i compared the Dunlavy SC III and the athenas against the 10Ts and went with the Athenas. I listented to the IV but not a lot. The fact that the SCIIIs had some advantages over the 10Ts is what sent me listening to the larger Dunlavys. For almost twice the price the Aerials should have been much better than the SCIII. I got the athenas because they were a bit warmer than the IV, look a lot better and are easier to place. You NEED to put the Dunlavy speakers on a long wall with at least 3 or 4 ft to the outsides before you hit wall to really make them work, at least 8 ft between them. Do that and they have a great sound stage, a lot taller than the aerials. The Dunlavy speakers are much more open sounding than the aerials (very close to electrostaic sounding but with bass) and to me they had a lot better bass control. The 10Ts had a boominess that put me off them thou others dispute this and it may have been a room thing. They also just didn't sound as real as the Dunlavys.
I listened to the 10Ts a lot and they were fed by a top end Mark Levison system (39 cd player into ref pre into 33 monos) wired by transparent ref xl. The dunlavies were auditioned with a wadia 860 direct into either a pass labs 60 watter or an ARC VT100 wired by synergistic. I liked tubes way better. The Much cheaper Dunlavy system killed the aerial system IMHO. First listen to the athenas sucked me in and the second listen sold them whereas i had spent a couple of months trying to convince myself i wanted the 10Ts (and they were cheap)i use the Dunlavys with VTL and an ACR CD-2 all harmonic tech cables and can't see the need for much upgrading in the future
There is a pair of athenas in lt cherry on a-gon for mid $3k best deal you can get on a speaker if you ask me and you don't end up with small robots (10T) or coffins (IVs) in you r room.
Nice review, thanks piezo.
I had both in my living room at the same time to compare, I would sell the speaker that lost the shootout. I first had the Aerial 10T (which replaced B/W 801 mk3), then later replaced them with the Dunlavy 4's (second version). The 10T's had a 'gutsier' bass, but over all I preferred the 4's sound, especially for jazz and vocals.
The Dunlavys give you more definition vs Aerial's volume.
That said, I am currently using Maggie 3.6R's.
What amplification are you using with your 3.6´s?
Please take this with a grain of salt. I auditoned these on the same day in different rooms with different electronics. My impression was that the Aerials were more dynamic and the Dunlavys more coherent. The soundstage of the Aerials was more gounded, the sound stage of the Dunlavys more ethereal. I enjoyed both. My prejudice puts much emphisis on coherence. IMHO for home theatre: Aerial, for music: Dunlavy.
Sol322, I am using A Theta Dreadnaught five channel amp,
I biamp the 3.6's, leaving one channel of the amp unused.
Unsound, you are totally correct. I noticed that same thing, the Aerials were more dynamic and the Dunlavys more coherent. I also think, it depends on the room you have. The Dunlavy 1V speakers are like 6 feet tall. You need a large room for them. The Aerial 10Ts have a very dynamic upbeat type sound. The bass is amazing. The Bass is very tight and articulate. I also like the Focal Kelvar midbase they use on the 10Ts. Its interesting, I heard the Montana EP speakers at the Stereophile show. It uses 2 8 inch Scanspeak Paper Woofers, 2 4 inch Scanspeak Kelvar midbases and the Scanspeak Tweeter. I thought these speakers were to edgy sounding. The Scanspeak Kelvar midbase didn't sound good. The Focal Kelvar midbase sounds so much more smoother and natural. I would also say, check out the Dunlavy Aletha speakers. There really good.
I heard the Aletha's on the same day as the SClV's. I felt they were more tactile but less coherent than the SClV's. Aletha's might have a higher WAF.
I have the Dunlavy Cantata which is similat to the Athena. I liked these speakers because they were so neutral and didn't offend in any way. They are not the most dynamic speakers but easy to listen to.
I had heard that they used cheap parts and I recently found a great guy to do Mods here in New York. I had Blackie Pagano at www.tubesville.com look at them. He said the crossover was very complicated for a first order one and used the cheapest parts imagineable. For a $1000 he put in hi grade caps and resistors but did not change the topology at all. He just upgraded parts. What I got back was 75-100% better. It was amazing! The same sonic signature was there but everything was dramatically improved.
