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Alacrity Audio Dundee 6 loudspeaker

Alacrity Audio  Dundee 6  loudspeaker

There’s a need for people to step beyond the norm, even if ‘normal’ works for most people. If no one were willing to step beyond the norm, we would still be hunter-gatherers living on the plains. Progress happens by people unwilling to settle for the norm, and although many such people end up developing things that never make the grade, we need such people to challenge the status quo. So it is with Alacrity Audio.

Alacrity’s first loudspeaker was the Caterthun 6, a standmount typo-in-waiting. The 6 was quickly followed by a scaled-up Caterthun 8, designed for larger rooms. The Dundee 6 is the brand’s first floorstander, a tall and thin two-way loudspeaker featuring a ¼-wave transmission line, but more on this later. All of these designs work to Alacrity’s Acoustic Induction concept as applied to the bass driver.

Acoustic Induction is a novel cabinet loading technique. A loudspeaker cabinet has a natural resonant frequency, typically somewhere around the 80Hz-150Hz region. At this point, the walls of the cabinet sing along with the output of the bass driver. There’s not much you can do about this; the physical dimensions of the cabinet and the material from which the enclosure is made largely govern the resonant properties of the box itself. It’s possible to move that resonance into less harmful parts of the frequency range (this is one of the reasons thin-walled ply BBC cabinets were coated with bitumen, and one of the reasons companies use more organic cabinet shapes and materials like Corian in place of MDF, for cabinet construction), but Alacrity claims to address the problem at source by loading the cabinet, thereby “converting the energy into a standing wave that does not permit the bass units to significantly move, while at the same time physically out-performing the bass units to which it is coupled.” Alacrity further claims this principle makes the cabinet behave more like a coil than a capacitor in an electrical circuit, hence the name ‘Acoustic Inductor’, resulting in the designer coining the term ‘acoustic back-EMF’ in the process.


, Alacrity Audio  Dundee 6  loudspeaker

Back to that transmission line; in most systems, the line itself is terminated with a large foam bung at the exit point. This is deliberate, because otherwise the transmission line labyrinth acts as (more accurately – is) a folded horn. However, even a cursory glance at the rear of the loudspeaker shows an exit point for that transmission line completely free from foam bungs. Once again this comes down to that Acoustic Induction loading, which is claimed to act as a 36dB/octave filter, and as a result means there’s no energy release from the rear exit point at the top of the cabinet. In fairness, there’s no air pulses seeming to emit from that letter-box exit point and if you cram it with bubble-wrap, sweaters, spare bits of acoustic foam, little animals, or any other temporary structure designed to stop a port from working, it has no effect on the tonal balance of the loudspeaker whatsoever. But, this runs counter to the received wisdom of loudspeaker design, and either Alacrity’s designer Jon Carroll is right and the received wisdom needs a reworking, or he’s built a labyrinth for no real reason into his new flagship loudspeaker.

The concept of ‘acoustic inductance’ is reasonably well documented, but broadly speaking applies to state-of-the-art room acoustics design, and is predicated on a lot of graduate-level mathematics. However, the Acoustic Induction concept underpinning Alacrity’s design ideas does not entirely fit into the current loudspeaker design models. So, you either take this concept as read and go with the Alacrity flow, or dismiss Alacrity’s Acoustic Induction (and the loudspeakers) as stuff and nonsense, almost without needing to listen.

Enough of the theory, the loudspeaker itself is a tall, slimline design, resting on a metal floor plate. It’s a two-way design, with a 160mm mid-bass unit sitting above a 20mm soft-dome tweeter. Below this is a small patch of acoustic foam, with 32 small pyramids, often used as room treatment in semi-pro studios. At the rear is the aforementioned ‘exit’ at the top of the loudspeaker and a terminal block at the bottom. The loudspeakers come supplied in very solid, wheeled flight cases, and come in a choice of four oiled, real tree veneer finishes as standard, and high-gloss finish on application.


, Alacrity Audio  Dundee 6  loudspeaker

This is a loudspeaker that can work to a close-to-the-wall installation, with a slight toe-in. The comparatively easy 86dB efficiency, eight-ohm load, and 300W RMS power handling suggest a loudspeaker that is nonchalant to its input, where in fact it benefits from careful system matching (think a lot of power, and some character; CH Precision – yes, Devialet – no, Burmester – maybe). In some respects, it shares all these qualities with its little Caterthun brothers.

