“Have you heard Dutch & Dutch? If you haven’t, you must.” Time and again, variations on that theme were voiced either by me or many of the attendees I chatted with at the show.
As far as I can recall, my encounter with the Dutch & Dutch 8c active loudspeakers ($15,000/pair) is the first time I have heard this company’s offerings. (They’ve only exhibited at two shows.) I sure hope it will be far from the last.
Let’s start with the music, all of which was streamed from Tidal in 16/44.1. First up, Freya Ridings’ “Lost Without You” and then, at my request, the start of Mahler Symphony No. 4 from period instrument orchestra Les Siècles under the leadership of François Xavier-Roth. “Excellent colors and color contrasts” only begins to describe the only system at PAF that captured virtually of the same color contrasts between Les Siècles’ period-instrument winds that I hear on my exceedingly more expensive reference system. After I heard those colors and the 8cs’ excellent soundstaging, I was simultaneously floored and elated.
When I asked, after those two tracks, if the Dutch & Dutch folks had tried playing music with the front wall curtains (that cover floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors and windows) closed as well as open, I was told that it would not make a difference. “Our design intention was to create speakers that work in any room without need for room treatment,” either Bill Chi or Gabriel Jones explained. “There is some DSP on board, mainly to phase align the speaker’s front drivers from its two sealed, 8″, rear-firing, boundary-coupled, aluminum-cone bass drivers, but we are primarily an acoustic company that seeks solutions by acoustic means. We try to be very light with our DSP.”
As best I could follow while writing notes with speed slightly less than that of a speeding bullet, the 8c’s vent for its aluminum-cone Acoustic Cardioid midrange allows energy to radiate out of phase and prevents it from traveling to the sides and back of the speaker. Crossing over the proprietary aluminum/magnesium-alloy dome tweeter at 1250Hz reportedly eliminates beaming from the midrange.
Dutch & Dutch claims that their design enables constant directivity from 100Hz to beyond 20kHz. (See JA1’s measurements.) The speakers can be placed within 4″ of the front wall without interacting with the room. In fact, closer to the front wall yields up to 6dB greater bass response. The company claims anechoic bass response down to 35Hz, and actual room response down to 20Hz. It also claims “perfect off-axis response,” and says that toe-in does not affect tonality.
The 8c, which has been out for five years, is internally tri-amped. It can accept files up to 24/192, but everything above 24/48 is downsampled by its internal DAC. You can also use your own DAC. Pascal 250W class-D modules power each driver, with 500W allocated to the two rear drivers and another 500 allocated to the tweeter and midrange. There is a DSP-controlled output for an active subwoofer. Networking is via RJ45-connected ethernet.