Legacy Whisper Dunlavy SC V opinions - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 615 Old 09-14-2008, 06:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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When I build out my new HT I plan on auditioning quite a few speakers that are on my list. Two of them are going to take some effort to audition but regardless, I will make the effort and travel. In the meantime I was wondering if anybody here had a pair of Legacy Whisper or Dunlavy SC-V speakers and if they could post their experiences with either. I'm not looking for a VS. thread. Rather I'm just looking for some honest thoughts on either.

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post #2 of 615 Old 09-14-2008, 01:54 PM
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I traded in some older Whispers years ago and felt they were over rated. Kinda chinzy drivers for the price, but lots of them. The new Whispers look a lot nicer and Bill is back at the company. Not so sure I was on board with the limited dispersion and dipole bass aspects of the speaker. I felt it made them really beamy and picky about seating position. I guess it mainly is about whether you like their goals or not.

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post #3 of 615 Old 09-14-2008, 02:09 PM
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I own one pair each of SC-I A/Vs, SC-IIa's, SC-III's, and SC-IV's, and one of the many positive things I can say about Dunlavys is that they all sound EXACTLY the same (unforgivingly accurate and neutral), except the larger they get, the deeper the bass that they reproduce. My SC-IV's probably get down around 30 Hz in my listening room, but the extra bass of the SC-V's would obviously be nice if you have the coin.

There is a major price jump when going from the SC-IV or SC-IVa's to the SC-V, but since they're only available used they're still a steal. SC-V's and SC-VI's are also behemoths - so they're a pain in the arse and pocketbook to ship - and they're very hard to come by. Personally I think you'd do better with a set of SC-III's with a standalone sub - a pair of Athenas/Alethas or SC-IV.a's will reach down to the low 20's if you're looking for a 2.0 channel setup. Regardless, IMHO you won't find a more accurate speaker with such pinpoint imaging that is just pleasant and easy to listen to for any amount of money. John Dunlavy was one hell of an engineer, and his passion for making great speakers shows when listening to them.

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post #4 of 615 Old 09-14-2008, 02:15 PM
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I have owned all of the Dunlavy speakers (as well and B&W, Wilson, Theil, etc) and believe they are one of the best values in audio, particulary used. But some important caveats are in order. If you don't have a fairly large and well designed room and/or plan to use digital room correction, you may end up with very serious bass issues. The dual woofers (at the top and bottom of the cabinet) can cause difficult room interaction.

I'm not exactly in Charlotte, but if you get near Atlanta, you are invited to hear what they sound like (mine are currently SC IVA's but you will sure get a sense of what the V's are capable of doing in a good room). The primary difference in the IV versus V (or versus VI) is the weight of the bottom end. MIne are only a few db's down at 18Hz. If you care to come listen, send me a private email and we can make arrangements.

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post #5 of 615 Old 09-15-2008, 05:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the replies. I used to own three Dunlavy SC1-AV's and the sound was exactly what I love in speakers. I also have had a chance to hear a pair of Dunlavy SC-III's many years ago, which is why I have Dunlavy on my list. I love purchasing used as I believe it represents the best value in speakers. An aquaintence of mine own a pair of Legacy Whispers and, while I haven't had a chance to hear them, he raves about them constantly so I felt that I should put them on my list. The room I am going to fill is rather large. On the order of about 30' by 22'. It will be both HT as well as a music room, as well as my studio for guitars. These speakers are intended strictly for analog music listening but I "may" reconsider them as mains if it makes sense.

John, I appreciate your take on the Whispers as you gave me some great advice a year or so ago that worked out well, so your opinion is much appreciated.

Audioguy, I actually get down to Atlanta several times a year so perhaps we could work something out, albeit, as I want this to be my last speaker purchase for music, really think I will explore the V's rather than the III's or IV's. But who knows, on actually listening I may change my mind.
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post #6 of 615 Old 09-15-2008, 07:18 AM
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I understand your desire to get V's. I was using VI's for years but went through a divorce and had to sell lots of stuff, and the VI's were sold to a good friend of mine. John Dunlavy would always say he thought the V's were his best product.

Let me know when you want to visit.

