Daedalus Audio DA-RMa loudspeakers

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But Can They…

Not to spend half a review waxing lyrical about an initial experience with a product (oops!), but subsequent listening sessions did nothing whatever to mitigate my enthusiasm for the DA-RMa’s. In fact, listening to music via the DA-RMa’s frequently rose above mere ‘listening session’ and soared all the way to ‘event’ or ‘occasion’ status.  Oh, they can give you all the background music you want. But once I discovered the ease with which the DA-RMa’s could, with a nudge of the volume knob toward levels suitable for a given recording, recreate say, the power of Del Monaco and company in ‘La Forza Del Destino’ [London 421 598-2] or literally make me laugh out loud at the sheer transcendence of Juan Diego Florez’s vocal technique in ‘Bel Canto Spectacular’ [Decca B0012445-02], well… via the Daedalus Audio DA-RMa’s, such magic was available on demand and all but unfailingly.

At 95db (!), this is the highest sensitivity speaker I have yet had in my home and perhaps it was this spec, coupled with the doped paper, minimal excursion, cloth-surround mid and bass cones which enabled to the DA-RMa’s to convey effortlessly Arcadi Volodos’ musings into nothingness on the opening tracks of his Liszt CD [Sony 82876873802]. When one thinks of Liszt, one usually thinks of the bombast and pyrotechnics of testosterone-fueled romps up and down the ivories, but the DA-RMa’s drew me in to the more intimate, Debussy-like moments on offer here, and let me hear the struck strings diminuendo down through pianissimo into digital silence like few speakers in my experience. Perhaps their noteworthy ability to render low level detail should have suggested to me early on that here at last was a dynamic speaker I could play at late-night levels and still feel like I was getting most everything a recording had to give. Rare in my experience and often, though not always correlated with higher efficiency, only stats like the Quads and Soundlabs I’ve had in house have been the equal of the DA-RMa’s in this regard.

Favorite speakers of mine like the Totem Model Ones and ATC SCM 12’s cannot approach the Daedalus’s ability here, nor could my much loved Proac Response 1.5’s and 2.5’s of yore. A loaner pair of Living Voice IBX-R2’s are in fact the only dynamic speakers in my memory that did as well at preserving dynamics and detail with the volume down low. I used the Daedaluses primarily with the versatile, clean n’ clear Red Wine Audio Isabella pre-amp (review pending) along with my own RWA 30.2 amplifier and alternately, with my Plinius P8; a 200 watt per, solid-state bruiser. Each of these amps in their turn, thoroughly had their way with the Daedaluses. By this I mean Lou’s speakers seemed to allow to a greater degree perhaps than I have heard with prior transducers, each amp to become itself. Voices via the Red Wine Audio combo, especially while employing the RWA speaker cables, were positively special. I once stopped making breakfast mid-omelet while the aforementioned Florez ‘Bel Canto Spectacular’ CD was playing; so striking was the sound of real human voices in a venue and so taken was I by what was possible in my own humble non-dedicated condo! The eggs sat un-cracked on the counter and I stayed in my chair- for the rest of the CD. With sound this good, food can wait!

The Plinius showed itself to be the slightly more rhythmic of the two, more extended up top and down below, and sounded in general mildly more fulsome and impactful; though with about seven times the power on tap, what’d ya expect? A touch brighter tonally and lacking perhaps the nth degree of in-room presence the RWA combo exhibited, paired with the spacious sounding Dynamic Design cables favored by Lou at Daedalus as well as with the superb Red Wine Audio speaker cables, I reveled in the Plinius’s Naim-like PRaT for long whiles at a stretch.

I initially thought the DA-RMa’s tweeters were Scanspeak Revelators ala the Spendor 1/2 and many other classics, though Lou informed me he found that particular tweeter somewhat fatiguing over time and therefore elected to go with a high-end Eton. Practically a dead ringer for the Revelator, this Eton earns its keep among the other two drivers by never ever tiring you, though managing to sound as airy and extended as you please. There’s even a three-way tweeter level switch you can play with if you’re so inclined. I left ‘er in ‘neutral’ as was my preference. Okay- I’ve heard more extension from ribbons (Maggie and Apogee); I’ll admit it. Ah but the DA-RMa’s and I tended to partner tightly for listening sessions (I mean ‘occasions’) that lasted longer than some relationships I’ve had recently. To wit, they grab and hold you, but they will not hurt you.

Criticisms? Sure. I’ll have a go at it.

