Dynaco A25 -Hard to Believe


I just had one of those special listening sessions that seem to occur all too rarely, and it's kind of surprising as you will see.  I'm moving later in the summer, so I boxed up my large, heavy and excellent Alta Audio speakers over the weekend.  In their place went a very old pair of Dynaco A25's that I had in my very first stereo system back in the 70's (I did recap these ten or so years ago).  I wasn't expecting much, but I love music and so what if they paled in comparison to my usual speakers.  They could play music and probably only cost a few hundred bucks, although I don't remember as they were a gift.

I have not yet boxed up my components, so the Dynacos were set up on some Sound Anchor stands and treated to pretty good Conrad Johnson tubed separates and the current reference Marantz CD player, in addition to Shunyata power conditioning and cables.

I didn't put on an audiophile recording or one that I particularly even like, but my daughter wanted me to listen to a few songs on Taylor Swift's latest album "Reputation".  OK I can do that, I thought, as I like sharing music with her, and she does with me occasionally as well.

An hour later I ran to my computer wanting to share my experience on Agon.  I'm absolutely stunned by how much I enjoyed listening to the Dynacos.  They just sounded really good, far better than I anticipated, and made listening to that album enjoyable (I listened to the whole damn album actually and there are some really catchy songs on it).

I won't compare the Dynacos directly to anything else, but I will say they "brought" the music home in an eminently satisfying way, with surprisingly deep bass, and large images defined in space with warm, realistic tone.  Honestly, I've had several other more modern and expensive monitor speakers in my room over the past several years that just didn't make listening to music fun, be it for a bright (or dull) top end, or weak, wimpy bass.

I remember many years ago a local Linn dealer telling me that you can't fix a crummy source, that the loudspeaker was the least important component in a system.  He'd demo a great Epos loudspeaker on a crappy receiver and turntable and then compare that to the cheapest Epos running on top of the line Linn/Exposure/Naim gear .  No contest, the latter combo always won out.  By a lot.  Perhaps that's what is going on here - the Dynacos should sound great on thousands of dollars worth of electronics.

Or perhaps the Dynacos are just really damn good and can hold their own as music making devices.  After all, they sold thousands of these speakers, and it must have been for some reason.  I guess I'm just stunned that a 40+ year old component still sounds great even in comparison with some far more expensive modern stuff.  I know they don't image as well, the cabinet probably vibrates too much and the large tweeter rounds off the highs, but damn they brought that album to life and isn't that what great components are supposed to do?


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Yes it is! Awesome story and the best part is you sharing music with your daughter. Enjoy your new/old speakers and most of all enjoy the music!
I toyed with the idea of getting the SEAS A26 kit from Madisound. Wonder if anyone owns/has heard a pair. Glad to hear your A25s sound so nice!
i have a pair

the level of engineering, hand tuning and of course SEAs drivers plus first order filters net a timeless musical speaker......

glad you enjoy yours

love and cherish the walnut pair I have.....
I somehow never heard the A-25 back when I bought my first speakers, the AR 4x, in the late 60's. I don't remember seeing the Dynacos on the shelf of speakers at the electronics stores in San Jose. I hadn't yet discovered Stereophile or the one specialist hi-fi store in the valley (where John Garland worked before he opened his high end shop in '73).
David Hafler knew how to make a good speaker at an affordable price! I always liked the A25's for their fine tonal balance (first heard them in 1971). Its competition were the Advents (Large and Small), the AR4's  and the Rectilinear Mini-3's.All fine sounding speakers - and still worthy of use today!
My system in the early 70s consisted of A25s, a Scott Integrated and a cheap plastic Garrard table with an equally cheap Pickering cartridge, very fond memories of those days. I can easily imagine that those speakers with a few upgrades and good/excellent components could compete  very favorably with many of today’s monitors if engagement is the goal, why couldn’t it be so?




I liked those old acoustic suspension speakers like AR, Dynaco, Advent, etc that dominated the 60’s.

Hated the bass reflex- ported type of box speakers that came to dominate the audio market after the 60’s.

