Dunlavy Aletha

Päivitetty 19.8.2000

Patrick  Verchere

Translation by PORT ROYAL AUDIO

Julkaistu Dunlavy Audio Labsin luvalla

In our previous review of the DUNLAVY SC-IV/A, we were amazed after listening to them, and the same feeling is there when we first listened to the ALETHA, which is able to provide the same accuracy and neutrality, focused images, transparency, and holographic sound.

Again, Mr. John Dunlavy has incorporated a unique combination of design features, but with some new, special ideas in speaker design in order to get a more compact cabinet while keeping the same sound quality and bass extention. This baby is able to reproduce 25 Hz at the listening position with a flat level, and slowly decreases below to 20 Hz .

The DAL ALETHA is not what we would call a conventional speaker. First is it's physical appearance - a hexagonal cabinet with a 25 cm (10") woofer located inside the speaker which fires directly towards the floor. This driver is loaded by the internal closed volume of the cabinet, with the front exit of the speaker loaded by an helmholtz like resonator, radiating single bass wave with a 360 degree pattern. (This particular arrangement looks similar to the 35 year old Empire Grenadier speaker design.) This type of design works very well if the bass is crossed over below 100 Hz, which is the case in the ALETHA, where the cut off frequency between the woofer and mids is 80 Hz. Then 2 x17 cm (6.5") bass/mid drivers are used, along with a 2.5 cm (1") fabric dome tweeter for the high frequencies - all mounted in the "DAL way," meaning perfect acoustic phase relationship between drivers as well as symetrical radiation pattern with a very good control of the stray diffraction. Dimensions are 136 cm (52") from the floor to the top of the cabinet, and the widest part of the hexagon ashape is 41 cm (16").

The filter (crossover) design, a strong point in all DAL speakers, is constructed following the minimum phase error rule, which means that the slopes used are 6db/octave in a bessel first order configuration. The ALETHA can be single or bi-wired, and high quality posts are provided for the cabling.

Like its big sister (SC-IV/A), the ALETHA immediatly shows, right after the music starts, the same incredible 3D imaging with the speakers again disappearing in the room. It is also interesting to note that a poorly mixed CD can be detected immediatly, and the same accuracy on timber, speed, note decay, and extension was available on any quality CD or DVD that was tried.

For the listening sessions, a Mark Levinson combo was used: the ML39 CD player and new integrated amp - the ML383. A DVD player was also used, as well as a Z-Systems RDP-1 for 24 to 20 bits format conversion that the ML39 can accept without truncating. A brand new amp from EM-phi, the Revar Model Two was also used from time to time, which was driven directly by the ML39 preamp section. (The Revar is a 100 watts/channel amp that has no global feedback, and uses an analog computer to calculate the exact amount of output current needed by the speaker load.)

We started the listening session using the Levinson combo. With the trio Shoji Yoko Ushi exerpt from their Geensleeve CD, the rotating leslie's tweeter from the Hammond organ can be heard with its tremolo effect. The bass was accurate and powerful. Cymbals were focused - their sound was full without dryness, and the global feeling/beat makes you want to mark the tempo with your feet since the thing can really swing in the listening room.

Next, we compared a record made with a NAGRA D by Pierre Verany - a 24 bit recording of Rosamonde Quartet, performing the Ravel quatuor, and a recording made by Port Royal Audio of the same piece, performed by students of a music school. The ALETHA is able to pin-point the subtle discrepancies between the two recordings - the reverb, fluidity, and intrument separation, as well as the direct and reverberated sounds: how they (instruments) mix and separate depended upon the position of the musicians on the stage. With the recordings, the sonic truth was always heard - a hallmark of all DAL designs.

With another DVD record, by ARTS Audiophile (an Italian label in 24bits/96khz DVD format) where Trio Italiano is performing Schubert pieces (Arts 47553-6 ), the ALETHAs are just stunning in the way they are able to reproduce the piano notes with a life-like speed, dimension, extension, and timber, all without any stress. At the same time, the viola and cello are well focused, including sound density and perfect coherency. Again, the ALETHAs disappear in the listening room, and the music is just there, with the exact size and color of the venue .

From the same label we chose an exerpt from a percussion recording (Arts 47558-6), a Stockhausen piece, where tympanis, bassdrum, snares etc..., are playing with speed and authority. All those instruments, with so many differents timbres, setup time, and decay on the notes, are reproduced by the ALETHA with ease and without any stress at a level close to the real thing. You can physically feel the sounds on your body without having the floor vibrate.

To conclude, we used another Arts label DVD - a recording of medieval Italian music by Alessandro Oroglio, Primo libro delle canzonette, and Intrade a cinque voci (Arts 47531-6), performed by Il Terzo Suono. The voices are stunning and focused, with musical density and perfect separation of all syllabs and melody lines .

Like the SC-IV/A, the ALETHAs are a giant step in the art of reproducing recorded music. Go and discover them as they are able to perform well, even in a small listening room.

DAL-Aletha-Measurements.jpg (97386 bytes)


ROOM and SYSTEM infos for this review

ROOM SIZE:  18 x 15 x 8 FEET
RT60 of the room: (REVERB TIME to get -60dB of the initial sound)
480 millisecond @ 63 Hz and 152 millisecond @ 8kHz
LISTENING POSITION: 10 FEET from each speaker in the largest dimension, (9 FEET between speakers).
D to A CONVERTER: MARK LEVINSON ML360S (24 bits 192kHz) 
AMP INTEGRATED:  MARK LEVINSON ML334 (2x130 watts 8 ohms)
AMP:   REVAR AUDIO MODEL TWO (2x100 watts o ohms)
ACCESSORIES:  REVAR AUDIO LINE CURRENT PROCESSOR between output of ML360S and SILTECH INTERCONNECT and between output of ML380S and SILTECH INTERCONNECT going to the ML334. (The purpose of the Line Current Processor is to eliminate cable artifact and random energy storage.) 




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