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Speakers

Aural pleasures: Dynaudio Focus 160 bookshelf speakers

A perfect, small-room, absolutely audiophile speaker.

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Dynaudio Focus 160 speakers Dynaudio

Listening in a small, New York City apartment-sized room at the In Living Stereo store the Dynaudio Focus 160 speakers were making all the right moves. Their sound filled the space, projecting well ahead of the speakers, and Brian Eno's "Another Green World" LP revealed new textures and details. Percy Jones' nimble fretless bass runs had considerable weight and body, and Robert Fripp's swooping electric guitar lines stayed above the fray. The Focus 160s are very small bookshelf speakers, but their sound had a substantial quality.

Next, Duke Ellington's "Indigos" sounded like a vital, closer to a this-is-happening-now event than a half century old recording. The interplay between Duke at the piano and his big band was immediate and vital. Recordings are time capsules, but with the best speakers and electronics they can sound as fresh as the day they were made.

I've long admired Dynaudio's sound and use their Confidence C1 as one of my reference speakers. Don't let the Focus 160s' demure appearance let you underestimate their power; even the smallest Dynaudios belt out rock or dance music like much larger speakers. That's what made me fall in love with the Dynaudio sound decades ago, and they're one of the rare audiophile speakers that truly excel with home theater, precisely because they can handle extreme dynamic range, and delve deeper into the bass than most similarly sized speakers. The Focus 160 is the perfect small room audiophile speaker.

The front baffle sports a 1-inch (28mm) soft dome tweeter and a 6.5-inch (17cm) magnesium-silicate-polymer woofer, which features an aluminum voice coil, and a die-cast aluminum basket frame. I rarely refer to a speaker manufacturer's frequency response specifications, because they don't really provide an accurate representation of the speakers' sound in an average room, but the Focus 160's impressive 44 Hz - 21 kHz (+/- 3 dB) spec was no exaggeration. That first number, 44 Hz, refers to the Focus 160's remarkably deep bass capability for a speaker that measures a trim 7.9 by 13.8 by 11.6 inches (202x350x294 mm). That's not to say a subwoofer would be out of place, but I'd guess most folks won't be tempted to add one. Impeccably finished real wood veneers add a touch of class to this made in Denmark design.

The Dynaudio Focus 160's US price per pair is $2,900, in the UK they're £1,800, and in Australia they're AU$3,699.