Dutch & Dutch Powered Speaker Event, July 13, 2019, by Larry Deniston
The Dutch & Dutch 8c all-in-one speaker event held July 13, 2019, was latest of the SFAS monthly events and, to my knowledge is the first powered speaker event that SFAS has hosted. We were lucky enough to have the designer of the 8c speakers, Martjin Mensink, travel from the Netherlands to lead the event discussion. Tyner Strub, the US D&D distributor, was also present to add his product knowledge and experience.
Speaker description: As the name implies, the speakers are constructed in the Netherlands. At 10.5″ W, 15″ D, 19” H and weighing 53 lbs. each, these are not diminutive bookshelves, but they will need stands. These are powered speakers with built-in amps, DAC and active room-matching digital signal processors. The speakers have a 1″ waveguide tweeter, a dedicated 8″ mid-range driver and two rear-facing boundary-coupled bass drivers. Currently there are AES3 over XLR digital and balanced XLR analog inputs to the 8c’s; coming soon the speakers will have the capability of being a Roon endpoint available via a software update.
From the D&D website (https://dutchdutch.com/8c/):
- The 8c is more than just a loudspeaker. It is a unique acoustic concept, because its revolutionary design provides constant directivity from 100 Hz upwards. As a result, the 8c is above and beyond any other system in terms of neutrality, precision, and in-room tonal balance.
- The 8c represents our commitment to accuracy and clarity. With its constant directivity from 100Hz upwards and +/-0.5dB frequency response from 35Hz upwards, music can now be experienced exactly as it was intended. Nothing is added, nothing left out. Experience the sensation of truly accurate music reproduction, hear truth in audio like never before.
- Besides drivers, the 8c’s small footprint presence holds high-end DACs, amps, subwoofers and a DSP. The system also comes with room matching and streaming capabilities out-of-the-box. All components match each other perfectly and together deliver a “big sound” at 106 dB continuously from 35 Hz upwards, while keeping the signal-to-noise ratio very high.
Martjin started out the event by talking about the design of the speakers that they are similar to a dipole speaker and that the woofers’ output is timed to match the output of the front drivers. This timing alignment is achieved by entering the distance of the speakers from the front and side walls through the speaker software which establishes the boundary settings. The speakers are designed to be placed very close to the front wall – from 4 to 24 inches. As Martjin explained, the radiation pattern of the 8c’s is similar to a dipole, but instead of the dipole dispersion pattern, the 8c has a cardioid (thus the “c” in 8c) dispersion pattern which is a more elliptical shaped pattern.
A key aspect to the 8c’s exemplary linear frequency response is the digital signal processing built into the speaker. A couple of weeks before the event we conducted a trial run of the 8c’s in The Shops at Hilltop conference room. For the trial, the distances from the front and side walls were entered into the 8c and the frequency response was measured using RoomEq Wizard software and an omni-directional microphone. As can be seen by the plot below, the frequency response produced is quite impressive.
For the trial we tried two different positions, the first, 12″ away from the front wall and the second, 7′ from the front wall. In this large conference room, soundstage and imaging appeared to be best with the speakers 7′ into the room. The graph below shows measurements taken at both positions. The first plot (red line) with the speaker 12″ from the front wall (with the Front Wall parameter set to 30cm) produced a smoother curve. The second plot (green line) shows the speaker positioned 7′ into the room (with the Front Wall parameter set to Free).
At approximately 40’ by 40’, the conference room is quite large. For listening during the event in the conference room at the speakers were set 16″ from the front wall and 16′ apart.
During Martjin’s presentation, SFAS members and guests were encouraged to ask questions making the event more of an interactive discussion as opposed to a lecture. As evidenced by the number of questions about the design, setup and operation of the 8c speakers, the interest level and engagement exhibited by the attendees was very high. But, as they say, the proof is in the pudding, or as in this case, in the listening and we did quite a bit of listening.
We played music that included a variety of genres including female vocals, rock, classical, jazz and a track from the soundtrack of “Bladerunner 2049” whose dynamics were reproduced amazingly well. All of the music sounded great with tight, low bass, tonal accuracy, great dispersion and huge soundstage.
The Dutch & Dutch 8c is more than a speaker – add a source and it’s a complete music system that will have you re-thinking your need for your beloved separates.