Usher 718BE or Dynaudio S1.4

As you can see by my threads recently, I am trying to secure my second system. I am a dynaudio freak, and everytime I look somewhere else I end up coming back to Dynaudio. I have heard and read reviews comparing the Usher 718BE to the C1's, but am scared I will be let down once again. There is not a dealer around here so I would have to buy on a whim. Any thoughts about this move? Thanks!
I would go for the Dyns in a heartbeat. The Ushers are good, but the Dyns are much better... of course the C1 s are better again!
I have never heard the Ushers myself only because when I heard the C1's my search for a speaker was over. I read that others on this forum said the beryllium tweeters were a little harsh/bright. Of course for everyone that said they were great there were some that said they were not. Until I heard the the esotar2's I thought B&W diamonds were great but only when matched with very very good equipt. Personally I have never heard such a sweeter tweeter than the esotar2. I've never read about anyone complaining about any of the esotar tweeters. Couple that with the fast but liquid mids and bass I was sold. I do have a REL B3 but I'm still trying to decide if it blends in well with the C1's or not. As far as the S1.4 they are very good but I decided this was going to be my last speaker so I went for the C1's. (my bank account hopes so too) :)
Based simply on the reviews, without hearing them, I bought the Usher BE718’s, and I’m really happy I did. In a word, the Usher’s are … spectacular. The Usher’s replaced Acoustic Zen Adagio’s, which are also very special. The Adagio’s were just too large for my room i.e. WAF, otherwise I wouldn’t have sold them.
I wonder if Draconis has heard the BE718...

I will say it comes down to personal taste, but I can tell you Usher won by a mile for my taste. BE tweeter is not bright or harsh, it can be if you feed it bright source just like Esotar.

Former owner of SF Extrema/EA1, Dyn C5/3.3, Merlin VSM for years, I know Esotar well.
Dynaudio without question.

The BE-718 is a flawed and unnatural sounding speaker.
I am really shocked about the wide range of opinions. To say I feel confused is an understatement. Would the brightness show with the FMJ that I am using?

I sell some of the best sounding speakers lines available.
Including Dali, Usher, PSB, Kef Reference and Volent.

Again, wise words from Audio Fail, the 718 monitors have won universal acclaim from most of the entire audio reviewing world, so it must either be his magnificent setups or his lack of audio accuity!

The 718 are terrific little mini monitors, the BE tweeter is very smooth, the soundstage is panoramic and the bass output is remarkable for a compact mini monitor.

It comes down to taste the Dynaudio's have a traditional flavor of greater warmth in the midrange and also have great punch, traditionally Dynaudio speakers have a very well balanced overall perspective which is why so many people like them.
That's real interesting Doc and here's my response.

I had a customer bring his 718 here to compare with a competitive product i.e. same size, price, etc.

After an hour of listening he traded in the 718 for the other speaker. So I then had the 718 for a couple weeks for a full evaluation. My assessment as posted remains. As a side note I'm not real impressed with reviews, awards, and dealers' opinions who sell the speakers.

I assure you that after almost 50 years in this hobby/business my "accuity" is far more developed, honed, and sophisticated than let's say, you for example.

I do appreciate your efforts however.
your quote: "As a side note I'm not real impressed with reviews, awards, and dealers' opinions who sell the speakers."
what does that say about you to the rest of us? it is very hard/impossible to say that 1 is better than the other. all personal preferences. people could say that the speaker is on the cool side/warm side, edgy, etc.. depending on what type of equipment they had (which means everything). so when you say that some one traded in their speakers for the dynaudio, what equipment were you using? tubes, ss, yamaha receiver, cd quality, etc... i can tell you that if you hook up my inefficient speakers to a 4 watt set amp they won't sound very good, hook them up to a nice quality 200-300 watt monoblock, they will sing.
Hello all.
I auditioned the 718's this past weekend and I was not that impressed to be honest. Now a disclaimer here, :o)
I believe alot may have been the room acoustics at the dealership.
The room was basically a 12 x 12(with room treatments)with the speakers set up with at least 7 feet between them. No toe in with the listening chair pretty close to the back wall, and changing the distance by moving the chair by oh so little changed the whole presentation greatly.
What I heard was a huge bloat in the upper bass when driven by the Cary -SLP-05 and CJ LP70S. I had the amp swapped with the Cary CAD120S and it did improve a bit, but still I got the feeling that there was a bloat.
I just could not warm up to them at all. Perhaps if I brought them home my impression would have changed, or maybe these are not tube friendly(CJ) in that type of room config.

No disrespect to the dealer at all(great guy) or anybody that owns a pair.
Just one mans opinion and experience.
here is another opinion.

