DUNTECH is a name synonymous with excellence in high fidelity, achieved over the last 15 years or so by committing itself to extensive research into the properties of sound waves, and the effects upon them of the materials and configurations used to creat e them.
The Esquire is the smallest speaker in the Design Series, and is a striking speaker from any angle. The top and bottom are finished in a black satin lacquer with a silver trim, and all four sides are wrapped in a fine, black cloth which is not removable.
The Esquires use three drivers in a two-way system, and instead of the typical bass-reflex design, have been incorporated in a fully-sealed enclosure. Two bass drivers are used, and are positioned either side of the tweeter.
Duntech approaches speaker design differently to most manufacturers. Firstly, there is the unusual arrangement of the drivers on the front baffle. Unlike others, the front baffle of Duntech speakers is stepped to correctly time-align all the drivers, so t hat all frequencies arrive at the listener' ears at exactly the same time. The centre speaker in the vertical arrangement is the tweeter, which has been set further back into the baffle than the midrange and bass drivers. The result is an arc of speakers in a vertical line, delivering their respective frequencies to the listener as if from a single point source.
Duntech has patented a felt material used to cover the front baffle to eliminate the reflections and diffractions of the sound caused by the edges and corners of the baffle itself, and the interaction of the drivers.
The tweeter is a Morel MDT 30/32 soft dome, 28mm in diameter, made from hand-treated fabric, with an aluminium voice-coil that is ferro-fluid cooled for efficiency and high power-handling. The diaphragm assembly is self-centring, and uses flexible wire te rminations. Duntech claims that it is capable of handling up to 1,000 watts of transient power for 10 milliseconds, and has a flat frequency response from 1.6 kHz to 26 kHz.
The two bass drivers are also manufactured by Morel (MW166), and are made from a damped polymer composite (DPC) with a cone diameter of 122 mm, giving them an effective cone area (ECA) of 234 cm2. The surround is rubber, and the voice-coil is w ound with aluminium wire on a 75mm diameter former. Both drivers use a vented double-magnet system that is said to be unique to Morel drivers.
The rear panel houses four gold-plated terminals so that the speakers can be bi-wired or bi-amped, which we would recommend. Gold-plated metal 'straps' for connecting the corresponding terminals are provided for those who don't wish to do so, however. The se terminals will accept all common connectors and bare wire of quite heavy gauge.
The crossover is a first-order type, and uses metallised polypropylene capacitors, air-cored inductors and ceramic resistors for a smooth transition from the bass drivers to the tweeter. The otherwise comprehensive and informative brochure that accompanie s the speakers neglects to mention the frequency at which it operates.
Duntech rates the Esquires with an efficiency of 91 dB SPL (at 1 metre with a 1 watt input), with a nominal impedance of 4 ohms, and a frequency response of 55 Hz to 20 kHz. It suggests using an amplifier with a power rating of at least 30 watts RMS.
Our sample speakers were supplied with matching stands, which were very well-made, looked very stylish, and enabled the speakers to work at their very best. They are relatively costly at #### but the expense is well worth it - the appearance (and as we shall see, the performance) of the combination was dynamite.
The Esquires were enigmatic, to say the least. I was expecting big things from them simply because they were wearing the Duntech badge, but was puzzled on first listen.
They sounded top heavy for a short while, contrary to what I was expecting, and, dare I say it, this disappointed me a little. But read on...
I had a week of living with the Esquires, and they received my usual very heavy dose of listening during that period. And the more I listened, the more they smoothed out and matured, and the more attached I became to them. What sounded at first acquaintan ce as spitty settled into a treble and midrange that was nothing short of sensational.
'Sensational' because the detail revealed was astonishing. I heard things on much-played discs that I have never heard before, and with such coherence that they sounded fresh and new again. Another listener commented that some singers sounded completely d ifferent and some instruments took on new timebral dimensions because of the extra information revealed by the Esquires. It was in some ways a revelation.
This was particularly evident on acoustic instruments such as guitar and violin. For instance, Andre Segovia's "Recital Intimo" (Interfusion, D 19255), seemed to step into the room and take on a "liveness" that can only be achieved with very expensive and large speakers. Instruments like the cello showed a harmonic richness simply not heard in this price range.
The bass response was relatively light at first, which probably contributed to the top-heavy initial impression, but with time revealed itself to be very precise and tight. At no stage was there any of the boom or woolliness that is often the trade-off of common bass-reflex designs. I found myself listening to bass notes rather than bass thump...although there was more than enough punch in rock'n'roll bass and very realistic slap in acoustic jazz bass.
The soundstage stretched way beyond the boundaries of the speakers and had a great sense of depth. Live acoustic acts, such as Eric Clapton's "Unplugged" (Reprise, 9362-45022-2), were presented with a very impressive stage setting, drawing the listener in to the event with a front-row seat, and adding so much more to the listening experience.
Coupled with this was an imaging ability that placed each sound source in a quite distinct position on the stage. It was very easy even for novice listeners to point to the exact location of every instrument, and even to describe how far back they were on the stage. Even large orchestras at full hammer were carefully delineated and delivered with their dynamic gusto completely intact.
Dynamics were also more evident with the Esquires. Transients leapt into the room, adding the drama and spectacle that live concerts provide but domestic hi-fi systems often neglect or are incapable of producing.
There is no doubt that Duntech's design philosophy of the "curved arc" of speaker placement in the front baffle gives the Esquires (and all other Duntech speakers) a coherence and precision that most other manufacturers can only dream about. In the overal l scheme of things audio, the price is not a great deal of money to spend on a pair of speakers, and in this case it seems very little indeed when the abilities of these speakers are pitted against their competition. Their ability to involve the listener in the musical event is undeniable, and quite addictive.
I am sorry, Mr Duntech, but you can't have these speakers back. I want them.