Dana 630i Monitor and 630iLCR Center Channel Review - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 1 Old 12-07-12, 07:26 AM Thread Starter
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Dana 630i Monitor and 630iLCR Center Channel Review

A well constructed home theater not only offers excellent audio and visual performance, but includes comfortable seating, good aesthetics, and appropriate lighting. Dana seeks to help you accomplish this by offering a compact and affordable speaker system with looks and specs that are both attractive. With a real wood veneer finish and high quality components, the 600i series produces powerful sound in a striking package that will blend in with the environment of your carefully planned and executed theater. If your budget allows you to step in the the $1000+ range for a speaker system, you will find yourself exposed to a world of options, and probably quite a few brands you have never heard of. The 630i and 630iLCR find themselves in a competitive market among consumers and home theater enthusiasts. This has been my first experience with Dana speakers, so I was anxious to see how they would perform.

Design, Aesthetics, and Build Quality
The compact monitor and center speaker are both offered as a part of Dana's 600i series, which is the brand's second generation of speakers (the 'i' stands for 'improved'). The company's goal is to give consumers a well constructed speaker with premium components and attractive European styling.

Both speakers are based on a two-way, ported cabinet design. They are nice and heavy for their size, and the cabinets feel and sound (knuckle test) very sturdy. The enclosure panels are CNC cut to ensure consistency during assembly and component installation. The cabinets are braced from the inside, and filled with multiple types of dampening material to help prevent unwanted vibration. They do not have feet or spikes, but their size makes them best suited for placement on dedicated speaker stands anyway.

Dana boasts its glass-smooth genuine hardwood veneer finish, and this is indeed one of the speakers' most striking features. Keep in mind that they are currently only available in a Natural Cherry finish, so this may narrow down the range of decor with which they can blend. We chose mostly natural tones for our home theater, and the Danas look great in there. Some may not prefer the conspicuously placed "DANA" logos, revealed by the rounded corners of the symmetric grilles. I don't love them, but if I were ready to pull the trigger on a set of these, the logo placement wouldn't be enough to deter me from making the purchase.

Grill cloths for each pair of 630i's are mirrored, so they will only work on one side (the speakers are marked "L" and "R" on the back). The black cloth is wrapped around plastic frames, which fasten to the face of the enclosure with metal pins in rubber grommets. They are very secure once attached, and actually a little difficult to remove. The grill for the LCR works in the same way, although it has a Dana logo of its own, since it covers the one on the front of the enclosure when installed. I really prefer the look of these (especially the LCR) without the grills installed, and did most of my testing without them. I did not notice a change in sound quality one way or another, but was not listening critically for it.

As the name would suggest, the 630i Compact Stand Monitor is not very large, with a footprint just over 12 inches deep. While it is relatively small, do not expect to be able to mount this monitor on your wall. Rather than sitting in a recessed cup, the binding posts protrude from the back surface of the speaker, preventing it from sitting flush against the wall. These cabinets are also ported at the rear - another good reason not to position them directly against the wall. The same goes for the 630iLCR.

General Impressions
So aside from good looks, what do these little guys have to offer? Dana is aiming for premium performance from their second generation speaker lineup. Accomplishing this within the constraints of a small package can certainly be a challenge. To overcome this, Dana has selected drivers with very wide frequency response and low distortion. The soft dome tweeter and 135mm midwoofer blend nicely to provide a large soundstage and surprisingly full, deep bass.

One of the ways these speakers have impressed me is their bass response, considering their size. I played several types of music through them with and without a subwoofer. With a full-range signal, these handle low frequencies quite well, but do tend to get slightly boomy when placed too close to a wall or in a corner. I found that a minimum of about 12-18 inches from the wall gave me good results. In addition to excellent specified frequency response, the soft dome tweeters sound very smooth, and did not exhibit any harshness during my listening tests. In fact, in most cases I found the midrange and treble to be a bit too mellow for my taste (for music at least), although I did not feel like I was missing out on detail.

