Daedalus DA-1: How Good Are They?

This is a follow up to my preliminary review of the DA-1’s posted on the Audiogon several months ago. In that review I praised these speakers highly but had concerns about the muddled bass response that prevented me from making a purchase without further audition in a different space.

I was led to the DA-1’s after a two year search for a pair of attractive floor standing speakers to replace my Harbeth Compact 7’s. When I started out I thought this would be an easy task. With roughly 8K to spend I figured it would be relatively easy to find something that sounded at least as good as the Harbeth’s but with more bass in an attractive package. This most certainly was not the case, partly because the Harbeth’s are truly excellent speakers and a tremendous value. I would recommend them to anyone with a moderate sized room and budget for partnering equipment. Over the past two years I heard nearly everything I could, traveling considerable distances for auditions in private homes, high end audio shops and shows. It was a very educational, and at times, frustrating experience. Most of what I heard failed to pass my “initial impression” test--that overwhelming sense of “rightness” and “musicality” that grabs you and pulls you into the music--the sensation that what you are hearing sounds like real, live musicians playing in the room. This immediate impression is, I believe, very important. In my opinion, if a music system fails to deliver on this count you can pretty much bet that it won’t be satisfying over the long haul. Of course, a longer audition is essential to uncover the nuances of any hi-fi system, but in my experience, if the system doesn’t sound “right” from the get go it will probably falter under more lengthy scrutiny rather than improve.

Despite the terrible room acoustics during my initial audition of the DA-1’s, there was something about the sound--a bit of that “rightness” factor--that wouldn’t allow me to cross this speaker off my ever shrinking list. I really felt they had a lot of potential and, knowing the devastating effects a bad room can have on a sound system, I wanted to give them another try. On the eve of setting up a home audition of the DA-1, I made contact with an owner of a pair who was moving and needed to sell--and the price was more than fair. So without the benefit of another audition, I took the plunge. I’m I pretty conservative guy and take few risks as a general rule. However, sometimes taking a chance can be a good thing--in this case, I am happy to report, it most certainly was.

When I got them home I set the DA-1’s up exactly where the Harbeth’s sat on the short wall of my 14 W X 22 L X 9 H room--about two feet from the wall behind them and three and a half feet from the side wall (the other side opens to an 11 X 11 dining room). I haven’t moved them since, except to adjust the toe in slightly. I may play around with them some day to see what moving them forward or back will do but I can’t imagine them sounding any better than they do right now. The DA-1’s are, as they sit, one of the best loudspeaker systems I have ever heard. For the money, I have not heard anything that comes even close to their performance. In fact, based on my experience over the past two years, I think you would have to spend at least $15K to do appreciably better.

The DA-1’s are, in a word, MUSICAL. I have not heard another speaker, regardless of price, that captures the essence of a performance the way the Daedalus do. They are one of the few speakers I’ve heard that just get out of the way and envelope you in all the passion, warmth, beauty and verve of live music. I can’t emphasize this enough--most of the systems I heard over the past two years sounded like hi-fi. With the DA-1’s in my system, I don’t hear gear--I hear music.

Tonally the DA-1’s capture the unique qualities of every instrument, acoustic or amplified. I spent the better part of two days after getting them set up listening exclusively to classical and chamber music. I couldn’t stop because I wanted to hear how each recording would be portrayed by the DA-1’s. Solo piano has all the body, warmth, wood tone and depth of the instrument heard in live performance. With chamber ensembles the interplay between the musicians is passionately revealed--each member of a string quartet’s voice is distinct and yet part of a rich and complex musical fabric. The cello, in particular, has the weight and woody resonance that was so often lacking in many of the systems I auditioned--it simply sounds real and “right there” in the room. Not fat, bloated or indistinct but warm, rich and tonally correct. Oboes sound like oboes, bassons like bassons. I could go on and on. I then moved to Keith Jarret’s “Standards” albums. Once again, what struck me was the way in which I could hear the improvisational process unfold, as if they were making it up right in front of me--as it is when you catch the best of live performances. The individual notes start and stop exactly as they should. Listening to the acoustic bass, there is no blurring or overhang to spoil the illusion of live sound. When I shifted to solo guitar (Alex DeGrassi on Windham Hill) his instrument sounded brilliant but not biting, with natural sounding reinforcement of the bass line provided by the low E string when struck.

I think a good part of what makes the “Daedalus sound” so compelling is the crossover. It is entirely seamless, creating an absolutely coherent sound field. Lou Hinckley, who designs and builds these speakers, won’t discuss the crossover design, nor will he specify the make of the drivers (other than to say that the bass and midrange drivers are “proprietary designs” made to his specs here in the USA and that the twin tweeters are Vifa’s). I don’t know what kind of magic he is doing here, but the careful blending of the drivers in this 3.5 way design probably accounts for much of what I am describing in this review. The crossover doesn’t appear smear the timing of events or ask the drivers to operate outside their natural limits. I’m no expert here--all I know is that I do not hear the seams like I did when I auditioned, say, the Sonus Faber Cremonas. The DA-1's sound like a well executed two-way (like my Harbeth’s) rather than a large, multi way speaker.