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post #7 of 615 Old 09-15-2008, 08:01 AM
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Hi

I have never owned a Dunleavy speaker. I have , however, had extensive experience with these. One of my best friends, an audiophile, had the Duntech Black Knight and then the Sovereign for many years. The Dunleavy-branded speakers were the betterment of what John started with Duntech.
They were very neutral and exceptionally low in distortion, all of them , a previous poster pointed the fact that they sound alike, indeed they do more than most other brands... the differences were mostly in bass extension and clarity, the higher you went in the lineup the more powerful and clearer the bass... It could be said that there were speakers that would be their superior in some areas. I, for one found their treble lacking in "extension", far from the clarity of say, a Magnepan Ribbon, a Dynaudio Esotar or an Acapella ionic tweeter...

yet when it came to "play" music.. thes speakers were amongs the best I have heard and to these days, their midbass continue to set the standrds to my ears.. Once one has heard the authority the music is presented through a Dunleavy speaker, the impression will stay.. Very few speakers approach this sense of weight , presence and "authority" in the midbass, none I have heard, surpasses these... The closes could be the Von Shweikert and sometimes in the proper room , the Magnepan.
The issues you would have with the Dunleavy are not specific to them. Any speaker with real baass power can cause problems in inadequate rooms. They were also big, very big and plain looking ( that did not win them any favor with image-conscious audiophiles)... They were not as fussy as the Duntech in term of amplification but did require a good amount of control...
I do not know what they go for on the used market but considering how good they are... It is difficult not to be happy with these....

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post #8 of 615 Old 09-15-2008, 11:31 AM
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I had some 6's. Terrific value, not quite as open and clean as newer SOTA designs, but super for the dough. Do open them up and solder each driver to the leads, the clips are junk.
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post #9 of 615 Old 09-15-2008, 01:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grellberg View Post

I had some 6's. Terrific value, not quite as open and clean as newer SOTA designs, but super for the dough.

A SOTA speaker for AT LEAST 6 times the current price of a used VI, you may be correct. But, as Frantz said, Dunlavy's will never win any beauty contest, they just sound great.

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post #10 of 615 Old 09-16-2008, 03:41 AM
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I have the Dunlavy SC1's as surround / center and the SC-IVa for mains. I spent 2 years auditioning high end speakers and found the Dunlavy's to be the most accurate, neutral and easy to listen to. The imaging from these speakers is excellent when set up right, and with a good stereo source you swear that the center speaker is working for the voice, and that the surrounds are also active. I use a high powered Class-D amp (Hypex) and it does a good job giving the bass authority, but for HT use you will need a subwoofer even though the mains SC-IVa are good down to 20Hz, the bass needs more presence (not that it is bad - it is just neutral and accurate).

I'd be interested to know if there are any more modern speakers that have a similar sound to the Dunlavy but are better (eg. better tweeters used). When I went looking a couple of years back I could not find anything that even approached the quality of sound I get from my system except for the larger MBL radial speakers (I have an acoustically treated room that makes a big difference).
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post #11 of 615 Old 09-16-2008, 09:11 AM
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Hi

I would surmise that there are better speakers than the Dunlavy were (are) these days. There has been some real progress made in drivers and crossover technologies. Computing power allow for better cabinets and better simulation. This has (or should have) translated in better speakers to wit the Magico, Rockports, Von Scweikert, Wilson, MBL, Magnepan to name these.. Aside from the Magnepan their prices are simply stratospheric, something that really irks me... especially when one compares these to the level the Dunlavy speakers reached at a sensible price (Magnepan does practice sensible pricing in my opinion, this level of excellence has made it VERY difficult for me to replace the MG-20.1 with another speaker, especially when I know I will have to fork almost at least 4 times its price to really surpass it)..

To my ears the Dunlavy remain extremely good speakers especially when considering their prices on the used market...

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post #12 of 615 Old 09-16-2008, 09:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrantzM View Post

Hi

I would surmise that there are better speakers than the Dunlavy were (are) these days. There has been some real progress made in drivers and crossover technologies. Computing power allow for better cabinets and better simulation. This has (or should have) translated in better speakers to wit the Magico, Rockports, Von Scweikert, Wilson, MBL, Magnepan to name these.. Aside from the Magnepan their prices are simply stratospheric, something that really irks me... especially when one compares these to the level the Dunlavy speakers reached at a sensible price (Magnepan does practice sensible pricing in my opinion, this level of excellence has made it VERY difficult for me to replace the MG-20.1 with another speaker, especially when I know I will have to fork almost at least 4 times its price to really surpass it)..

