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A truly big-picture assessment in the small two-way monitor sector requires intimate familiarity with what the corporate firms offer. Think B&W, Focal, Paradigm & Co. Their scale of operations, depth of vertical integration and plain resources occupy a different universe from the one Dayens inhabits. I'm frankly not sufficiently well read in Big Corporate to know how Tizo measures up globally. What I'm reasonably certain of is that—due to where Dayens is located and because they're the domestic importer for very high-quality parts like Mundorf—Tizo is outfitted with quality components quite a few cuts above the expected. Its build cost to retail balance obviously need not account for the complex dealer/distributor networks which the corporate giants must support. Possibly against it are that Tizo can't rely on purpose-designed drive units which were developed and built in-house especially for the project. Neither is it the brain child of a corporate engineering team which combines 100+ man years of experience. How these various factors manifest competitively is anyone's guess. Mine is that on crossover componentry, the Dayens has the edge. If you view the crossover as the speaker's brain, the Tizo isn't necessarily outmaneuvered by the giants on raw IQ and could actually hold a unique ace card. Against the production prowess of the big boys, Tizo's fit & finish holds up surprisingly well. But it also lacks a certain slickness one would get from the corporate players or even the boat-hull era design.

In my book, the most important trick up Tizo's sleeve is that long narrow port. It cleverly minimizes the ubiquitous vented signature of a clearly elevated bloomy bass. To listeners attuned to sealed boxes, such bass will always be unnatural, phasey, ringy and blurry in the time domain. The special competence of the Tizo could be summed up by saying that in the time and transient domain, it behaves more like a sealed box. Yet its 'minimal port' still offers just that bit more bass to make the overall balance work. This comes down on quality over quantity and a preference for subjective speed and definition over impact and mass. From this basic observation, the outcome vs. my beefy era design 5 SAT on the desktop was mostly predictive. The open question became whether, due to my table's open back which lacks the boundary reinforcement of a front wall, Tizo would sound tipped up or extend low enough with sufficient authority. For extreme nearfield purposes with table top 'floor' bounce, Tizo was surprisingly robust. Admittedly I don't consider 30Hz necessary then. A solid 50 or 55Hz with useful fill into the low 40s is more than adequate. Who in their right mind does massive symphonic or potent club while sitting one meter or less from the speakers, eyes hypnotically fixed on a monitor? Exactly. The operative term is get—or stay—real!

The more efficient era designs were both more forward (upper midrange/treble) and warmer (midbass through midrange). They also had a different texture - bloomier, wetter and denser. The Tizo was drier, more sorted, more separated out and wirier. It offered deeper insights into the vocal registers and overall somewhat higher subjective resolution. As expected, the 5 SAT maintained audibility into the lower registers farther down. Still, the Serbian had just enough hints—very attenuated data filling in atmospherics—that its tonal balance didn't unduly flip. Bass beats, pedal drones and other anchor material remained just enough accounted for on standard fare.

To enjoy rather than suffer Mercan Dede, Lisa Gerrard's Silver Tree and other infrasonially stacked fare however, I had to reach into my grab bag of cheap tricks for a Pierre Sprey. If that sounds like Hollywood grifter code where cons are named after people, it's not. It simply refers to the Mapleshade boss' preference for setting up monitors on very stumpy but massive stands which have the speakers squat on the floor firing up steeply. While lowering the soundstage and activating some physical resonance through my glass top, my makeshift Pierre Sprey con (cone footers, Yamamoto Ebony receivers) very effectively increased Tizo's floor bounce to flesh out its lower registers.

WIth the original setup, a small tonally upward tendency remained of course but the Vifa ring radiator's very civilized behavior did not highlight it. Combined with the deliberately downplayed port boost for greater linearity, the more informative vocal band and the higher separation power, Tizo emerged as the truthier player. The 5 Sat appeared more voiced for what's generically referred to as musicality. Percussive events had finer articulation with the Tizo, more mass with the Americans. The era design showed conceptual sympathy for a thicker meatier push/pull valve sound, the Tizo an orientation towards a leaner, more resolved and finessed FirstWatt-type transistor sound. Relative to majority votes, Michael Kelly and the era design team's Peachtree Audio owners would win. Dejan Dobrin has pursued a less enhanced or sculpted sound. I peg it as the ultimately more advanced presentation but one that requires a fuller listener curriculum to be recognized and very specific conditions to be appreciated as such.