My initial impressions of the bass of the DA-1’s (see my preliminary review posted on the Audiogon) were wholly unwarranted. In my room the bass is warm, rich, full, yet tight and tuneful. The full foundation of the music is present and pitch perfect. String bass (again, from “Standards”) is spot on. Electric bass (Lee Sklar playing on James Taylor “JT”) is so well rendered that I have a new appreciation for this extraordinary studio artist. With the exception of the Vandersteen 5A (properly tuned, ideally positioned and paired with top notch components), I have never heard bass as authoritative, pitch accurate and fully integrated with the rest of the musical spectrum. It doesn’t stand out, it supports and enhances what ever else is going on. I think one reason the bass response is so good is because Lou doesn’t try for too much in the way of extension. The DA-1’s begin to drop off around 30hz (though room reinforcement from the rear port arrangement may yield lower output in some settings). Some speakers, like the Proac D25’s I had in my system for several weeks, claim an output of 20hz and can’t really deliver quality bass as a result. No matter where I placed the Proac’s the bass never sounded as tuneful and rhythmically correct as I wanted. The Proac’s, in my view, do not do the PRaT thing as well as they should for the money. There are tradeoffs that must be made in all speaker designs and I don’t think you can get 20hz from a 6.5” woofer and still have it play the bass line correctly. The Daedalus sport two 8” drivers, the bottom one cutting off at a lower frequency, and “only” try for 30hz. To me, I’d rather give up the last half octave for real pitch definition--and it seems the folks at Daedalus would agree. The DA-1’s offer bass that is as deep as most recordings require, but more importantly, reproduce powerful and tuneful bass that supports and sustains the music. In fact, the DA-1’s may be the ideal marriage between classic American style power and British sensibilities regarding pace, rhythm and timing.

The treble performance of the DA-1’s is excellent as well. Not as airy and extended as several of the best speaker systems (i.e. ribbons) I heard, but articulate (without going nasty) and well integrated. The DA-1’s have a switch that allows the user to attenuate the treble by + or - 2db. I have the switch set at “flat”, finding this provides the most ideal degree of sparkle and air in my room. In another room with different associated equipment, you may have different results. Ultimately, it’s nice to be able to contour the sound to individual tastes. The treble performance of the DA-1’s is something that grows on you a bit over time. While some speakers, like the Theil CS6 I auditioned, tend to provide a splashy top end that initially impresses in a brief demonstration, the high frequency performance of the DA-1’s does not draw attention to itself, blending seamlessly with the rest of the spectrum and, I tend to think, will wear better over time.

The DA-1’s had some stiff competition in the midrange area coming in to replace my Harbeth’s. The Harbeth Radial driver is considered by many (including myself) to be the best (as in least colored) there is. So how does the Daedalus stack up? Very well indeed. Compared to the Harbeth’s the midrange lacks that last bit of electrostatic purity that I adore but it is very close indeed. The DA-1’s are slightly more revealing through the midrange and do not have the tendency to cover recording aberrations quite as much as the Harbeth’s, which literally cannot sound “bad” no matter what you throw at them. The slight dip in the upper midrange designed into the Harbeth’s tends to take the edge off bad recordings. The DA-1’s sound flatter across this part of the spectrum and therefore tend not to mask poor recordings (and, I’m assuming associated electronics) as well as the Harbeth’s. Of course, the DA-1’s also do not homogenize the sound like the Harbeth’s. You can hear differences between recordings, venues and mikes more easily with the DA-1’s. They are, I think, more accurate to the recording and therefore ever so slightly less kind with bad material. This is not to say that the DA-1’s sound hard or analytical. The presence region is warm and realistic in the way few speakers are--again, the “rightness” factor--which relies mostly on getting the midrange “right”. What I hear is a nice tradeoff between delivering the detail and providing a relaxed presentation that will serve most of the music in your collection very, very well.

Much has been made in the few other reviews of this speaker about it’s dynamic capabilities, and for good reason. At 96db sensitivity, the DA-1’s have a natural ease that is superior to most other designs. They are fast (lightning quick) without being tipped up or hard sounding. Others have said that what distinguishes the DA-1’s is that they sound like live music. Again, I couldn’t agree more--but not because they rock like crazy (which they do, without a hint of strain) but for me because of everything I’ve stated above. They sound like live music because everything sounds REAL. Perhaps this is why it took some folks so long to “get used to” the sound of the DA-1’s. Not me--I go to live shows and performances all the time. What I have a hard time getting “used to” are loudspeakers that don’t sound like real instruments (for whatever reason). Getting “used to” the DA-1’s took about 15 seconds. One other point made in several of the reviews is that the DA-1’s are great for off-axis listening. Again, I wholeheartedly agree. With dual tweeters (one slightly offset) the sound is expansive. Frequency response and image placement do not shift when you move around the room or stand up. The “sweet spot” is very broad, which makes this a speaker more people can enjoy. As for imaging, the DA-1’s give up a little in the way of image specificity for greater off-axis listening enjoyment. Voices and instruments occupy real, palpable three dimensional space, but are not as etched as, say, the Theil CS6. Also, the soundfield typically does not extend beyond the outside edges of the speakers, nor is it as deep as I’ve heard with some models. This really doesn’t bother me at all, though I can see how some may want more localization of the performers, if that is your thing.