This is a review after all and not a love song. Perhaps it is their quasi-sealed aperiodic loading, but on coming to them directly from a ported speaker, such as the big sounding WLM La Scala monitors I have in-condo, or indeed from my friend Kale’s Living Voice IBX-R2’s, the DA-RMa’s could seem slightly ‘up tight’ in comparison - a bit buttoned down - more sealed box than bass-reflex. This impression was always fleeting however and as such, certainly did not impact my enjoyment of the music. On the other hand, blame for the speakers’ taught and punchy bass, can likely be laid squarely at the feet of this particular aspect of their design.

I have also garnered somewhat more soundstage depth from a planar or so and from a Totem or Proac or two, though this being in a previous apartment of mine with differing ancillaries and Eighth Nerve room treatments in full effect, I leave you to the relevant math. The DA-RMa’s separate though equally beautiful hardwood stands spike solidly to the floor, though the speaker only rests atop them, protected by a thin piece of felt glued to the stand. On the plus side, this aided my ability to position them precisely as I could spike the stands, then slide the monitor around on top, fore or aft and adjust toe-in easily etc. On the other hand, I couldn’t help but wonder if rigidly coupling the DA-RMa’s to their stands might not provide added sonic benefit.

And of course, no review of a musically balanced though less than gargantuan speaker would be complete without the requisite ‘they go low for a speaker their size blah blah blah.’ Yah- big, dedicated room and lots of Mahler? You might need a sub (or better yet two; according to Jim Smith’s ‘Get Better Sound’ book)! Better make it two speedy ones in order to keep up though!

Following my DA-RMa

I will not be cute or funny here or mince words. In other words, I am on my medication. I owe that much to these wonderful transducers. We reviewers call a lot of things ‘great;’ I hear you - I read the forums! But you gotta believe me when I say the Daedalus Audio DA-RMa’s are the real and true deal. Believe it. A beautifully hand-crafted, highly efficient speaker with an utterly unfatiguing and altogether natural presentation, (think classics like Harbeth and Spendor though snappier and less warm with better preservation of low level detail), that makes you positively want to listen to music- any kind of music- for really really prolonged periods of time (really). Even if you’re in the middle of making breakfast. Or tending to party guests. Properly setup and with suitable electronics, they are a viable ‘end of the road.’ Perfect no- perfectly musical, yes!

Well, to be fair, Daedalus Audio does make the larger and even more efficient and bass-savvy Ulysses - but Bernie Madoff may have single-handedly significantly reduced the pool of potential owners for this 10 grand pair of instruments. I certainly have not heard all speakers in the circa five grand price category; for that you need to ring up Harry Pearson or Sam Tellig or… But like you, I have definitely heard and owned my share. ATC, Devore, Proac, Totem, Magnepan, Alon, Harbeth, Spendor, Quad, Totem again, older Reynauds, PMC, Reimer, Vandersteen, Soundlab, Living Voice and it pains me psychologically to continue. And I lived through it all only to be here to tell you now that the Daedalus Audio DA-RMa is positively at or near the pinnacle of this hodgepodge heap of suddenly - inadequately - beautiful veneered boxes.

My hat is off to you Lou Hinkley and my wallet, more importantly, is open. I simply cannot bring myself to put ‘em back on a truck. Who’d have thought following the audio Dharma would eventually lead me right to my own pair of DA-RMa’s? The Dalai Lama would be proud. An utter triumph of sculpture and sound!

I bid you peace.
 





Daedalus Audio DA-RMa specifications:

Drivers;
High Frequency: 1" Eton Dome tweeters
Mid-range: 5" custom modified Fostex full range loudspeaker
Low Frequency: 8" Daedalus Audio Dynamic Loudspeaker
Frequency Response: 38 to 22kHZ +/- 2db
Sensitivity: 95.5 db 1w/1m
Continuous Power Rating: 200 watts RMS(400+ watts peak)
recommended power 8- 500 watts
Impedance: 8 ohms
Enclosure Type: Tuned Port Aperiodic Vent (Rear)
Enclosure Material: Solid Hardwood with Dovetail Joints
1 1/4" Baltic Birch & Solid Walnut baffle
heavily hardwood braced
Cabinet Finish: Hand-rubbed Oil Varnish Finish
Vampire binding posts, Silver/Copper wiring
Dimensions (H"xW"xD"): 30"x11"x14"
Weight: Approx. 55 lbs. each
Warrranty: 5 years

Retail price/pr: 5450.00
Isolation Stands/pr: 450.00

Daedalus Audio
7056 Portal Way Suite 22
Ferndale, WA 98248

Phone: (360)312-3604 8:30-4 PST

Website: http://www.daedalusaudio.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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