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Got my Dynaudio MC 15 ("the high end multimedia speaker") - review

post #1 of 54
Thread Starter 
For a long time I was not satisfied with the sound I was getting from my computer speakers. I went through a few Logitech, Cambridge Soundworks, Creative, Altec, Klipsch "computer" speakers and they all were fine for gaming and Windows sound bites, but I decided to get serious with my computer sound, something I consider "hifi" quality.

I am pretty happy with the Headroom Micro stack as my source connected to my AKG K701 (prolly going to try some Denons next), but I had to get rid of my Logitech speakers (I liked the Logitech Z-10's cool and informative LCD display, the sound was less than satisfactory). I also considered getting a separate integrated amp paired with one of the sets of bookshelf speakers that I still have lying around. I tried out my Epos ELS3 (great little speakers), but for some reason I was still very dissatisfied. I think their sound as nearfield was a bit too bright. Placed on the hard reflective desk they sounded weak, lacked focus, and sounded crass. Also, my criteria is that I wanted something to simplify my setup (no big full sized amps) as I have been on a binge to reduce the clutter around my desk. I had settled with the compact Parasound Zamp which seemed ideal for that.

To further my reduce clutter goal, first I replaced my fax, scanner and printer with an all-in-one printer. Now the speakers.

But as I thought about it, I decided I wanted a set of good quality active monitors. Preferably something that would be good as general use speakers even if run subwoofer-less. Also, I wanted something decent that I would not be tempted to upgrade from for a long time. Lastly, it had to be still compact enough, have some desk appeal, and satisfy my ears even compared to the B&W's I use in my full size HT/music system.

The two speakers that I really was intrigued by were the Adam A7 and Dyaudio BM5A, both top quality pro studio monitors with approx $1000USD pair street price. Both are serious monitors, but are starting to get too large and the look was a bit too "studio-centric". I also considered the Audioengine line, and the NHT M-00 monitors which were both promising in the $400 range, but I felt I should still aim higher. I looked the list of brands making good studio monitors like Tannoy, KRK, Yamaha, M-Audio etc. A quick visit to my local music store had a lineup of studio monitors and I tried a few of them but I was starting to get a headache from the selection and choice.

Learning there was a newer Dynaudio BM5A Compact model which was a much smaller version of the regular BM5A, it seemed like the ideal candidate given the reputation of the Dynaudio line. I then found out there was a consumer version introduced last year of the BM5A Compact, with unbalanced (RCA) inputs, a grill to hide the drivers, and stands too. This was called the MC 15. This seemed like the ideal candidate. I found a dealer (gramophone.ca) that had them in stock. After I realized I was getting a nice tax refund, I decided to take the gamble on the MC 15. I hadn't heard this compact version of the BM5A but I didn't think it could be that different from the full size one.

These speakers are $1299 USD ($1369 CAD) for what is basically a 2 way compact monitor with a 6 inch bass driver, and a Esotec soft silk dome tweeter with the proprietary secret coating. Dynaudio speakers are all very much on the spendy side. Their cheapest plain jane 2 way (passive) home audio Audience 42 mini-monitor is something like $800, so $1299 for this active monitor seems to be in the ballpark. Dynaudio designs and manufactures their own drivers (in fact, their drivers are used in many other brands' high end speakers). While they will never win any value contest, the fact that these speakers have TWO 50W amps in each speaker (biamping each driver), this is a SERIOUS monitor, more than capable of supplying ample volume even when used as far field monitor. No made in China stuff here, this thing is made in Denmark. I lol'ed when I saw the box, it actually says "Made in Denmark - Danes don't lie"

Technical Specifications MC 15

– Compact active monitor loudspeaker for multimedia listening
– Two integrated 50 watt amplifiers
– Soft dome fabric tweeter for smooth high frequency response
– MSP mid/bass driver for powerful mid and low frequency response
– Analogue RCA input (gold plated) for flexibility and easy connection
to audio sources
– Adjustable for various applications and listening positions (variable
high pass filter, 3-band-equalizer, input sensitivity)
– Solid metal angling plinth for optimising dispersion (included)
– Expandable via additional MC 15 loudspeakers
– Bass response may be augmented through a Subwoofer (optional)
– Detachable cloth grille (included)
– Detachable power cord (included)

System Two-way active speaker
Frequency Response (± 3 dB) 55 Hz–21 kHz
Input level (85 dB SPL @1 m) 16 dBu RMS @ 0 dB setting
Power consumption Idle: 10 Watt /90 Watt max.
Amplifier power 2 x 50 Watt
Enclosure Principle Bass reflex
Internal Cabinet Volume 4,8 liters
Woofer 150 mm (5.9") magnesium silicate polymer cone (MSP),
75 mm (3") pure aluminium voice coil
Tweeter Esotec 28 mm (1.1") soft dome, magnetic fluid, pure aluminium voice coil
Crossover frequency 1500 Hz
Crossover slope 6 dB / oct
Weight (net.) 7 kg
Dimensions (W x H x D) 170 x 260 x 235 mm
6.7" x 10.2" x 9.3"

As this monitor is really a reiteration of their BM5A monitor, it still has the controls from that pro model. The input sensitivity switch, customizable low pass filter for use with the optional MC250 sub, three band EQ (bass, mids, highs). The mid EQ cut adjustment is useful if you are using the speaker on a desk where you can reduce the peakiness in the mids that can occur with some placements. The speaker itself has a very solid synthetic baffle and thick MDF cabinet. Everything feels top rate here, as you would expect for the price. The solid metal stands aim the speaker perfectly at your ear.