So, what’s not to love about the DA-1’s? Obviously not much. I wish the treble had just a wee bit more air and extension like some of the best speakers I’ve heard. I might get that by notching up the tweeter a click but this creates a slightly more forward presentation than I would like. The midrange, while totally believable and gloriously detailed, could be slightly more emphasized and present in the room. A tiny bit more richness would be welcome. With bad recordings there is a very slight hardness at louder volumes that my Harbeth’s did not reveal. Again, here I’m comparing with speakers that are simply unmatched in this area. The packing is also not the best, although I understand Lou is working on a new shipping system that utilizes full edge protection of 2" closed cell foam, plywood and extremely heavy cardboard containers. Speaking of size, I wouldn’t recommend anyone use these speakers in a room smaller than mine. They generate tremendous bass energy that might overwhelm a smaller space. That is really all I can muster in the way of complaints.

In closing, though it has taken nearly two years, I’ve finally found a speaker that I know I can live with for the long haul. The Daedalus DA-1’s are dollar for dollar the best speaker I have ever heard and one of the very best regardless of price. They do not appear to be fussy about placement and can be driven easily with different types of electronics. They are utterly engaging and unfailingly musical and provide truly full range, dynamic sound. And they look fantastic to boot--constructed from solid hardwood with dovetail joinery and a hand rubbed finish that will compliment any decor. When I bought my Harbeth’s about six years ago nobody outside the “Brit” wing of the audiophile community knew anything about them. But as soon as I heard them I knew that they were destined to be classics and bought them without a second thought. Today, after rave reviews in all the mainstream American hi-end press, Harbeth is nearly a household name. So too, I think, will be the case with Daedalus. The DA-1’s above all speak with a consistently musical voice, and in the end isn’t that what we would all like from our hi-fi systems?

Associated Equipment

VPI Scout/JMW9/Dynavector 20XH
Audio Research SP16
Audio Research 100.2
Rotel RCD 971
Audience Au-24 and Powercords
Beautiful review, thanks for sharing. I have the DA 1 and 2 on my short list, although I am a little uncomfortable with no-name drivers and the secrecy over the XO. But, it's all in the listening. Enjoy
Great review and spot on description of the sound.

If people read all of the Daedalus reviews...there will be several more on line and news letter publication reviews pretty soon...they all start to say the same things. Music that sounds tonally real...Music that sounds dynamically real...Cabinetry that is beautiful....These are the real deal.

It takes a bit of nerve for many of us to try something with limited distribution and advertising, but if there is one product that I have heard that is worth taking a chance on, at least as long as ther room is correct for the speakers, it's these speakers....
Fig, I couldn't agree more. I think amidst all the hype it is sometimes difficult to trust your own ears. One of several important things I learned in my two year exhaustive search was that more often than not my own impression of what I was hearing with a given speaker did not square with that of the review I read before the audition. While there were shared conclusions about many aspects of the sound (i.e. "dry treble", "forward presentation", etc) what differed ultimately was the tone of the author and the conclusion at the end of the review. I generally found the reviewers to be far more complimentary than they should--it seems there is a real reluctance to call things as they are and to hedge with criticisms. I also felt that the reviews focused on describing "sounds" produced by the speaker and never really got around to saying whether a musical whole was achieved. I must say, after several months of this I got a little tired of travelling (sometimes) great distances and chewing up precious time to hear a speaker that really didn't sound like music at all--it sounded like (generally excellent) hifi. While I could certainly analyze and appreciate what the designer was doing relative to other speakers I'd heard, few really moved me the way a live performance often does. My advice to anyone looking to put together a system would be to spend more time at live performances (of any and all kinds) and less demoing speakers etc. Then, when you are in the dealer showroom, you will know very quickly whether the system is producing hifi or music. With the Daedalus I knew immediately--as soon as I got to hear them in a decent room. At that point you really just have to trust your own ears and not be too concerned about what the reviewers think (or, should I say, write?) or what your audiophile friends will say when you tell them you bought a speaker they never heard of.

(can you tell that I really am enjoying my DA-1's?)...3+ hours of non-fatiguing pleasure last night. DA-1 owners, for a fun time, I highly recommend Steely Dan's Live Across America cd from '93-94.
First I want to thank everyone for their kind words about my work. I don’t know of anyone in this biz who couldn’t make more money if they’d kept their day job ; ) , and it makes a big dif when people ‘get’ and appreciate what you’re doing.

I’d like to address what Steinway brought up (no offense taken) about name speakers& xovers.

