Dynaudio's premium Core series grows apace with the launch of a new three-way model and a powerful subwoofer.
Dynaudio's new Core series is growing with impressive speed. We reviewed the Core 59 in October 2019, the Core 7 in December, and soon after a pair of Core 47 monitors and a Core Sub landed on my doorstep with an impressively mighty thud.
Designed to replace the now-discontinued Air range of professional monitors, the Core-series are said by Dynaudio to be able to outperform their Air equivalents in all respects. Given the eventual breadth of the Air series it would seem that both studio engineers and reviewers have much to look forward to in the coming years.
The Core 47 shares its dark-grey cabinet, front-facing port exit and exposed drivers with its series siblings, as well as the rear–panel amplifier, control block and analogue and digital inputs. Employing the same 150W treble, 500W mid–range and 500W bass Pascal Class-D amplification setup as the Core 59, the Core 47 features a separate left- and right-handed driver layout that echoes that of the LYD 48.
Although comparatively compact for a sub with its level of performance, the Core Sub is a much more substantial unit, weighing in at 48kg. Twin 500W Pascal Class-D amplifiers, controlled by the Core-series DSP, power two pairs of side-facing 9–inch bass drivers, each housed in individual sealed compartments. The Sub, which has the same rear–panel layout and inputs as its companions, is designed to partner with any of the Core–series monitors, allowing you to securely stack the Core 47 (or 7 or 59) on top of it, to form a physically impressive four-way monitor tower.
In the Core 47, audio frequencies above 5.25kHz are the domain of Dynaudio's soft-dome Esotar Pro tweeter, developed from the Esotar 2 found in the Air series specifically for the Core monitors. As has been noted in previous Core-series reviews, the Esotar Pro is fitted with Dynaudio's Hexis system, a dimpled structure that optimises the airflow behind the tweeter's soft dome, helping that unit to deliver an extended, highly linear frequency response with a wide dispersion characteristic, thus adding precision and detail to the stereo image.
The Core 47's all-new 4-inch mid–range driver handles the frequency band between 475Hz and 5.25kHz, and features a proprietary one-piece MSP (Magnesium Silicate Polymer) cone, an aluminium voice coil and a neodymium magnet system. Frequencies below 475Hz are the responsibility of the 7-inch woofer, whose capabilities we know from the Core 7. Developed from the 8-inch speaker fitted to the LYD 48, this new driver also utilises Dynaudio's proprietary MSP cone, an aluminium voice-coil mounted on a glass-fibre former, and is driven by what Dynaudio describe as an "advanced magnet design".
The Core Sub aims lower still. Although capable of reaching a full octave higher, its quadruple hand-made 9–inch MSP+ Hybrid Drive woofers are concentrated on the delivery of frequencies from 80Hz down to its -3dB point of 15Hz, with a flat frequency response down to 20Hz. Developed from the woofer originally produced for the Dynaudio 18S sub, the drivers in the Sub are fitted with aluminium-cored cones for stiffness. These cones are damped not only by a paper overlay on the back, but also by an MSP cap on the front in order to eliminate any ringing.
In the Core series switchable DSP options allow the user to fine-tune the performance of the Core monitors when in situ.
The Core 47 carries the same eight switchable options as its companion monitors: Power, Bass Extension, Digital Channel, Sound Balance, (mounting) Position, (boundary) Position, Analogue Input Sensitivity and SPL. The Sub directly mirrors only four of those. On that model, the Bandwidth switch brings in a low–pass filter set at 80Hz, and the Sub is deemed to be suitable for only two mounting positions, losing the Desk (meter–bridge mounting) position entirely, but retaining the Anechoic (standmount) and Soffit (wallmount) options, although I'm not entirely clear as to how to mount a side-firing sub in a recess in a studio wall!
The monitors' Sound Balance 'tilt' EQ filter disappears from the Sub, to be replaced by a three-position Attenuation option (0/-6/-12 dB), and the digital input's left/right selection adds a L+R mono option for situations where the monitor system contains only one Sub. The Sub's other four switches operate as in the Core 7 and Core 59, with a few exceptions: the Power switch offers either continuous power-on operation or a power-saving standby after 20 minutes of no audio input; the second Position switch adds compensation to its Free position should the Sub be placed closer than 50cm to Wall or Corner boundaries; the Analogue Input Sensitivity offers a choice of four levels (0/+4/+18/+24 dBu) to match the maximum output levels found in professional and semi-professional mixing consoles and audio interfaces; and, last but not least, the maximum SPL output can be set to one of four steps (88/96/100/112 dB). This last facility is, for me personally, a standout feature as, set at 88dB, it approximates my preferred nearfield working level without having to constantly adjust the monitor send level in order to stay within my comfort zone.
If you're interested in a more detailed look at the Core 47 DSP, you'll find that in my Core 59 review in SOS October 2019 edition.
Dynaudio's user manuals always give clear orientation, positioning and listening/adjustment instructions, so getting the Core 47 monitors into position followed a familiar path: a two-metre equilateral triangle between monitors and listening position, cabinets angled towards the listening position at 60 degrees, with tweeters on the outside and at ear level. My listening room is quite benign acoustically, which allowed me to leave the Sound Balance and Position switches in their neutral positions.
With a single Sub at my disposal, and bearing in mind that stacking a Core 47 on top of it creates a plug-and-play four-way mastering monitor, I positioned the Sub centrally between the pair of Core 47s and aligned the cabinets as if they were in a stack.
