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This is a syndicated and translated report from's December 2010 issue which can be read in its original German version
here - Ed.

Gimme meat!
As company boss and developer of speaker house Dynamikks!, Ulf Moning readily admits to a weakness for vintage stuff. You needn’t enter his facility to recognize the virus. Already the parking lot is infected deeply. I thought that perhaps yes and by gosh, bygones really were better. At least the form factors of cars and motorcycles brook little dissenting opinion. Ulf’s 1973 MGB was way cool already but the fire-engine-red 1958 Roadster MGA was da bomb. More explosive still—at least in the driver’s seat—would have been the MG Midget in the garage. Moning calls it nothing but a go-cart. What the photos don’t show is that the garage contained plenty more of "old shit". Before entering the audio emporium a 1957 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 with chromed tank winked at me seductively with a final bright gleam. No worries though, we have no current plans for a sister rag so vintage cars and bikes won’t figure further.

To wit, today’s visit to the 10.000-strong commune of Birkenau roughly half an hour outside Mannheim and Heidelberg and an hour from Frankfurt did have a clear hifi purpose – to learn more about the Dynamikks outfit and interview its founder about his "somewhat different" speaker concepts. Of course Moning added more than speakers to my invite to Odin’s Forest. There’d be a Logitech Transporter with modified output stage feeding a 1965 Marantz ‘Solid-State 7 Stereo Console’ preamp. There'd be a pair of 100-watt transformer-coupled Altec 1594B transistor monos of similar vintage but fully overhauled and modified. Those would power his newest Year 2010 Monitor 10.15 speaker. That's a 2.5way design in the 75kg fighting class, with true 98dB sensitivity and a 25cm coax mated to a 38cm woofer.

fairaudio: While Dynamikks is two years young, you’ve plied the hifi trade for some 20 years already starting—if I recall correctly—with a student gig.

Ulf Moning: Actually that was preceded by quite a few years of speaker building for friends and their friends. The student job wasn’t that important but toward the mid/late 80s I was offered a real opportunity to work in one of Mannheim’s hifi emporiums. Starting in 1992 I ran the Music & Design shop as owner and we were somewhat of the underdogs in town.

fa: Some people will remember you from the Musicconnection which you ran for many years with Roman Groß. What led to that collaboration and your eventual parting of the ways?

UM: Due to the higher efficiencies of my speakers I got naturally interested in valve amps. Particularly SETs were something new, attractive and off the cuff during the 90s. Roman Groß built ‘em and he was looking for suitable speakers. That’s how we met. One day he showed up with a More Fidelity 300B and especially a 2A3 amp where everything just gelled instantly. Since then we’ve worked together closely and after jointly exhibiting at the HighEnd 1997 show—the same year the Dynavox 3.0 launched—we founded Musicconnection. The years following were filled with creative adventures and our company became a full-service outfit. It was easy for us to develop new things because our ideas and expectations overlapped perfectly to channel inventiveness in effective ways. This led to three complete speaker lines, three electronics lines, turntables, tone arms, cables and accessories. It really was a most productive period.

Eventually things began to diverge however. Consensus became more difficult to find and so was agreement over products. Even our sonic expectations had changed. Divergent notions and interests introduced personal friction and we ended up like any old married couple – with disagreement on principle. Fortunately we reached the breaking point at pretty much the same time. Closing Musicconnection was a quick and painless decision for us both. Of course certain products fell through the cracks like a magnetic linestage but also many speaker models. When I launched Dynamikks I initially transitioned with just one model, the db8.

fa: The Dynamikks name obviously suggests a penchant for energetic playback. Perusing your website on the quick, one pegs you as a high-sensitivity guy. Digging a bit deeper one then hits upon pretty interesting statements like "…many believe that hifi playback ought to be measured by the live experience according to the mantra ‘if it sounds live it’s perfect’. We disagree completely." Elsewhere one finds "physicality/body is key to a musically convincing presentation, hence emotional access to the music". How does one marry high dynamics to the yardstick of not the live event but something as vague as embodiment? How do the twain meet?

