From the opening pages of its product brochure for the new MC 15 active loundspeaker, it’s clear who Dynaudio has in mind as the target audience for these minimonitors. Dynaudio claims the MC 15s deliver “high-definition multimedia sound,” for computer gaming, video soundtracks, and music listening. In other words, these are speakers for everyone, but ones especially suited for music lovers who favor computerbased audio systems.
Nicely dressed up in a dark wood cabinet, the MC 15 is a two-way speaker system powered by two 50- watt internal amps. It sports a 1.1- inch soft fabric dome tweeter and a 5.9-inch magnesium silicate polymer core woofer. The speaker’s claimed frequency response is 55Hz–21kHz. Hefty but not too at 14 lb., the MC 15 has a computer-desk-friendly footprint measuring only 6.7x10.2x9.3 inches.
The MC 15s are well equipped to take up residence beside the monitor on your desktop; they come complete with beefy metal tilt-back stands designed to angle the MC 15 drivers upwards toward a seated listeners’ ears. The MC 15s also put you in control of a number of sonic factors with several sets of rear-mounted switches. A high-pass filter switch gives you three settings for bass control: a FLAT setting, appropriate for when the MC 15s are used as standalone monitors, or 60Hz or 80Hz high-pass filter settings, for when the speakers are used with an optional powered subwoofer. Three other “EQ” switches give you the ability to boost or trim low, mid, and high frequencies. Then, a gain control switch provides three settings—for -4, 0, and +10dB—giving you the ability to adjust gain levels to match the outputs of your PC or other source components (through my Mac Dual-Core Intel Xeon and Rotel pre-amp the 0dB setting worked out fine).
Reasoning that a move from built-in computer speakers such as those that came with my Mac Dual-Core Intel Xeon to desktop mini-monitors warranted recordings with huge dynamics, I wanted to put the MC 15s to task by burning my CD of Carmina Burana [Sony Classics] to my iTunes library (at highest resolution). To be fair, I also selected a range of recordings that weren’t as cathedrallike, such as the Kodály String Quartet’s recording of Schubert’s Der Tod und das Madchen (Death and the Maiden) [Naxos] to gauge the speakers’ ability to capture the range from ’cello to first violin, Kyle Eastwood’s Paris Blue [Rendezvous], featuring jazzy fretless bass and sax, and Lyra Nyro’s New York Tendaberry [Columbia], for piano and voice. Perhaps this is cowardly of me, given Dynaudio’s positioning of these speakers, but I just couldn’t bring myself to dive into a computer game. Maybe next time.
Upon hearing the opening strains of Carmina Burana’s “O Fortuna,” my initial thought was that the MC 15’s bass was in general too muddy and a bit overblown. But after some experimentation I found that by adjusting the LF level on the back of the MC 15s to -2dB, I could alleviate the excess bass reinforcement that was troubling me—probably caused by having my speakers placed too close to the back wall behind my desk. Here you can see the benefit of the many EQ tuning switches Dynaudio provides; rather than being stuck with the acoustics of your desktop, the MC 15s can adapt to fit their environment.
On the MC 15s, the real sweet spot in Carmina Burana was revealed in the song “Ego Sum Abbas” featuring baritone soloist Harve Presnell. His sensitive, yet powerful voice was ably displayed in its full timbre. The interplay of choral voices against higher strings was also convincingly portrayed throughout this piece, though very low bass wasn’t as full as the piece calls for. That being said, the speakers far outperform any of the standard computer speakers I’ve tried on this piece, and they are as good, if not better, than many “near-field” monitors used in recording studios.
Schubert’s Death and the Maiden is not only a good test of a string quartet’s skill level but also a challenge to speakers to reproduce faithfully (and simultaneously) the overlapping yet distinctive voices of ’cello, viola, and second and first violins. In the first movement, the two violins seemed to fare better than viola and ’cello, where the overtones of the larger instruments seemed truncated to a degree. In the achingly beautiful “Andante” movement, however, the blended chordal choir of the instruments sounded fuller, with each voice more distinct and therefore more effective.