To my ears the Dunlavy remain extremely good speakers especially when considering their prices on the used market...


As I am just looking for people to post their opinions about either the Legacy or Dunlavy speakers I am reluctant to post what might start an argument. But I happen to believe that, in my opinion, not a lot really has changed in speaker technology. Perhaps on the low end, computer technology may allow for construction of higher quality, lower cost speakers. But on the high end I see, and hear, very little real change. The technology that goes into sound reproduction is not all that hard to grasp which would account for the insignificant changes that have taken place over the last several decades in drivers. But again, this is just my opinion, not open to debate, so don't try and change my mind, it can't be done. I also have Altec VOT speakers on my list as mains. I happen to have heard a pair of these a while back and would put them into any debate. For the price I'm thinking that Dunlavy SC-V's can't be beat by any current speaker and I'm also inclined to believe that even disounting price as a factor the same it true. But that's what I will find out over the next several months.
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post #13 of 615 Old 09-16-2008, 10:01 AM
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FrantzM; One of the most amazing audio experiences I ever had was while I was strolling through a shopping mall in some foreign country (too many years ago and too much travel to rememer exactly where). I heard a live piano playing and went looking for the source. It happened to be a high end audio salon driving your maggies with some behemoth Audio Research Tube Amps. It was hard to describe the sense of realism of that piano. I have never heard it replicated like that since then.

When I last hunted for new speakers, I could always find a speaker that did something better than the Dunlavy's: Imaging: Avalon; Mid Bass Slam: Wilson; Midrange transparency: The big Maggies (and a couple of electrostatics). But I have yet to hear any speaker at any price that does it all SO MUCH BETTER that I would be willing to separate myself from about $60,000 (or more) to purchase it. I would love to hear the big Avalons in the right room (and am considering going to Acoustic Sounds to hear theirs).

If I were to ever replace my Dunlavy's, your Maggies would be on the short list. Great speaker and ridiculously fair price.

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post #14 of 615 Old 09-16-2008, 10:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atdamico View Post

For the price I'm thinking that Dunlavy SC-V's can't be beat by any current speaker and I'm also inclined to believe that even disounting price as a factor the same it true.

Couldn't agree more since you can buy a used pair in perfect condition for about $5000. It was a steal new at $15000!!!

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post #15 of 615 Old 09-16-2008, 01:54 PM
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One criticism that has been levelled at the Dunlavys has been that exotic components were not used in the construction (drivers & crossover components), however I think the solid engineering that has gone into the design & build of these speakers more than makes up for the possible slight improvement you could get with so called exotic / audiophile bits. Dunlavy did do component testing & matching so you at least know that the best drivers of a batch have been used.

I remember reading a while back about some guy in New York who would rip out the crossovers and replace the parts with audiophile components but I thought at the time that this was contrary to the design philosophy..... Worth reading some of Dunlavy older posting on usenet where he debunks fancy speaker cables and brings a strong engineering basis to the audiophile arguments.
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post #16 of 615 Old 09-16-2008, 02:14 PM
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I made numerous trips to the Dunlavy factory. He would build a "generic" crossover for each speaker and place the speaker in a full size anechoic chamber (with the crossover sitting on a workbench outside the chamber). He would then measure impulse response, step response, phase, etc and adjust each crossover for each individual speaker until it met his incredibly demanding requirements. Basically, each speaker was custom built.

As far as drivers was concerned, he was open to all comers and if a driver would outperform the ones he was using, he would switch. He showed me some of the measurements of some of the exotic drivers that were being used in some very well known and incredibly expensive speakers and that were being proposed that he use and almost all of them had serious ringing and/or other measurable anomalies that he refused to accept.

He did believe there were no audible differences in competently built cables. In fact, he would allow the various high-end cable manufacturers to come and bring him samples as they wanted him to use their wire in his speakers. He would pretend to put their speaker wire into the system (between amp and speaker) and listen to the manufacturers wax poetic about the huge differences when in fact he never made the switch. And no one ever caught on.