UM: The first quote is out of context. 'Live' for me is a very important criterion. That section of our web presentation concerns itself with clarifying what is key to good playback, namely access to the soul of music i.e. the reason why humans since the stone age have been fascinated with music. We listen to music—also at home—to understand the performers’ intentions and to connect with the encoded emotions. In the end that’s more important than a lifelike experience. The live event is always tied to a particular time and place. As such it is a singular event. At home meanwhile we are in charge of the if, when and what. Our motivation and likely also our expectations are different. We look for the ‘magic’. Hence getting closer to that magic is the prime rationale for any playback chain. I deliberately don’t call it a hifi system. Hifi per se can be fun for purely technical reasons like lego for grownups.

Purely sonically, ‘live’ of course remains an important reference. It’ll never be the same within one’s own four walls but it is an important aspect of recognition. I simply find it embarrassing how casually many do reference their setup to the live event. Hence ‘embodiment’. This isn’t a vague term but very tacit response. It’s the sensation that the instruments or singer really could be in the room. That’s very different from imagining things with one’s ears and eyes as is the norm in the Highend.

fa: Sorry, here you lost me.

UM: The eye often misleads the ear such as giving a more precise contour of an instrument than is really the case; or larger physical dimensions. You see how big a guitar is, you expect it to sound that big. If you close your eyes during a live event however, you’ll notice that you perceive the instruments quite differently then. Often they get more diffuse. They also change size depending on how the instrument is played, in what register and at what volume.

fa: How does this relate to playback in the home?

UM: Let me put it this way. There’s a Highend ideal that wishes to hear as the eye sees – cleanly sorted and layered, with each instrument delineated as though by scalpel and as they always put it, in realistic proportions. That depends on a 1:1 ratio between visual and auditory elements. That’s fine and good but not my thing. I doubt it’s realistic, never mind bears any relationship to 'live'. I’d rather listen at home like I do at a concert; with the eyes shut. The sounds have to breath freely, not be confined by a funny hifi straightjacket. That’s what I pursue with a good hardware chain. So yes, 'live' still is a very important aspect. I simply don’t reduce it to high dynamics.

fa: Given this, what did you underdogs sell most in those early days?

UM: Fundamentally Focal kits and turnkey speakers with NAD electronics. That was a lot of fun. In those days Focal’s styling was a breath of fresh air in the dusty and arch-conservative Germanic speaker scene. Their dynamics didn’t hurt either.  Word of mouth quickly spread and folks who had walked off with the latest test winner from their local dealer came to us for their speakers. After a deal was in the till, I often delighted in strapping NAD’s demure gray 3020 integrated with its measly 20wpc to their boxes to demonstrate to their review darling what real bass was. Routinely they walked off also with an NAD and their trophy amp was quickly out of work.

fa: When did you start building commercial speakers? What led up to that?

UM: Decisive here was meeting Colin Hammerton and the Exposure brand which he imported. This became the impetus to develop my first Dynavox speaker. Despite many virtues, the Epos ES14 speaker he had in his portfolio failed to fully unleash the brilliant dynamics the Exposure electronics were capable of. Hence the plan to develop just such a speaker arose. That was in 1991. A year later the Dynavox 2.5 saw the light of day. During the early 90s, high-efficiency speaker options were still sparse. The market thus embraced the Dynavox speaker and further models followed quickly.

fa: Certain readers will wonder why you keep mentioning Dynavox when your brand is Dynamikks.

UM: Indeed. I sadly never acquired protected rights for the Dynavox name in Germany. In early 2009 I thus decided to rebrand myself to DynamiKKs! to avoid being confused with products which Sintron markets.

fa: Fair enough. What characterized your first speakers and which ideas and principles survive with the present offerings?

UM: Obviously dynamics are vital. Speakers ought to be SPL stable. It quickly became obvious that conventional hifi drivers lacked the requisite backbone. I was after a lifelike performance with believable authentic physically tacit bass and brilliant highs with real meat. So I investigated pro drivers. Bingo. Those guys had high-output woofers with hard-hung lightweight membranes. They also had diameters which my requirements demanded but which the hifi vendors lacked. Finally I needed good efficiency since my speakers were to take off with reasonable and affordable amps whilst retaining plenty of headroom to avoid dynamic compression. That point is quite important. With very good recordings amps often run out of steam quicker than is generally acknowledged. Twice the speaker output demands 10 times the amplifier power. Finally my speakers would be two-ways to keep things simple and efficient. Today my fundamental goals haven’t changed but many years later I’m more sensitized to aspects which don’t belong to the usual hifi laundry list such as intensity, emotion and the ability to trigger an internal response.