My drivers are made for me in the USA by two different companies with very high standards of manufacturing and QC. My designs call for efficient drivers with paper cones, cloth surrounds, smooth response, low distortion, and high power handling. Quite a lot to ask for and I haven’t found any off the shelf drivers that can fit the bill, so like many speaker system manufacturers, I’ve had to work with driver manufacturers to design and build my own. (BTW, I developed this 8” driver over 10 years ago and have a near zero failure rate!)

I don't like to discuss the xover because it's a complex subject open to much misunderstanding. These are not simple computer generated designs and comparing them to such (which people invariably do) is an apples and oranges situation. These are painstaking designs with custom knee, slope, decay, padding etc. for each application, so simply stating the frequency and general type doesn’t really mean much, and as Steinway say’s, “It’s all in the listening.” One thing I will say about the xover is that they have the shortest circuit possible with no notch filters.
Thanks, Lou Hinkley
Lou, while you go about establishing a dealer network, do you have plans to show your wares at any upcoming audio shows, such the HE in Los Angeles in
June or the Rocky Mountain festival in Denver in October?
Thanks for an excellent and exhaustive summary. I am on a similar hunt for speakers in that price range and with high sensitivity. When I put a thread on the Gon a few weeks ago, Lou was kind enough to contact me and suggest the DA 1. I have narrowed my (unauditioned) search to
ZU Definition, you either seem to love or hate them
Daedalus DA 1
Reimer Wind River (I like the idea of a Ribbon tweeter)
Tyler Acoustic new Pro Dynamic range
I live in the UK, a trip to the next Rocky Mountain Audio Fest seems to beckon, to see the Rockies if nothing else. UK high Fi shows give you a Vista of Heathrow airport, not quite so attractive.
David12: Good luck, many here would be interested in hearing about your progress. Have you ruled out UK greats like ATC, Proac, Harbeth? Have you eliminated or not considered other contenders such as Salk, Living Voice?
Lou is the only speaker maker I know of who uses real hard-wood and also dovetails the corners. This is unheard of workmanship, where even the most expensive speakers have MDF. This impresses me no end because he could have "cut corners" and nobody would care. I am looking forward to having a listen in the near future.
I'm curious about the relationship between listening volume and the "rightness" in these speakers. Compared to the Harbeths, do they need to go louder before the rightness truly materializes?
Aktchi. your right, there are fine UK speakers to choose from. I am using Living Voice Avatars at the moment and they are excellent, if on the polite side of neutral. There is'nt a great choice otherwise, of UK spaekers of high sensitivity. The cheaper $ makes buying in the US attractive.
You should encourage me to buy in the US, it's a small contribution to your trade deficit
Just to respond to a few ideas/questions raised...

Drubin, I agree that the Harbeth's do not need to be cranked up to sound their best. I did find, however, that when listening to rock music I kept searching for the volume control to click it up a notch in hopes of improving dynamics. The DA-1's have that same low volume listenability but with the added bonus of greater speed, dynamics (micro and macro) and, of course, authority. At low volumes they sound just as lovely as when louder.

David12, glad to hear you are looking into the Daedalus. FWIW I had a chance to listen extensively to the Reimer Tetons, which are the next model up from the Wind Rivers. I found them to be just as dynamic and effortless as the DA-1's but not nearly as musical through the midrange. Also, the ribbon tweeter was not as accurate or realistic and, of course, you will not have nearly the off-axis listenability as you do with the DA-1's. To my ears the Reimers weren't any where near as refined as the Daedalus. I didn't hear the Wind Rivers but I would expect at the lower price point they would sound slightly less good than the Tetons. As for Proac, as I mentioned I had a pair of D25's in my system on a trial basis for several weeks and extensively auditioned the D38 at a dealer. For the money, the D25 is not even in the same league as the DA-1's. The D38 (at nearly 9K) is a very nice speaker that would be competitive with the DA-1 were it not for the price. Perhaps the cost in British pounds might offset the shipping etc. to make it a closer call, thought I'd probably still give the edge to the Daedalus in terms of sound. Of course, I'd like to run them up against each other in my own room before making a firm statement.
Congratulations, Dodgealum, both on finding such a wonderful loudspeaker and on your incredible review! Here's to you having a very long and happy relationship with them.

I am quite curious about these speakers. Where did you hear them, and is there a dealer network?
Aside from craftsmanship of the Daedalus speakers certainly being impressive (from the perspective of quality, hand built furniture,) I feel that the hardwood cabinet vs. the common MDF cabinet, plays a big role in the DA-1's "live music" character.

There are a lot of good sounding speakers out there. But, the DA-1 and its hard wood cabinet is something different and something special.

For me, they are keepers!

Thanks for chiming in, Lou.
Here is a picture of the smaller Daedalus DA2 speaker which shows the dovetailing at one of the edges of the cabinets. My father made cabinets as a hobby and I know how difficult it is to do dovetailing properly.

They certainly look nice. But how can any designer say a speaker will work on stands from 12" - 24" tall? That is a very broad range and if one extreme is correct, the other one has to completely wrong.

