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Reviewers: Edgar Kramer
Financial Interests: click here
Digital: Metronome T-1i CD player with DAISy HE remote control
Preamp/Integrated: Supratek Sauvignon with NOS RCA and Bendix tubes; NuForce P9
Amplifier: NuForce Reference 9 V2 Special Edition monoblocks
Speakers: Wilson Audio Specialties WATT/Puppy System 6
Cables: digital - Cerious Technologies; Harmonic Technology Magic; analog interconnect - Cerious Technologies; CRL Gold [in for review]; Harmonic Technology Magic and Truthlink Silver; DanA Digital Reference Silver; Eichmann eXpress 6 Series 2; Bocchino Audio Morning Glory; PSC Audio Pristine R30 Ribbon [on loan]; speaker cables - Cerious Technologies and Harmonic Technology PRO-9+ loudspeaker cables; power: Cerious Technologies AC; Harmonic Technology Fantasy; Shunyata Research Diamondback, Eichmann eXpress AC power cables; PSC Gold Power MKII AC cable
Stands: Finite Elemente Pagode Signature equipment racks
Powerline conditioning: PS Audio P-300 Power Plant (digital equipment only)
Acoustic treatment: Fonic Designer panels and StudioCel bass traps
Sundry accessories: Burson Audio Buffer, Bright Star Audio IsoRock Reference 3, Bright Star Audio IsoRock 4 isolation platforms and BSA IsoNode feet; Bocchino Audio Mecado isolation diodes; Black Diamond Racing cones; Stillpoints ERS paper in strategic positions around DAC, Shakti On Lines; Densen CD demagnetizer; Auric Illuminator CD Treatment; ASC Tube Traps
Room size: 17' w x 35' d x 12' h in short wall setup, opens to adjoining kitchen
Review component retail: AUD$12,000/pr

Back in the 1980s, in the land Down Under, a state-of-the-art speaker was launched that claimed the ultimate in accuracy. The massive seven-driver Duntech Audio Sovereign was a seminal product from ex-pat John Dunlavy that put Australia on the world map of high-end loudspeakers. Duntech led the way with speakers; much later at the turn of the century, sections of the world media hailed South Australian company Halcro as the very best in amplification; and ditto for Continuum who strongly carries the baton on through, with a new turntable of extraordinary engineering prowess.

At the time, such was the confidence in the technical expertise in this radical new speaker design that a formal experiment was commissioned to an independent studio. The gist of it -- and going on my fading memory -- was that a guitarist's live instrument would be compared to a feed through the Duntech Sovereign speakers. The A/B test panel, made up of audio engineers and industry professionals, was controversially reported to be unable to distinguish sonic differences between the live instrument and the reproduction. The experiment was even reported in Beyond 2000, a popular Australian television series that featured future technologies and science-based stories.

Duntech went on to become one of the most admired and desired speaker brands in the world. Years later, the brilliant Dunlavy returned to his native US to form Dunlavy Labs. There he continued to produce speakers that physically resembled the Duntech designs and also incorporated the philosophies and technical parameters he thought essential for accurate music reproduction and some of which he pioneered: pulse coherence via physical driver step-alignment, 1st-order crossovers, sealed cabinets, felt diffraction padding etc.

The company has undergone a couple of ownership changes since Dunlavy's days and the product line-up has been rather static for a number of years. However, the current owners are on a revitalizing mission and are at the cusp of a large product-release effort which is said to include a new flagship with, as rumored, some very interesting design, material use and engineering features. The first totally new Duntech speaker for many years and at the vanguard of this new product assault is the new DSM-15.

Different but the same
The new Duntech is a total redesign and visually a new direction for the company. The DSM-15 is a stand mount speaker using very high quality drivers in an extremely attractive and compact package. To handle the upper frequencies, Duntech has chosen the supremely capable Scanspeak Revelator ring radiator tweeter, a design I became intimately and fondly familiar with on the superb Whatmough P33 Signature. Mids and lows are catered for by a Danish 5-incher with a 3-inch voice coil which is crossed at 2kHz via a 1st-order network. A felt dot has been applied to the diaphragm to presumably dampen resonance.

Frequency response is quoted as 45Hz to 35kHz within a narrow +/-1.5dB window. The -3dB point is quoted as 42Hz which equates to very good extension for a speaker of this size, and is no doubt partly due to the quality of the 5-inch driver and the rather non-traditional -- as far as Duntech -- rear port. Impedance is 4 ohms without violent swings, which combined with an efficiency of 89dB at 1 watt (2.83V at 1 meter), can make for a reasonably easy-to-drive little speaker. Or not so little. The DSM-15 is mated to a dedicated stand which apart from providing aesthetic and visual continuity has a claimed affect on the subjective bass response - and therefore the rest of the frequency spectrum. Duntech recommends sand-filling the stand for an ultra-solid platform for the speaker. Including the stand, the speaker stands 112cm tall and is 40cm deep by 25cm wide.

At this point it must be said that the speaker's -- and stand's -- build quality is quite superb. The walnut veneer is immaculately applied and oiled and it's obvious that the timbre's grain and intensity of color have been thoughtfully considered. The piano-black baffle is nicely curved and designed with the Duntech trademark step while being flawless. The reflex port is carved out of a solid piece of hardwood that forms the rear curved panel and has been skillfully rounded and contoured to avoid chuffing. No cheap plastic tubing here. The standard Bocchino speaker terminals are, as per everything else Bocchino produces connector-wise, just about the best on offer. These beautifully machined solid copper terminals accept banana and spade connectors and are easily hand-tightened to provide a secure cable grip. Also from
Bocchino are the speaker-to-stand interfaces, far superior alternatives than mere spikes or even blue tack. Duntech supplies eight Mecado isolation cone devices that couple (or decouple) the speaker to the stand. The stand's substantial and polished granite base spikes to the floor.