Dynaudio BM15A

Powered Monitors

Published in SOS May 1998
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Reviews : Monitors

PAUL WHITE listens to Dynaudio's latest powered nearfield monitors and counts the days until he has to give them back.

I must confess that I've always liked Dynaudio monitors, so when the BM15As came along, I was more than keen to try them out. Technically, the active 2-way Dynaudio BM15As are nearfield monitors, but they're a little larger than most nearfields and are more likely to sell in quantity to project studio owners who want a compact and accurate full-range system.

pros & cons

DYNAUDIO BM15A £1939

pros
Excellent overall sound quality with a wide frequency range and pinpoint imaging.
Plenty of level for those who like to mix loud.

cons

Um, I'm working on it...

summary

These are extremely nice powered monitors that provide full-range monitoring in a relatively compact format. The overall sound quality would be hard to beat at any price.

CONSTRUCTION

The cabinets, which are supplied as a left/right mirror-image pair, measure 455 x 290 x 387mm, and appear to be fabricated from ready-laminated board that's notched and then folded to produce the cabinet top, bottom and sides with no visible breaks in the vinyl laminate. The MDF baffle has rounded edges and is fixed to the main body of the cabinet by 10 cap-head bolts. Each cabinet weighs around 19kg.

A 28mm Esotech soft-dome tweeter comes in at a crossover frequency of 1.7kHz and takes the response right up to 21kHz, while the 240mm bass/mid driver takes the low-end response right down to 40Hz (-3dB point). A fairly sharp 5th-order crossover slope is used to minimise the overlaps between the two drivers at the crossover point, and the tweeter dome is afforded some mechanical protection by means of a three-bar metal cage. This may be removed if required.

The bass/mid driver is typically Dynaudio; it utilises a synthetic cone suspended in a soft roll surround, with a large vented dust-cap covering the 100mm voice coil. The voice coil and magnet are the same as used on Dynaudio's 12-inch driver. Both drivers are recessed into the front baffle, as is the moulded plastic cabinet port. A green LED shows when the monitor is working normally and a red LED warns of clipping on the LF driver feed. Both drivers have their own discrete MOSFET amplifiers -- 100 Watts for the tweeter and 200 Watts for the bass/mid unit. A slow-attack optical limiter is used to protect the tweeter against overload damage.

There are knobs on the back of the speakers to tweak the LF and HF levels, for optimising the monitors to their surroundings. These provide a more than adequate +/-3dB range, though it looks as though the previous user or reviewer of this particular pair had experimented with them set close to their extremes! There's also a -10/+4 sensitivity switch. All that remains is the power switch and the mains lead inlet, though I will just mention that although the amplifier heatsinks cover a large area of the cabinet back, they are fairly shallow and don't restrict your monitor positioning options.

LISTENING TEST

Ultimately what matters is what you actually get out of these black boxes, and on paper you can achieve a maximum of 120dB at a distance of 1 metre from a single unit. However, quantity says nothing about quality, which I'm plea

"The BM15As have to be amongst the nicest speakers I've used at any price."
sed to confirm is well up to what I've come to expect from Dynaudio. Unlike most so-called nearfield models, the BM15As have a smoothly extended bass response that reveals what is really going on in that elusive bottom octave, though if you need to go even lower the Dynaudio ABES (Active Bass Extension System) can be used with the BM15As to achieve a low-end response of 3dB down at 35Hz.

The stereo imaging on these speakers is amongst the best I have heard. Indeed, at one point I thought I'd identified a new percussion element in one of my test records, but it turned out to be my pet rat Dylan chewing an empty toilet-roll tube directly behind my chair! There's no weakness or discontinuity at the crossover point, and while the speakers have a very slightly forward characteristic, it doesn't get in the way of accurate monitoring and in some ways makes it easier to hear detail. Vocals remain smooth, even at fairly high listening levels, and the response to transient bass sounds is very tight and well controlled.

Importantly, the sound, and even the stereo imaging, remains sensibly consistent if you move off axis, and despite their open, detailed sound you can listen to the BM15As for long periods with no sense of fatigue. Of course, with a maximum SPL of around 120dB, there's more than enough level to make your head ring, but I prefer to monitor at sensible levels and consider the extra power as headroom! Absolutely everything in my test collection passed with flying colours, and even material that brings out the edginess in lesser monitors sounded smooth and pristine through the BM15As. Of course, if you do have a nasty mix playing, the BM15As will let you know in no uncertain terms, but that's what a good monitor is all about. What's important is that the speakers seem to have no vices of sufficient magnitude to mask the shortcomings in a recording.

SUMMARY

As you can tell, I like the BM15As very much indeed. As medium-sized monitors for the smaller studio after serious results, they are pretty close to perfect, and yet they're by no means the most expensive small powered monitors around. The frequency range is ideal for full-range monitoring in smaller studios with little or no special acoustic treatment, and the sense of detail and imaging is superb. Though they are possibly on the bright side of neutral, this is only by a tiny amount, and, as I said earlier, if this helps you pinpoint detail it's not such a bad thing. The BM15As have to be amongst the nicest speakers I've used at any price, and they make a very worthy addition to an already fine range of monitor loudspeakers. In fact I can't find anything not to like about them, which is going to make the pros and cons list tough to finish!

  £1938.75 per pair
including VAT.
 
  Unity Audio Limited,
Upper Wheeler House,
Colliers End, Hertfordshire, SG11 1ET.
 
  01920 822890.  
  01920 822892.  
  sales@unityaudio.co.uk  
  www.unityaudio.co.uk  

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