Although their specs put them toward the lower end of the sensitivity range, they will get plenty loud if that is what you are looking for. With good amplification (I would recommend around 100 watts or more) they will comfortably fill large, and even open rooms such as a loft, or a living space that opens up into a kitchen or dining area. I tested these for movies and music in an enclosed 15' x 16' room, and music in a 2 story living room attached to a kitchen and hallway. The 600i speakers handled both spaces nicely, and behaved well at high volumes.

Music Performance
Imogen Heap - Hide and Seek (Speak For Yourself, 320kbps streaming)
The Danas surprised me on this one. The soundstage was exceptional, and actually seemed to extend behind me at some points. I had the speakers set up in my living room, which is fairly large with a two-story ceiling. They seemed to fill the room in all directions. The rich textures of the vocal effects were reproduced nicely too. Overall I really enjoyed listening to this song through the 630i's (several times actually).

Paul Simon - Late In The Evening (One Trick Pony, 320kbps streaming)
Listening at full rage (with no subs) bass was nice and strong considering the size of the 630i enclosure and drivers, however the horns and electric guitar were too reserved for me, and could have been more upfront. Vocals were not quite as lifelike as I would prefer either, sounding as though they were coming from behind the speakers. Having said that, if you enjoy listening at very high volume levels, a more mellow midrange and treble will help prevent listening fatigue. They still have a nice full sound, and were never muddy. They do a good job of sounding bigger than they are.

Pink Floyd - Nobody Home (The Wall, CD)
I love Pink Floyd's ability create moods and environments by adding elements to their recordings beyond the music itself. For me, many of their songs are a great test of a speaker's ability to produce details (which are sometimes extremely subtle) and create a large soundstage with accurate imaging. Nobody Home opens and closes with the sounds of traffic, a TV, and a few people shouting at each other. I imagine myself observing the scene near an open window or doorway. The Dana speakers provided nice separation between the noises and voices in different locations, and a convincing soundstage to go along with my mental picture of this scene.

Movie Performance
Iron Man 2 (MKV/Blu-Ray)
There is a fairly epic battle toward the end of the movie with plenty of shooting, flying, explosions, and very fast motion in all directions. I listen here for the system's ability to project the sounds of flying Iron Man and all manner of projectiles above, beside, and behind my seating position. The speakers must blend well with each other while maintaining precise imaging in order to create a convincing surround environment. Listening to this scene through the 600i series was very satisfying. Dialog was clear and balanced throughout. It was never overpowering or obnoxious, but was not lost to the noise of the music or battle sound effects. They actually really shined here in the sense that I could really crank them up and enjoy the impacts without harshness or fatigue.

Planet Earth - Ocean Deep (Blu-Ray)
Since I tested a pair of the 630i's with quite a bit of music, I wanted to get a feel for the LCR's ability to reproduce dialog. As I have mentioned (and probably will continue to do) I love the Planet Earth series. I also happen to think it is a nice way to test the quality of your home theater experience. In terms of dialog (narration) the Dana LCR sounded a bit reserved here at lower overall volumes, but seemed to blend and balance nicely with the other channels at higher listening levels. It provided good detail, and was never harsh. As for the surround experience, the Danas once again blended well with each other overall to immerse me in the sounds of rushing water and chaotic schools of fish swimming about (even if most of the sound effects were synthesized in a studio). The musical soundtrack is a major part of the Planet Earth experience, and it was reproduced nicely as well.

Batman Begins (MKV/Blu-ray)
After extensive physical training and soul searching, Bruce has a hostile encounter with Henri Ducard and The League Of Shadows. The battle combines the sounds of clanging swords, explosions, crackling lumber, and dialogue (mostly grunts). The Danas did not leave out any details during this scene. At the end of the scene Bruce is left hanging from the edge of a cliff, gasping and groaning, in pain. The subtle echo of his voice from the canyon below seemed to bounce around the room.