Wow, to go from 10T's to Dunlavy to Maggies is covering a lot of ground. They are all excellent speakers, but they offer quite different presentations, and your preference will be based on the type of music you listen to most, and the room you have. Interestingly, I would guess that all of these speakers will like similar (high current) amps. For the visceral, Aerials are the best. Great dynamics, great bass, very immediate and resolving, and capable of unlimited soundstage, although very true to the recording. With the Dunlavy's, great midrange and coherence, not as much extension, and, by reputation, anyway, finicky about placement and boundary interaction, but very neutral and somewhat laid back. Better in a bigger room. If you love sealed box bass, this is it. Very quick and tuneful, but not the impact of the Aerial. The Maggies are even more coherent (one driver, after all), even less dynamic and even less extended, but great presence and lightning microdynamics in the mids and uppermids. They also thrive in bigger rooms, where the backwave can be managed. I've heard them all (Athena and IV/3.6/10T), and I went with 10T's because of rock and blues superiority. For jazz and symphonies, I'd go with the Dunlavy, and for chamber music and choral, Maggies. Also in this class, the Proac 2.5 is a must-hear. A chacun son gout.
For the record, Maggies are not one driver!!!!
Whknopp, I agree with you almost word for word. I found the Dunlavys more coherent. I could live with any of them despite their differences. They all have srong suits with out gross sacrafices. I have my prejudices, and as such given the choice I'd go Dunlavy, Maggie, Aerial in that order. I could respect anybody's decision to pick any one of these fine products. I'd really like to hear the last two again before commiting to their placement. I'm very familiar with the Dunlavys and like them very much, would love to move up to a lVA.
Out of curiousity for those with experience in the lines being discussed, can you compare the Dynaudio Contour series? I like Rock, Blues, Jazz in that order, and also use the system for HT. I've always been intrigued by the Dunlavy's, I own the Contour 3.0's, and the 10T's sound like a good match. Thanks. -Kirk
I stand corrected about the Maggies. They sound like they are one driver, anyway. Was I thinking of the 1.6, perhaps?
KIRK, I auditioned the 3.0 with BAT and then Linn electronics. I think they are hard to fault. Good with lots of music, and not too finicky about amps or placement. The 10T is substantially more money, although there are lots of used ones around. I thought the Aerial was more liquid and warmer, with better layering and dimensionality, than the 3.0, which is so accurate that it can be accused of being a little dry or bleached. You might do as well warming up the Dynaudio with tubes as I did waking up the 10T's with lots of bipolar output devices. Check it out, for sure, as I was seduced into breaking the bank for the Aerials, and I still have that dopey smile on my face.
WOW! Great responses, thanks. I absolutely love the SC-IVs, so much, that I am selling the Aerial 10Ts. The 10T is a great speaker, but the SC-IV is, how do I say, just different! Image is amazing, soundstage extremely high and deep, and I actually like the conherence of the bass with the rest of the speaker. The 10Ts do have more bass, for what it is worth, but I think it becomes a bit muddy. The 10Ts require a substantial amount more power as well!
I am running the 5 channel Cal Labs CL-2500, 500x5 and no problems at all!
I am using a pair of Aerial SW-12s as well, and they mate VERY well with the SC-IVs. I am using the Cal processor as well, allowing me to have a few different settings, for which I use one with subs, SC-IVs crossed at 60 while the other setting is no subs, with the complete signal sent to the SC-IVs. The beauty of the Cal gear is that it also has an analog pass through so I have two presets for digital, and two for analog!
Next, the Aerial CC-5 is gone, and I will buy another set of SC-IVs and use ONE, on its side, as a center channel!!!!
Lovely. It is great being single, at times!
The Maggie 1.6, 3.6, and 20.1 are all three way speakers.
Porschecab, I too like the Dunlavy's very much. Dunlavy makes a center channel to match. Unless you often use software with a dedicated center channel, I don't think you'll need one. As much as the driver array is veriticaly symetrical for the listener, I don't believe they are symetrical relative to top and bottom of their respective cabinets. Therefore, turning a standard SClV on it's side might not be ideal.
I am using a Aerial CC-5 now that has plenty of punch, and does a great job as a center channel. I do have to pop the db to the center a bit more to offset the impedence mismatch for equal voulmes, but thought HECK, why not go with a trio of SC-IV's across the front?
You don't think much advantage of a single SC-IV as a center over either the CC-5 or the matching Dunlavy center?
