Country of Origin
This review first appeared in March 2023 on fairaudio.de. By request of the manufacturer and permission of the author, it is hereby syndicated from the German original to reach a broader English audience. Ed.
Reviewer: Tobias Zoporowski
Analog sources: Technics SL-1210GR with Shelter 201 or Pro-Ject Concorde Pick-it S1 MM, Sansui T-80 & Kenwood KT-5500 tuners
Digital sources: Pioneer N-50, Marantz NA 8005
Preamps: Lehman Black Cube Statement phono
Integrated amplifier: Magnat RV-3
Loudspeakers: Magnat Quantum 905, Teufel Theater 500S
Cables: in-akustik or Eagle cable looms plus WireWorld
Review component retail: €1'295/pr
Live louder. Whether boastful claim or chummy invite, it's quite the daring statement for a hifi brand that's not aimed at the mass market but bona fide music lovers. So who are these loud boys? Pronounced 'westlüd', they sell exclusively through the Nordic chain of Hifi Klubben stores; and are fresh out of the oven at that. They currently make two models differentiated only by weight and size. There's today's €1'298/pr V12c which I consider still appropriate for normal rooms; and the yet burlier €1'795/pr V15c suitable only for rather palatial estates; unless you live in the woods. So again, who are these guys? Vestlyd speakers are the maiden project of Danish manufacturer Nordic Hifi A/S and a 100% offshoot of Hifi Klubben though they run their own independent R&D department. And apparently some hot heads working there felt that our calm domestic scene needed a speaker which differs by design with a fat exclamation mark. Otherwise there's no explanation for such 'machines' which already visually seem from another age.
A bit foreign to German ears, the brand name combines vest for West and lyd for sound. Nordic Hifi make no bones about these being a love letter to 1970s' big boxes from JBL who still enjoy such a devout fan base that a few years ago, the Americans released new ranges to revive their original cosmetics. Though priced very different than today's, word is that the new JBL sell well. So it seems that our hifi church enjoys a significant sub faith which looks beyond the mainstream for a different sound. Should you follow Hifi Klubben's amusing social media campaign of these Vestlyd speakers, that faith seems anchored by bearded lumberjacks going for bear with live-concert SPL. Which, to pre-empt my later comments, is definitely on the menu with this broad-shouldered design.
As the model name suggested, the V12c sticks a 12" so broadly 30.5cm coaxial driver in an MDF box trimmed out in robust classic black pleather. But of course there's a bit more to it. JBL L100 Classic reminiscent proportions are supported by massive braces and a 3cm front baffle. The dual-concentric driver is groomed for high SPL with minimal distortion. That's appropriate when published max levels read 130dB (!) at 93dB/2.83V/1m sensitivity. The 12" diaphragm is low-mass paper for easy stop'n'go and happy production costs as a concern at this driver size and final sell price. The tweeter in the throat is stiff titanium working in a compression chamber smaller than the driver's diameter. This accelerates air motion and raises sensitivity. A round waveguide lens in aluminium then supports relatively broad off-axis response. The entire deep-dish form factor of this coax in fact suggests a mild horn; clearly no coincidence. The exiting bass registers then reinforce with two deeply inset front ports.
Monitor or nonitor? A unique wrinkle which at least I never saw in this price range sits 'round back – a locking Speakon port from the pro world beneath the robust single-wire terminals of our home hifi scene. Employ on a live stage is definitely something our Dansk team envisions for its power monitors even though they're not exactly tuned for textbook linear neutrality as recording engineers expect and demand from location monitors. For domesticated consumption, the Vestlyd have been 'declawed'. What that means to the ears we'll get to next.