Paul White discovers that Dynaudio's new nearfield monitors show economy of scale, not performance.
Dynaudio make loudpeaker drive units for the hi‑fi and recording markets, but also have a strong reputation for their own monitoring systems. Until now, their monitors have been priced largely for the pro market, but their new range, of which the BM5 is the smallest, is far more affordable. From what I can see, this has been achieved by using a budget hi‑fi style of cabinet cnstruction, where a single sheet of laminated particle board is grooved by machine, and then wrapped around to form the cabinet sides. While this doesn't look quite so nice as a hand‑crafted cabinet, the sound quality doesn't appear to suffer.
The BM5 is a traditional, 2‑way ported system with a woofer cone just a little over 5.25 inches in diameter (measured at the outside of the rolled surround). The cone is synthetic rather than paper, and sports the distinctive Dynaudio vented dust cap. Handling the top end is a 1‑inch tweeter with a soft dome, driven via a neodymium magnetic motor; the dome is protected by means of a rigid wire basket. Considering the small physical size of the woofer, it has a very large (3‑inch) voice coil. The speakers are magnetically screened so that they can be used near a computer or TV monitor.
The passive crossover acts at 2.5kHz, which puts it close to the vulnerable mid‑frequency band, but in practice, this doesn't seem to compromise speech reproduction to any significant extent. Chunky brass terminals in a rear panel recess are used to feed the speakers, and these can accept either bare wires or banana plugs, but there is no provision for bi‑wiring. Bass porting is provided by a plastic moulded pipe with a nicely rounded front edge, and foam bungs are supplied to enable the user to damp down the bass response in bass‑heavy rooms, or when the speakers are located closer to corners than might be ideal.
Measuring only 11"(H) x 8"(W) x 10"(D), these speakers obviously have a limited frequency response when compared with larger monitors, but they behave quite respectably down to 100Hz or so, before rolling away gracefully. The useful frequency response is quoted as being from 50Hz to 20kHz +/‑ 3dB, and the maximum quoted SPL is 102dB at around four feet with both speakers driven — adequate for most nearfield work. A power amplifier of between 75 watts and 100 watts per channel should suffice. However, the amplifier should be capable of working down to 3Ω, because most speakers drop below their rated impedance (in this case, 4Ω) at some point.
When you take the price and size of these monitors into account, they turn in a very creditable performance. The bass is deeper than you might imagine, yet it doesn't sound woolly. In a small project studio, they stand up quite well as main monitors.
The top end is bright, detailed and quite open, but there is a slight high‑frequency lift which makes the speakers sound just a hint forward. Even so, the sound is listener‑friendly, and not nearly so aggressive as many studio monitors. The stereo imaging is also good, with a wide acceptable listening area. It wouldn't take long to get used to these speakers, and I'd have no hesitation in mixing on them. Even at relatively high levels, the sound remains clean and punchy — it's only when you really push them to the limit that the bass end starts to sound as though it's losing its grip a touch. Definitely worth putting near the top of your shortlist.
With only a slightly larger cabinet size of 12"(H) x 9"(W) x 11"(D), the BM10 is a rear‑ported design fitted with different drivers to the BM5. The 7‑inch bass driver has a 5.5‑inch diameter cone, and in this cabinet provides a greater impression of deep bass than you can get from the BM5s. A frequency response figure of ‑3dB at 50Hz is quoted, the same as for the BM5, but the usable bass appears to go well below this figure.
Comparative tests with the BM5 showed the 10s to have a similar family sound, and the main subjective difference was the more confident bass end — though I felt the top end was a tad smoother too. I could also get quite a bit more level out of them before they sounded as though they were struggling. The paper figure claims 114dB at the mix position, which I'm assuming is four feet away, as for the smaller model. Given that the size difference between the two models is so small, the BM10 would be the model to go for, if your budget can go the extra mile. These really are very good monitors, and not just for nearfield work.
- Detailed, well‑balanced sound.
- Good bass extension, especially the BM10s.
- Sensibly priced.
- Slightly flattering top end.
Both the speakers reviewed would make excellent small studio monitors, though the more costly BM10s obviously have the edge.