John Dunlavy for all his quirkiness was a brilliant engineer (but not great business man) and had patents running out the ying-yang. A real loss to high-end audio when he passed away several years ago.

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post #17 of 615 Old 09-16-2008, 02:27 PM
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Hi

If the original poster does not mind his thread being derailed... I would like to add a few comments. I know John Dunlavy did not believe in fancy cables but as an engineer ( he was a very good one) he did believe in quality drivers and drivers have evolved the past few years... Computer Controlled Milling Machines are commonplace and no one needs a $15,000 Intergraph workstation to run AutoCad :a $300 PC would do just fine.. These would help designing a better speaker, these also should have helped reduce their prices as well ... It has not for the latter. but the current crop of top-of-the line speakers are superior in all respects to the best designs of say 10 years ago ...

I would add that there remain some speakers that refuse to be surpassed in some given areas.. The Midrange of the Quad ESL remain quite unique.. but to the Voice of the Tehater Owner if Horn is your cup of tea do give the Acapella a listen or the Zingali for that matter, yes both are expensive but the sound is sublime. The Acapella being quite stupendous with highs that are in a league of their own and that sense of ease that only high efficiency speakers can deliver...
The discussion was about how good the Dunlavy were... They remain extremely good to this day. The formula appears simple: Great engineering, decent cabinetry and adequate driver. I do however think that John did impose upon himself a price limit. The Dunlavy cabinets were not the most inert , thus cabinets could be bettered, the drivers were ..that, only adequate.. We can debate his choice of crossovers, I think they serve their purpose... What remain is the balance he achieved in his designs.. A speaker is not just a simple assembly of parts... As in any engineering endeavors a judicious choice of compromise must be struck or at least searched.. To my ears and in the sense of how I perceive music, the Dunlavy speakers did struck this balance...so do other speakers, some of these I do not necessarily "like".. the problem remain the price of those I like.. I am not at ease with he current pricing of the best speakers around, the ones I really like hover around $50~100K.. Let us not derail this thread any further but to me that a little too much... unless they surpass my current reference in all areas... I have not heard such a speaker .. yet..

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post #18 of 615 Old 09-16-2008, 03:13 PM
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JD was a proponent of 1st order crossovers and that requires rather well behaved drivers well past each end that they were crossed-over. As I recall, the drivers he chose, and he had many to choose from, were not especially expensive. The drivers though were all 'fingerprinted' so that the best match could be made and this overhead, as well as the extensive testing for each speaker needed to be amortized. However, to choose a 'better' driver might well dictate that a 1st order crossover could no longer be used due to sundry misbehavior like breakups. Who knows what approach he would've taken had he been a far younger man with decades ahead of him rather than years. As you state FrantzM, it's a matter of compromises. Both good choices though and I'd be curious to hear what you find for pricing on the used market.

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post #19 of 615 Old 09-17-2008, 05:15 AM
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I agree it is the overall balance of the Dunlavys that are the secret. Also the close matching of "cheaper" but decent quality drivers improved the overall balance / SQ.

During my speaker search I had the opportunity to do a comparison between Wilson puppy speakers which at the time were well regarded and the Dunlavy SC-IV with A/B switching. My initial impressions of the puppys was good, they had strong bass but when switching over to the Dunlavys the coherent midrange and accuracy in the bass was a big improvement. A similar comparison with Magnepans had the electrostatics producing excellent mid range / treble but the Dunlavys had more authority (SPL) and better integration with the bass drivers, with the mid/treble almost as good.

This stuff is very subjective - if possible you should audition before you buy. I have also found the synergy with the room + electronics will make a difference to a pleasant or not so pleasant sound. I like the Dunlavys with a Class-D amp, which helps it with imaging and bass, and I also use a non oversampling DAC which is very smooth yet does not mask details. These speakers can be a little bass shy because they are so neutral, and also very revealing and can be harsh when the source material is poorer quality (the non oversampling DAC helps a lot in this area). YMMV.
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post #20 of 615 Old 09-17-2008, 06:13 AM
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These speakers can be a little bass shy because they are so neutral, ...........

I could not disagree more emphatically. If they are guilty of bass anamolies, it is that, in the wrong room, they are too bass heavy.

