Review: Dunlavy Audio Labs SC-III Speaker

Category: Speakers

My musical tastes range from well recorded jazz to progressive rock. I can't enjoy music that is poorly recorded such as the mainstream pop stuff. For this test I used amongst others Kodo, Mondo Head in SACD - Jacintha, Autum Leaves in XRCD - Proprius, Cantate Domino in regular CD as well as several other good quality recordings.

The dunlavy SC-III's are the over 6' tall and very impressive looking. Placement is crucial - they must go along the long wall or else bass and imaging are sacrificed.

To get a well rounded sound they need to be played a little louder than normal. These are the first speakers to ever give me goose bumps while listening to a CD. They have a very large and powerful sound with amazing detail and soundstaging.

I find they are very revealing, and so must be used with the best equipment you can get.

The only weakness I find with these speakers is the bass at regular and low volumes, which i'm sure a good 10" or 12" subwoofer could fix. Other than that, these speakers are a great deal at under $2k for a used pair.

Associated gear
Sony DVP-S900ES, Linar 250W/ch power amp, Acurus RL-11 preamp, Nordost Red Dawn and Blue Heaven Cables.

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As a side note, these have been discontinued and have been replaced by the SC-III.a, nee the Cantata. More friendly form-factor and, IIRC, deeper bass.
I also have the SC-3's and love'em.

For those of you who don't have a long wall to put them on, do not despair! About a year ago, I moved & now have a small room... (11X12X9)... after lots of experimenting with positioning, I have had good luck using Cardas' "Golden Rectangles".... search the web & give it a try... (tried to combine that with near field position, but my room was too small for good results--7' between speakers & between me & speakers was too little).
I have a pair of SC-III's as well. These are Audiophile's speakers - 100%

I think they are great speakers, and I totally agree with the long wall placement comment another reader posted.

Placememt would have to be the speakers weakest point, I believe this is caused by 2 factors, first - These speakers have 5 drivers (configured W-M-T-M-W) I believe any speaker with such an array will share the same characteristics regarding placement - it takes a bit of distance to integrate the sound field of each driver - this limits the speakers near field usability.

The other factor I attribute to this is the the placement of the tweeter - the tweeter is recessed to align it with the base of the other 4 drivers (which is a good thing) The tweeter is also surrounded with thick acoustic wool (also a good thing, prevents the waves in the recessed cavity from bouncing off the cavity walls) However it also leads to a tweeter that is extremely directional - more so than most - so the speaker sounds different if you are off axis by a little bit. This isn't a problem if you are an audiophile sitting in a dedicated chair in the center sweet spot, (which I also assume to be the audience of this forum) but it re-enforces the need to spend extra time setting up these speakers and trying tiny changes in placement before you will acheve the sound everyone talks about when they talk positively about Dunlavy's.

The other Possible weekness is in Low frequencey extension. These are sealed boxes and are rated to go down to 48hz. If you don't already know, sealed 48hz is far different from ported 48hz. Sealed bass is extremely tight and musical. If you pick a musical track that has information in the 50-100 hz range you'll be amazed at the detail, clarity and accuracy of the reproduction.

What you won't hear is the boomy ported bass sound you've grown acoustom to. That said there are plenty of people who like that sound (I do with certain material) the Dunlavy's low end may take some getting used to.
Jack: The 48 hz spec you mention I,m sure refers to a + -1.5 db flat freq. respose all the way up. I,m sure they would go down to around 35 hz -3db or so which is still usable bass. I own the sc II,s and they are specd. at + -1.5 db from 55-20k; Istill have usable bass to around 40hz.