Dynaudio Focus 360 Speker Review

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Freo-1

Dynaudio Focus 360 Speker Review
« on: 8 Oct 2016, 06:45 pm »
 The following is a review of the Dynaudio Focus 360 speakers.  The Focus 360 speakers are a three-way, full range dynamic configuration.  The following are the speaker’s specifications:

Bandwidth: 31 Hz to 25 kHz.
Sensitivity: 88 dB.
Impedance: 4 Ohms.
Woofers:Two 8" Magnesium Silicate Polymer with 3" pure aluminum voice coil.
Midrange:6" Magnesium Silicate Polymer with 1.5" pure aluminum voice coil.
Tweeter:Dynaudio Esotar2 1.1" soft dome with pure aluminum voice coil.
Dimensions: HxWxD 48 4/5" x 9 4/5" x 15 1/5", 79.6 lbs.

Construction
The crossover points are at 400 Hz for the mid-range, and 2200 Hz for the tweeter.  The tweeter is the Esotar2, which was the best tweeter Dynaudio made at the time of the speakers release.  The mid-range driver is encased in a separate housing so that it is not influenced by the woofer section.  The tweeter housed within a naturally damped sound chamber to achieve optimal dampening.  The woofers allow the speakers to get down to 31 Hz, which is very close to full range.  The design is ported in the rear, and a set of foam plugs are provided to tame in room response if the speakers are set close to the rear wall.  The bass from the speakers is remarkable with the right amplification.  (More on this later).

There is a matched crossover filter, which allows for a stable 4 ohm load and flat response.  The curve is a gentle 6db slope, which helps with the amplifier load, and helps to make piano and percussion natural sounding.  One thing I can attest to is the fact that these speakers make the piano sound almost like it’s in the room while you are listening (very few speakers sound this good reproducing piano).  The cabinet is solidly made, and is slightly tapered from front to back.  This pair is a very nice rosewood finish.  The grilles cover the entire front.  While they do not adversely impact sound in any way, most would opt to run with the grilles off for critical listening.  The tabs that hold the grilles in place are not overly robust, so best not to keep taking them off/on too much. In summary, the speakers are very well constructed, and what one would expect from a speaker of this quality.

Equipment used with evaluation:
The following equipment was used to conduct the listening evaluation:
Source: Oppo BDP-105/Benchmark DAC2 HGC
Preamp: Primare PRE 32
Power Amps: Primare A34.2 in MONO (1100 WPC @ 4 ohms)
All analog connections with XLR cables.  Speaker wire was two paralleled 14 AWG.

Sound
The Focus 360 speakers are easily the best sounding speakers I’ve ever owned, and among the best I have ever come across, period. They are remarkably neutral from the lowest octave right up through the highest treble.  There is no noticeable accentuation or attenuation of any frequency band with these speakers. What is immediately noticed is the midrange is very open, detailed, and natural sounding.  These speakers will make you want to go through your music collection and re-listen to all your favorite recordings.  Rest assured you will often hear new nuances in recording you thought you had down cold.
The amazing thing is that all types of music sound outstanding with these speakers.  Whether your preference is rock, pop, metal, jazz, chamber, symphonic, you name it, it one’s chosen music will sound great with these speakers. Piano and percussion instruments sound very life-like with these speakers.  They really excel with non-amplified instruments, such as violins.  The timbres of these are among the best I’ve heard to date.  Vocals sound natural and life-like, with no over emphasis on any aspect of reproduction.  The treble is simply outstanding.  High frequencies are light, airy, natural, and best of all, none fatiguing.  The fact that Dynaudio put their best tweeter in this is readily apparent.
The sound stage is wide and deep. Due to the high degree of resolution, they sound like you are in the center of hall or a little forward of center.  They provide the small scale nuances one experiences at a symphony that often don’t come across in the recording.   
The bass is tight, tuneful, and accurate.  I highly doubt anyone would need a subwoofer for just about any type of music with these.  The only time a sub may help is if you are playing some very heavy organ music, or if you use them in a surround setup for movies. Even then, these speakers can handle everything quite nicely. In summary, the Dynaudio Focus 360 is a true reference speaker.  Several reviewers favorably compared these against models that cost twice as much or more.

