If there’s a speaker brand that can rightly use the word ‘heritage’; it’s Dynaudio. The Danish company has been making high-performance drive units and both pro and domestic loudspeakers of all kinds since 1977 and has more than a few hits up its sleeve. For example, while we as hi-fi buffs lavish praise on the BBC-designed LS3/5a monitor, ‘Auntie Beeb’ itself prefers to use Dynaudio AIR 6, AIR 20 and BM5 monitors and has done for the last 17 years. Recently in the domestic market, the company’s Special 40 has become recognised as one of the stand-mounts to beat, irrespective of price.
None of which acts as preparation for the Heritage Special.
This is a strictly limited, hand-built two-way stand-mount monitor, designed from the outset to take advantage of all those classic aspects of speaker design that have sort of ‘drifted’ a touch in the modern era. That’s neither a criticism of modern speaker design, nor an indictment of Dynaudio’s current crop of loudspeakers; in fact, if anything Dynaudio is going through something of a purple patch right now. However, there are some elements of classic loudspeaker design and construction that are extremely difficult to implement in today’s products without incurring high production costs.
The Heritage Special reflects that high production cost while reflecting the high production values of what is, in essence, an artisan product. That could, so easily, spell the worst of all worlds, producing a ‘me-too’ product that is expensive to build and offers little in the way performance improvements, leaving the owner with not much more than a rich wood finish and ‘custom shop’ brownie points. The more positive approach – and the one adopted by Dynaudio – is to make a loudspeaker that is, in essence, a distillation of all the things that were and are good about the best of Dynaudio and put them in one single two-way stand-mount.
The speaker, limited to 2,500 pairs worldwide, has a 19mm-thick MDF cabinet finished in sustainable American Walnut veneer. It’s internally braced for extra rigidity and lined with heavy bitumen to further minimise unwanted resonance. This is a tried and trusted method of internal damping, although stuffing the cabinet with foam or similar is often common due to the extra ‘faff’ involved in making bitumen-coated panels. Each piece of veneer (including the thin list strips surrounding the front baffle) is matched to its companions – and those for each speaker are matched to each other – for complete consistency. The cabinet goes through three meticulous sanding and lacquering processes. It takes just over three days to build each one from start to finish.
The tweeter plate is from the highly regarded Esotar T330D, but it’s coupled to the latest Esotar 3 tweeter unit – as found in the top-of-the-range Confidence family. It’s the finest, most sophisticated tweeter Dynaudio has ever produced – featuring a larger rear chamber, powerful aerodynamic neodymium magnet system, the resonance-defeating Hexis inner dome, and Dynaudio’s characteristic precision-coated soft-dome diaphragm.
Meanwhile, the mid/bass driver – the 18W75 XL Heritage Special MSP Woofer, a name that trips off the tongue almost as effortlessly as ‘Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch’ – is a ‘breathed on’ version of the one you’d find in the company’s recently discontinued Evidence Platinum series with its exponential diaphragm construction; that’s a mid-bass unit hitherto found in a loudspeaker that cost more than the highest-spec Volkswagen Arteon. This driver overlaps the grooved edges of the front baffle and its signature groove, although its incursion into the side panels doesn’t mean a bulge.