Saturday, September 17, 2011

Proac Response D1

Introduction

The Proac Response D1 is the successor to the Response 1SC. The 1SC was quite popular in this part of the world. Given that our listening rooms are typically quite small (3x4m being about the average size of a bedroom here), there is a big market for high performance speakers that can perform well in smaller acoustic spaces.

Physically, the D1 is a compact (30.5 cm high, 16.8 cm wide, 26 cm deep), but heavy (9 kg) bookshelf speaker.

Available in a wide variety of real wood veneers, the D1 has exemplary finishing and would not be out of place in a picture spread of a home interior magazine.


The D1 in Cherry veneer - Pretty as a picture !
























The D1 is a larger speaker than its predecessor, especially in terms of depth. The tweeter drive unit seems similar (a custom Scanspeak silk dome model), while the bass / midrange unit has been changed. The 1SC woofer has a transparent cone with cooper phase plug model, while the D1 has a black glass fiber cone with acrylic phase plug. 

Custom manufacturer Scanspeak silk dome tweeter  

Note the acrylic phase plug

Rhodium plated bi-wiring terminals

On paper, the D1 has slightly better efficiency (87.5 db / 1W / 1m) than the 1SC (86 db / 1W / 1m). Both speakers are rated at a nominal 8 Ohm impedance.

The D1 also is claimed to have improved cabinet damping and crossover parts over the 1SC.

Bi-wiring terminals are provided.


Partnering Equipment


The D1 was placed on Atacama SE24 stands (1/3 filled with sand) in my 3 x 3.5 meter listening room. They were pulled out approximately 70 cm from the rear wall.

Partnering equipment is as follows :-

Source


Squeezebox Touch as transport (powered by Kingrex PSU-Mk II power supply)
Pioneer PD-77 CD player as transport
Audio Gd DAC-19 DSP

Amplification


Cary SLI-80 Signature Special Edition integrated tube amplifier (Shuguang Black Treasure KT-88 power tubes, Mullard 6922 preamp tubes and Tungsol re-issue 6SN7 driver tubes, Cetron 5R4 rectifier tubes)

Accessories


Oyaide DR-510 digital cable
Canare L5-CFB digital cable
Acrolink 7N-A2070 interconnect
Oyaide Tunami power cord (Cary)
Acrolink 6N-P4030 power cord (wall to distributor)
Acrolink 6N-P4030 power cord (Kingrex PSU)
Acrolink 7N-P4030 power cord (Audio-Gd)
Acrolink 7N-S1000 speaker cable

Performance

I have never heard the 1SC and therefore can only make direct comparisons with the Tablette 50, which I owned for a number of years.

I experimented with speaker positioning and listened to the speaker for about a week before settling down to make some detailed notes. My speaker cables on hand are terminated for single wiring, so I used some high quality jumper cables to facilitate single wiring.

Pairing was only attempted with tube amplification, as my past experience with Proac speakers is that they work exceptionally well with glowing tubes.The D1 liked my Cary more. Although it had excellent tone with my Almarro A-318B, there was a lack of grip and extension. Given its average sensitivity, I would not try the D1 with single digit watt tube amps or other flea powered amps.

Giving the speakers a quick spin, the first thing that strikes you is the excellent integration between both drive units. The second thing is the pin-point imaging and soundstaging.

Coming from my usual speakers, the Focal Micro Utopia Be, my mind had to adjust for the lack of scale and bass weight. But once this is done, you get used to the somewhat lightweight but high quality tight and tuneful bass on offer. It lacks the slam needed for heavy metal and orchestral pieces, and is more suited for the listener with a music diet of jazz, chamber music and vocal works.

The Tablette 50 in comparison has significantly more colouration in the upper bass, with a noticeable chestiness. The D1 sounds a lot more open and avoids the more technicolour presentation of the Tablette 50. I believe that the far better constructed cabinet of the D1 has a part to play in this, with better damping, bracing, and less resonance.

I noticed also that the D1 became more comfortable as the volume knob was advanced. It is quite unflappable even at rather anti-social volumes. The bass comes alive and the initial impressions of a lightweight bass go out the window at higher than moderate volumes. Of course, the law of physics cannot be changed, and low frequency output is limited. However, the bass does belie the physically small dimensions and is tuneful and fast. From a PRAT perspective, the D1 scores top marks. Looks like the D1 is not really for those late night, low volume listeners then.

The D1 has all the hallmark strengths of the Proac brand, like a communicative midband, and a high level of transparency. From a presentation viewpoint, it avoids the hyper detailed and analytical approach, preferring to present musical information in a coherent, and musical manner.

The midband in particular is to be praised for striking the right balance between being open and smooth. Cai Qin sounds suitably rich and weighty, but without obscuring detail. Eva Cassidy still sounds clear and at times piercing (this is inherent in many of her recordings).

High frequencies are quite well extended and clean. The tweeter unit is not the most resolving, but is always well behaved.

On the D1’s weaknesses, a small amount of spatial information and microdetail are lost. Although imaging and soundstaging are precise, they tend to be flatter in perspective compared to class leaders. Listening to familiar materials like Eva Cassidy’s Live at the Blues Alley, and various Patricia Barber albums, I noticed a lack of perception of image depth and height. Instruments and voices are conveyed accurately, but the timbre and texture, as well as the air around the instruments and the singer are not resolved as well.

Violin pieces sound sweeter than usual and there is a slight lack of bite and feel for the resonance from the instrument’s body. This cuts both ways, since it also flatters poor recordings. Thankfully, Piano has the correct timbre and tone, with good attack, weight and feel for both the hammer strike and frame / soundboard.

Conclusion

The D1 is a nice bookshelf speaker. Well suited to bedroom and small listening setups, it is a very competent performer and is engaging and entertaining.

However, price wise, at more than S$ 3,000 per pair, it is expensive for its performance, and faces very stiff competition. It does not suit all musical taste, and will not satisfy the detail spotters. The lack of low frequency extension rules out heavy rockers and metal lovers.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good review mate. May I ask if you have compared the D1 to Monitor Audio GX50? I was wondering how the D1s compare to the GX50s in high frequency extension, bass punch and dynamics.

Cheers.

Eric said...

I've not compared the D1 to the GX50, but I've always had a soft spot for Monitor Audio speakers. The house sound is quite engaging and more tolerant of equipment matching and poorly recorded material. I've found some of the older Monitor Audio speakers a bit bright and need a bit of careful matching in order not to sound too fatiguing.

calvin said...

I am pretty much decided to get the naim xs integrated amp. May I hear your opinion on matching it with the d1? The Xi sounds great with the neat momentum 3i in the showroom but it's quite pricy @4.5k. What is the price range for the d1?

Many thanks.

Mamangrock said...

This review really help me a lot,can you suggest a bookshelf speakers which can handle metal music than..