Daedalus Music DA-1 Loudspeaker Experience
Part I

Below you will find my personal findings and experience after spending some time with the Daedalus DA-1 loudspeaker. I found it necessary to write this review due to the fact that these speakers offer the listener something different from the normal "audiophile" experience. Yes, I am a dealer for these speakers. No, my findings are not biased. They are the my true and honest experience and as always, I recommend you audition for yourself to conclude on your own that the following comments are accurate.

I received my DA-1s the last week of February 2005. My comparison reference speaker is a pair of custom modified Usher CP-7388s which house two 8" bass units, one 7" midrange driver and a single 1" textile tweeter. The midrange section of the crossover utilizes VH Audio "OIMP" (oil impregnated metalized polypropylene) capacitors.

Upon first unpacking these speakers, you will find the first obvious difference. They are hand built of solid hardwoods. I ordered my pair in Cherry which comes with a thick solid Black Walnut front baffle and rear panel. All the joints are done in old school dove tail joinery, a very time consuming procedure. You will not find an exotic Ferrari Red paint job, or a special, patented formula of finishes, just pure old style craftsmanship. 

Daedalus Audio is owned by Lou Hinkley and has been well known in the pro-audio world for many years. The new Daedalus Dynamic DA-1 is Lou's largest speaker and his first attempt into the Audiophile world. The DA-1 incorporates a different set of rules as compared to "typical" audiophile speakers. The DA-1s are a fine example of how we can integrate the thoughts and theories of pro-audio into the audiophile community. And very well done, I might add.

Now it's time to listen:

I can assure you that if you are use to typical audiophile speakers, you will be either shocked or amazed (or both) when you hear the DA-1s for the first time. When I first fired up the DA-1’s, I quickly discovered their pro-audio heritage, they are the most dynamic speakers that I have every experienced. With 96 DB efficiency, even my 40 watt 805 tube amp brought out an amazing sense of dynamics and realism. This is due to the custom made bass drivers that are actually based on pro-series units. Let's break this down.

First I have to state that I am not a reviewer and never would or could be. I know what I hear but cannot always put it into the proper context on paper. I will not go into 3 page long details but rather try to concentrate on the impact these speakers had on me. Bare with me. 

There are two areas that strike on the first impression. First the upper end is very well extended and airy. I first felt like something was missing but soon realized I still had the characteristics and expectations of that typical audiophile speaker in my head. Simply stated, the upper end came across as being true to the performance. The next area that truly lets you know you are listening to a speaker of a different flavor is the bass. I have heard many high-end,  full range speakers over the years and have never come across one that portrayed the kind of dynamics of the DA-1s. Yes, the others have great dynamics, impact, rhythm and pace but none that did so with such realism.

The midrange characteristics of these speakers is a bit confusing at first. Again, if you are use to the "typical" speaker, you may not understand the DA-1's characteristic at first. You must give them time and go into it with an open mind. You will not regret it. The first few tracks I listened to was a different experience for me as I was not sure what I was hearing. There were times when I thought something was missing, times when I thought things were congested and even times when I thought the speakers were broken. I decided to sit and listen for about an hour to get a sense of what was going on. (I only had an hour as I was supposed to take my wife and kids out for dinner). This is where things got weird.  The more I listened, the more I got drawn into the music. I was no longer trying to evaluate the speakers but rather found myself very content and even excited at the same time. It was like I was attending a live performance with the artist being in the room with me. I know you hear every reviewer speak of the "you are there" experience but after spending time with the DA-1, this phrase brings on a whole new meaning. Long story short, my 1 hour turned into 3 hours without even realizing it. Yes, my wife was pissed but she understands how [we] are. She's over it now but it cost me a new pair of shoes for her at the mall.

Let's wrap this up:

My overall impressions of these speakers may not sit well with the typical audiophile, at least not at first. I find the DA-1 to be the most enjoyable speakers I have ever listened to. Can I still enjoy my other conventional audiophile speakers? You bet and I will continue to do so. 

Here it is in a nutshell. The DA-1s are a different speaker from the "norm". Many may think they would be like listening to a pro-sound setup at a live event. This is NOT the case. When you listen to these speakers, you are at the live venue itself. You will not feel you are listening to speakers at all. They will not exist. You will listen for hours and not even realize how much time has passed. You will not want to stop and turn off your system at night. You may not want to go to work in the morning. You may even charge admission for others to come in and experience the live music you are experiencing in your living room. If you are listening with a vinyl setup, forget it, you're done.

Typical speakers have a WOW effect that can grab you on first listen. This is fine but that WOW effect can often disappear after a few days in you own system The Daedalus DA-1 has a reverse WOW effect, they impress you the more you listen.

The DA-1s are not and will not be for everybody. For those who do audition these speakers, please do not walk away after only a few minutes as it will take a little longer to get those perceived expectations out of your head. I have never said anything like this before but I honestly feel that if you give them a few hours of your time, they will change your life and the means in which you listen to and appreciate music. You truly have to experience them for yourself to understand how this happens.

For 50 years, our goal has been to try and reproduce, and play back music with a sense of realism, "recreating the live event". Well, I think I have arrived and I personally want to thank Lou Hinkley for getting me there. 

System in review:

Amplification: Highly modified Ming-Da MC805AA producing 40 watts of 805 power. All controls have been removed in favor of running as a power amp.
Preamp(s): ModWright SWL 9.0 Linestage; Reference Ming-Da MC3; Reference modified Jolida JD3000B, Thorens TD190 turntable.
Sources: Jolida "Custom" JD100 tube CD player; Jolida JD402 tube tuner; Jolida JD9 phono amp
Power Cables: VH Audio Flavor 4 at amp; Jam'n Audio PRO 14S for sources
Cabling: Clarity Labs Foxfire interconnects; Audio Note Lexus interconnects; Usher Audio interconnects from preamp to amp; Clarity Labs Emberglow speaker cable
Equipment Rack: Usher Audio 6 shelf solid Birch rack.

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