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DYNAUDIO HERITAGE SPECIAL STAND-MOUNT LOUDSPEAKER

Staying with that enclosure for a moment, the rear of the Heritage Special is a large aluminium panel, with a surprisingly huge bass port. The binding posts are the top Nextgen 710 Cu from WBT; a pure copper that uses WBT’s sophisticated atomic-level bonding process to create gold terminals with no need for the more capacitive nickel-plated protection on the surface (gold version and silver version). While not huge in signal degradation terms, even these terminals were selected to help prevent eddy currents from interfering with music signals.

A classic Dynaudio touch is the use of a first-order crossover. That means the simplest possible network in place, made up of the highest quality components. The problem with making a first-order crossover is it’s an acid test for a loudspeaker drive unit, and few companies chose to test their mettle this way. Especially as many loudspeaker manufacturers choose off-the-shelf (or slightly-modified off-the-shelf) drivers. As Dynaudio controls all the key components in the loudspeaker itself (including the drive units) it can design a loudspeaker crossover to deliver excellent phase linearity and absolute clarity, primarily because there’s almost no crossover to speak of. Many Dynaudio  loudspeakers have used first-order crossovers for that reason and have been praised for their speed, their timing, and their phase integrity… these points might be worth remembering for later in the text.

There’s a little bit of marketing shtick in the box each Heritage Special comes packed. It’s a ‘thank you’ from the Dynaudio team for being that sort of discerning customer. And I’m sworn to secrecy as to what it is. OK, so it’s not a solid gold brick, a magic potion that can roll back the years (or the pounds), and it’s not free access to the world’s music archives. But it is one of those ‘oh… that’s nice’ promotional goodies that you will probably take out of the box, get a bit of a warm fuzzy about, then put in a drawer for a decade. Still, it’s the thought that counts.

There is something truly lovely about the sound of the Heritage Special. Not ‘lovely’ in a saccharine way, or even in a rose-tinted manner, even though the design and execution of the product has a touch of the WayBack Machine about it… in all the right ways. No, instead, it’s got that ‘lovely’ way of captivating you, of drawing you into the music and glueing you in place. The ‘records strewn around the floor’ cliché is hackneyed but has a kernel of truth here; you do find yourself in unnecessarily long yet hugely entertaining listening sessions, fighting back waves of tiredness to experience just one more New Order or Little Feat album or that one last solo cello piece from the Bach suites.

DYNAUDIO HERITAGE SPECIAL STAND-MOUNT LOUDSPEAKER

However, just saying, “it sounds lovely… buy it!” probably isn’t going to butter any parsnips, so what does it do that makes it so lovely sounding? Well, first it’s a very lively-sounding loudspeaker without being in any way too lively. A good speaker should have some bite and some bounce to its presentation, but not so much you are reminded of Jaws and trampolines. And that bite and bounce is perfectly balanced in the Heritage Special; play the live version of Donny Hathaway’s ‘The Ghetto’ [Donny Hathaway Live, Atlantic] – all twelve minutes and change of it – and the sheer funkiness of it carries you away to a place where dark beige leather safari jackets are still cool.

Truth be told, it’s a struggle to describe the Heritage Special because you get too carried away with just listening to music to take good and cogent notes. A note pad full of ‘Oh Yeah!’ and ‘Nice!!’ statements perfectly describes the feeling you get when listening to music through these speakers, but it doesn’t convey the excellent stereo imaging (that phase coherence coupled with their relatively small size makes them throw out a 3D image like a monster) or the speed of attack, the dynamic range, the seeming freedom from cabinet distortion (unless you really play that box hard), the detail you get, and the surprisingly deep and powerful bass and at once snappy and powerful bass lines you get from this two-way stand-mount. But in another very real way, none of that matters next to the sheer wig-out feeling you get when listening to Donny Hathaway like you were there.

Of course, that doesn’t just hold with schizophrenic soul singer-songwriters of the early 1970s. I threw everything from fey, breathy songstresses to heavy opera at these babies, and nothing fazed it. The limitations of box and cabinet volume do ultimately hit with large orchestral works, but even here the Heritage Special covers its tracks well, with only a slight foreshortening of dynamics and scale when compared to much bigger boys.

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Tags: STAND-MOUNT LOUDSPEAKER

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