The East coast Vs West coast sound.
bdp24 they also escaped my gaze in Northern Ohio....

they came to me in an odd way....

RV and I chat quite a bit and he knows I have a “ vintage “ system in a challenging room, he said get a pair of A25 they started it all for SEAs you know.....quite good

found my pair locally the next week for $199

i can tell you from an involving , commit few sins perspective they are awesome....
I bought my first pair of A25 speakers in the spring of 1970 shortly after they came out.  They sounded better to me, more natural, than any of the mainstream speakers like the AR-4x or AR-2ax that my father had at the time, or the Advent, or Rectilinear, or especially the JBL speakers at my dealer.  I later "upgraded" to Infinity 2000A speakers but I had such great memories of the A25 that I bought a used pair on Ebay 20 years ago.  I still have that pair in my video system where they get used nearly every day.  The Dynas are reliably musical and natural sounding.

The one time I compared them in my hifi system I ended up pretty disappointed.  They are not world class speakers but for casual listening they are very satisfying. 
Bought mine in 1974 with a Pat 4 Preamp and a Stereo 80 I believe. Was a long time ago. But with a Thornes TT was a nice system at the time. 
I looked the new model woofer over thoroughly. If anyone wanted to make a new version, I’d use the Seas A26RE4 ($150.00) woofer and personally, I’d use a Morel A308 tweeter ($102 Mad - $78.00 PE). The woofer could be used full range, I would recommend Zobel on the woofer, then a simple 12db crossover on the tweeter would give excellent results. If you wanted to ensure excellent blending, you could easily do a 6/12 crossover. 6/12 Butterworth slopes offers excellent phasing and a very consistent 8 ohm load @ 90db anechoic or 93 average in room response. If Anyone has interest private message me, I’ll be glad to help at no charge. Tim
You can build the modern version as a kit, if you are interested:

https://www.madisoundspeakerstore.com/2-way-speaker-kits/seas-a26-10-2-way-kit-pair-based-on-the-cla...

If ever there was a simple kit to get started with, this would be it. :) 

Best,

E
"I liked those old acoustic suspension speakers like AR, Dynaco, Advent, etc that dominated the 60’s."

Actually, the Dynaco A25 was not an acoustic suspension, not a typical ported cabinet either, but the cabinet did have a vent. It was not sealed.

The A25 is a very good speaker, but these days I would only buy a speaker that was much more efficient.

SB
@spotcheckbilly12345         I'm sure that not many would be interested in this build that I offered, but I guess that you didn't notice the ratings that I posted they would be. 

If you wanted to ensure excellent blending, you could easily do a 6/12 crossover. 6/12 Butterworth slopes offers excellent phasing
and a very consistent 8 ohm load @ 90db anechoic or 93 average in room response."

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I modeled the 2 way build that I posted above... without a crossover on the woofer and a simple crossover on the tweeter, you're able to achieve 30hz to about 18K @  plus or minus 2db..... pretty amazing for such a simple design.  Add Zobel and impedance will stay between 7 and 8 ohms for its entire operating range.   This would be killer with a 20 watt first watt or good tubed amp.  

The A-25s were my first speakers back in the 70's and I loved their sound.  Later I "upgraded" to Advents only to find that I liked the Dynaco better.  It wasn't until I bought a pair of Mission 770's (series II) in the early '80's that I found a speaker that I liked as much.
Thanks for that Stereophile link dougsat.  Very interesting!
Good stuff , thanks . I too am interested in the Seas kit (A26). I added the cabinets and upgraded the capacitors and it came to about $1350.00 at Madison. I went with another speaker , but am still  really interested in the kit . So as someone already asked “ if you have the A26, please comment “. I had the Advents paired with a Dynaco SCA-35 and an FM3. I used a Garrard 40 turntable. I later moved to the JBL L-19’s and Dynaco MK III’s. I miss my old gear and appreciate when people get nostalgic. Regards and thanks, Mike B.
First speakers I ever had. Sold them to a friend many years ago. I would not have sold them to a friend if they weren't great. He understood that. Good memories there.
I was underwhelmed by the A25.  I had a first series pair- ScanDyna labeled, with a port ON TOP rather than the usual bottom location.