As suggested, this is not an anodyne, one-size-fits-all loudspeaker. Instead, what it does is build upon the Caterthun’s strengths of deep bass and tonal warmth, while adding a greater degree of soundstaging. Moreover, unlike the Caterthun, which needs to be so close to the wall it’s practically screwed in place, bringing the Dundee 6 out a little (it’s best 10-15cm from the rear wall) opens up the soundstaging still further.

This is a loudspeaker that puts the accent on entertainment. It’s extremely good at portraying and projecting vocals, and the clean, deep bass gives those vocals a sense of being physically in the room instead of floating like a spectre. This applies even to quite light vocal talents; Birdy’s delicate voice on her version of Bon Iver’s ‘Skinny Love’ from her eponymous 2011 debut [14th Floor] should need no bass reinforcement, but the solidity of the bass helps the piano and voice seem that little bit more real and in the room with you. Her voice has good intonation anyway (in spite of that breathy thing every singer does these days in an attempt to sound ‘emotional’), but the Dundee 6 brings it to the fore. It gives a sense of structure to a sound that can so easily sound too airy and rootless. A similar robust construction to the architecture of the mix seems to apply to many folk, rock, and jazz recordings.

Conscious or not, there’s a distinct tonal link between this loudspeaker and the old Rega ELA loudspeaker of some 20+ years ago. I really liked the ELA, because of its ability to play small-group music with a kind of lithe sense of rightness that I also get from the Dundee 6. And, like the ELA, the Dundee 6 is not the first choice for those who listen predominantly to classical music. Although I don’t hold to the notion that a loudspeaker is ‘best for’ a specific musical genre, the Dundee 6’s strengths play to vocal music and electric instruments, and there are better loudspeakers for classical replay. A lot of that comes down to that tonal warmth; where it adds a sense or richness and body to wailing electric guitars and the kind of controlled depth that makes you realise why Fender called one of its basses the ‘Precision’, that kind of enhancement is not required (and definitely not called for) in classical music. Period instrument recordings can sound more like their modern counterparts on the Dundee 6, which kind of defeats the object of period instruments. Moreover, if you are trying to unravel the complexity of contrapuntal music, the Dundee 6’s ability to layer music in a tonal manner is somewhat limited. Temporally and dynamically, the Dundee 6 has no issue, and this lends itself to more contemporary genres of music, but what I feel should be called ‘tone-smearing’ that works well with contemporary themes, can overwhelm the delicate interplay of melody and harmony in early music. Put simply, it sort of makes Bach sound like Handel, and Handel sound like Philip Glass. This is not an unattractive effect by any standing, and actually works to the music’s benefit with less enmeshed themes, but if your buying trends view Mozart as some up-and-coming whippersnapper, the Dundee 6’s charms will be lost on you.

The loudspeaker world is a broad church, but often that’s forgotten, as there seem to be a lot of ‘me-too’ designs out there. The Alacrity Audio Dundee 6 could never be classed among the ‘me-too’s. It might not be the most analytical, most starkly accurate, or most universal loudspeaker in production, but it is one that is capable of repeatedly pushing your fun button. This is not an everyman loudspeaker by any stretch, but those who like what the Dundee 6 does will struggle to find anything to better it.


Technical Specifications

  • Rear-ported two-way standmount
  • Drivers: Tweeter: 20mm soft dome, 160mm mid/bass cone
  • Bass Port: Rear Transmission line tuned to 32 and 27 Hz
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-60kHz, +6dB max, 100Hz–20 kHz ± 1dB max
  • Sensitivity: 86 dB
  • Minimum Impedance: 8 Ohms.
  • Crossover Frequency: Not specified
  • Power Handling: 600 W (300 W RMS)
  • Bi-wireable: Yes
  • Connections: 4mm Gold
  • Finish: Oiled, real wood veneers or high gloss lacquers
  • Dimensions: W x H x D: 1200x180x300m
  • Shipping Weight: 45 Kg per loudspeaker, packed
  • Price: from £4,499 per pair depending on finish

Manufactured by: Alacrity Audio

URL: www.alacrityaudio.co.uk

Tel: +44(0)1273 697848

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