I heard the newest member of Dynaudio, Sapphire, driven by top Plinius. I have already expressed my impression in another thread; I was not impressed.

On the other hand, first audition of BE-20 made me dropped my jaw. Other speakers that impressed me in the dealer show room: Analysis ribbon, Elac top model, Pioneer with Be tweeter, Burnmester, and Tidal. yes, I am lucky to hear some of the most exquisite brands on earth. Usher is in the same league at a much lower price point, this is coming from someone who had his check book ready to buy a pair of MBL 111E.
Ushers must be carefully matched.
I have heard those in good and bad dealer's setups.
They have potentials my opinion, they are very difficult to work with and get the setup right.
Also for around the same amount you can have time piece minis or AAD 2001 which in my opinion are easier to setup and sound just as good or better (to my taste). With all three I would recommend powerful amp (Nuforce Ref, Butler, Parasound Halo, McCormack DNA) and tube preamp to add some warmth and lush liquidity to tone things down just a bit.

Just my 2 cents

Hello Semi, the speakers you mentioned are very expensive, that are most likely way out of the original posters price range.
I heard the Sapphire myself driven by MF(I am not touting MF here) and thought they sounded excellent.

I have never heard a Dynaudio I did not like, but for me they are too power hungry and need some juice to sound their best. Maybe not a good low listening level speaker?
That was the only reason I did not purchase the 72SE some 2 -3 years ago.

I have heard three models of Ushers - the one mentioned in the OP.
The CP-6311 - for the price it is really hard to beat - If you have the space/comfort/WAF for those huge Iron bases(which is why I did not purchase them).
The CP-6391 - Which I thought was excellent too but at that $$ range there are many contenders.
I am envious of your speakers though :o)
I was in the same boat and considering the fact that I'm from India, there were not many other interesting choices either. I was really in love with the Dynaudio S1.4 until the moment I heard the Ushers. But after listening to the Be-718, there were no second thoughts. Its a massively better speaker than the S1.4 when setup with the right amplification. The Be-718 unlike the dyns are very finicky about placement and need tonnes of time to break in - a minimum of 100 hours. There is severe midbass bloat otherwise and that is probably what one of the posters above noticed at the demo room. They also need a lot of drive from the amp to sound right. These are not speakers for tubes as they are pretty insensitive and a difficult load.

I'm driving my pair with an SMC modified DNA-125, a DIY tube pre consisting of Raytheon 6SN7GT NOS tubes, a highly modified Citypulse DA7.2x DAC connected to a fanless pc outputting digital via an EMU 0404. Cabling is a mix of QED and Audio Quest. I'm also currently testing a pair of Usher Rapport ICs.

There is absolutely no grain or hardness at all. The speakers disappear beautifully and the imaging is pin point accurate. Bass is wonderfully tight and articulate. The midrange to tweeter transition is completely seamless and the tweeter never does attract attention unlike the Focal Beryllium tweeters which always seemed kinda forward sounding to me. The dyns in the same setup were a wee bit too warm in my listening room and detail resolution was no way close to the Be-718. Nor was the midrange as fluid and natural sounding.

To summarize, the Be-718 is a real pain to get right but the results of a properly matched setup are absolutely brilliant. Hope this helps!
Yep, that would be me on the midbass bloat experience :o).
Trust me, I was very dissapointed after reading the reviews and all the great press the Be-718 were getting, and hearing what I did. What you say with respect to positioning/break in and Tube amplification makes sense.

And I agree totally with you on the Focal Beryllium tweeters as well.
The best advise that I can give you and one that may solve your problems is to find a dealer with large selection of speakers (in your case monitors). If you are lucky , he will let you swap them for a different pair if it is not to your tast. (It will cost you shipping and some time)
There are still good people in this business. You just have to knock on the right door.


Regarding Classe30's experience with the Usher in the 12x12 room, that's the worst scenario for a listening room what any speaker. The Usher being more sensitive just exacerbate the bass even more.

I have a pair driven by Nuforce and have no problem with bass whatsoever. Tight, fast and thumping bass without bloat or overhang whatsoever. The amp plays a big part in getting this speaker right.

Usher and Dynaudio are two different companies whose design philosophy and customer base are again different.

Usher is also good but for me their best product is their entry level S520 and not the 718BE. Funny, IMO, most Usher speakers don't look as good as their cheap brother S520.

For a second system, you don't need fancy speakers like the 718BE to enjoy the house sound of Usher. The S520 is a lot of music for the money.

