What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Wed, 3 Jun 2009, 10:00am

Dynaudio Excite X36

Tested at £2225
60100
3

While others in Dynaudio's range have lived up to their name, these fail to thrill in the same way

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For

  • Lots of well-made cabinet and drivers for your money
  • expressive midrange
  • good detail retrieval

Against

  • Lumpy low frequencies and an overarching lack of sparkle can make for a pretty safe listen

We've said it of other speakers from this range: it takes a brave company to call a range of speakers ‘Excite'.

The Dynaudio Excite X36 is an imposing-looking design with an imposing array of drivers; but exciting? Let's hope they've saved that for the sound…

Positioned in a degree of free space and toed-in towards the listener, our black-ash X36s find it impossible to hide their bulk.

Not the prettiest speakers
It's not the prettiest bulk, either. They certainly feel well-enough made to justify a £2000 price tag, but we're not convinced the X36s look it.

The question of whether they sound like two-grand's-worth of speaker is even more moot a point.

The X36s' size and appearance seem at quite significant odds with the sound they make.

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's Now I Got Worry is a whirling, gung-ho recording; under the Dynaudios' aegis it sounds considered, even-handed – downright reasonable.

Where detail retrieval, soundstaging and vocal eloquence are concerned, the X36s are a convincing listen – but for the more visceral aspects of music-making, they lack the last drop of, well, excitement.

This is compounded by low-frequency reproduction that's stolid by the standards of rivals and gains ill-merited confidence as volumes increase.

Safety first. And second

It follows that something as stately and mature as Bob Dylan's Together Through Life sounds only barely alive via the Dynaudios.

The X36s do good work separating the rather swampy sound into something distinct and easy to follow, and their innate restraint is more suited to the material (the phrase ‘death's door' came up once or twice in Dylan's vocals).

But they don't integrate their drivers as smoothly as competitors can. The resulting lack of unity with the leading edge of notes makes a mildly pleasant sound soporific. 

If your amp is uncouth and loutish, the Dynaudios could be just the thing to make it sit on the naughty step. Otherwise, we think you'll want a little more bite and verve than the X36s are willing to give.

 

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