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Baron
 

Duntech Design Series, Model Baron D300
Source: Taylor Marketing Inc
Rating: 93%

Most audiophiles have heard of these Australian heavyweights. This terminology applies to all aspects of the company's activities. Their beginning dates back to 1963 somewhere on the US west coast. In those days, Duntech was involved with some government projects. Their engineers developed a submarine long-range underwater communications system for the US Navy. Later, they took part in the development of telemetry antennae for NASA's Gemini Space Project. With all that experience, one would think that Dun tech may develop communication based electronics, ie. tuners, antennae, etc. Instead, they applied what the knew about the transmission of wave energy to loudspeaker design. They moved to Australia in 1981 and went to work. By the year of 1986, Duntech br ought onto the market their first - what they call - Pulse Coherent Design loudspeakers. Years of research and development had finally paid off. In the process, the company had developed new measuring techniques that provided information on frequency and phase response, time alignment of drivers, characteristics of crossover networks and diffraction. The first series of loudspeakers is named The Classic Series which boast as their flagship, the Sovereign. This is the one everyone made a lot of noise about . It became the standard auditioning speakers for people like Krell, Rowland Research, Mondial, Audio Research and FM Acoustics. In other words, most of the high-enders. Also, some top recording studios used the Duntech loudspeakers, including RCA, DM P, Masterdisc, Harmonia Mundi and Reference Recordings. Of course, not everyone had ## Kilobucks, which restricted Duntech's market to some extent. They had other models in the same series, the Princess and the Marquis, but the fame and fortune established by the Sovereign, made it the top money maker. Coincidentally, we took note of Duntech's fixation with blue blooded genealogy and quietly hypothesised the rationale. Could it be that the loudspeakers are of royal heritage? Or are there claims of colonial aristocracy by Duntech's principals? Just joking, folks; We believe that the Duntech people have created an awesome loudspeaker that, by virtue of performance had been crowned a monarch, reigning magnificently over audio's high-end speaker ki ngdom. Since this business changes constantly, we cannot establish what product is the current monarch, although we know that Duntech still enjoys an elevated status. Be this as it may, it's time to stop the musing and get on with the subject at hand, the Barons. These loudspeakers are the second in a line of four models in Duntech's Design Series. They stand 56.7" tall, complemented by a 10.5" width and 14" depth. They weigh over 99 lbs each and appear obviously impressive, almost overwhelming. W hich brings us to the

Barons' sound:

Basically, the Baron's sound matches their appearance, which is to say, they sound impressive. Perhaps somewhat of a surprise to us, is the mastery of the Duntech's image. Although monumental in size, they behave as though they were small point-source des igns, almost vanishing entirely - sonically, that is. While one cannot miss them in the listening room, it's very difficult to pinpoint their location when the eyes are closed. TIER's panelists do not conduct listening tests blindfolded. For this test, ho wever, we would have loved them all blind, if for no other reason but to trick them. When blindfolded, the only giveaway as to the speakers' size, is the full, engergetic bass. Some of our panelists thought that the bass was a little too potent, but caref ul listening tests disclosed that this isn't so. Fact is, the frequency equilibrum is on the button. Most of our panelists agreed that there is no overemphasized band information. What may be misleading listeners is the Duntech's upper midrange data. It tends to sound a bit tenebrous on occasion; The occasion being small jazz ensembles. With large orchestration, this isn't noticeable. The highs come across well disciplined but lack the ultimate sparkle at the extreme. Rather than condemning this characte r, it's appropriate to inform you of personal taste. We are convinced that half of the listeners will be quite satisfied with what they hear - and that, folks, is called personal taste, or bias, or just plain hogwash. However, it's our duty to inform you.

The bass isn't as good as their big royal brothers'. The speaker handles notes well below its documented 45 Hz. Resolution and essence, however, is restricted to about 42Hz. Not bad, not bad at all. The all-round listening experience is quite stunning and very musical. The Duntechs perform the task for which they were made. They do make music.

One thing worth mentioning here is the Baron's forgiving trait. Some of the auditioning material we had used for this test isn't very well produced. We noticed that the Duntechs absolve most of the recording engineers' production mistakes. Musical materia l that is almost unlistenable with some of the loudspeaker we had tested, came across just fine, reproduced by the Barons. Whichever way one may be looking upon these loudspeakers, they DO come across as a graphic characterisation of a classic loudspeake rs.

The explanation and consideration for these very visual audio components is in the way they are put together. Duntech addressed all of the problems with which loudspeaker designers are faced. We mentioned earlier that the company has developed new measuri ng techniques, rarely mentioned in specifications by manufacturers. Duntech, however, has been able to document the pulse coherency factor, for example. All drivers in the model under review here are symmetrically arranged on a vertical axis, and time ali gned to cut propagation time error. Duntech quotes less than 10Ás error. We have no way of checking or comparing this information, since it isn't readily available. Phase variation versus frequency measurements are quoted at less than +/- 30 degrees from 100 Hz to 15 kHz. This figure relates to the listening perspective and the calibration achieved (+/- 35 degrees are more common in high-end loudspeakers). Diffraction distortion is something with which we are familiar. Duntech holds a US patent whi ch relates to the elimination of fidelity loss caused by sound energy, diffracted from the cabinet's edge. The Barons' enclosures are damped to a low Q, quoted as about 0.76. This figure is no longer uncommon, but compares well with similarly priced louds peakers. We not come to more common elements of design. The Duntech's crossover is a first order type network, featuring polypropylene capacitors and upscale resistors splendidly arranged and wired. Dynaudio drivers- some of the industry's most expensive - complement the design. The Baron boasts five drivers in all. Two 8.2" woofers supplement two 3.9" midrange drivers and a 1" tweeter. The woofers are the vented magnet type which allows maximum excursion and cooling. The midrange drivers are double magn et designs which permit correct piston-like control over the handled frequency. They operate in their own sealed enclosures. Double chamber tweeters boast fabric diaphragms and ferro-fluid cooling. All of this is arranged in a rigid cabinet, covered with acoustically transparent cloth. Four gold-plated terminals for bi-wiring or bi-amping and large spikes to anchor the loudspeakers to the floor complete the Barons' electromechanical assembly - and that's it.

Synopsis Commentary:

The way we see it, Duntech has taken the classic principles of loudspeaker design and arranged them in a complementary fashion to extract optimum performance. There isn't anything unusual in the design. What IS unusual, is the company's quality control, i ts choices of components and their fastidious method of testing to acquire performance parameters. We connected the Barons to two high powered amplifiers. The OCM 500 and the Carver Silver Nine-t mono blocks. Since they can be bi-wired, we used Monstercab le Sigma and XLO 5 cables for our listening tests. With these amps, it became apparent that the Duntechs handle great amounts of power with the utmost competence. We also connected the integrated Luxman L570 amplifier. The class A design made it clear tha t the Barons handle sophistication as well as clout. We then connected the loudspeakers into a high-end audio/video system, with stunning results. The full potential of these speakers will never be apparent in a small listening room, because the Duntechs must be positioned away from corners and sidewalls. They can handle oodles of power and they can be played at eardrum-tearing volume levels. With the appropriate back-up amplification, they can also sound refined and sophisticated. It's difficult to categ orize the Barons, but its safe to say that they'll appeal to the seasoned audiophile and not much to the dabbler.