Dynaudio’s Lyd series of nearfield monitors has been a great success — and now the range has a new three-way flagship model.
Dynaudio, the Danish manufacturers of high-end loudspeakers for the home audio, professional studio, automotive and multimedia markets, are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year. Rooted in the world of hi-fi, it wasn’t until 1992 that Dynaudio launched their Professional division to develop monitor loudspeakers for the recording studio and broadcast markets. Dynaudio’s professional monitors are highly regarded worldwide, particularly the BM series which, for many years, have been (and remain) extremely popular in a wide range of applications.
Dynaudio are not a company that rests on their laurels, and April 2016 saw the release of the first models in the all-new Lyd range of active near/midfield studio monitors: the two-way Lyd 5, 7 and 8. This line-up has now been augmented with the recent release of the range-topping Lyd 48, a compact 3-way active studio monitor built on the same basic platform as its two-way siblings.
When I described the Lyd 48 as compact, I wasn’t joking! Dynaudio have managed to shoehorn a full three-way, active monitor into an enclosure with exactly the same overall dimensions as that of the Lyd 8. Since this ‘compression’ results in the Lyd 48’s orientation being landscape rather than portrait, the fronts are mirror-images of each other, so there are left and right versions of the loudspeaker. The front baffle, which is available in either the “studio standard” basic black or in gleaming white (which I really like the look of), carries the same eight-inch woofer as the Lyd 8, a four-inch mid-range driver sitting in its own separate, sealed enclosure, and the 1.1-inch soft-dome tweeter that is common to all Lyd models. As with the others in the range, the Lyd 48 sits in a bass reflex enclosure, whose port exit is a slim, vertically oriented rectangle running (because of the change of orientation) the full height of the bass side of the rear panel, and through which the flare of the port itself can be seen.
The rear panel carries the same inputs and controls as the others in the range, and here you’ll find the IEC mains input and power switch, the auto-standby mode selector switch, the analogue-only inputs (on balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA), together with four switches that modify the loudspeaker’s response. Dynaudio have taken the view that, in reality, there are only a few adjustments that can, or should, be made to the response of a loudspeaker in situ and as a result the entire Lyd line presents the user with a limited number of DSP-driven options.
The first switchable option is [input] Sensitivity that allows you to optimise the gain staging into the loudspeaker in 6dB steps between 0dBu and +12dBu. The remaining three switches affect the Lyd 48’s frequency response. A Bass Extension selector sets the limit of the loudspeaker’s bass frequency response in a 10Hz step above and below 40Hz. Studio engineers typically work at relatively moderate levels of 70-85 dB SPL, and this allows the Lyd 48 to achieve its quoted 32Hz lower limit at the expense of a -5dB reduction in its maximum SPL of 112dB. Increasing the playback level may require that this maximum bass extension be limited in order to avoid overdriving the woofer itself. This extension-restriction facility also helps the loudspeaker to meet its design criterion of delivering a consistent tonal balance at all listening levels.
The Sound Balance switch acts in a similar fashion to the Tilt control found on the long-discontinued Quad 34 hi-fi preamp, where one knob would tilt its frequency response around a central, pivot frequency. In the Lyd 48, the knob becomes a two-position switch whose Bright position puts in a boost of 1.5dB at 20kHz and a cut of 1.5dB at 20Hz via linear-phase filters to avoid phase problems at the listening position, and its Dark position swaps around these boost and cut frequencies.
If the Lyd 48 is positioned less than 50cm from any wall, the Position switch’s Wall option applies filters that (in Dynaudio’s own words) “will help with anomalies created by reflections coming off the back wall, especially in the lower frequencies.”
As I mentioned earlier, the Lyd 48 is built on the same basic platform as the others in the series, which means that the internal digital signal path runs at 24-bit/96kHz; that amplification is PWM Class-D; and that Dynaudio-developed internal DSP carries out crossover duties as well as providing the frequency response tailoring outlined above. As with the Lyd 8, the Lyd 48’s tweeter and woofer are driven by 50W and 80W amplifiers, respectively, with an additional 50W amplifier to take care of the mid-range driver. The frequency response of the Lyd 48 is quoted (unfortunately without qualification) at 32Hz to 21kHz.
The Lyd 48’s crossover frequencies are set at 490Hz and 5.6kHz, which requires the mid-range driver to cover a far wider area of the audio frequency spectrum than I’ve come across in other three-way designs. The ability of the Lyd 48’s mid-range driver to cover this wide frequency band would appear to be largely down to its MSP (magnesium silicate polymer) cone, given that the two-way Lyd 5’s five-inch bass driver crosses over into its tweeter (which you’ll remember is identical to that in the Lyd 48) at 5.2kHz.
Dynaudio’s proprietary composite MSP membrane combines low mass, high rigidity and ideal internal damping properties and allows the distinctive, instantly recognisable cone geometry that characterises the company’s bass and mid-range drivers. As regular readers may recall, my colleague Phil Ward reviewed the Lyd 5 and 8 in the November 2016 edition of SOS and he went into some detail on the construction and underlying theory behind Dynaudio’s cone-based drivers. If you’re interested in that aspect, I can recommend not only that you read that section of Phil’s review, but also that you take a look at Dynaudio’s ‘Ask the Expert’ series of YouTube videos that you’ll find links to on the company’s web site.
If you have taken a look at Dynaudio’s videos, then you’ll have noticed the incredible attention to detail that characterises both their approach to designing and building their products and the way that seemingly everyone in the company thinks — I can’t think of any other loudspeaker company that would reveal that it holds “glue-listening” sessions to determine which type of glue sounds best in critical parts of a loudspeaker. This level of engagement throughout the design, development and build of their loudspeakers carries right through to the Lyd-series owner’s manual, where you’ll find detailed instructions on how to them set up prior to listening.
