“I hope they sound as good as they look” I heard myself thinking as I unboxed the Dynaudio Focus 30 XD. Their sleek, high sheen, high contrast grey oak high gloss finish gave them an air of 2001 monolith-otherness while standing inside the Barn. By the way, they do.
The Focus 30 XD are wireless, active speakers. In other words, this is a Just add source kinda deal for which there are a number of options including directly connecting your digital and /or analog source to each speaker (1x 24/192-capable Coax S/PDIF per tower, 1x analog RCA per tower), connect a digital source to just one speaker in a Master/Slave configuration (analog requires running cables to each speaker), and wireless with the use of the optional Dynaudio Connect which offers up to 24/96 resolution when used as a single stereo pair. The Connect can also control up to 2 addition pair of Focus XD speakers which limits the wireless resolution to 16/48. The Focus XD 30 sit in the middle of the Focus XD line, flanked on side by the lower-priced monitor-sized 20 XD and 60 XD, a larger-than-the 30 XD floorstanders.
The company claims, and I have no reason to doubt, that the active-crossover endowed, rear-ported/bass reflex two and half-way Focus 30 XD can deliver 29Hz – 24kHz frequency response from the Magnesium Silicate Polymer (MSP) 17cm woofer, 17cm midrange, and 28mm soft dome tweeter. There are three 150W digital amps in each speaker tower to drive the drivers and Digital Signal Processing (DSP) is used to “adjust crossovers in ways that are impossible in the physical, analogue world; create filters that compensate for the speakers’ position in the room (meaning they always sound as they should); and even allow updates.”
As you can see, there are three user-controlled DSP settings—a 7-position rotary knob for “Speaker Position” which adjusts the output for the speakers’ in-room position, a “Treble” adjustment switch (+1 / 0 / -1 dB) to taste, and an Input sensitivity switch (+6 / 0 / -6 dB) for the analog input. The USB Service input allows for firmware updates, while the Zone and Channel Mode settings determine how the speakers communicate to each and the optional Dynaudio Connect or Hub wireless transmitters.
Initial setup was a breeze as I started, and ran with for most of the review period, just the Focus 30 XD in Master/Slave mode with my dCS Network Bridge. Pick a Zone, set the Channel Mode, plug ’em in, power ’em on, connect the source, and watch the light show. Dynaudio has cleverly and delightfully, to my eyes, set a series of status LEDs in each speaker’s inside top corner. For the full run down on the variations for the light show, see the User Manual. Post setup, the LEDs indicate power status and volume level during adjustment. When in use, the speakers automatically go into stand-by mode if they do not sense an incoming signal but they wake up pretty quickly when there is an incoming signal.
The Focus 30 XD come with a nicely made remote, i.e. not plastic, that allows for control of power status (yer basic on or off), volume level, mute, source selection (including when using the Connect), display mode (on/off), and Hub/Connect selection. This choice corresponds to a setting made on the Connect wireless transmitter (see below).
The Dynaudio Connect
The Connect wireless transmitters allows you make all of your physical source connections to it instead of the speakers, while sending out the output wirelessly. As mentioned, when using a stereo pair, the wireless transmission from Connect to Speakers allows for 24/96 resolution. Connect-ions offered include Aux In (minijack), RCA analog Line-In, S/PDIF (Toslink and Coax), and micro USB. The Connect connects to your home WiFi and offers three “ID” options—A: 5.2 Ghz (Low), B: 5.2 Ghz (High), and C: 5.8 Ghz (if available).
I had no problems getting the Connect to connect to my WiFi but, let me just state up front that I can be rather impatient, I did have some difficulty getting the Connect to talk to the Focus 30 XD. In brief, it pays to read the manual, I did, and follow it step by step, not so much. Let’s just say the order of events matters including who gets powered up first and so on. After some time, many power cycles, some resets, and a few curses (as determined by the NJ Rules Of Etiquette), I got everything working as it should.
While I understand why someone would want to use a Connect, to my mind, the Connect makes sense for Dynaudio’s lower-priced models. Why? Because like most things, the Focus XD care about the quality of what they’re fed and a speaker as good as the Focus 30 XD definitely appreciate input quality. Seeing as the speakers can handle D to A conversion all by their lonesome, I’d suggest adding one cable and a quality networking device for a well-balanced system.
Here’s what I did—for the majority of the review period, I listened to music through the Focus 30 XD using my dCS Network Bridge sending digits out via coax to the master speaker over an AudioQuest Coffee Coax cable. Lengths of AudioQuest Blizzard power cords from each speaker were plugged into the AudioQuest PowerQuest strip/conditioner while Roon on my iPad acted as playback device of choice, pulling music from my library, from Tidal, and from Qobuz.
You have to figure that Dynaudio knows what they’re doing when it comes to building speakers. The company was founded in 1977, and soon made a name for itself as an OEM driver supplier after they began developing in-house drivers for their loudspeakers. They have been making highly regarded speakers for the home and recording studios ever sinces. These are just facts, plain and simple. What they don’t tell us, however, is—will we like ’em. That truth lies in the listening (and nowhere else).
When you get down to it, all of the theories, numbers, measurements, and features don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that. . .Gris-gris. Let me tell ya, the Dynaudio Focus 30 XD can boogie with the best of ’em. These speakers are very tight (that’s good), smooth, controlled, refined, full bodied but never bloated, and they filled the barn with all kinds of music in a musically compelling manner. What is a musically compelling manner? It’s when you forget about everything but the music. I don’t know about you, but that’s my entire goal with this wonderful hobby of ours.
Part of the reason I can get impatient when doing things like power cycling and resets is I just want to listen to music. I do not want a hifi that needs to be fussed over. This is why I am attracted to things like integrated amplifiers and active speakers. Less (fussing) is more (music). As I sat in front of the Focus 30 XD over weeks of time, my eyes and ears delighted in seeing just a pair of lovely-looking speakers, a silver box, and few cords and a cable as being responsible for the big smile on my face as I dug into another old or new favorite record.
Sure, you could go even simpler, but if you want stereo you’ll need two speakers and if you want room- or Barn-filling sound that is at once highly resolving of music’s innermost secrets, nuance, color, tone, texture, and power, you will need speakers that can deliver, like the Focus 30 XD. More likely than not, you will also end up with a box feeding those speakers.
The Dynaudio Focus 30 XD are not just active speakers, they are a musically compelling audio system in two lovely looking (if that matters to you—it sure matters to me) towers. Just add source. With streaming quality that is capable of delivering music that rivals any other source, that source can be a network device which converts your network’s Ethernet to an audio output. As I said, I used my dCS Network Bridge for this purpose because it the finest sounding network audio device of its ilk that I’ve heard. By a long shot. And you want to feed the Focus 30 XD with this kind of quality because they make good use of it. They make a nice couple.
To my mind, the days of viewing active speakers as an outlier or some kind of sonic compromise are well over. I’ll also add that choosing a simple system is not a lifestyle choice, it is a choice with style. In the case of the Dynaudio Focus 30 XD, we’re talking style and substance. Bravo!
Dynaudio Focus XD 30