RE: Stands & Shows
12"-16" is what works best for 2channel... everyroom is different ; )

24" is for use as rears in a HT system.

good question, thanks
PS we'll be @ RMAF again same suite, should be fun.
lou, you anticipated my question, a trip across the pond to the colonies beckons this Autumn. I am not sure how cold Denver is in October, a bit of a drive to the National park would be good too.
Hi dodgealum,
I am very glad to hear it was my room and not the speakers themselves that caused the inconvenience (which I apologize for also). As you know, this was a new building for us and we had not yet even starting planning the renovation.

This spring we will be adding some walls and deviding up this large 1400 sq. ft. space. We will also be working with a sound engineer to get these rooms to sound their best or more importantly, allow the systems to sound their best.

Unfortunately, I will have to let some gear go to both finance this project as well as make room.

Again, very glad to hear you are enjoying your DA-1's. Happy listening!
Thanks, Bill. I'm glad to hear about your planned renovations. Once completed you will have an auditioning space as stellar as your service and passion for music. Best of luck and thanks for all your help.
"......Despite the terrible room acoustics during my initial audition of the DA-1’s......"

You were not the last to mention this. When I had the engineer come in to audition some speakers, he also mentioned the room needed some work but with it being so large, there was a lot of potential.
Time has been a great issue being so busy with mod and custom work. This is the reason I will be taking some time away from the mod work this spring to devote to getting the facilty done right.
By the way, how is the amp holding up. Hope all the "pieces" are still together.
Take care and happy listening!!!
I'll be providing a pair of DA-1's for audition in the SF Bay/ Santa Cruz area the 3rd week of April. Anyone interested can call or email.

Thanks for posting such an informative review! It complements very well Response34’s own review at the Audio Circle forum. I see that your first audition was at his new building. Did you have an opportunity to audition some of the other speakers he carries – most notably his very own Musica Bella SP/AV-2, any of the SP Technology speakers, or any of the Usher speakers he had on hand?

You have taken quite a journey in your speaker search and I find it very interesting how you compare the Daedalus DA-1 to the Harbeth speakers. I wonder if you have read any of Bob Neil’s reviews regarding Harbeth or have followed any of his posts at Audio Asylum? I mention this because your own search seems to mirror his own odyssey to find a speaker that, as you write, evokes “…that overwhelming sense of “rightness” and “musicality” that grabs you and pulls you into the music”. His path, eloquently describes, not with graphs but lyrical impressions, how Harbeth conveys a tonal accuracy unsurpassed by few speakers, yet he gives a nod to Spendor which he admits engages people on another level.: “"The Spendors render music as if it were 'recollected in tranquility'..."

And yet, as time passes, he is seduced, surprised by joy, by Jean-Marie Reynard’s speaker line: “In my experience, which is not broad compared to most reviewers, I have found, as I explained in one of the Spendor or Harbeth reviews on ETM, that the British monitor sound works best, all things considered, so that's been my reviewing focus on speakers, except for Reynauds, which kept winking at me from the sidelines.”

The point of this is that, if you read Bob Neil, it isn’t until “‘a trip to Aldeburgh, England where I heard eight live classical concerts in four days (emphasis added). That reprogrammed my head. When I got back, the only [sic] that really sounded like what I'd heard was an all Audio Note system. And even there, only analogue would do for a few weeks. Then, after a while, digital became acceptable again. I wrote a piece on Positive Feedback about the experience. It's under "shows" back in the July issue, I think. I have Reynaud days once in a while. But for the Aldeburgh experience, AN is the only thing that's been able to get it.’”

Finally summing up his own experience: “Spendors and Reynauds are cousins in a sense, in that both are less objective sounding than Harbeths or (probably) Reference 3A's. Spendors are more overtly charming than Harbeths and a bit gentler than Reynauds in their overall approach. Reynauds are robust and expressive than either, winning many hearts that Harbeths cannot; and exciting folks that Spendors cannot. This is not a matter of comparative excellence, just in comparative approaches to music. Folks who like Harbeths tend to prefer Spendors to Reynauds. Folks who like Reynauds tend to prefer Spendors to Harbeths. Folks who like Spendors... just like Spendors...or Quads!

“I would say Audio Note speakers share some of the virtues of all three: they are more appealing to the (my) ear than Harbeths but share a good deal of their transparency. They are gentler and more refined sounding than Reynauds but share some of their expressiveness. They are more transparent than Spendors but share their natural (comparative) gentleness. Are you still with me?”

I’m not sure of the specific of your own two-year journey but I would like to know if it was any thing like this, and what kinds of speakers you listened to.

Thanks again, for a most informative review.
Finsup....I guess I'm not clear on what exactly you are asking. My "journey" is a long one, spanning over 20 years in this hobby. I've owned Spendors (SP 100's and SP1/2's) and like them very much. The SP 100 is one of the best speakers I've ever owned except it ultimately was too large and boxy for my room when I moved to a smaller space. The Harbeth's, to my ear, are better. They provide a more transparent window on the performance and are slightly less colored throughout the spectrum. If I could own one speaker regardless of how they looked (i.e. if I ever got a divorce) it would be the Harbeth Monitor 40.