Some Additional Observations:
Late in the evaluation, decided to try a pair of tube amps with the Dyna’s to see how they would sound.  The tube preamp is a Thomas Meyer 6AH4 Clone, and the power amps are 110 watt mono-blocks, which sport a quad of 1625 output tubes.
The results were a bit of a mixed bag.  With some legacy recordings, such as Howling Wolf’s Chess Box Set, the presentation was very enjoyable. Vocals had that old time tube sound many people find alluring.  The fine detail was lost a bit, and the bass sounded slightly bloated by comparison.  When listening to Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto #3, some of the dynamic range was attenuated, and while the piano sounded very good, it seemed a bit too polite compared to the higher powered solid state setup.  So, while some recordings, such as small jazz ensembles would sound excellent with the Dynas driven by tubes, other recordings, such as heavy symphonic music, would exhibit some level of bass bloat, compression, and slight loss of inner detail with using tubes.  One thing I have noticed over the years is that tube amps do not seem to perform as well with speakers with complex crossovers (three way or more) as a high powered solid state amps.  Perhaps this is what was noticed here in this example.  A case in point:  The same tube amps drive a pair of ATC SCM-19 two way monitors (at 85db) very well.  The Focus 360’s need a high powered solid state amp input to get the best performance from the bass registers to control the woofers. 

Final Notes:
These speakers are rated at 88 db, and while they will play plenty loud with 110 to 150 watts, the extra power really helps them sound their best.  Early on, I evaluated the speakers with one of Primare A34.2 amps in stereo.  This provides 300 watts @ 4 ohms, and while the speakers sounded fine, they sound somewhat better with the 1100 watts @ 4 ohms available.  The difference is quite noticeable, as there is no sense of congestion with the music when the extra power is available.  The Focus 360’s certainly can handle in excess of 300 watts for musical peaks/transients.  There is a lot documentation and research that is out there regarding clipping of musical signals.  It’s the type of thing one may not notice until you hear a system where there is enough power that clipping does not occur.  However, once you are exposed to this, it’s hard to tolerate in one’s own system.  I think one of the reason some folks love tubes is the soft clipping characteristics, which masks the effect to some extent. 
To summarize, the Dynaudio Focus 360’s are an outstanding set of speakers, ones that I plan to keep for a long time.  One could spend a LOT more on speakers, and not get as much enjoyment or satisfaction as these can provide.  The Dynaudio sound is one most audiophiles (I think) can easily live with.
 

JLM

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Re: Dynaudio Focus 360 Speker Review
« Reply #1 on: 8 Oct 2016, 11:36 pm »
Thanks for writing these up, I enjoyed the review and am sure many will find value in it.

Didn't realize they'd been out for six years or that they listed for $7000 USD.

Many of your impressions mirror mine for the Dynaudio BM5 Mk III's (see my review) that are active, smaller, much cheaper, and have an F3 of 42 Hz.
« Last Edit: 9 Oct 2016, 10:05 am by JLM »

Freo-1

Re: Dynaudio Focus 360 Speker Review
« Reply #2 on: 8 Oct 2016, 11:56 pm »
I did your read your review, and found it informative and enjoyable. I think you have found a bargain there. 

Always been a fan of active speakers.   For years, wanted a set of ATC SCM-50 ASL's, but could not justify the purchase price.

My speakers are about three and one half years old.  I was able to acquire mine for a very reasonable price.  I expect to keep these for a lone time.

timind

Re: Dynaudio Focus 360 Speker Review
« Reply #3 on: 9 Oct 2016, 12:26 am »
Very informative review. I've owned a few Dynaudio speakers, though only monitors. They were all excellent speakers except the the Contour 1.3SE, and they were the most expensive of the bunch. Of course I shouldn't say the 1.3SEs qwewn't excellent as many reviewers found them so, but they did not suit my ear.

Freo-1

Re: Dynaudio Focus 360 Speker Review
« Reply #4 on: 9 Oct 2016, 02:39 pm »
Very informative review. I've owned a few Dynaudio speakers, though only monitors. They were all excellent speakers except the the Contour 1.3SE, and they were the most expensive of the bunch. Of course I shouldn't say the 1.3SEs qwewn't excellent as many reviewers found them so, but they did not suit my ear.

Thank you.  You bring up a very good point about what sounds good to the individual.  There are a number of speakers out there that get great reviews, but were not suitable to may listening tastes. 

poseidonsvoice

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Re: Dynaudio Focus 360 Speker Review
« Reply #5 on: 9 Oct 2016, 06:01 pm »
Great review Freo-1.

JLM,

The October 2016 review of the Dynaudio Focus 200XD in Stereophile by Jason Victor Serinus and measurements by Atkinson was well written. In particular the measurements were exceptional for a non-waveguide based design. This is an active 2 way priced at $7k. It shows how an active design can prove to be advantageous to weed out the last elements of driver nonlinearities judging by the über flat FR curve on axis, and clean horizontal polar response.

Check it out.

Best,
Anand.

JLM

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Re: Dynaudio Focus 360 Speker Review
« Reply #6 on: 9 Oct 2016, 09:46 pm »
Thanks Anand.