Dynaudio Excite X14A
Input: single-ended RCA and balanced XLR pairs
Dimensions: 6.7 x 11.1 x 9.7/10.3" (170 x 282 x 246/262 mm)
Weight: 6.5 kg
Availability: Authorized Dealers
What do we want, ideally, from an active desktop speaker? I know, everything.
The Dynaudio Excite X14A is the active version of their Excite 14 speaker. Each X14A houses two 50W digital amps, one for each driver, so you get 100W per channel. The proprietary Dynaudio drivers consist of a soft dome tweeter and MSP (magnesium silicate polymer) long-throw woofer. Frequency response is rated at 45Hz to 23kHz by Dynaudio. The speaker cabinet is a rear-ported bass-reflex design and the 14A's are as solid as rocks. The speakers are built in-house at the company headquarters in Skanderborg, Denmark.
On the X14A's backside you'll see three equalizer switches for adjusting bass, midrange and treble to suite your environment. The high-pass filter (60 or 80 Hz) is for using the X14A with a subwoofer although 45Hz on the desktop is pretty full, imo. There's also an input sensitivity switch (three levels), and an Auto On, Auto Off button. You can also choose to just leave the X14A's on all the time. Finishing off the back panel is the on/off switch and the power inlet for the included power cords.
The Excite X14A come in a number of finishes including real-wood Walnut and Rosewood veneers, as well as Satin Black and Satin White lacquer. The review pair are clad in the lovely tiger-stripe Rosewood finish. The drivers are surrounded by matt aluminum rings and the Dynaudio logo sits underneath. The cabinet's front edges are chamfered giving the X14A's a slightly slimmer look than their 6.7" width would suggest. I find their size to fit perfectly on my desktop, which is 5' x 30". For this review, I sat the X14A's atop the highly recommended IsoAcoustics SO-L8R155 Speaker Stands (see review).
The remainder of the review setup consists of my iMac running Audirvana connected to the Mytek Stereo192-DSD DAC via Firewire. The Mytek was leashed to the X14A's with lengths of Kimber Kable Select KS 1126 Balanced ICs. Time to play.
Some things in hi-fi are as plain as day. Thankfully. When I first connected the Dynaudio X14A's to the Mytek DAC and hit Play on Audirvana, I laughed out oud. The sound of Bjork's voice from her most recent album Vulnicura was resplendent. Clear, present, rich, and beautifully solid. The Excite X14A's delivered Bjork in all her power and glory right there in my ears, in my head. Lovely. Just plain lovely.
The X14A's do not exhibit any self noise which is a must-have feature for any desktop speaker. They also exhibit a very smooth and sweet top end without even a hint of glare or etch. Like honey. The mid-range is full and rich, much fuller and richer than my ADAM A3X's (see review) which is to be expected for any number of reasons including the ADAM's smaller size. The X14A's bass response also goes much deeper than the tinier A3Xs so you also get a more powerful and full-range sound. All-in-all, the Dynaudio's absolutely out-class the ADAM's in every conceivable way, as they should considering the price difference. There is simply more musical there, there.
I played all manner of music through the X14A's and they excelled at everything. This is the first time I've experienced sound from a desktop speaker that begins to come close to what I'm used to with my DeVore Fidelity The Nines driven by my Pass INT-30A amp. While this much more costly pair certainly deliver even more room-filling sound as well as an even richer musical sound image, the Dynaudio's offer up a healthy helping of musicality and finesse that leaves behind every other desktop speaker that has come through here with the exception of the slightly more costly and larger Focal Solo6 Be (see review).
The X14A's are extremely cohesive, refined, and flat out pure pleasure. I cannot think of an area where I would ask for improvement with the possible exception of even greater frequency extension down low. I say "possible" because I find the X14A's reach to be plenty sufficient for nearfield desktop listening. My new(ish) listening room resides in a fairly large, open barn and the Dynaudio's also did a fine job of filling the space beyond the confines of my desk. While I do not have interconnect cables that are long enough to spread the X14A's out to a position suitable for my room, I can easily see them servicing a small listening space.
I don't know about you, but I really enjoy nearfield desktop listening. I especially like it when a speaker and the music coming through it make it impossible to do anything other than close your eyes and listen. Snow Ghosts, Schubert, PJ Harvey, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Ibeyi, Future Brown, THEESatisfaction, and on and on all proved to be deeply moving, deeply felt through the Dynaudio X14A's.
If you spend real time at your desk and you enjoy listening to music, lots of music, and you value the quality of its reproduction, the Dynaudio X14A's deliver as much of everything as I've heard from an active speaker. Bravo! (and I do not want to see them go...)
Also in-use during the Dynaudio review: ADAM A3X