Having said that, I've been looking for two years to find an attractive floorstander that sounds (nearly?) as good through the mids but with better bass and a bigger sound than my Compact 7's. The Daedalus DA-1's are where I landed. They are superb speakers that do most things very, very well. No, they do not have that electrostatic purity through the mids like the Harbeths, which is very important to me. But in all other things they exceed my Compact 7's and look really good doing it.

As to the Jean Marie Reynod and Audio Notes, I haven't heard them. Though a look at the Audio Note website showed an interesting approach.

Hope I've responded as you would have liked.

Yeah, I can see how one might wonder what the heck I was asking. I'm starting my own speaker search....soon. I was curious if you had heard Audio Note. You were at Response34's own store for your first demo of the Daedalus, so I wondered if you heard the Ushers, SP Tech, and most importantly, his own design, the Musica Bella SP/AV-2 too.

Since I haven't heard any yet, it probably seems pointless to ask these questions, but I am simply trying to draw what I can from other people's writings about speakers that, at least on the written page, seem intriguing. Of course, I won't know anything until I get out there and compare.

For what it's worth, my first stop will be to hear the Spendor SP 100s here is San Diego. I then plan to run up to LA and try and catch the SP Tech Continums or Timepiece.

I do have other questions, for you, Barrelchief, Nakolawala, Dovidc, and Fig but I'll stop for now.

Thanks for your reply.
Mr. Neil's journey makes for a good read but that's about all. I have found Dodgealum's writings over the past year-plus extremely useful.

You should consider contacting Lou aka "Daedalusaudio"

On 4/6 he jumped in on this thread, stating that a pair of DA-1's would be available for demo in the SF Bay/ Santa Cruz area. Naturally, I don't know how far you are from there. But, it may be worth your while to make the effort, if it is not out of reach.

I, like many others, spent a few hours in the car to hear the DA-1's...and am so glad I did!

I now am past the 300 hour point with my DA-1's and frankly, I no longer have the desire to even take the time to go audition other speakers.

Feel free to email w/any ?'s.
Drubin -- I looked at Dodgealum's responses here on the forum and I agree with you. My point about bringing Bob Neil into this discussion is that Dodgealum and others have mentioned how much Daedalus sounds like a live music venue. Rick Schmidt, in his review at Secrets, says much the same thing. Neil's comments about his own speaker search was that he finally decided, after listening to a series of eight concerts over four days in England, that speakers that best represented live music were best for him.

Barrelchief – I Googled the distance from my place to Santa Cruz – it’s about 460 miles. SF is another 72 miles up the road. That’s a long drive – but maybe I could find a Southwest flight. Good suggestion. BTW, you’ve commented upon the fine woodworking skills Lou has shown in the Daedalus’s cabinetry. It is hard to tell from the photos just how nice this workmanship is. I also have my eyes on Jim Salk’s HT 3 speakers. Now that is craftsmanship. True, a speaker’s looks should not be that important – but when one considers that for many, the speaker is also part of the furniture, it does help that it looks good too.

I figure I can afford shipping on three in-home demos: On the list right now: Salk HT3 and ACI Panoramas.

Dodgealum, Barrelchief, and Nakolawala: You’ve all commented a bit on the lack of highs. I have a little hearing loss in my right ear and I listen off-axis quite a bit. What’s your take now that you’ve had the speakers and have passed the 300-hour mark?

I noticed that AV123 sells something called an Extended Response Tweeter or ERT. It apparently works in conjunction with the existing tweeter and raises the frequency response of the speaker to 45 KHz. Now, I know you can’t hear that high, but other reviews of either this or similar products suggest that your brain somehow does process it and it really adds something to the music.

AV123 says its “much more emotionally connected and involved feeling towards the music versus listening to the same piece of music on a system limited to 20 KHz playback. In a sense, it was more “real” like a live performance is”. It may or may mot be worth checking out. It could be overkill, but there is that word again: Live : )

AV123 does have a 30-day in-home trial.
on april 20th-21 there will be an audition in the Santa Cruz area, the 22nd will be just east of SF (Pleasant Hill).
i'll also have the new stands designed for the DA-1, these make quite a difference in sound! here's a quote from a custumer who's evaluating them;

"I am going to do some comparing on the floor vs. on the stands w/some specific recordings, and will get back to you with my findings…my initial impressions are:

· A cleaner sound-instruments (especially percussion/cymbals) are better defined as their own individual sound…thus far, this is what most impresses me!
· Loss of a high freq. “etch” that I did not know was present, until it was missing.
· Bass is more refined and defined"



i've recently received the Odyssey mono extremes, which have pointed out to me how much of the charactor of the highs are attributable to the synergy between amp/speaker. the amps sound great and the highs are very transparent and open.
ps: the high frequency extension on the daedalus is past 30Khz.

thanks, lou

Don't get hung up on any comments that I have made regarding high freq. extension. These were observations that were made in comparison to my last speakers.

