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This review first appeared in the September 2011 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of the Dynaudio Focus 340 in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of fairaudio or Dynaudio - Ed.

: Ralph Werner
Sources: Luxman D-05
Preamplifier: Octave HP300
Power amp: Electrocompaniet AW180
Loudspeakers: Ascendo System F, Thiel SCS4
Review component retail: €4.900/pr

Nearly precisely 10 years ago I owned a Dynaudio stand mount with twin woofers, cone midrange and dome tweeter. When today’s Dynaudio Focus 340 slim floorstander arrived with very similar artillery, I had a sudden flash of déjà-vu and plenty of fond memories. My prior Dane had belonged to the Audience range which the Excite series replaced in 2008. The company's present speaker hierarchy has the Excite models situated below the Focus equivalents.

The Focus speakers are Dynaudio’s most successful. The developers view them as "the important middle ground of the high end" between the Excite and Contour groups. First introduced in 2005 the Focus range has since undergone a fundamental overhaul. The results thereof were first presented at this year’s Munich High End show. The models of interest to two-channel listeners sit between €2.000 and €6.200 per pair and the Focus 340 we discuss today weighs in at €4.900. Home theatre aficionados already have a center channel and a sub has been announced for a Q3 2011 release.

To be clear the Focus 340 is not a simply reworked version of a precursor but new from the ground up. The rationale behind this model was to bridge the big price/performance gap between the two prior floorstanders. This also puts the new 340 in the middle on price. Coincident with technical innovations has been a minor face lift. For one the Focus 340 seems taller. This isn't solely due its 1.1m height but the new range’s slimmer profile which puts width for this model at 22cm. The drivers’ basket rims too have narrowed, then turned silver for higher and more modern visual contrast than the former black.

Driver mounting finally abolished the earlier wood screws for proper bolts with threaded counter inserts whilst finish options added gloss black and white piano lacquer as well as the real Walnut veneer I requested. I simply like Walnut for its gentleman’s club vibe and interesting grain markings.

The MDF panels beneath are veneered inside and out to, as product manager Roland Hoffmann’s explained, prevent internal stresses and concomitant resonance from long-term exposure to air moisture and temperature changes. Panel thickness is 20mm throughout. There are cross braces and an internal subdivision into two chambers—bigger woofer compartment, separate mid/high compartment—adds further stiffening even though the main rationale here was to load the bass drivers into a clearly defined cubic volume and isolate the mid/treble units from the bass units' internal air turbulence.

Hoffmann explained that strategically important junctures benefit from additional 5mm MDF damping plates where vibrational hot spots would otherwise compound. This scheme was admittedly more concerned with "clever resonance breakup, shifting and minimization" rather than wholesale suppression which in the final analysis would actually be impossible. Hence the environmentally more friendly MDF plates over earlier bitumen pads. The inner walls are further lined with acoustic foam and a certain quantity of synthetic damping wool factors too.

The Dynaudio Focus 340 is a 3-way design with 12dB/octave filters at 470Hz and 2.400Hz. The crossovers for the entire range were revisited to adapt them to the new drivers as well as to optimize parts placement. Here mere millimetre shifts or altered angles can make for reduced interaction between adjacent parts or a new glue can introduce greater stability and less microphonic reactions. While I would have enjoyed more information on Dynaudio’s claimed phase optimisation and how this was technically accomplished, "here we won’t divulge further information. Highest phase fidelity and ideal timing of all frequencies is one of Dynaudio's most important qualities. Where other speakers might be tonally balanced, incoherent timing is often the core weakness." The goal of seamless driver-to-driver transitions isn’t merely a function of crossover design of course. There's the quality and design of the raw drivers themselves. The better the drivers, the less electrical ‘contortions’ are required to make them work as a team.

With rising frequencies the deeply concave mid and bass drivers drawn from single pieces of magnesium silicon polymer radiate energy primarily from their vented dome-type centers whilst the lower ranges of their respective pass bands involve the entire surface all the way out to the surrounds. In principle this isn’t anything new. Fundamentally all cones behave that way. Dynaudio simply talks of very specifically exploiting these effects so that at the upper hand-over frequencies only the perfectly sized inner domes are active. Their radiation patterns and beaming behavior mirrors that of their take-over drivers to insure the most homogenous transitions of dispersion patterns. That sure sounds sensible.