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This review first appeared in the May 2012 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of the DynamiKKs! Monitor 8.12 in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of fairaudio or DynamiKKs!- Ed.

Reviewer: Ralph Werner
Sources: VPI Scout II, SME MS  12-inch, VPI JMW 9T, Denon DL-103, Ortofon MC Rondo Bronce, Zu Audio DL-103, SAC Gamma Sym, Luxman D-05, Logitech Squeezebox 3, Readynas Duo, HP Notebook, Benchmark DAC1 USB, NorthStar USBdac32
Amplification: Octave HP300 with phono, Electrocompaniet AW 180,  Denon PMA 2010AE
Loudspeakers: Ascendo System F, Blumenhofer Fun 13, Thiel SCS4
Sundry accessories, cables and racks
Review component retail: starting at €9.900/pr

When during our factory tour I'd asked DynamiKKs! Soundcraftsman’s Ulf Moning about the genesis of his Monitor 10.15, he said that being a Bauhaus fan had influenced his "loudspeaker architecture". Hmm. I’d have guessed cubism. Regardless, it clearly was no case of classic slimlinism. I felt very sympatico. As bullishly edgy as the 10.15 was cosmetically, so feathery light and self-assured it had performed during our brief audition in Birkenau. I was thus quite tempted to ask for a review loaner. Except for two things. One, it’s not necessarily fun to drag 75kg of boxes through endless A/Bs. Two, I knew Moning’s Monitor Series was forthcoming. And now that had launched with two models, the 12.18 and today’s smaller Monitor 8.12. Its 55kg - er, micro boxes would be far easier on my back.

Seriously though, it really wasn’t tough particularly since the Monitor 8.12 arrives decapitated as foot, bass belly and coax head. Stack the building blocks and presto, a speaker. Everything fits so tightly that no bolts or other fasteners are required. Luvely! Being three-point coupled, not even the plinth wobbles (you have a choice of spikes, furniture glides or castors). Snap in the umbilical between the head and belly of Moning’s boxes and off she goes.

Or not quite as quickly. If you want tech first. Background, company history and sonic ideals were covered in our tour. Most of it reflects in the 8.12. Some specifics nonetheless.

The DynamiKKs! Monitor 8.12 is a bass reflex 3-way. It's nothing particularly eccentric on paper though not conventional exactly. The first such spec indication is a 93dB/1W/1m rating. This true sensitivity reflects instantly on your preamp’s volume setting. I didn’t dare make 12:00. At 9:00 it often already got too loud. This rating is achieved with special pro-arena drivers, an 8-inch dual-concentric Beyma and 12" woofer of US providence. This also explains the 8.12 nomenclature. Duh.

The woofer works to 150Hz whence the coax’s midrange takes over to 1.800Hz above which the tweeter horn is boss. Division occurs by Butterworth and Bessel filters with electrical 12dB/octave slopes. Added to the mechanical driver roll-off this sums to an acoustic 4th-order which Moning fancies for minimized driver overlap, good impulse response and a low parts count. Said filter occupies a separate sub chamber in the head unit to avoid microphonic reactions from internal sound pressures. My eyes now caressed the bass bin with ill-disguised fondness. Blame macho conditioning into cone surface and suitable air volume behind proper woofers. This 25cm hard-hung paper diaphragm sees an 80-liter enclosure with a fist-thick rear-firing port (a very profane plastic bit). Until now my experiences with rear ports hadn’t exactly been without criticism since depending on room and wall distance things can get a bit much. Moning however cites desirable room coupling to advice against free room placement. Half to a full meter of front wall proximity is optimal says he; and that it really doesn't sound "like bass reflex. Particularly the low bass works better with rear ports as the speaker then acts as quasi bipole to make room modes less critical". His word in God’s ear I thought.

The lion’s share of the audible range is obviously covered by the sealed-box coax. Its midrange membrane is paper too, albeit reinforced with a small percentage of carbon fiber. Moning himself mounts the polymer tweeter with vapor-deposited Titanium layer to not entrust its very critical centering to a supplier. He too is a surface fan with tweeters already and notoriously dismissive of puny 25mm domes and their weak response. His unit is a full 44mm in diameter and loads into a horn whose 105mm opening becomes the effective radiation surface.

This aluminium horn is of the constant-directivity type to ensure that outside the tweeter's direct axis all HF components (1.8 – 20kHz) and not merely the highest treble roll off gradually and evenly for superior integration and a larger sweet spot. The horn geometry is important also for not having its backside reflect midrange components which could lead to partial cancellation or addition. This, so Moning, is avoided by instead funneling the midrange radiation through the slot between horn rim and baffle. This works as quasi "diffraction filter" and in fact creates broader off-axis response than would be possible with a "nude" midrange sans tweeter horn. Broader off-axis response here also entails matching the horn’s radiation pattern.

One optical detail of the Monitor Range is the 5° angle of the bass bin and the mirrored counter angle of the neck which turns the coaxial head parallel with the floor again. But this solution is more than mere cosmetics. DynamiKKs! claims it makes the following acoustic sense:

  • Better coupling of woofer to floor which ‘repurposes’ the latter as a quasi bass horn.
  • At typical listening distances both woofer and coax aim at the ear to better approach a single sound source and continue the coaxial point-source idea.
  • Since the woofer fires upward a bit, its acoustic center coincides with that of the coax to invoke the usual key words of time alignment, phase coherence and minimized group delay.

About the precise material for his enclosure Ulf Moning was extensive yet somewhat elusive: "It’s a triple sandwich whose outer layers are highly pressurized wood dust for great density whilst the core consists of irregularly shaped irregularly sized and arranged soft-wood particles. This flattens out the amplitude of resonant modes over a broader range to avoid audibly obvious narrow peaks. The typical knuckle rap fails to confirm its effectiveness however since such knocks are completely unrelated to the actual frequency spectra the speaker triggers when it plays." Time to leave the school of hard knocks. Time to start listening.