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Product Review
 

Daedalus DA-1 Floor-Standing and Center One Center Channel Speakers

Part I

January, 2006

Rick Schmidt

 

Specifications:

 

DA-1
 

● Design: Three-and-a-Half-Way

Drivers: Two Silk Dome 1" Tweeters, One 5"
    Paper Midrange, Two 8" Paper Woofers

MFR: 25 Hz - 20 kHz ± 2 dB

Power Handling: 350 Watts

● Nominal Impedance: 6 Ohms

● Sensitivity: 96 dB/w/m

Dimensions: 48" H x 11" W x 16" D

Weight: 102 Pounds/Each
● MSRP: $6,850/Pair USA

 

Center One
 

Three-Way

Drivers: Two 1" Silk-Dome Tweeters, Two 5"
    Paper Midrange, Two 8" Paper Woofers

Power Handling: 350 Watts

Nominal Impedance: 4 Ohms

Sensitivity: 96 dB 1W/1m

Dimensions: 12" H x 40" W x 15" D

Weight: 79 Pounds

● MSRP: $4,400 USA

 

Daedalus

www.daedalusmusic.com

 

Introduction

I have a musician friend who does an extensive amount of home recording, who once asked me a question to which I still don't have a good answer: Why is it that loudspeakers designed for home use sound different than 'monitor' speakers designed for recording studios? The answer to this question gets right to the heart of an audiophile conundrum: What are we trying to achieve here? A recreation of the live performance or of what is on the master tape in the studio? Something else? An enjoyable listening experience perhaps?

Enter the Daedalus DA-1 speakers. Designed by a musician who like the friend I mentioned above, seeks the proper 'tone' in whatever he is listening to, these speakers break a few rules and establish an important, incredibly enjoyable reference point in the live performance/master tape debate.

The Design

The most striking feature of the Daedalus speaker line is that they are made of 100% hardwood. No MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard). While this makes a difference in the appearance, especially if you appreciate fine woodworking, this was also a choice made for sound. Specifically for tone.

MDF is standard issue for 99.9% of speakers made, regardless of price, because of its sonic deadening characteristics (the way it doesn’t sound). Lou Hinkley, the man behind Daedalus Audio, chose to use only natural hardwoods because of the way they do sound. The speakers are available in Oak, Cherry, or Walnut, but in all cases the front baffle is made of Walnut backed by Baltic Birch, and the back panel is also made of Baltic Birch.

I was worried that this implied that the cabinets would vibrate when the music was cranked, but that was not the case. Using the trusty fingers on the side, back and wherever else test, while played loud, revealed that these cabinets are tighter than most. I've done this test on speakers costing substantially more (now that's getting up there) and felt nothing, but that is rare. With the Daedalus, there is only a small vibration present, as I would expect, but it does seem to be of a different character than other speakers. Perhaps higher in frequency but also more localized and I would characterize it as 'tighter'.

The cabinets have extensive internal bracing specifically to keep the vibrations down. Also, the crucial midrange driver is isolated from its compatriots by its own internal cabinet. The two bass drivers also enjoy their own space. There are three ports located on the lower rear of the speaker for the woofers.

One final word on the cabinet construction, it may not be readily apparent in photographs, but the front baffle is not parallel with the rear of the speaker, evident when viewed from above. It also slopes backwards just slightly, and more on one side than the other, as can be seen when viewed from the side. In other words, this is not a perfectly rectangular box. All of this helps to reduce the possibility of internal vibrations and standing waves, but it also gives the speakers a visual appeal. The visual effect is subtle, but along the lines of a Salvador Dali painting, your eye is drawn along the edges as it tries to sort out what your mind thinks is supposed to be a normal box.

The crossover is a time-aligned two-and-a-half-way design so the two 8" woofers cover different portions of the bass. The 5" midrange covers a wide range, uninterrupted by crossover foolishness, and two, count ‘em two Vifa silk dome tweeters get the rest. The tweeters are offset from each other by about 10 degrees so that one is pointing slightly left and the other is pointing slightly right. The amount of energy going to the tweeters can be tuned by a three position toggle switch on the rear of the speakers, near the (five-way) binding posts. The midrange and woofer drivers are all paper, custom built to Daedalus' specifications.

The Center Channel One is all much the same design except it is laid out horizontally. The two tweeters are in the same vertical array but there are two mids and two woofers opposite each other. The lowest woofer of the DA-1s is removed. The Center One is about five times bigger than most any other center channel speaker I can think of. It is designed for large rooms, to be hung from the ceiling PA style, or placed on the floor with the stands provided, which is how I listened to it. None of the Daedalus speaker line is magnetically shielded. They did not interfere with my 65" Mits rear projector, but they did interfere with the computer monitor of my home theater PC which was about the same distance away – 2 feet.

In yet another departure from most speakers sold today. The DA-1s do not come with spikes. Lou Hinkley does not rule them out, though, and offers them as a $250 option. I auditioned the speakers as they came, with their own heavy rubber feet.

All of the hardwoods used in the Daedulus’ come from renewable, North American forests, so there is a lot to feel good about with that. Not so with MDF by the way which, because it is constructed of leftover wood chips and not a small amount of glue, may literally make you feel bad as it produces some unhealthy gases (called outgassing) for a while after it is made.

Click Here to Go to Part II.

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