Dynaudio Focus 140 £1500
28th Jun 2007 | 23:00
A pretty standmount in the middle of the Focus line-up
The Danish Dynaudio brand has always focused on the upper end of the loudspeaker market, and while it does have an Audience range that comes with vinyl wood-print finish, all of the company's costlier ranges feature real-wood veneers.
The Focus series occupies the next rung up on a five-rung price ladder, and consists of three stereo pairs, as well as a centre channel speaker for the multichannel set.
The smallest and largest Focus models have both undergone scrutiny in recent months, and both fared very well. Now it's the turn of the one in the middle, the £1,150-per-pair Focus 140.
Like the Focus 110, it's a two-way standmount, but with the next size up in bass/mid drivers, a correspondingly larger enclosure and nearly twice the volume of the 110, along with a not inconsiderable £300 extra on the price tag.
A very classy real-wood veneer finish, with four options available - maple, cherry, rosewood or black ash - goes some way towards justifying the model's elevated price, as does the cunningly shaped enclosure.
What looks at first sight like a conventional square-cornered box turns out on closer scrutiny, to be gently tapered from front to rear by about 2cm, which should be sufficient to spread out and 'defocus' the internal lateral standing waves. Chamfered front edges add a further refinement to improve the off-axis distribution.
In classic Dynaudio tradition, the 165mm cast-frame main driver has a 115mm cone/dome combination diaphragm in moulded MSP (magnesium silicate polymer) plastics, driven from a large-diameter (75mm) aluminium-wire voice coil.
The 28mm doped-fabric dome tweeter is the firm's premium-quality Esotec device. A single pair of terminals feed the gentle-slope first-order crossover filters, and shares the rear panel with a flared port. Foam bungs are supplied to block the latter if desired.
Historically, the bass alignment of Dynaudio's larger standmounts has proved problematic in our listening room, as the port output reinforces a room mode, resulting in too much midbass.
This Focus 140 proved to be no exception, unfortunately, so the alternative of inserting the supplied foam bungs and placing the speakers close to a wall was also explored, though in truth no truly satisfactory solution to providing smooth and even bass was found under our conditions.
Under alternative room conditions things might well have turned out differently. But this does highlight a key problem with reflex-ported systems (or at least the overwhelming majority of them): there's rarely any other option with the supplied port than to block it up.
Greater flexibility, as with Tannoy's open-cell bung that damps the port output, or B&W's nifty 'hollow bung' which changes the tuned frequency, ought to be more generally available.
Beyond the bass difficulties, one can't help but admire this speaker's smoothness and evenness, and consequent low levels of unwanted colorations. However, the model does have a tendency to err on the side of restraint, delivering an overall sound that's undeniably relaxing and easy on the ears, but which is also rather lacking in vim and sheer get-up-and-go.
The soundstage has good space and air, free from any boxiness, and images are well formed and focused. The speaker as a whole is fundamentally delicate and truthful, but also just a tad 'shut in', so while its smoothness never offends the ear, it also fails to stir the juices and get the listener excited.