Overall Value
These speakers fall into a price range where consumers should expect increasing MSRP to somewhat correspond with improved performance, better materials and build quality, and in some cases, more advanced features. To me, the test of value is a product's ability to perform better than others at or below it's price range. To do that, I want to consider the whole package - five speakers (four compact monitors and one LCR used as a center channel). The five channel system I tested will set you back a little under $1600. That puts them well above the HT-in-a-box range, but still well below the practically infinite "are you insane?" range. So the question becomes, do these look and perform more like the mass produced consumer electronics you and I could find just about anywhere, or are they proving themselves worthy of the higher-priced competition. Well, I would say these easily go beyond the performance and quality of boxed systems, in fact that would be a rather rude comparison. Based on my experience so far with the Danas, I would have to say that they are appropriately priced. They have been carefully designed and constructed, with above average attention to detail. To me, that adds value beyond what specs and performance alone might suggest. Do they walk all over systems costing $500-$1000 more? Not in my opinion. The 600i series speakers give you what you pay for in a competitive market, and are definitely worth considering.

Conclusion and Recommendations
It can be tough to make a purchase based on photos and specs listed on a website, especially with such a large selection of speakers available online. One benefit of these Dana speakers is the 30 day satisfaction guarantee if purchased from theaudioinsider.com. If you are just not sure, give them a try. Dana is willing to take a chance you will like them enough to keep them. While I personally would not choose these for music, they exceeded my expectations for movies, and I did have fun testing them out with a variety of material.

I would recommend the Dana 600i series to anyone looking for a small speaker with very good frequency response, good build quality, and aesthetics that go beyond typical black box speakers. These are a good choice for listeners who enjoy a lush, full sound with plenty of bass, and laid back vocals and treble. They are also perfect for rooms with limited space for electronics, such as a small home theater, an office, or a bedroom (although they did perform well in larger rooms).

Review Discussion Thread

More About The Dana 630i Monitor and LCR Speakers
630i Compact Monitor
Product Site

630i: $719/pair ($549/pair from The Audio Insider)

Features and Specs
  • Frequency Response: 65Hz-35kHz +/-3dB
  • Sensitivity: 86dB
  • Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
  • Power Handling: 10-100W
  • Dimensions: 325 x 185 x 250mm
  • Dimensions: 12.8 x 7.3 x 9.9in
  • Net Weight: 7kg / 15.4lbs each
  • 25mm soft cloth dome tweeter with response to 40kHz
  • 135mm raw papyrus-coned midwoofer with alloy basket and special low-distortion motor
  • Approximately 8 liters enclosure volume
  • Mirror imaged design includes one left and one right speaker
  • Available in natural cherry
  • Heavy, braced enclosure with multiple internal damping
  • Includes removable black fabric grille with stainless steel pins
  • Priced, packed, and shipped in pairs
  • Exclusively at The Audio Insider
  • Manufacturer's warranty included
  • Includes The Audio Insider's 30-day in-home satisfaction guarantee

630iLCR LCR / Center Channel Speaker
Product Site

630iLCR: $649/each ($449/each from The Audio Insider)

Features and Specs
  • Frequency Response: 65Hz-35kHz +/- 3dB
  • Sensitivity: 88dB
  • Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
  • Power Handling: 200W music
  • Dimensions: 615 x 185 x 250mm
  • Dimensions: 24.2 x 7.3 x 9.9in
  • Net Weight: 13kg / 28.5lbs each
  • 25mm soft cloth dome tweeter with response to 40kHz
  • Dual 135mm raw papyrus-coned midwoofers with alloy baskets and special low-distortion motors
  • Available in natural cherry
  • Heavy, braced enclosure with internal damping
  • Includes removable black fabric grille with stainless steel pins
  • Priced, packed, and shipped singly
  • Exclusively at The Audio Insider
  • Manufacturer's warranty included
  • Includes The Audio Insider's 30-day in-home satisfaction guarantee

More About This Review
Reviewer: Peter Loeser

Pre/Pro: Emotiva UMC-1
Amplifier: Parasound HCA-1205A
Receiver: Yamaha RX-V530
Front Speakers: Dana 630i Compact Monitors
Center Speaker: Dana 630i LCR Center Channel
Surround Speakers: Dana 630i Compact Monitors
Subwoofers: Paradigm PW-2200 (x2)
Blu-Ray Player: OPPO BDP-103

Last edited by Peter Loeser; 03-19-13 at 12:04 PM.
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630i , 630ilcr , center , channel , dana , monitor , review

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