These speakers are really in their element when reproducing female vocals and piano. Lyra Nyro’s “You don’t love me when I cry” from New York Tendaberry focuses primarily on the mid to upper range of the piano keyboard and the high range of Nyro’s voice. What caught my ear in this case was the nice sustain of Nyro’s piano chords over which her emotionally charged voice rang clear and succinct. I’ve heard lesser speakers fail here, so the Dynaudios had me sitting up and paying attention. The MC 15’s faithful reproduction throughout this album made listening to Nyro an energizing and enjoyable experience.
I also found the MC 15s to be very jazz-friendly speakers. Kyle Eastwood’s fretless bass work on “Marrakech” from his album Paris Blue loomed large and forward on the soundstage, which was broad, with instruments clearly defined, though not particularly deep. Overall, the listening experience was so enjoyable, I didn’t want to stop until the last cut on the album—not an experience I’ve had with passive computer speakers.
Curious as to how the MC 15s would sound when driven by a conventional preamp rather than a PC, I played my selected tracks through the combination of an Oppo universal player and the preamp section of my Rotel integrated amp. I found that dynamics were immediately better and the sound stage a bit wider, though tonal balance followed much the same pattern as on the Mac. The Dynaudios are at their best from the lower midrange on up, which is not to say that their bass is deficient. It’s just that the MC 15’s mid-to-upper bass, though clear and well-defined, is not as rich and full as in some competing small monitors. Then again, you do have the option of adding Dynaudio’s companion Sub 250MC subwoofer.
During my tests, I did back and forth comparisons between the MC 15s and the conceptually similar Quad 11L Active Loudspeaker (reviewed in our sister publication, The Absolute Sound, Issue 176). I would characterize the Quads as having a fuller and more rounded sound with deeper, richer bass. The MC 15s, by contrast, were more focused, though also somewhat brighter. Which speaker you prefer will largely be a matter of taste. Between these two, I often found myself preferring the one I was listening to at the moment.
If you’re a computerphile who wants music streaming from your desktop and at the quality level of small monitors you might find in a recording studio, the MC 15s will put any standard computer speaker to shame—no contest. For small room audiophile listening, the Dynaudios are also worthy of consideration, although they are not without their rivals in the sub-$1500 range. What Denmark-based Dynaudio has done with the MC 15s is put a powerful bi-amplification system inside a speaker with a very small enclosure, one that won’t crowd a desktop or small room, but that will provide substantial sound output and listening enjoyment.