Having run in the two Core 47 monitors and the Core Sub for the recommended 12 hours, and checked that there were no untoward room resonances being generated when the trio were running together, I settled down for some serious listening — starting off with the Core 47s on their own.
As with the Core 59, the Core 47's bass extension was impressive, with a control and definition in the low end that I felt was very close to its larger sibling. I'd have been surprised if I hadn't felt that way, as the Core 47 carries the same amplification and has the same frequency response other than that the Core 59 reaches 2Hz further down the bottom end. However — particularly with my favourite EDM tracks — I do remember a slightly greater sense of latent power sitting behind the Core 59's low bass, probably down to the greater volume of air being driven by its 9-inch driver. The Core 47's mid-range and treble reproduction were exactly as you'd expect from a Dynaudio monitor at this level: a precise, detailed and revelatory clarity, coupled with a superb grasp of transient detail. In addition, the integration between the three drive units was absolutely superb, delivering a rock-solid soundstage that was every bit equal to that of the Core 59.
The Core 47 also excelled with my CDs of The Antiphonal Music of Giovanni Gabrieli (both the original and the remake), whose clarity, dynamics, density, harmonic complexity and transient detail across virtually the entire audio spectrum were delivered in a fashion that I felt was just as good as that delivered by the Core 59. If anything, in the nearfield, the integration between the Core 47's three drivers feels somewhat tighter to me than that of the Core 59, but I'm splitting hairs when I say that.
The soundstage delivered was wide and nuanced, with a rock-solid phantom centre image and a sense of depth that placed the voices, keyboards and reverbs precisely in place...
Running on its own, the Core Sub felt to me to be totally in control across its full range of 15 to 165 Hz (±3dB). The combination of its four 9-inch woofers and twin 500W amplifiers displays a grasp of transients and speed that reflects their sheer power. On the down side, listening to a solo sub is not a lot of fun, so I switched in the 80Hz filters on the Sub and both Core 47s, set them all to 88dB SPL, and ran through my test CDs again.
What came to the fore instantly was the seamless integration and tonal balance between the Core 47 and the Core Sub. The Sub filled out the bottom octave in a tonally neutral fashion overall. Switching the Sub out and resetting the Core 47s' high–pass filters back to full range did absolutely nothing to alter the overall tonal balance in the soundfield, other than to take out the lowest octave. With the bottom two octaves (80 to 20 Hz) being handled by the Sub, the Core 47's 7-inch woofer is freed to concentrate on the 80 to 475 Hz range, the combination delivering what felt to me to be a slightly more relaxed overall listening experience, compared to the Core 47 on its own. Although I couldn't fault the balance between the Core 47 pair and the single Sub at my nearfield working level, lifting the SPL ceiling higher did make me feel that I'd personally want to have a Sub sitting under each Core 47 to maintain that balance.
Cantus's superbly recorded Spes album is another stringent test of an active monitor's abilities. Its soaring female choral voices contrast with Frode Fjellheim's gruff male lead vocal and electronic keyboard, all joined together in a huge church space where reverb tails fade slowly as they linger in its reverberant void. Successfully recreating that soundscape requires not only power, but also precision, delicacy, transparency and a grasp of low-level transient detail. The Core 47/Core Sub 2.1 setup handled the recreation with ease. The soundstage delivered was wide and nuanced, with a rock-solid phantom centre image and a sense of depth that placed the voices, keyboards and reverbs precisely in place — a most impressive performance.
The combination of their powerful amplifiers, a shared DSP system, mid–range and bass drivers custom-designed for the series, and the superb Esotar Pro tweeter underpins the stunning performance of the Core 47 and the Sub. Perhaps the most impressive part of the Core 47 and Sub setup was its ability to resolve extreme low–frequency detail, and it does so in a way that has been delivered by only one other loudspeaker of my personal acquaintance.
As with the Core 59, not only is this Core–series partnership capable of resolving fine details, ruthlessly revealing any shortcomings in sources or recording techniques in the process, but also it can deliver an intensely musical listening experience, with the soft-dome tweeter's sweet articulation and clarity making working over a long period very easy indeed.
Before starting this review, I had not had the opportunity of working with a true four-way system of this standard. If I had the space and the wherewithal, I'd stack a Core 47 and a Sub on either side of my mixing console and see out my career with that combination. However, that studio nirvana would come at a price. A pair of Core 47 monitors and two Core Subs — which, if you have the control room space, is what you're going to want — will set you back around nine grand, while the 2.1 system that I've reviewed here works out at around six. If you're a professional user, recording studio owner, broadcast company or similar, where the long service life and the reliability and confidence that Dynaudio bring to the table is an important part of the buying decision, then buying into the Core-series concept is an absolute no-brainer, in my opinion. For mere mortals like myself, who don't have an everyday need for the Sub's flat frequency extension down to 20Hz, the Core 47 alone is an impressively strong performer at a price that offers excellent value overall.
All major monitor manufacturers include active monitors and subwoofers in their ranges, so you'll be able to construct systems of similar price and performance from the likes of Genelec, Neumann and PSI.
- In combination, the pair deliver an accurate, detailed and highly revealing audio performance across all genres of music and a 15Hz to 37kHz (±3dB) bandwidth.
- The pairing creates expansive, deep and precisely positioned stereo soundfields.
- Easy to work on over long periods.
- The Core 47, on its own, is a superb and relatively affordable performer.
- None, if you have the budget.
Impressive individual performers, the Core 47 and Core Sub can be combined to form an essentially plug-and-play, four-way active monitor system of the highest quality — at an admittedly professional price.
Core 47 £1915, Core Sub £3050. Prices are per speaker, including VAT.