Dynaudio Audience 40

I’ve wanted a pair of Dynaudio speakers since the early 2000s when I read about their high-performing bookshelf models in HiFi Choice magazine.  At the time, they seemed to offer some of the best bang-for-the-buck in the speaker market.  I even auditioned their cheapest model at Innovative Audio in New York, which was the only nearby dealer and my first exposure to a truly high-end audio store.  Alas, they remained out of my price range and I ultimately settled on a pair of B&W DM602 S3s for about half the price, which served me well for a long time.

Over the years I’ve continued to read about Dynaudio’s various offerings, including its newer self-powered models, which typically earn high praise.  So I was ecstatic to pick up a pair of Dynaudio Audience 40s for $100 on Craigslist.  I actually didn’t plan to buy speakers when I went to pick up an Adcom GFA-555 that needs a minor repair ($100!), but I stumbled into every audiophile’s dream:  a garage filled with more vintage gear than your eyes can take in.  It turns out that the seller was helping his deceased friend’s wife sell off his gear.  The friend was quite the hoarder and had basically filled his home with both functioning and non-functioning gear.  Alot of it was junk, but a bunch of gems were mixed in (many of which were out of my price range or far too big for my apartment).  After talking to the guy for about an hour and running to the ATM, I ended up walking away with the Adcom, the Dynaudio speakers, and a Technics SL-1650 turntable ($100) that I knew little about except that it was a bargain.

For the past month I’ve been listening to the Dynaudio’s in my bedroom system with my vintage Nakamichi SR-2A receiver, fed from my computer through the Dragonfly Black DAC.  It replaced the KEF Q100s in that system.

The first thing I noticed was that the Dynaudios are significantly harder to drive than the KEFs and required me to turn up the volume about 25-30%.  But once I did, the results were staggering.  First of all, the sound was noticeably smooth and liquid.  That is saying alot given my fondness for the KEFs and their musicality.  I’ve found myself listening to more jazz than usual because of how hyponotically the speakers recreate the venue and the presence of the musicians.  Rather than hearing a clinical reproduction of three or four separate performers, the Dynaudios convey the feeling of being there live and hearing the performers come together to create a sum that is greater than its parts.

The second thing I noticed about the Dynaudios was their surprisingly satisfying bass.  With 5.9 inch woofers, I had low expectations, but the bass was tight and had surprising speed and punch.  That being said, you are not going to hear the truly deep bass notes you would with a larger speaker or subwoofer.  But the Dynaudios never left me feeling that I was missing any part of the performance.  For example, I’ve been listening to Paul Simon’s Graceland on vinyl (I’ll discuss in more detail in a later review of the Technics) and the Dynaudios do a tremendous job of reproducing the heavy bass drums (and other bass-heavy African instruments I can’t identify) on multiple tracks.  Through the Dynaudios, the music is truly infectious.

Overall, I love these speakers and they leave me with a conundrum.  Do I keep them in my bedroom system or go back to the KEFs, which have also brought me so much pleasure?  I haven’t decided yet, and I suspect it is going to take a side-by-side listening test before I make a final decision.  But either way, I can’t go wrong.


2 thoughts on “Dynaudio Audience 40

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  1. I have a pair of Dynaudio Contour 1.1’s. They are older, but look the same, except for a 5.8 inch woofer, probably with a smaller voice coil. Your description matches these speakers very well. Highly recommended, $1900 per pair new. Available used, if you can find them. I won’t part with mine. Very live with good imaging and transient response. I enjoy them almost as much as my Klipsch Cornwall’s, when I don’t need their bass extension, bias for jazz, and efficiency. I drive them all with a Classe CAV-150, and neither loudspeaker needs all the power of the Classe.
    Mark L
    Dallas, TX


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