My DA-1's are now (for the most part) broken in and I am so into the music from the DA-1's, that I definitely do not feel that anything is missing...I have thrown out my clipboard that has the audiophile "checklist" and am just really enjoying the music.

My take of the DA-1's, now having passed 300 hours can be decribed very easily...For years, my wife has rolled her eyes everytime the UPS or FedEx truck has shown up to deliver or pick up a piece of gear. She thought that I got off by getting new gear, not by listening to music.

Anywho, over the past month, I have repeatedly & excitedly told her how thrilled I (finally) am with my system & how much I am enjoying listening to my music & re-familiarizing myself with so many of the recordings in my collection.

There is no doubt in my mind that the DA-1 are a HUGE factor in my system coming together in such a pleasurable manner.

Obviously, I cannot say enough about these speakers. Give'm a listen. THEY ROCK!
Barrelchief, we need to talk. I'm very curious about the Odyssey Mono's. Can you discuss:

1. What they replaced, why you made the change and what you heard when you made it?

2. What preamp you are running with the Odyssey's and why you chose it?

3. The synergy you are experiencing with the DA-1's.

I've sold my ARC 100.2 and am in the market for a new amp. While I am inclined to stick with ARC to pair with my SP16 and jump to the more powerful 300.2, I am intrigued by what I read on the Odyssey site and comments from reviewers and others. Caveat: I need something that runs pretty cool for an in cabinet installation--how warm do those baby's get?


Comments regarding the Odyssey Mono's were from Lou.

I am running the DA-1's with an Aesthetix Calypso Tube Pre & H2O Audio's Signature Mono 250 SS Power amps.
Take your DA-1's to the next level.


Your milage may vary.
I had an opportunity to listen to these when Lou brought them through the SF Bay Area and I was very impressed with them, as was my wife. Beautiful speakers in both looks and sound.
Please tell us a little more about the demo you heard, R_burke. What kind of room, source equip, amplification, music? Impressions of the speakers themselves. What kind of speakers, etc. are you listening to now?
Interesting configuration. Using two tweeters will improve the power handling and narrow the vertical dispersion, probably improving the power response relative to what you'd get with a single tweeter. I like it.

A few questions for Daedalusaudio, if I may...

1. On the "Specifications" page for the DA-1, the tweeters are said to be "offset 10 degrees". What does that mean - how are they offset?

2. Under "Senstitivity" on the same page, how is the claimed "Dynamic Range" figure arrived at? Is that 130 dB figure measured or calculated? Is the system 130 dB capable broadband?

3. Nominal impedance is given as 6 ohms. What is the minimum impedance, and where does it occur?

4. The enclosure is described as a "Tuned Port Aperiodic Vent". Is this technique a special (perhaps lower than normal) tuning of a traditional reflex enclosure, or does it employ a resistive vent (a la the Dynaudio "Variovent", now apparently made by Scan-Speak)? Or, is it something else, and if so can you offer any specifics?

I didn't get a chance to hear your speakers at RMAF last year as I was tied to a room of my own, but this year I'll be sharing the room with other manufacturers so I'll be able to get away and come to your room.

Thank you and best regards,

Per Finsup's request

Current set up is:

Innersound ISIS bi-amped
Sonic Frontiers Power 2 for the panels
ADCOM GFA 5800 for the woofers
REL Strata III subwoofer
Shanling CD T-100 direct connected without preamp

Large room (20 x 30) with cathedral ceilings - listening position at the head of a 9.5' equilateral triangle. Lots of "stuff" behind and around the listening position.

Daedalus are not set up for biamping so I used the Sonic Frontiers for auditioning without the subwoofer.

Impressions/comparison to ISIS by CD:

Blues - Blue Rider Trio, Harp Steel and Guts on Mapleshade Records. The Daedalus was clear, clean and each instrument was "as it should sound" The ISIS had less separation of instruments

Voice - Emmylou Harris, Wrecking Ball (redbook) Voice and dynamics on the Daedalus were superior to the ISIS

Jazz - Miles Davis, Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants, Prestige Records, 20 bit remastered version. Same impression as on Blues

Classical - Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition, Living Stereo Hybrid SACD. This is the only case where I preferred the ISIS. More of a "presence" or feeling of being in a church with the ISIS.

In general the Daedalus was superior to the ISIS in all aspects except for "presence", which of course is subject to interpretation.

My wife clearly prefers the Daedalus over ths ISIS because the ISIS "fills the room too much" and the Daedalus allows you to listen/concentrate on the music without being overwhelmed.

On a final note the Daedalus is a beautiful speaker, the woodworking is exceptional.
please pardon the delay in my reply...
[1. On the "Specifications" page for the DA-1, the tweeters are said to be "offset 10 degrees". What does that mean - how are they offset? ]
one tweeter is is set at an angle toward the outside of the cabinet (mirror image) this eliminates phase cancelations and widens the dispersion.

