Media
Sapphire

Duntech Sapphire Loudspeakers

Duntech boasts a line of magnificent loudspeakers that are respected not just in Australia but all around the world. A couple of years ago it introduced a new line, it's Gemstone Series, comprising of four models. Second from the top of this series is the Sapphire, which sell for a not inconsiderable AU$4,495 per pair.

Ours came in a beautifully finished jarrah veneer. You can also specify black woodgrain veneer at the same price, but why would you?

The Sapphire are ever so tall (1235mm using the supplied spikes) and ever so slim (197mm wide) The 403mm of depth, including the black cloth grilles and the hefty gold-plated terminals (two sets on each enclosure is a black 25mm MDF plinth with bevelled edges, some 222mm wide.

Each cabinet contains no less than five drivers in a vertically symmetrical configuration with the tweeter in the centre. This is a 25mm soft dome unit and features ferrofluid cooling. Despite having two of the larger drivers above it, the height of the cabinet allows the tweeter to stand 800mm above the ground, or right at ear level for our listening couch.

Despite the plenitude of drivers, the Sapphires are a two-way design, so all our four larger drivers in each cabinet are bass/midrange units. These are nominally 160mm and each has an actual cone diameter of 116mm, providing a total bass radiating area of 423cm², a figure precisely matching that of a high quality subwoofer we recently reviewed!

The cabinets are constructed of MDF throughout, with substantial bracing and damping material. An unusual feature is that it uses both bass-reflex and acoustic suspension design principles. The top two drivers are in a fully sealed enclosure, providing the benefit of excellent driver control at all frequencies and a gentler roll off into the deep bass, while the bottom two are in a bass-reflex enclosure, allowing a stronger bass performance down to the turning frequency. Two of the ports for the latte are at the front and two more are at the rear.

Each enclosure weighs 30 kilograms. Duntech says that their nominal impedance is 90dB. the minimum rating of an amplifier with which they should be used is 50 watts, but they are capable of handling 300 watts with very short 1000 watt peaks, and that their frequency response is 35-20 000 Hz ± 2.5 dB.

PERFORMANCE

For sweet violins, precise, tangible attacks on the strike of harpsichord key, for a shimmering presence of acoustic instruments, we would find it hard to go past the Sapphires. Particularly gorgeous was our BIS LP of Grieg Norwegian dances played on a Bosendorfer. Excellent clarity and that ringing Bosendorfer attack combined with a sinuous decay.

With rock music we found that the bass band was just a little recessed in our chosen speaker location. This meant that the bass strength of , for example, Unit Re-Booted by Regurgitator seemed lacking... until, that is until we turned it up. The bass came in solidly as we advanced the volume control. The listening panel didn't have a 1000 watt per channel amplifier to hand, but we did have a solid 200 watts per channel. Our ears gave out at 100-plus dB. peaks long before either amplifier or speakers. We would suggest wall placement of less than a metre for rock performances to bring the bass up.

CONCLUSION

The Sapphires are beautifully refined speakers for refined music, with excellent detail and magnificent imaging. They are competent at rock as well, but would require placement closer to rear walls with a potential sacrifice in imaging, and the volume knob advanced.