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The praise heaped on this speaker after its demonstration at this year’s January CES was dominated by reflections on its high bass quality. The amount of bass is something we pay attention to at every stage of our audiophile pilgrimage. At first it’s pure fascination with meat and power. Quite normal in every way, our needs then are clearly defined by more, stronger and lower, primarily more. As we grow towards true music reproduction we begin to appreciate things like speed, definition, color and differentiation to end up with the soundstage and scale of reproduced sound and the proper volume of the instruments. At this stage we are often willing to sacrifice bass quantity for quality.

The D-1 is a monitor with low cabinet volume and a relatively small mid/woofer. Each of these elements define the amount and extension of the bass. However it doesn’t yet say anything about the things I’ve just mentioned. And it’s those which make this a truly unique speaker. The first impression after hooking them up is no shortage of bass. I played tracks from the second disc of Jean Michel Jarré’s double album Essentials & Rarities and knew it was good. There was growl and rumble, great color differentiation and a physical sense of shove. The impression was similar with the guitars on the New Dawn album from the duo of Dominic Miller & Neil Stacey. Although a purist Naim release, it shows the work of the sound and mastering engineers to bring the instruments closer to us and give them a slightly meatier sound than live. And it sounds awesome especially on speakers like the D-1.

Excellent LF reproduction was confirmed by the new Mobile Fidelity reissues of Frank Sinatra’s Where Are You, In A Silent Way and Miles Davis’ 'Round About Midnight. Mobile Fidelity CDs are known to sound similar to well-mastered XRCDs – warm, deep and smooth exactly like these speakers. However this character match between remasters and speakers wasn't superimposed to up the ante. It combined advantages without weaknesses. The result was a beautiful clean warm intriguing sound that invited me to turn up the volume. Even at high levels the Danish speakers did not change their tone and resolution or betray any signs of distortion.

I promised to get back to the subject of imaging and space. Those who expect of high-end monitors good imaging and a large soundstage won't be disappointed. The speakers can show hard-panned instruments placed directly on their axis and as such usually heard inside the box as if they were actually behind if so recorded. The soundstage also extends well outside and not just between. For that they just need to be positioned slightly more straightahead without too much toe-in. In my opinion their outstanding soundstaging and great imagining without any attempt to separate the instruments from each other to get hyper selective does not result from narrow front baffles. Rather it's due to their very well-braced cabinets, finely tuned crossovers and above all their exceptional mid/woofer. The fact that the speakers are able to show the low range with power and softness exactly how it sounds live and without any subjective sense of bass limits results from fantastic definition and resolution in this particular sub range. Although bass extension seems very low, a comparison to my large Harbeths and a look at the measurements tells us that it isn't nor could be so. The impression of it comes from great handling of higher bass harmonics. Those octave-doubled harmonics are largely responsible for the fact that our brains interpolate the fundamentals as though we actually heard them.

The D-1’s tone is beautiful, dark, warm and naturally silky. Dynamics and differentiation go hand in hand. This involves the ability to present events in the soundstage very precisely. Take the earlier mentioned 'Round About Midnight, a 1956 mono recording. Played on vinyl it delights with fullness and depth. Its 2001 re-release in the Miles 70th Anniversary series is pretty good showing definition and layering. The sound is focused exactly in the center however and badly compressed. How do I know that? I know the original vinyl release and how it compares to the new Mobile Fidelity remaster. Although imaging should be the same in terms of the volume of sound, it is not. The Mobile Fidelity release is much fuller, with the instruments occupying a larger space between the speakers. Their presentation is far more credible.

How is this possible? Being mono recordings, neither carries spatial width information, merely depth data. Well, in mono presentations the impression of being there actually relates to how well the speakers handle the bass and how well-defined instruments are which tuck behind each other. In the case of the D-1 this comes naturally and easily. Hence the differences between the two Davis releases were so very clear.