DynaudioExcite home theater speaker system

What is it about Denmark? Hamlet's homeland surely has more speaker manufacturers, proportionate to its population, than any other nation. Maybe it's geography: Denmark is dark much of the year, so listening to music must be an attractive option. Maybe it's the weather: It rains a lot there, so people stay indoors - listening to music. Maybe it's the diet: The Danes eat a lot of fish, and everyone knows that eating fish makes you smart, and smart people undoubtedly make better speakers. (Americans don't eat much fish - a fact from which I draw no conclusions.)

Whatever the case, the intelligent, affable Danes (absent the occasional parricide) count among their national treasures really good speakers, including those from Dynaudio. (Though manufactured in Denmark, Dynaudio's offices are actually in Germany, just across the Danish border.) Dynaudio has long focused on the high-ticket, audiophile end of the speaker biz, but its latest Excite line is its most affordable one to date. This reached us in the form of the compact 5.1-channel system reviewed here. All four of the Dynaudio models in the system - the X16 front/left speakers, the X22 center, the X12 surrounds, and the Sub 250 subwoofer - are perfectly conventional in appearance but have quality materials and construction throughout. Two highlights are their unusual metal-finish baffles and the meticulously executed, lacquer-filled real-wood veneers (black, cherry, maple, and rosewood finishes are all available).


I put the X16s on my usual stands, which yielded a tweeter height of about 39 inches - pretty much ideal in my layout. The X22 center arrives with a simple bolt-up metal stand that angles the speaker upward for under-screen installations. The small X12 surrounds went on my usual high sidewall shelves angled toward the rear wall, and I placed the Sub 250 in my proven location left of and behind the left front speaker. All of the Excites have single pairs of high-grade multiway binding posts (from WBT). Apparently Dynaudio doesn't believe in biwiring since none of its models, including the most expensive, have multiple-access input terminals. Interesting.

The Excite X16s quickly demonstrated that they do not like being close to a wall. Trying them about two feet from the back wall (measured to the front baffle) produced disappointingly indistinct mids and lumpy bass. Pulling them out another couple of feet revealed an entirely different pair of speakers - the ones I'll be describing below. Anyone planning to pair the Excites with a wall-mounted TV should take note.