As noted previously, I have owned all of the Dunlavy's in 3 different rooms, heard them at 6 or 7 different CES venues, heard them in several friends homes and at numerous dealers....NEVER was their any hint of bass shyness. If bass shyness exists, then they are either incorrectly set up and/or are in the wrong room. No DAC (or any other peice of electronics) is going to make the bass shy!! Go back and read every review of the larger Dunlavy's and I would be suprised if any reviewer noted that they were bass shy!!

These speakers are not perfect and many would like a more extended high end ---- but bass shyness?? I don't think so!!

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post #21 of 615 Old 09-17-2008, 08:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I could not disagree more emphatically. If they are guilty of bass anamolies, it is that, in the wrong room, they are too bass heavy.

As noted previously, I have owned all of the Dunlavy's in 3 different rooms, heard them at 6 or 7 different CES venues, heard them in several friends homes and at numerous dealers....NEVER was their any hint of bass shyness. If bass shyness exists, then they are either incorrectly set up and/or are in the wrong room. No DAC (or any other peice of electronics) is going to make the bass shy!! Go back and read every review of the larger Dunlavy's and I would be suprised if any reviewer noted that they were bass shy!!

These speakers are not perfect and many would like a more extended high end ---- but bass shyness?? I don't think so!!


I would have to say that in my audition a while back of the Dunlavy III's the bass was deep, authoritative, and blended perfectly into the room. I noticed no hint of shyness at all and everything I have read and heard seems to indicate that the IV's and V's are even more impactful. I lived in the Colorado Springs area (Monument, CO) when Dunlavy was building speakers in Colorado. I visited once for fun as I have always loved speakers and AV in general, but I didn't spend much time. In retrospect I have to wonder where my head was at having squandered the opportunity to critically listen to the entire line, but I didn't. The visit was more of a lark than anything else. I have purchased, at least, 50 different sets of speakers in the last 30+ years and I simply want to stop. My list is about 1/2 dozen now and when I start to build out my new room come spring, I hope to have auditioned all of them and more. I could say that budget is not an option, but as I am somewhat frugal, as some would say, despite the fact that I can spend what I want, I still would rather find what I want and then scour the used market which has always seemed a treasure trove of value. I don't mind anybody derailing the thread to introduce ideas or thoughts that may be of interest as long as the "usual suspects" don't show up to start sensless arguments.

Now that I think of it, Chu, didn't you once post that you had Whisper speakers? Care to post your thoughts about what you like and don't like about their performance? Of course it goes without saying that I realize this would only be opinion and specific to your room.
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post #22 of 615 Old 09-17-2008, 02:30 PM
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Yes, bass shy is probably the wrong term to use. Let me elaborate.

I meant that the bass is very accurate and in comparison to other speakers that have an emphasis on bass (eg. wilson) they may not seem as authoritative. Certainly the smaller Dunlavy speakers do not have as strong bass due to smaller drivers used and even the SC-IV (not the 'a') was also a little lacking in the lower registers. The speakers are sensitive to placement in a room - I use them in a home theatre where I have limited placement options and my placement does affect the bass, and need to use a subwoofer but only for HT use. But these speakers are made more for accurate music reproduction that home theater so it is not a criticism.

Another attribute that is worth noting is that the larger speakers in the range produce a 'wall' of sound, ie. the soundstage feels tall as well as wide, possibly due to the height with drivers placed quite high in a room and the D'Appolo configuration. The 'tallness' of the sound makes the speakers work particularly well in a home theater.

I don't think you will have any bass problems with the SC-V setup correctly.
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post #23 of 615 Old 09-17-2008, 04:17 PM
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Quote:
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These speakers can be a little bass shy because they are so neutral .

I beg to differ "bass-shy" and Dunleavy speakers do not belong in the same sentence...

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post #24 of 615 Old 09-17-2008, 08:35 PM
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nope...not bass shy. I think those who think they are bass shy are the ones who put a CD on and have an "expectation" of what the bass should sound like...and then are disappointed when it comes out of the Dunlavy as thin and weak. It's the recording. The problem is that many other speaker manufacturers have their speaker designs boom in and about the 45Hz area so we think there is tonnes of bass when we listen to it. ...no flat frequency response there...

Put a great recording on a Dunlavy with good bass...and the Dunlavy will rock!

