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GT40 + Dynaudio Focus 110A + Furutech GT2-B: After a few days of listening to this system working at my computer sending signal to the GT40 (nearfield, speakers on the desk) as well as 'half nearfield' under normal listening room conditions, I had a good feeling already for what this system could and couldn’t do.

Listening to files especially at high resolution was very comfortable. The Focus 110A—this is mostly about them—are slightly delicate in their top range. Everything between the speakers is three-dimensional and vivid but without completely razor-sharp outlines This clearly is not the light sound as we understand it from classic passive loudspeakers.

When on Brian Eno’s latest Craft On A Milk Sea (24/44.1) low and massive bass enters the Dynaudios reproduced it with surprising ease, reaching far lower than I would have expected from such small boxes.

The same was true for 24-bit rips from Depeche Mode’s DVDs. When fleshy bass was recorded I heard fleshy bass. But physical laws remained valid of course. The trick to getting this sound was to slightly thin out the  upper bass where one usually sees significant pressure to require lots of power.

With the Dynaudio we cannot hear this as a flaw but rather a change of tonal balance, in a direction most listeners would like. The voice of Cassandra Wilson from Silver Pony was not as nasal as on my regular system although it is most certainly recorded that way. On the other hand most commercial mass recordings were brilliant in their breadth and fullness.

In general after firing up this system the first thing one notices is how the sound is absolutely not bound to the speakers. To get this effect one of course has to spend time on positioning them. It is worthwhile to decouple them from the desk in some way and to not fire the tweeters directly at the ears but a little to the side. The best height is where your ears are level with the mid/woofer or slightly below. Voices then are a bit more massive and coherent. Placed that way the Dynaudios disappear completely. We often overuse this statement when really there is a gradation in this disappearance act. Here it is almost complete. Only when an instrument is recorded in just one channel like the contrabass is with jazz recordings from the 50s, the loudspeaker ‘reappears’ due to a lower sound volume than a contrabass should have.

Positioning the loudspeakers, don’t forget about the switches on the back. Placed close to the wall it is best to set the bass and midrange control to 0dB or even shelf the bass down a bit. I would also propose to take something off the treble as in the nearfield nothing absorbs it and the sound gets too bright. Adding to this context the naturally strong output of the GT40 in that region and there could be too much treble. We might also consider bass-reflex plugs for some recordings to prevent overdrive with very low powerful bass. One has to really work to get the Dynaudios to bottom out with special recordings and extreme levels but it is a potential problem only because this inexpensive system might end up in a small (home) recording studio. Aided by a subwoofer it would be the perfect tool. The Furutech DAC shows off differences in recordings well including chosen word lengths to confirming good magnification power. This alone together with the good timbre of the loudspeakers would be sufficient to recommend the system.

Summary: The GT40 USB DAC by Furutech (that’s the full name) is a brilliant combination of functionality. You will not manage to find an equally good preamplifier for this money, never mind one with phonostage. The headphone output is equally solid under the proviso of not loading it down with high impedance and low efficiency. The USB DAC too is very interesting, with very good resolution and dynamics. It may sound a bit too bright with CD rips so it is worth to correct that with the loudspeakers’ adjustable setting (absolutely not in the EQ of the computer). It nicely shows the superiority of 24/96 files which are more relaxed, open and dynamic.

As stated earlier, driving a 150.000zł Tenor Audio 175S demonstrated just how brilliant the line output is so it wasn’t strange that the Focus 110A would be equally happy with such signal. This combination is fantastic. The loudspeakers absolutely disappear from the equation, leaving us alone with the sound. Naturally this wasn’t ultimate yet as the sound could lack a bit of saturation in the lower midrange and the lowest bass might escape the control of the built-in amplifier but as always it’s a matter of trade-offs. Real standouts are overwhelming dynamics and bass extension given the size. An instant studio hit? Why not? Simply add a computer and a turntable and many audiophile purist rigs should feel very badly intimidated.