On the desk top, Tizo was a surprisingly mature performer. Gallo's previously reviewed Strada celebrates a higher octave of resolving power but is far dearer. Rather more relevant is that coming off the Strada, the Tizo mellows out the inevitable and very obvious withdrawal pains. In the Stradas' wake, the 5 SAT sounded slow, veiled, dull and fuzzy. The Serbians retained more similarity. While certainly less keen and honed than the Strada—less precociously talented—the sonic gestalt is more closely related. Given my enthusiasm for the Strada, that's significant. How about more standard on-stand positioning out in the room? I had no joy in my usual room. It too lacks a front wall (by a whopping nine meters). Instead I moved one floor up into our two-channel television rig which, loft style, faces the main listening area on the ground floor. That video system is usually anchored by the John Blue JB8 widebanders driven from a Firstwatt J2, Wyred4Sound STP-SE preamp and Esoteric UX-1 universal player. While this system too faces open space, our couch is far closer while the Rajasthani television stand begged for another Pierre Sprey.

The relative bass balance was quite leaner than on the desk top to now throw vital stuff off the train. Replacing the 25wpc Ampino with the 90wpc Burson Audio PP 160 grew bass legs to prove that with Tizo's low sensitivity, its intended Ampino mate, though fully capable of what I'd consider necessary SPLs, is actually somewhat underpowered. Ideally Tizo would be mated to an 8" or 10" subwoofer to stabilize the midbass and break into the lowest octave. Perhaps that's on Dayens' list. It should be. As an unassisted mains and unlike my era design monitors, the baby Dayens really belongs on the desk top or in a less critical office-type setup where the goal isn't hifi realism but musical atmosphere.

Unless you believe in miracles, none of this was surprising, just Physics. Once we write off going solo with big-room ambitions but no sub, we're back in the extreme boundary-assisted nearfield of the desk top. Here Tizo comes into its own to offer a very compelling alternate take on a genre leader like era.

The 5 SAT's lower port tuning and bigger driver make it more universally applicable. Something like Tizo which is dialed for higher speed and transparency can pull ahead or at least become a serious option once we focus down 'universal' to conditional and very specific uses. One such use which I couldn't explore was wall-mounting. Use sufficiently long stems to not back-flow the port. Just as with the Strada, wall-mounting should be one very happy application.

Wrap: As a small speaker run solo, Tizo arrives with all the usual small print of the breed. Where it goes a bit beyond being just one in a thousand is parts quality. Run with quality ancillaries above Tizo's apparent station, those bespoke parts do show their mettle. It's simply unlikely that Tizo would find itself leashed up accordingly. Plus, the desk top tends to be a less critical milieu. Here the Serbian becomes nearly too good or wasted. How many committed folks do their serious listening on the computer desk? My point precisely.

As a table-top monitor, Tizo faces ultra-stiff competition from the likes of Swans' $399/pr self-powered bi-amped 5.25" two-way. It makes the Dayens mini into somewhat of an odd ball - rather better than called for (or fully appreciated) where it'd be optimally employed; not quite endowed enough in the nether regions to go solo in a standard hifi setup; and inefficient enough to really want more potent amplification than its price tag will support. It's not the all-'rounder which era design's 5 SAT with its integral wall-mount tabs is. Instead the mini from Serbia wants a very specific customer who will use it in just the right way. Then it's very impressive for what it costs. I'm simply not certain that very many of those ideal customers exist. If there was a matching subwoofer, the doors would blow wide open and all (or most) of the above equivocating would get erased. For now, the Tizo is simply a sterling desk-top monitor that sounds more like a sealed than vented alignment - quite on time, well sorted, somewhat dry but accurate and surprisingly transparent. Because it's not very efficient, it'll come on song a bit higher on the dial and isn't the most ideal for whisper sessions...
Dayens replies:
Thank you for your review. We hope that it will be helpful for music lovers in search for mini monitor loudspeakers. We are sure that the transparency, realism and musicality of this small speaker will enable them to enjoy their favorite music in the smaller rooms in which they are not able to place bigger system (office, home office, work rooms, bedrooms, children's rooms, workshops etc.). For those in search for a main system loudspeakers, there is the d'Appolito Tizo Plus floorstander. We will soon publish specifications and pictures.

Dejan Dobrin

Dayens website