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This article was originally published in issue #45
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Andi Picker gets to grips with a pair of startling clear monitors.
We’d all like to believe that somewhere out there is a perfect studio speaker, one with rule-flat frequency response from 5 to 100kHz, distortion free crossovers and near instantaneous time-domain response. Well, perhaps there is, but the simple truth is that in the real world we don’t listen to a speaker, we listen to a speaker in a room. What we really need is a high quality speaker that’s designed to work in the actual rooms that we work in.
The Lyd-7 nearfield monitors from Dynaudio are rear-ported, two way speakers with a 28mm soft dome tweeter and a 7”MSP (Magnesium Silicate Polymer!) woofer with a fast, low-mass aluminium voice-coil, all powered by a pair of 50W Class-D amplifiers with a 4300Hz crossover and comprehensive DSP (Digital Signal Processing) tuning controls. Maximum frequency range is quoted as 45Hz to 21kHz (at -6dB) and varies with DSP settings.
There are a couple of surprises straight out of the box; first “Made In Denmark”. There are obvious commercial benefits to Far Eastern manufacture, but it’s always nice to see kit that’s actually made 'at home'. Secondly, they have a striking white fascia that really stands-out against my 'none more grey' studio set-up. They are also pleasantly light for the size of drivers, partly because of the use of those Class-D amplifiers which are energy efficient and don’t need massive cooling fins on the back of the enclosure.
I can’t recall having previously seen a marketing piece for a set of monitors telling me that they excel at “low volume precision.” but when you think about it, that’s exactly how most monitors will actually be used. That said, moments after I fired them-up I was grabbing for my level control to turn them down – do not go away with the idea that these have to be quiet monitors.
Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way to get used to new monitors is to play music through them and then do something else, to hear them without going into “frown/analyse” mode, so I plugged in my new Google Chromecast Audio dongle and looped a FLAC of Billy Gibbons’ “Perfectamundo” while I got-on with some maintenance work. After a while I checked that the Position switches were correctly set to Wall as the speakers were within 50cm of a wall, and then reduced the Bass Extension switch to 0Hz (obviously this doesn’t extend the bass to 0Hz, it’s just a slightly misleadingly labelled mid-setting). I had a play around with the Sound Balance switch which activates a neat tilt-eq (allows you to “tilt” the sound to be slightly brighter or bassier) and preferred it in the Neutral position, and then let the music play.
Initial impressions were that the speakers produced a lot of bass which did not seem to be particularly-well connected to the upper-mids and top-end, and that this separation got more noticeable as I increased the listening volume. Setting the Bass Extension to +10 Hz (the “least-bass” setting) helped, but not enough. Likewise, the Dark Sound Balance setting made them a little duller, but the -1.5 dB roll-off at the low end didn’t really help. I did wonder if the 4.3k Hz crossover (which is a bit higher than many two-way speakers use) might be leaving the 7” woofer with too-much work to do in the mid range, and in the end I just turned everything up a bit and left it all running for a few hours and went-out for coffee.
After I got back I found that the speakers were making a lot more sense. The burn-in made a huge difference, presumably loosening-up the 7” drivers, and with a bit of fine-tweaking of position and at my normal sort of mixing volume the sound connected up far more nicely to give a solid and very clear picture of the music. The back panel controls give a reasonable amount of adjustment to match the speakers to your set-up and your taste, but they won’t let you wander too far from the core sound, which I thought was slightly clinical but nicely balanced, with no sense of the abrasive top end that some speakers will throw at you in an attempt to sound 'detailed'.
I never felt that they became particularly relaxing to listen to, and I wouldn’t want to try to double a pair of these as Hi-Fi speakers – they are very definitely STUDIO monitors – and I have to say that they’re fairly merciless when it comes to dissecting a mix. They appear to be pretty accurate, and they add little or no sense of euphoria to what you’re listening to, and I reckon that by the time you’ve got your mix sounding solid and exciting over a pair of these you’re pretty well good to go. And that, let’s face it, it exactly what they are supposed to do. Overall, these Danish made monitors shine a pretty merciless spotlight on your mix which is, whether we always realise it or not, exactly what we want. Very nice!