Bookshelf Speakers

Dynaudio Focus 110A Actively-Powered Bookshelf Speakers

ARTICLE INDEX

Setup

In the best of all possible worlds, every desktop would have ample room for all the sound equipment you need. In the interest of soundstage realism and transparency, it would also magically make the computer monitor that sits between the speakers totally disappear, so that the soundstage was not compromised in any way. Finally, it would allow your chair sufficient room to wheel far enough back from the system to enable you to fully experience three-dimensional imaging.

Dream on. At Casa Bellecci-Serinus, no matter how many times I wave my mouse, my 20" iMac refuses to disappear from between the speakers. And as much as I'd love to wheel way back from my desk and enjoy, there's this little issue of a file cabinet that gets in the way and prevents me from doing so.

And that's not all. Our 1926 carriage house may be a little gem in the middle of the ghetto, but its only grounded outlet is on the dedicated line to my downstairs reference system. Three-pronged outlets abound, but the third prong leads nowhere. (When the house was built, three-pronged receptacles cost less than two-pronged, and were thus the outlet of choice). It would be nice to have a grounded, audiophile grade outlet in the wall to complement the audiophile grade outlets in the Nordost Thor power distribution system, but that would require rewiring the entire house. At a time when one of out every 10 Americans faces the risk of foreclosure, and lots more have succumbed, such upgrades merit "standby until you win the lottery" status.

Nonetheless, I am blessed with enough Nordost cables to be able to use a pair of Odin interconnects between the Focus 110As, and Odin power cables on the Benchmark DAC1 USB and Thor power conditioner. The speakers themselves are powered with Nordost Valhalla.

Yes, I am well aware that the Nordost cables cost far, far more than the Focus 110As. Some readers may even go apoplectic at the thought. Relax. Take your medication. If you're into Blue Jeans or the Shack or Home Depot, and are tempted to raise the Don't Tread on Me flag, don't let me stop you. Readers who want to experiment with costlier cabling that justifies its price in terms of sonic improvements, however, will find that excellent cabling unleashes more of the Focus 110A's ultimate potential.

Shortly after I received the speakers, I replaced their stock fuses with fuses from HiFi-Tuning. The principle is simple. All the current going to the amplifiers passes through the little wire in the fuse. Fuses made with superior wire and terminations will have less impact on the sound. The theory is so simple that I can't believe people see red at the thought. Besides, you can hear the difference. I have also used fuses from Isotek. Since HiFi-Tuning came out with its Silver Star line, I have not performed a back-to-back comparison of the two.

I have also experimented with aftermarket USB cables between my computer and the Benchmark DAC1 USB. Though it's possible, by the time this review is published, that Nordost will have issued its long-awaited USB cable, I've so far experimented with cables from Cardas, Wireworld, and Kimber. The Cardas is very smooth, and excels at midrange warmth. The silver Kimber may be less plush, but it is more alive and brilliant on top. Ultimate preference depends as much on your system as your taste. While I currently gravitate toward the Kimber. I expect that the Nordost will prove the most synergistic match with my Nordost-rich set-up.