Dynaudio is well known for their consumer, pro audio and automotive loudspeakers, and they are also one of the foremost OEM (original equipment manufacturer) providers of raw drivers to other loudspeaker companies. The company's Excite X12 is a compact bookshelf loudspeaker that exudes quality.
Made in Denmark, the Excite X12 is beautifully crafted--a point of pride to the company and a refreshing exception to all the mass-market, vinyl-clad, plastic-trimmed speakers out there. The X12, like all Dynaudio speakers, has the look, fit and finish of fine furniture. The X12 is not an inexpensive bookshelf speaker at $1,200 to $1,275 per pair (depending on finish), but if you're the kind of person who prizes quality--and, like, me, laments cheaply- and poorly-made products of any kind--you'll appreciate the X12.
Measuring 11 inches high by six and a half inches wide by 10 inches deep and weighing a little over 14 pounds, the two-way Excite X12 features a five and three quarter inch woofer made with an exclusive light, rigid magnesium silicate polymer (MSP) membrane, and a one inch coated silk soft-dome tweeter--a high-frequency transducer which has earned a great deal of acclaim. The drivers feature aluminum voice coil wire and die-cast aluminum driver baskets. The tweeter is mounted as close as possible to the woofer, to more closely approximate a point source design (more on that later).
The X12 has a frequency response of 50Hz - 23kHz, 86dB sensitivity and a nominal impedance of 4 ohms--not the most efficient bookshelf out there, but Dynaudio states that the impedance is constant and linear throughout the frequency range and provides an easy load to any amplifier. High quality crossover components are used, including ceramic resistors, air-copper inductors and premium internal cabling (the crossover point is 2kHz). The enclosure utilizes MDF with a one-inch-thick front baffle, and has a sealable rear bass-reflex port.
The Excite X12 is available in a choice of maple, cherry, rosewood and black ash real-wood veneer finishes at $1,200 per pair, and $1,275 per pair in high-gloss white and black lacquer, all with removable grilles. (Personally, I think the white lacquer is absolutely gorgeous.) The speaker is simple in design--a rectangle with a slight vertical chamfer on the sides of the front baffle. The optional matching Dynaudio Stand1 is available in black or silver.
There are many who feel that a compact two-way loudspeaker has a distinct sonic advantage over larger multi-driver designs--a small two-way enclosure can more closely approximate a point source, and its benefits of precise imaging and soundstaging. (Other speaker designers favor a line source or other configuration.) The Excite X12 is no exception, offering excellent performance in these areas (easily heard even on a trade show floor), along with a smooth, refined quality yet with plenty of musical detail. There's a reason why Dynaudio and many other manufacturers favor that sweet-sounding silk-dome tweeter. With a 50Hz low-frequency response, the X12 won't deliver true deep bass, and doesn't have the low-frequency weight and heft of a larger speaker--on the other hand, I didn't feel that the X12 sounded thin or missing anything musically important in any way.
Competition and Comparison
If you are interested in comparing the Dynaudio Excite X12 loudspeaker against its competition, be sure to read our reviews for the Paradigm Reference Studio 20 V.5 loudspeaker and the Revel Performa M22 loudspeaker. You can also find more information available in our Bookshelf Speaker section and on our Dynaudio brand page.
• The silk-dome tweeter used in the Dynaudio X12 is--forgive me for alluding to the overused metaphor--well, smooth as you-know-what.
• A good two-way compact speaker can excel at imaging and soundstaging, and the X12 is no exception.
• The fit and finish of the X12 is first-rate.
• Its compact size makes it easy to fit into a room.
• It's a small bookshelf speaker, so it won't play loud or fill a large room with a sense of real-life volume and scale.
• The bass rolls off below 50Hz--not an issue for many if not most listeners, but those who want true deep bass will need a subwoofer, or a larger speaker.
• Although beautifully finished, the X12 looks like your basic, rectangular speaker.
The Dynaudio Excite X12 is a compact bookshelf speaker that incorporates extremely high-quality drivers, construction and finish. It's not cheap, but it's beautifully done and delivers excellent sound quality, with a smooth midrange and treble, and superior imaging and soundstaging as its particular sonic strengths.