On the other hand, you get the first nine months’ subscription included in the price. There is also internet radio. Besides streaming, you can of course play music from the network (DLNA and AirPlay) and via Bluetooth.
All Dynaudio Music speakers are equipped with a system called RoomAdapt, which tries to optimise the impact of the room. A built-in microphone measures the sound in the room – and adjusts accordingly. This all happens in a matter of seconds and without having to fumble with microphones and test tones, as is required by surround receivers with room adaptation.
Another feature, NoiseAdapt, adjusts the sound to the background noise and compresses the dynamic range, so the music can be heard above any conversation. This is smart and particularly usable in a speaker like Music 1, which, because of its size and battery power, will be carried around the house where it has to compete with dishwashing and cooking, for example.
The sound of Music 1
Dynaudio Music 1 can be used in several ways. Thanks to the built-in battery, you can take it around the house and listen to music everywhere. Guerilla style multi-room, if you like – and much cheaper than buying a speaker for each room. This is where RoomAdapt comes into its own: Place the speaker where you want it and shortly after it will have settled into the surroundings and adapted to the frequency response.
The bass must necessarily be the neglected child in a compact, battery-operated speaker weighing just 1.6 kilos. That was what you would think in any case. But the little 4-inch driver works hard to prove the opposite, aided by the DSP’s room adaptation. There is no shortage of fullness at normal listening levels. Even an organ piece like Koyaanisqatsi is reproduced in fine style. On James Blake’s bass killer “Limit to Your Love” there’s not quite as much boom on the base as on grown-up loudspeakers. But it never sounds ugly.
The treble is fully equal to the bass. This is almost certainly linked to the fact that the Dynaudio has dedicated a real 1-inch dome tweeter on the loudspeaker, where many small – and significantly cheaper – multi-room speakers settle for a single full-tone unit.
But that is still only mono. To see what Music 1 is capable of, we got hold of one extra and set the two speakers up as a stereo pair on stands in the listening room. And they felt at home there – despite their quirky appearance. With the right placement they could compete with a set of “real” loudspeakers costing more than the same price. Stereo perspective, space and resolution sound so good that for one brief moment you find yourself into thinking: “What if…”
When pairing the speakers as a stereo set, however, remember to select the same settings for RoomAdapt and NoiseAdapt on both. This does not happen automatically. And it sounds really odd if just one of the pair compress the sound using NoiseAdapt.
All in all, Dynaudio Music 1 is almost more impressive to listen to than Music 7. Not because it is better, no such luck. But because this little tiddler of a speaker surpasses expectations so much more than the large and ponderous top model. It is much more expensive than comparable solutions from Sonos, for example, whose entry level model is half the price. But the cleaner sound and the extended frequency range outweigh the price difference.
Dynaudio Music 1 has many competitors. The Music series starts where most others finish, so you can find lots of stereo models at the same price as this two-way mono speaker. On the other hand, the sound is a class above what you find in most other places.
The closest competitor is actually Music 7, which costs about the same as two Music 1s. If you have the money for it, the choice is between massive brute force and resolution in the midrange with Music 7 or wider stereo perspective and portable convenience with two Music 1s.