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Dynaudio Sapphire Loudspeaker Review

By: Frank Doris

Danish loudspeaker company Dynaudio is one of the few manufacturers that is both a supplier of raw drivers, and a provider of complete, high-end loudspeakers for consumer and professional audio. (They also supply drivers and systems for automobiles.) As such, their loudspeakers have the advantage of incorporating made-in-house, made-to-spec drivers, unlike some other manufacturers who buy drivers from other sources and put them in a cabinet (sometimes also bought from outside vendors). But that's just part of the story. The most striking immediate aspect of Dynaudio speakers is their superb craftsmanship--as exemplified by the limited edition Sapphire floorstanding loudspeaker (suggested retail price: $16,500 per pair).

The Sapphire is stunning in design, with trapezoidal front, side and top surfaces that, appropriately, give it a faceted gem-like appearance. Measuring 53 inches high by 13 inches wide and nearly 13 inches deep, it's tall and slim, a beautiful Danish model (OK, I couldn't resist the analogy). The 88-pound speaker is available in a choice of Ivory, Amber, Bordeaux and Mocca real wood high-gloss veneer finishes that are impeccable.

Beauty isn't just skin-deep here. (Well, maybe I'm a little obsessive but I find well-made drivers and high-quality speaker engineering beautiful.) The three-way, bass-reflex-enclosure Sapphire incorporates two eight inch woofers made using Dynaudio's light, rigid magnesium silicate polymer (MSP) membrane, a six inch MSP midrange driver mounted in an acoustically isolated sub-enclosure, and a one inch Esotar coated-fabric dome tweeter. The woofers have three inch aluminum voice coils on Kapton formers and high-power Neodymium double-magnet systems, and the tweeter features a CNC-machined metal housing, a specially shaped internal damping chamber and a lightweight aluminum voice coil.

The Sapphire has a frequency response of 30Hz - 25kHz, 88dB sensitivity and a nominal impedance of 4 ohms. The crossover points are at 450Hz and 2.2kHz. As you'd expect, top-quality internal components and wiring are used, and the enclosure is solid to say the least.

Dynaudio fabric-dome tweeters are favored by many manufacturers and acclaimed by many reviewers, and it's easy to hear why--the Sapphire's highs are clear and refined, without a trace of glare, grit or harshness. While some audiophiles may like the "speed" and transparency of ribbon tweeters or electrostatic loudspeakers (I've also heard some outstanding metal-dome tweeters in my time), I can't imagine anyone not enjoying, and probably reveling in, the purity of the Sapphire's treble. The midrange is detailed and involving, and I found the bass to be taut, clean and authoritative. I like floorstanding loudspeakers that convey music with a palpable sense of scale and presence, and the Sapphire can do this with aplomb. The Dynaudio Sapphire is a speaker that sounds as good as it looks.

High Points
• The fabric-dome Esotar tweeter used in the Dynaudio Sapphire has exceptional resolution, without harshness--on the contrary, if only every speaker had highs this sweet.
• The speaker delivers impressive midrange musicality and low-frequency authority.
• The Sapphire is simply one of the most beautiful loudspeakers I've ever seen.

Low Points
• Though sleek, it's a floorstander, which not everyone will be able to fit into his or her room or décor.
• Although the tweeter is superb, some may prefer the sonic presentation of a metal-dome or ribbon tweeter or an electrostatic loudspeaker.

Conclusion
The Dynaudio Sapphire loudspeaker is absolutely gorgeous, with a distinctive contemporary design. It sounds superb, with exceptional high-frequency resolution and midrange musicality along with extended bass, precise imaging and superior dynamics. In a world that's all-too-full of mediocre and cheaply-made audio/video products and consumer electronics, it's a pleasure to encounter a product like the Dynaudio Sapphire loudspeaker that offers such a compelling combination of beautiful design, superb sound and extraordinary craftsmanship.
 
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