Dynaudio Factory Visit
Ever wondered what the insides of your speaker would look like? Or what goes into making and designing one? I have always been fascinated by the process of manufacture and the technical details of each product I use or own. So when the opportunity came for me to go and see the Dynaudio factory, I literally jumped at it!
I was invited to their factory by the local dealership and I joined a bunch of dealers from Australia and New Zealand to Skanderborg near Aarhus in Denmark the HQ of this renowned speaker brand. Here, they design, measure and make the world famous speakers. You take a flight from a major European city (we came from the Munich High End Show), and then it's a 30 minute car ride to the factory, and if you come in late spring, you will see fields of canola or rapeseed flowering.
Well there has been. Firstly you will see a few people working there that hardly look like Viking descendants. In fact they look very Chinese. They bring expertise and know how and the new management also has a few Chinese faces too. In return, they have brought money and that has allow Dynaudio to go much deeper into R&D, and one big new development is the Jupiter. No, they didn't buy the planet, but this is a brand new measurement facility which costs more than five million euros. It's a vast room, with 31 microphones in an array exactly 6 degrees apart that can measure all directions and the speakers can be elevated up to the middle of the room and measured. Each cycle takes only 20 minutes and you can design new speaker cabinets, try out new drivers and measure the performance then improve upon them in a much faster cycle.
That brings us to the drivers and the actually factory. Dynaudio belongs to one of the few companies which do the entire speaker themselves. From the cabinets, to the drivers, and of course putting everything together, they are able to do so in house and now with the aid of the Chinese power house, they can expand more rapidly and bring up production levels more quickly. It takes about a day to make a single driver... that's effort for you.
The original Dynaudio factory was a small single floor simple building almost in the middle of nowhere, and whilst that building remains, they have expanded tremendously and the factory is almost thrice the original size. Whilst you get a feel that it's a lair of crafts men and women, you also see more machines such as those which help assemble the drivers that go into VW cars. The actual production line is carefully hidden behind red screens and no photographs are allowed there.
Now despite being an outsider, once you have been there a couple of days, the workers get used to your presence and you can quietly observe them at work. One thing you do see is that they are smiling as they work. Denmark has been voted one of the best places to stay and it shows. The workers are chatting and are happy. The design of the factory is not over complicated and there are plenty of windows. Each has their Dynaudio tee shirt and pants and even their protective eyewear has their logo. Quite a few of the workers have been there for many years and eat, live and breath Dynaudio.
Just like Roland Hoffman, who goes about the world introducing their speakers. He more than just a spokesman. He is like an evangelist for Dynaudio. He has risen through the ranks since he joined in 2001 from Marantz and remains very passionate about his products. It's always good when a man believes in what he sells and loves his job. Although he hails from Hamburg, he is really into everything Danish, and even takes his vacation on Danish holiday homes.
It is almost magical how the Danish take a few pieces of metal, plastic and wood, then shape and screw it together into something that produces such wonderful sounds. Like a wonderful brew, they have their special sauce, which consists of how they make the MSP material for their woofers, the crossovers, their large neodymium magnets and oversized voice coils. Each step shows evidence of careful design. For example the wires for the tweeter are teased onto the outside of the tweeter baffle so the wires are not pressed beneath the baffle. Or how they insert half a millimeter diameter wires onto their woofers during the glueing process to keep the drivers centered during the drying process. You really feel they are dedicated to their craft.
The feeling continued into their cabinet makers, and you really feel they are making furniture and not merely speakers. The veneers for their speakers are matched and the entire cabinet becomes a work of art, something you wouldn't mind putting as a centerpiece in your living room.As you observe the workers going about their tasks, there's a certaindedication and joy in their work. Each driver is tested and if defects are found, the driver is discarded and not merely tossed but deliberately ruined so no one takes it to make some DIY speaker for himself.
I have new found admiration for the Danish in general and also the workers at Dynaudio in particular.
Some details are still under wraps but the new cabinet is shaped like a bullet, with a special molded baffle made from a composite material that Is very strong and yet allows absorption of vibrations. It continues with the design language of the Contours, and appears to be floating in front of the main cabinet. The tweeter is a single piece, unlike their previous range and relies on the shape of the baffle to focus the sound towards the listener. The drivers are all new, with a new Esotar3 tweeter and a woofer that they say won't bottom out.Obviously the proof is in the listening and whilst we only had the Confidence 60 to listen to, I dare say they are onto something great. Some fans will be perturbed or perhaps disappointed by the big jump in price, but this new series is designed not only to replace their Confidence series. They have also taken buyers' feedback into account and reduced the height of their speakers.At first sight, there doesn't seem to be any ports, but the ports are actually at the bottom and this applies even to their bookshelf C20. The stand is specific to the speaker and allows airflow as part of its design. I look forward to listening to them extensively in the near future. They are slated to be in customers' hands in the last quarter of this year.
As most Dynaudio fans will know, the Chinese company Goerterk bought over Dynaudio in 2014 and there have been worries about how this will affect Dynaudio. Like Volvo, another Scandinavian company bought over by the Chinese, it has been largely beneficial. Yes they now make drivers and other components overseas now in their parent company's facilities and cabinets are also brought in from elsewhere.Apart from their facility in Skanderborg, they also have cabinets done in Latvia and some of their custom install series drivers are made in their parent company's plant in China. Their new award winning Music system is also made in China. Given the production standards that can be achieved there, it may be a sign of the times but most of their main home and car audio drivers are still made in Skanderborg. This is something that has happened to many other speaker companies. Roland is quick to assure that this won't affect the quality of their product and that reputation for dedication to quality sound is not something they want to sell out on. This is also why they won't simply slap their logo on OEM products like cheap headphones or Bluetooth speakers just to make a quick buck.This is reassuring as they realize it will be folly to simply transfer their manufacturing wholesale overseas as Danish cabinetry is as much a part of their tradition as is in house driver production.So what did I take away from the visit? Well it has reinforced my impression that it's a company that is dedicated to making speakers that make good music fidelity and that commitment pervades right down to every single worker. With such effort and passion, I think they will continue to churn out award winning products and I look forward to listening to them.