I hope you’re doing well.
We spoke a while ago about a pair of Focal speakers I was going to get that you had reviewed. I changed my mind and bought a pair of Raidho Acoustics TD1.2s instead. A good friend of mine bought a pair at the same time.
We both loved them but within six weeks he sold his and bought a pair of Dutch & Dutch 8c active speakers. He felt they were the only standmounted speakers that outperformed the Raidhos.
After eight months I finally got a chance to hear my buddy’s D&Ds and I was mighty impressed.
Since you reviewed the D&D 8c speakers, I’m wondering how you think they would compare to my Raidhos (if you know anything about them)?
For your information, I also have an Innuos Zen Mk3 music server; the Innuos PhoenixUSB reclocker; an Esoteric K-05X SACD/CD player, which I use as a DAC for the Innuos server; and finally, a PrimaLuna Dialogue Premium preamp and McIntosh Laboratory MC302 amp.
I listen to a lot of acoustic jazz, and although the TD1.2s’ bass is the strongest of any previous Raidho speakers, sometimes I feel they are lacking somewhat in this area. I could just add a sub, of course, but the D&D’s twin subwoofers make it an attractive option.
Since you know these D&Ds well, I’d sure appreciate it if you could give me your thoughts on any of this.
Okay, from the jump, let me be unequivocal. Of all the audio components I’ve ever reviewed, the D&D 8c has left me with the most lasting impression. It’s truly a one-box, turnkey solution (i.e., active speakers with DAC and room EQ) that offers sound quality beyond reproach. Well, two boxes, actually. The speaker measures exceptionally well, too! The listening-window frequency response—and the off-axis response—is textbook perfect. The speaker does have a bit more distortion than some other high-quality speakers, but I didn’t hear it when I had them in my room—just buttery-smooth mids and an airy top end, with bass punch and extension that was hard to believe!
If you wanted to equal what the D&Ds can give you in terms of full-range sound with a conventional, non-active system, you would need a high-quality system built around full-range tower speakers in a large, professionally acoustically treated room, backed up with lots of acoustic measurements to optimize speaker positioning. Or (since most of us don’t have such a room), you’d need something like this:
- Top-of-the-range two-way speakers (I believe this is what you have, but I’ve never heard Raidho speakers, and we’ve never measured them)
- A high-quality sub (or preferably two)
- A quality amp
- A line-level high-pass filter (HPF) for bass management
- A quality preamp
- A top-notch room EQ processor (e.g., Dirac Live or Anthem ARC)
- A quality DAC
In my opinion, if you were to omit just one item from this list, you would not quite achieve what a pair of 8c’s can deliver; and with the entire list, it would take some tweaking and experimentation with Dirac Live (or equivalent) to get there. There are preamps available that include a DAC, room EQ functionality, and bass management, so you could save on components that way: for example, the Anthem STR, the miniDSP SHD, and the NAD C 658.
In your case, if you wanted to keep what you have, but compete with the D&Ds, you’d need an HPF between your amp and preamp, and something like a miniDSP DDRC-22D (which is what I use) between your music server and DAC to implement Dirac Live. Plus, of course, the most important ingredient—a good sub (or preferably two). This is what I do in my system.
What are the drawbacks of a pair of D&Ds? There are only two I can think of, and they are unrelated to sound quality. If (like most of us) you’re in a typical, compromised listening environment, in terms of size and/or acoustic treatment, you simply can’t get much better sound quality, at any price, than the Dutch & Dutch 8c standmounts. The only drawbacks I can find are their looks (they’re not the prettiest), and arguably, their anti-audiophile ethos. What do I mean by that? Many of us actually prefer to have multiple boxes in our systems, each with its own dedicated audio purpose in the chain—it’s a fun part of the hobby. With the D&Ds, you add a music streamer with an AES/EBU digital output and you’re all set. It all comes down to what you’re looking for in your listening space.
Hope that helps a bit,