Krix Equinox is another good speaker. But Krix had to exit the US market simply because they cannot find a good US distributor who is willing to PR well like the people who distribute Usher in North America. See, the speakers they feed to the press for review may not be the speakers that you buy at your local dealer...

I agree with one of the G that buying speakers based on press review is a costly mistake.

After all, those reviewers at Stereophile, 6 Moon, Absolute Sound, etc...don't have your room acoustic and your cheap NAD (as in my cave) and don't have to live with the speakers you bring home. You do.

Well, buy what sounds good to your ears is my point.

I like Dynaudio a bit more than other brands. I like them a little bit more every day that I bought another pair of entry level Audience 52 for my sister.
The Ushers are rather sensitive to room placement. And I would not say the mid-bass is overblown, but i might suggest the upperbass/lower midrange might be with certain placements.
I have 718s, non-BE, and my experience is that, in a room that is reasonably flat, they are reasonably linear. Somewhee around 250Hz, they might have a little more energy than they need to, but otherwise? Not really.
As for not using tubes with them? also not true at all. I've used the Antique Sound Lab ASL AQ-1003, the Hurricanes, a Cayin (not enough power, of course) and Arcam FMJ A-22, a Vincent SV-236 (or whatever that model number was) and found them very good. The areas where they are not state-of-the art:
microdynamics: a little slow in the 718s. Perhaps the BE version improved it, which would be likely, as the tweeter determines the micrdynamic abilities of a speaker. For example, a Mirage 490, with a Titanium dome tweeter, fed by an Arcam Alpha 9, JVC XL Z-1010TN, MIT interconnects, a la 1994, Transparent (1993 generation) speaker cables, has much greater microdynamics than the Usher 718, which has Transparent MM2 speaker cables, Nordost Valhalla inteconnects, Rega, Cambridge, JVC or Meridian CD players. The tweeter is a significant determining factor in realism. I cannot imagine the Ushers sounding quite as poor as Audiofeil says, but I do not know his room. Mine as only a 1 db deviation until somewhere around 80Hz using Stereophile's Test CD. Perhaps in between the frequencies they use it isn't, but otherwise it has good octave-to-octave balance.
I've heard the Usher sound overly warm, but that is not due to tubes: that's just plain wrong. It does not have a particularly low noise floor, but to remind people of Rick Fryer's observations years ago, " transparency decreases as power requirements ASCEND." The Ushers are not sensitive at all, being around 84-85db efficient. This can make them sound somewhat less liquid than some other speakers, but they're certainly not bad at this. However, with the Cambridge 840, I was actually able to hear the floor in some recordings with the ASL 1003, but couldn't hear it withe the Arcam FMJ A-22. They're revealing enough of changes in equipment, which is not indicative of a poor equipment.
I believe it to be a good speaker (the 718), but I imagine the BE version is better.
I write this "review" more to complain about how some HiFi equipment is set up and displayed than to say much useful about either of these speakers.

I really like Dynaudio's house sound, at least for their entry level speakers including the Contours. I don't find them overly warm as has been described here, but think of them as more neutral and enticingly punchy when the source material calls for it and amplification is up to the task, and a high bass output to volume quotient.

I was very excited about the 718 BE's when I first learned about them. I got a chance to hear them at a local store recently, and like previous reviews here, the listening situation and experience was unsatisfactory.

They are certainly nice looking boxes with great fit and finish as is the case with all the Usher's I have seen previously. Unfortunately, they were set up in the entry way of the audio shop in one of those awkward standing displays where the space has only one proximal wall, and that is a glass doorway! On top of this, the speakers were being driven by a low-to-mid-grade tube amp and CDP, the brand escapes me, and the sound was just so so. Not bad, but not anything like the advance hype. The mid range was nice and while the bass was surprisingly strong and lifelike, I did not hear the bass bloat noted by another post. But neither did I hear the much talked about high end to die for out of the BE tweeter.

I was left with the impression that the 718 BE's need and probably deserve some really powerful and quality amplification and sources to get the best out of them, and that they have the potential, although it was difficult to be certain, to be a screaming HiFi deal. It would be ideal for you to listen to both speakers in your room with your equipment and then decide - perhaps trying to purchase used and trade out if you are unhappy with the result.
Knownothing, very good observation - dealers take notes. :)

Ones again - it is not easy speaker to work with.
I listen to 718 Be and AAD 2001 in the same room and the same gear and felt that AAD was far better due to ease of setup and less sensetivity to componet choices.
They cost less too.

It shows you how important the setup, room and choice of components is while auditioning gear or speakers.

Nice write-up Knownothing.

Mariusz, Thanks! It is a real disappointment to feel like you can't get a good demo - helps keep my money in my pocket. As the man says, dealers take note.