[2. Under "Senstitivity" on the same page, how is the claimed "Dynamic Range" figure arrived at? Is that 130 dB figure measured or calculated? Is the system 130 dB capable broadband? ]
calculated and it is capable broadband. this system evolved from my pro speakers and all specs are very conservative.

[3. Nominal impedance is given as 6 ohms. What is the minimum impedance, and where does it occur?]
the impedence is very stable across the bandwidth, there is a drop in the lowest octave but when you factor in wire resistance it ends up very close to 6 ohms.

[4. The enclosure is described as a "Tuned Port Aperiodic Vent". Is this technique a special (perhaps lower than normal) tuning of a traditional reflex enclosure, or does it employ a resistive vent (a la the Dynaudio "Variovent", now apparently made by Scan-Speak)? Or, is it something else, and if so can you offer any specifics?]
the port is a form of resistive vent, it's very effective in maintaining pressure on the driver and preventing the dumping of mid bass energy out the port.

i look forward to seeing you at the show.

I also auditioned these speakers during Lou's Bay Area tour. I heard them in a mostly Spectral system. Very impressive: natural midrange, superb tonality, terrific bass. Their sound is big, bold, lifelike and impactful. I doubt they would ever be fatiguing. If you are looking for the most precise imaging, you might be disappointed, but can't say that for sure. I look forward to hearing them again at RMAF.
Lou--when you have time could you elaborate on the aperiodic vent? If someone put a gun to my head and made me say which of the many virtues of the DA-1's do I feel is most impressive I would have to say the bass response. I'm really curious how you get such good results and am figuring the venting has a lot to do with it. Every possible good thing you can say about the bass response of the DA-1 is there. I can't get over how well these speakers provide a natural and proper foundation to the music. I'm also wondering whether the design somehow avoids the pitfalls of traditional rear ports which need to be pulled way out into the room to function properly--I've got my DA-1's about 2 feet from the wall and I don't hear any bloat or smear down there AT ALL. Can you shed a little light on the design?

One last thing--I'm into my third or fourth month now with the DA-1's and I have to say that while they do ALL kinds of music exceptionally well (an essential trait in my view) they are unparalled in their reproduction of acoustic/unamplified music. I am listening to more chamber and orchestral music than ever and really discovering the beauty and power of this genre. Thanks Lou!
the vent helps keep the bass response tight, but it is just one of several factors. the driver which i designed over 10 years ago is the real heart of the bass. it's a different approach than modern hi-fi. the focus on designing this driver was a speaker that is very quick and powerful/efficient instead of the usual damped, high excursion designs. the cabinet also contributes. the braced hardwood is very stiff and tight with no sense of 'deadness' about it.

so like all things it's a balance... (oh yeah and there are the vodoo incantations i mumble over these babies.)

thanks much for the entusiasm : )
You know, I am getting so sick and tired of audio manufacturers that make absurdly dishonest claims about their products. Voodoo incantations that improve bass response? The next thing I expect to hear is placement of a clock radio in your listening area will improve the soundstage of your system. I'm getting out of this hobby! ;)
The anser to that I suppose is in an audition. It does'nt matter what the manufacturer claims, what does it sound like. I have communicated with Lou and I have no doubt he is straightforward in his dealings. Even if his discussion of the venting of the DA 1 is incorrect, if it sounds OK, does it matter?
Many products seem crazy, over hyped, too expensive, all I care about is does it work. Take the Marigo Stealth Signature CD mat, sounded very dubious to me, but produced a similar rise in performance to an expensive mod to my CD player.
I realize this thread is about Daedalus DA1, but does anybody have any experience with its smaller and less expensive sibling (DA2?)...
uhh guys, i was kidding about the voodoo, you caught that, right ... ; )

these speakers are just good engineering and attention to detail, no extravagant claims intended.
thanks, Lou
Sorry, Lou. My poor attempt at being cynical and funny. I didn't mean to lead people astray.
Guys, don't worry, I knew you were joking. Just don't quit your day jobs yet to start comedy routines. :)

Lou, what kind of speakers of have you compared DA1 and DA2 against side by side?

Dodgealum, I did enjoy your review but even you would admit that for a $7000 speaker (DA1) to edge out a $2600 one (Compact 7) is no earthshaking news; it would have been much more noteworthy the otherway. I realize that you could only compare what you happened to have on hand, I am just trying to view the results in perspetive. Did you get a chance to compare DA1 with any other well regarded speakers? Did you ever hear its younger sibling DA2 (which would be more like my budget?
Dodgealium,Nice review.Can you tell me what timber is used in these speakers?I have often thought that properly designed solid timber speakers would sound special.Some of the worst sounding speakers I have heard have been ones with heavily damped thick MDF boxs.I have also built lead lined speakers and more damped cabinets often detract from the sound, so logic would tell you the right sort of cabinet resonance actually improves sound.


Thanks for your replies to my questions. Best of luck with your venture!