If you’re going to match Dynaudio’s commitment to helping you get the positioning and orientation of your Lyd 48 monitors spot on, you’ll need a tape measure to ensure that the listening position is no more than 2m from the loudspeakers, string and a marker pen to help create the ideal equilateral triangle spacing between listening position and monitors, and an iPhone or iPad running the Dynaudio Meter iOS app.
The Dynaudio Meter offers an RTA (Real Time Analyser) display, a sine-wave/ square-wave/ white-noise/ pink-noise generator, an SPL meter and a setup page where you can calibrate your iOS device’s internal microphone, and its line-out and line-in levels. Naturally, as well as being a useful tool for setting up your Lyd loudspeakers, the app can be used in other setup applications and it’s well worth downloading, especially if you don’t already have something similar on your iPhone or iPad. Having set the geometry of your listening environment, the next step is to feed the pink noise from the headphone output of your iOS device (which should be positioned at the listening position) to each speaker in turn and to use the Sound Balance filter, if necessary, to tilt the response curve in the RTA display into as level a position as possible.
Once you’ve got this far, the next and final step is to consider tweaking the acoustics of your room to deal with any first-reflection problems and room-mode issues. First reflections are caused by sound waves from the loudspeaker reflecting off hard surfaces close to the listening position and can cause problems both in high-frequency response and in imaging. Dynaudio recommend the ‘mirror’ method of identifying the sources of any first reflections. The idea is that if, from your listening position, you can see the loudspeaker in a mirror placed against any hard surface in your studio then you know you’ve found a first reflection point. Having found that point, you can deal with it using a sound absorbing panel of some kind.
Room modes, which will show up as peaks or dips in the RTA display, are resonances that occur at low frequencies with wavelengths equal to, or integer multiples of, one or more of the listening room’s dimensions. To deal with any of these, you’ll need to employ low-frequency absorbers (aka bass traps) to dampen these resonances. If you follow this methodology and use both the objective RTA measurement and your own subjective listening tests to identify and deal with any issues, you should end up with a monitoring environment that enables you to record and mix with the confidence of knowing that what you are hearing is what is going down.
Having run through the above procedure, with the Lyd 48s positioned some four feet away from any wall, I ended up with the Sound Balance switch set in the zero position. Since I usually monitor at an average of around 80dB, I was able to set the monitor’s bass extension to its maximum and settle down to some serious listening. As always, I began with the EDM of Deadmau5 and COH, whose recordings test a loudspeaker’s ability to reproduce extreme bass with power and precise timing, whilst at the same time delivering clarity and transient detail across the mid-range and treble. The performance of the Lyd 48 in the bass end was exemplary and I was very impressed by the level of definition and transient detail that it delivered in the mid and treble frequencies, even when the bottom end was shaking the metaphorical floorboards.
Two of my current favourite CDs are the 1969 original and 2015 re-recording of brass ensembles playing the antiphonal music of Giovanni Gabrieli (1554-1612). These are both stunningly played and superbly recorded musical performances whose dynamics, density of sound and harmonic complexities have proven to be a stringent test of a loudspeaker’s ability to place instruments in a soundfield, which the Lyd 48 succeeded in passing confidently and convincingly.
I have not previously come across any other monitor with a single mid-range unit covering such a wide bandwidth, and the absence of any crossover-related anomalies in the mid-range gave the reproduction of voices and instruments in that area an impressive level of clarity and articulation that never sounded harsh, but that took no prisoners when it came down to revealing problems. The Lyd 48’s soft-dome tweeter, common across all the Lyd range, also deserves a mention, its smooth, detailed and inherently musical performance making the monitor untiring to listen to and easy to work on for long periods.
With the Lyd, the feeling that I came away with was of a very self-controlled monitor that always sounded smooth and unflustered, no matter what I threw at it. Good productions shone and lesser productions had their shortcomings ruthlessly revealed. The Lyd 48 stereo soundstage was expansive, tangibly solid and gave a real sense of depth, with voices, instruments and other sources being reproduced with accuracy and placed precisely within it. Its reproduction of low-level detail was also impressive, with the hanging tails of the real world reverberations in Cantus’s CD Spes holding on into silence.
The Lyd 48 is an impressively accurate and capable speaker that delivers a high level of audio performance at a relatively modest price for a three-way monitor of this quality. The compact size, performance and price of the Lyd 48 means that it offers serious competition not only to its nearest direct competitors, but also to similarly priced two-way active monitors that might be surprised to find themselves competing against a three-way system. If you’re looking for compact, high-performance active monitors at around their price range then a pair of Lyd 48s should very definitely be on your audition list.
The closest direct competition to the Lyd 48 that I can think of are the three-way models from Adam Audio (A77X) and Eve Audio (SC305 and SC307). All three should be on your audition list if you’re looking for a high-quality three-way monitor although, if space is an issue, both are physically much larger than the Lyd 48. Other alternatives are two-way units from the usual suspects, including offerings from Adam, Eve, Genelec and Neumann.
About The Author: Phil Ward’s loudspeaker career began in 1982 when he joined UK hi-fi company Mordaunt-Short in a junior design role. After leaving Mordaunt-Short in 1987 for a spell in audio PR, Phil joined Canon as Design Manager for the Japanese multinational’s range of consumer and custom install speakers, and then Naim Audio as speaker design and project manager. Since 2001 Phil has worked as a freelance consultant and writer across both the pro and consumer audio sectors. Phil plays electric and double bass and has recorded, produced and mixed numerous bands and artists. Phil's blog can be found at http://musicandmiscellany.com