Well how does it sound? I don't want to try to describe the sound so early especially since Dynaudio tends to recommend long break-in periods for their higher end speakers, but intially I would say it's a fairly airy sound. It has enough foundation in the bass (-3dB at 55Hz) that you might not feel the need to add the companion sub. I think for nearfield, I'd suggest you use the -1dB adjustment for the treble. Also, the speaker is rear slot ported and it feels a bit heavy in the midbass if you put these near the back wall. Mids are solid and there seems to be a good integration of the bass to mids and treble. No real mid droop common to so many compact speakers. I might add a bit more after I've had a chance to break these in and understand its limitations, but so far, very impressive. I would not recommend this speaker for the value conscientious as that's not its mission. It was designed first as a monitoring tool with accuracy as its goal, and it really is better than any "computer" or "iPod" speaker without a doubt. You do pay a price for the Dynaudio brand as they are a premium brand but there is no doubt this is a premium sounding speaker. It has a refined sound with good accuracy and solid build.



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Edit:
Three weeks later. I left the speakers running during the day for a few hours each day. I like to do this regardless of the need to break-in because I also want to make sure there aren't any defects in the speaker right away. I don't really notice a big change in the sound but then again my detailed sound memory is pretty short. I haven't changed my opinion much, and I like the speaker even more that I have had time to wring it through a lot of my music collecton.

I listen to these speakers in the same position as shown in my snapshots but aimed just slightly toward my ears. There is a wall immediately behind them so there is going to be some boundary gain, but my head is about 2.5 feet from the tweeter.

These speakers are very honest. I think their response may have a slight bit of U shaped frequency response. But I would not describe the speaker as bright nor warm, it is tonally well balanced. Compared to my B&W CM1's, they are a just tad more forward in its detail. Imaging sounds expanive and uniform. The treble is very smooth, the "tizz" of high hats is just right, metallicky but not too brash. I listen to these speakers for long periods and I don't feel any sense of fatigue. The bass is well weighted and has a smooth rolloff below 55Hz with response down to 45Hz, to my ears, in-room. I sense a bit of upper midrange (lower treble) lift that comes across as some coarseness sometimes but it's not bothersome or even noticeable most of the time. I think I prefer the speaker with the bass switch set to -2dB for my particular placement to alleviate some of the bloom in the upper midbass. The detail in the mids and highs is very good, I can hear and separate the instruments easily. There isn't the sense of artificial detail that some speakers employ. I tried and preferred the -1dB setting for the treble when I had the speakers perfectly on-axis but after some experimentation, I prefer a slightly off axis position with the treble switch back to neutral and still sounds balanced. The bass of this speaker is not particular extended but I think one can be happy without a sub if you are just using this speaker for music. You'll never forget that it's a small speaker though, it about as extended as basically any bookshelf speaker of similar size. You'll still be tapping your toes when a bass heavy track calls on it to deliver the bass. Dynamics are very good, the speaker holds its own when the big peaks hit, never sounding congested or boxy with any volume that's reasonable for a small room application.

However, I'm so used to hearing a bit more bass so I still decided to augment them with a decent quality minisub. I really wanted to keep things as small as possible so I picked the Velodyne Microvee which adds just a *touch* more output in the 35-50 Hz range where this speaker starts to roll off. The sub has a -3dB point of 38Hz, and I was able to carefully tune it so that the frequency response is +/-3dB from 38Hz all the way up to 120Hz with carefully setting of the level and crossover control.

So, is this speaker everything I had hoped for? Yes. It's more than I set out to spend but I have no regrets at all. To call it a multimedia speaker brings connotations of low quality, this thing is the real deal. A high grade active monitor for the desktop that has sonic qualities that are presentative of any good bookshelf speaker and a level of refinement which can only come from a company who makes genuine hifi speakers.
post #2 of 54
Thanks for the review and the great pics. Very nice setup.
I had been considering the Dynaudios myself, having heard that they have great bass performance for their size. Nice to see they have included a front grill cover to protect the drivers.

Hope you tell us more as you burn them in

Enjoy the new speaker
post #3 of 54
The tweeters are usually made by Esotec.

I'm a fan of Dynaudio. While their speakers aren't entirely accurate (a bit cool throughout the mid-range according to freefield measurements), they sound very transparent. I've used a pair of BM15As for long periods of time in a studio environment and they're the only monitors that seemed to disappear. They were the monitors least likely to induce fatigue. I think that coolness in the midrange is done on purpose almost like a loudness curve, and to take into account the imperfect acoustic nature of most room designs. Most people don't hear it as coolness in the midrange (including me)... They think that the midrange is fine and that the speakers are simply light and "airy."
post #4 of 54
I love dynaudious. Had a set of audience 52 for years, it wasi mpressive how this little speakers drove my 40 m2 living room. For the last 4 years I've had Dynaudio 122, a very nice speaker, basically a audience 42 with extra midbass speaker. Clear, spatious yet never sharp.
post #5 of 54
Very cool!