I thought bass was fine, but treble was very recessed.    Looking at the curves for the new version, and reading reviews from back in the day that also included FR curves gives some insight into the design.   Henry Kloss once said that lack of extreme FR extension can be managed if both extremes roll off smoothly and both rolloffs are balanced.   The A25 had great deep bass, but started to rolloff below 100hz.   Treble would extend to about 15khz, but only on axis, and would fall off noticeably off axis at 10khz.   In typical listening rooms, with typical early SS equipment this was a great match.   And efficiency was slighlty better than the AR4 meaning it could play louder and cleaner with a modestly powered receiver.    
I have owned my own pair of Dynaco A-25s since 1971. I bought them when I was at university, from another guy living on my floor in the dormitory. He needed quick cash and I had desperately coveted his stereo system. It consisted of those Dyna A-25s, an Acoustic Research integrated amplifier, a Dynaco FM3 stereo FM tuner and a Thorens TD-160 turntable. Lastly, I added a Sony TC-366D open reel tape deck my dad gave me as a Christmas gift. At the time, this was close to as inexpensive and good a stereo system as someone like me, with high-end tastes and low-end money could get.

My components changed over the decades, but I've never been able to bring myself to sell the A-25s. They just sounded musical in intangible ways that many much more expensive speakers didn't.

About 10 years ago, I noticed they were just not performing as I remembered them from when they were new. I wasn't sure if it was me going deaf, or simply my audio tastes "evolving," or whether their performance really was deteriorating. By then, I was living in Madison, WI. In Middleton, a Madison suburb, is a great resource, Madisound Speaker Components. Primarily, they sell loudspeaker components to manufacturers, auto stereo installers and DIYers. They also offer loudspeaker kits and design assistance for speaker enclosures and crossovers. Madisound told me that the speakers at the very least needed new capacitors. They also offered a replacement dome tweeter by SEAS that SEAS, the A-25s' manufacturers, offered as a drop-in upgrade/replacement for the original. SEAS claimed the new tweeter offered better high-range extension and dispersion.

I bit. I bought new capacitors that Madisound assured me were much better quality than the originals were when new. I also bought the drop-in replacement SEAS tweeters.

The basic sonic signature of the A-25s was unaltered. But the high frequencies were more extended. There was noticeably more detailed high end. More importantly, the speakers just disappeared! I listen primarily to jazz and classical music. The instruments were spread in front of, in the background, evenly across the soundstage. These 40-year-old speakers that originally sold for $160 per pair in 1971 - about $1,000 in 2020 dollars, actually showed really good stereo imaging qualities.

So these are now my primary speakers again. Another outstanding quality of the A-25 was their very natural reproduction of voices, especially male voices. Solo voices, choral recordings sound more real and natural through these speakers than through most speakers I could buy today for less than $1,000 per pair. Strings and piano are also very realistic through these speakers.

Bass is tight and detailed, if not especially extended. Many bookshelf speakers that are otherwise of good quality disguise their lack of deep bass with a broad rising characteristic over the 60Hz - 120Hz octave and rather loose bass transient response - especially among bass-reflex ported designs. I remember that test reports from high-fi publications at the time praised the A-25 and its unique quasi-transmission line aperiodic enclosure design for its ability to reproduce recognizable bass range square waves, attesting to their excellent bass transient response. In other words, the bass that is present is accurate, not flabby and over-emphasized.

I don't miss having a subwoofer on music listening. Orchestral basses are reproduced well, as are pipe organs. 32-foot organ pedals and orchestral bass drums come up out of the floor as they should. But I DO miss a subwoofer on movie sound tracks. Yes, I use these as my speakers for home theater too. Their imaging is good enough that dialogue through the virtual center is properly placed and understandable, so I feel no need for a center channel. But booms, explosions and other sound effects do lack that impact that a subwoofer would provide.

The bottom line is that I HAVE heard better speakers. But none more musical, at least not for any price I can afford to spend.