FYI, I use SC-IV/a in the front, SC-IV in the back, and HRCC for front center and an SC-I for rear center. Believe it or not, I've got a pair of TSW-VI (passive subs ith 4 15" drivers in each) in storage at the moment. I can't wait to hook these up but I'm moving by the end of the year and it is not worth the backbreaking effort in putting them in the system at the moment (they are massive at 530lbs each). I don't think Dunlavy made a lot of these...(I wonder how many were actually made...??)
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post #25 of 615 Old 09-17-2008, 09:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Osadciw View Post

I don't think Dunlavy made a lot of these...(I wonder how many were actually made...??)

He made either 3 or 4 pair of the Towers with the 12 inch drivers (I had a pair built for me) and 1 or 2 pair with the 15 inch drivers.

They are AMAZING but you will not get them to sound right in many rooms without serious EQ

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post #26 of 615 Old 09-17-2008, 11:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audioguy View Post

..
They are AMAZING but you will not get them to sound right in many rooms without serious EQ

Jet-kagged enough to be confused about the tiime of the day or is it night? ... Subwoofer integration requires EQ this for any subwoofer, and I would be bold enough to add.... in ANY room.

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post #27 of 615 Old 09-18-2008, 01:32 AM
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Given the relative affordability of used Dunlavy's, it's great to think about 6 or 7 V's or VI's in a surround system for home theater. But with multiple subs and base management being the Holy Grail of room eq., think for a moment what frequencies will be allocated to each speaker. Lets assume that a couple of subs will be used in addition to one or perhaps 2 subs for the LFE channel. Processors typically route bass management to the fronts (if they're full range) leaving the surrounds to handle sound down to 80 or maybe 60. A Dunlavy IV can handle that easily. And if you're going to use a sub because you can't affore a Dunlavy VI for the front channels, you might as well use a IV or IVA for the fronts and cross them over like the surrounds and route the bass to the subs instead of the front speakers. Multiple subs can give you room eq options that big woofers in full range speakers may not. Namely, you can place them elsewhere than front right and left. A system using speakers without extreme bottom end or extension like the V or the VI may give better definition in the end because of the problems multiple full range speakers present in a high end multichannel set up. Not only will the use of multiple subs (sometimes up to 4) avoid some acoustic issues like standing waves, it will allocate your amplifier power more efficiently. Especially if the subs are powered, like the JL audio or Velodyne. Both are getting great reviews and the DD18 velodyne has room eq built in. So for example, I feel that money would be better spent with a better result using dunlavy IV's or IVA's and subs than VI's all around. And depending on screen size the V's or VI's may interfer with sight lines to the screen.
Just my take on it.
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post #28 of 615 Old 09-18-2008, 03:17 AM
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I have the SC-IVa fronts in my HT setup over 13 feet apart towards the front corners of the room due to constraints with room size and HT screen. They image very well with this spread but have to be turned in towards the listener to ensure the center image is solid enough.

So I'm sure the placement is what is causing my bass to be "shy", and with careful integration with a subwoofer (delay, phase & freq adjusted) it does make a difference and I think for HT use at least with setups similar to mine a subwoofer is essential.

For those of you who disagree with me about the speakers being bass shy in my setup, I'm open to any hints you have about improving my setup, based on your experiences. Maybe I need my ears cleaned

I also have the Dunlavy Athena for my living area, which has trouble energising the room with bass and I also use a subwoofer for them which works well. My living space is huge (the size of a standard house) and I do drive them with a receiver rather than dedicated components, so I don't expect to get thunderous bass.
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post #29 of 615 Old 09-18-2008, 04:55 AM
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Have you measured your room and if so, what does it look like? Do you have any flexibility on moving the speakers either forward or back? What about the listening position? If you have not gone through that exercise (finding the optimum position for the speakers and seating --- and for what it's worth, I have spent about 3 months doing that in my current room and longer than that in my last room), then no telling what your bass (or the rest of your frequency spectrum) sounds like.

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post #30 of 615 Old 09-18-2008, 05:10 AM
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Widescreen Review's "reference holosonic" theatre uses a 6 pack of Dunlavy V speakers and a pair of the TSW15 subs - I guess they got the other pair made! They are advocates of running each speaker full range. I'd love to hear their room and setup.
In my own room, it was a bit problematic running each speaker full range but I don't have as big of a space as the WR one.

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