You're going to be loving them even more when those speakers break in!
post #6 of 54
very nice setup. definately desk friendly. US$1299 seems like a steep price to pay but well worth it for what i can see from the pictures. you *might* be able to do better if you DIY for the same amount of money with a lot of hours thrown in.

how's the dynamics? 50watt per channel doesn't seem much since dynaudio drivers are known to be power hungry
post #7 of 54
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ixeo View Post
50watt per channel doesn't seem much since dynaudio drivers are known to be power hungry
They are actually 100W per channel (2x50W Per speaker, biamped)

The dynamics are great, not using my headphones nearly as much now
post #8 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by warpdriver View Post
They are actually 100W per channel (2x50W Per speaker, biamped)

The dynamics are great, not using my headphones nearly as much now
sweet. yeah likewise..i only use my headphones in the office these days. i run a usb dac, an integrated amplifier and psb bookshelves. i have no space on my table but it's well worth it. lol. wish i could have gotten your dyns, then at least i'd have space to work with.
post #9 of 54
Stumbled upon your review after doing a Google search... Thanks for your impressions. Suffering a case of upgradeitis myself, I am looking hard at the MC 15's...I've owned my AudioEngine A5's for only a month, and they are terrific, but I know myself, and will want to upgrade soon--relegating my A5's to either being sold or used in my office at work..
post #10 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by feverfive View Post
Stumbled upon your review after doing a Google search... Thanks for your impressions. Suffering a case of upgradeitis myself, I am looking hard at the MC 15's...I've owned my AudioEngine A5's for only a month, and they are terrific, but I know myself, and will want to upgrade soon--relegating my A5's to either being sold or used in my office at work..
Cut out the intermediate steps and go straight to Spendor or Harbeth with a good outboard amp.

Oh, and please PM me if you do decide to sell your A5s.
post #11 of 54
Thread Starter 
Are you not happy with the A5's? They are really sweet and at 1/3 the price of the Dynaudio but yet have a very good sound, they are very impressive value. I think Hopstretch above does have a good point....they are a million good ways to go if you are willing to do an outboard amp with bookshelf speakers. I'm not convinced that most bookshelf speakers sound right nearfield though...which is why I decided to go with a nearfield powered monitor.

I have no regrets at all with my MC15...I would do it again if I had to.
post #12 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by warpdriver View Post
Are you not happy with the A5's? They are really sweet and at 1/3 the price of the Dynaudio but yet have a very good sound, they are very impressive value. I think Hopstretch above does have a good point....they are a million good ways to go if you are willing to do an outboard amp with bookshelf speakers. I'm not convinced that most bookshelf speakers sound right nearfield though...which is why I decided to go with a nearfield powered monitor.

I have no regrets at all with my MC15...I would do it again if I had to.
It makes me clearly NOT an "audiophile", but I just don't wanna deal w/ amps/pre-amps/etc... Plus, figuring out system synergy just isn't w/in my grasp (I'm a lawyer--actually, a litigation manager, not a techie); I'll have a hard enough time trying to figure out how to connect a different set of powered speakers to my Apogee Duet!! Then, throw a sub into the mix...ugh..

I LOVE my A5's, just to be clear about it. I have zero issues w/ them. Given the price, they are a wonder to me. I have gone nearly to the point of being a shill for AudioEngine in recommending them here, other forums & to people I know. But, I need something simple for my office at work anyway, and my aforementioned upgradeitis leads me to something like the MC15's for home.
post #13 of 54
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I agree with your goal. You can see in my pix that I wanted a simple desktop arrangement. I have a USB 0404 USB now as my source at the moment but the sound seems to go mute sometimes with the Vista drivers which is very annoying, so I'm actually thinking of replacing it with something else....just ordered a NuForce Icon to give that a try.

I have heard the A5 briefly. They have a different sort of sound, more analytical, very good microdynamics. Very clean overall with a very transparent midrange. As I said, they are a great value....they make my MC15 seem overpriced. In fact, if I were to recommend a speaker to a friend, I would just say get the A5.
What the Dynaudio does best is that it's very transparent, tight and unfatiguing. And with the EQ options, you can really dial in the best sound for any particular placement which was a big concern of mine (getting it to sound good on my desktop). I don't think about whether I could have done better for my money, I just enjoy the sound they put out. Being a Dynaudio made for studio use, I expect to get YEARS of good sound out of it

BTW: I did add a high quality MicroVee sub to my setup to fill in the below 50Hz range
post #14 of 54
^^ Yeah, I was eyeing-up your sub as well. I've read some great things about the MicroVee
post #15 of 54
Btw, I'am curious as to how you connect the sub to the MC15. Does it have 2 RCA ports for u to plug the speakers into? I'am thinking of adding a sub for my MC15's and am considering the 250 sub by dynaudio...
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