Let me preface this with an admission of prejudice. I'm not a big fan of surround sound. The only times I've heard it work is with 3 identical speakers, cables and amplification all set up the same way in front (all vertical and equidistant from listener) playing 3 discrete (not 2 channel stereo) with out any video monitor or rear channels. Judging by the quality of your equipment you probably have a lot more experience than me with surround sound. I suspect that for surround sound to work there needs to be as little difference in sound from each channel as possible. IMHO this requires a very large room with listener in the center, speakers circular and equidistant from listener(roughly 4 meters from listener in every direction with Dunlavys) and much room treatment or correction to compensate for the different side and rear speaker to wall relationships that usually accompany favorable sounding rooms. These problems would not exist in a square room, but I'm sure I don't have to tell you about that "box" of worms (haven't heard a round room yet). I would be concerned about three vertical Dunlavys sitting in front of me playing back two channel stereo. The sheer size (height)of these cabinets would appear to get in the way. Sorry if this was a bit "winded" and I didn't mean to rain on your parade. In as much as we seem to share similar appreciations of some things, perhaps you'd be better off with advise from others with a more similar pursuit. I wish you the best of luck and look forward to your assesment.
Please pardon this diversion: I just visited the Dunlavy web site and it appears that they are no longer making the Cantata, and the Aletha is special-order only. Anyone have details on this?
There has been a change in ownership. The new SCIII's appear to have similar design characteristics as the Aletha/Cantata (MTM array w/ down firing woofer).
the alethas were also pretty pricy to build and apparently the new corporate structure is more driven by the love of money than by JD's quest for the coolest speakers (ever see that huge bow-tie-on-it's-side creation he came up with. now that's WAF baby)
That "Bow Tie" may be the shape of things to come. John Dunlavy told me that he is just waiting for consistent high quality high bit digital chips, so that he he can mass produce such a speaker. The shape is supposed to present a better sound stage. More interestingly it will do away with his patented stepped driver array. The drivers will be time aligned via digital cross-overs with digital tri-amplification. This new baffle will help reduce lobbing effects. The new approach will cut the time and labor it takes for him to bring speakers to his quite demanding specs. At first these will be cost no object, statement products. But, the trickle down effect might be fast and furious. We may be on the horizon to better, more consistent products at a markedly lower price. I hope and wait with baited breath.
Ahhh, we audiophiles junkies! Always waiting for a new wallet busting fix! Hell bring on the good stuff, I want a hit too. I will have to hear any digital speaker though. The ones I've heard from Meridian for example are good but not my first choice. I have two uncles that are well know jazz musician so I can tell you for sure that nothing digital is providing the best sound right now. A master TAPE can still wax SACD. But I do love SACD. Still I wouldn't want the resolution of my speaker limited by the current state of digital chips.
Bulldogger, you might want to check out what TacT is doing beyond "the current state of digital chips".
Thanks to all for responding. I have found what most say here, and in using some of your words:
I agree that the Dunlavy SC-IV (an amazing speaker) is superior to the Aerial with vocals, jazz, and others just can't be beat. That said, kick in some Santana, or other rock and/or heavy blues/jazz and they doen't seem to be able to hang out with the Aerials.
"Coherence", definitely with Dunlavy, while the "impact" edge seems to lean towards the Aerial.
The one HUGE benefit I have with the Dunlavy, is with their 'lack of bass' (which I think is a touch light, possibly improved with the "A" version) is GREATLY enhanced since I have the option to use a pair of the Aerial SW-12's!
As you can tell from my gear, California Audio Labs CL-2500 amp, processor, and dvd/cd, I am geared towards HT more so than music, thus my decision to keep the Aerials.
One thing is for sure, going through the listening tests/comparison between these two fabulous speakers has been enjoyable!!
Thanks again for your input!!
Congratulations, sounds like your going to be happy! Yes the A's go down deeper and better. I think the Aerial's might still be better in this regard. As I've said before I'm more of a 2 channel guy, but if I were to go your route I think I'd do the same and go with the Aerials. Enjoy.
I just wish all of life's "tough" choices could be as tough as deciding between a pair of Dunlavy SC-IV's and a pair of Aerial 10T's :-)
I'd love to see a post 3-6 months from now when you've had the Aerials for a while. I'm definitely into the HT side of things as well as the music side and always interested in hearing how a set of speakers performing the dual role stack up. Thanks - Kirk