It’s an updated version of the Excite speaker system we reviewed last year and its aim is to sound great with any partnering kit, from budget AV receivers right up to reference amps.
The 5.1-channel system on test here features three all-new models – the X34 floorstander (front), X14 bookshelf (surround) and X24 Centre – plus the Sub 600 subwoofer.
Excite is positioned at the more affordable end of Dynaudio’s latest range. We know £5k isn’t everyone’s idea of affordable, but when you consider that a pair of the Danish brand’s new Evidence Platinum floorstanders will set you back £58,500 then this is peanuts by comparison.
SEE ALSO: Best Surround Sound Systems
The speakers come in two different types of finish – black/white lacquer or real wood veneer (Walnut or Rosewood). We were sent the Rosewood version, which is pleasant enough but if you’re looking for a bit more pizzazz try the lacquer finish.
Their shape is conventional, but we like the X34's understated, elegant appearance. The straight lines and conservative finish allow them to blend in easily with their surroundings. They come with silver feet that can be attached to the bottom and stick out from each corner.
Remove the magnetic cloth grille and the silver driver surrounds with exposed screws give them a more modern, industrial look.
What’s more, each X34 floorstander measures 950mm tall by 170mm wide, which is more living room friendly than many floorstanders on the market. Even more pleasing is their build quality – robust, heavy and firmly bolted, these speakers are designed to stand the test of time.
The same can be said for the £620 X24 centre, a horizontally aligned speaker with an integrated metal base that angles it slightly upwards. Styled to match the X34 and equally robust, it’s a fine specimen.
The compact dimensions of the X14 bookshelf speakers (£900 per pair) make them ideal for use as rear speakers – in fact they’re the most compact Excite speakers yet. Again they’re styled to match the other models and boast superb build quality. You can place them on a flat surface or on Dynaudio’s optional 3X stands.
Despite not being part of the Excite family, the £1,550 Sub 600 is Dynaudio’s most advanced sub and looks the part in its similar Rosewood finish. The cabinet is solid and reasonably compact, plus there’s a wide range of controls on the back, including volume, crossover frequency and phase. There are LFE input and output (the latter allowing you to daisy-chain more subs in ‘Slave’ mode) and a phono input that takes a full bandwidth signal from a receiver.
Dynaudio makes a big deal about the fact that Excite is designed to sound great no matter how powerful the amplifier. But how does it achieve it?
Dynaudio’s tweeters and mid/bass drivers have been developed to deliver a sound that’s ‘virtually independent’ of the amplifier used. Their higher impedance of 8Ω also works well with medium-powered amps.
The mid/bass drivers used by the X34, X14 and X24 are Magnesium Silicate Polymer cones with lightweight aluminium wire voice coils. The speakers use specially coated fabric dome tweeters.
SEE ALSO: Best Soundbars
Both the X34 and X24 use two of these mid/bass drivers while the X14s feature one mid/bass driver and one tweeter. The Sub 600 packs a 300W amplifier and front-firing 12in woofer.
Paired with our Onkyo TX-NR818 receiver – a potent but hardly high-end affair – this Excite system delivers an excellent performance. It’s easy on the ear and bursting with detail, yet punchy and powerful when it needs to be. As claimed, our Onkyo amp has no trouble coaxing a huge, rousing sound out of this system.
But as impressive as it is, we don’t feel it brings anything to the table that we haven’t heard from much cheaper systems. Monitor Audio’s 6AV12, for example, delivers similar levels of refinement, scale and room-filling power for under £3k, and it looks nicer too.
But let’s not undersell what is a very assured system. With The Desolation of Smaug, Excite lives up to its name with a blazing performance.
The movie is chock-a-block with massive set-pieces to test any speaker. Skip to the pivotal showdown between Smaug and the dwarves and the X34’s attacking tone and crisp high-frequencies make the blasts of fire, crumbling stonework and scattering gold coins really sparkle.
The Sub 600’s taut, muscular bass integrates seamlessly with the speakers and gels everything together. That brings a satisfying sense of scale, particularly when the dwarves start firing up the forges and lobbing bombs at the beast.
The dragon’s booming voice has amazing presence. It’s loud, deep and garnished with a gruff top edge. All the detail and nuance in Benedict Cumberbatch’s vocal performance is clearly articulated.
What’s more the X14 rears fill out the rear stage with warm, detailed ambience. Effects are precisely placed and move flawlessly between channels thanks to the careful tonal matching.
Excite also brings finesse to music playback, demonstrated by its gorgeous handling of Corinne Bailey Rae’s Munich – her ethereal voice drifts blissfully over the acoustic guitar, and you can hear every tap on wood and pluck of string.
Step up the tempo with Daft Punk’s Get Lucky and the bassline is tight and energetic, while Nile Rodgers’ iconic guitar work is skilfully brought to life.
That’s a tricky one. There’s no denying that Excite is a top-class speaker system, offering the sort of sonic poise, scale and bass weight you’d expect from a renowned speaker brand like Dynaudio. Movie soundtracks are immersive, bursting with detail and peppered with punchy bass notes.
Build quality is also superb and its classy design guarantees maximum living room acceptability.
But sonically it didn’t dazzle us to the extent we expected for over £5k. Maybe you need a proper high-end amp at the helm to make it step up to the next level, but we’d be tempted to save money and opt for something like the Monitor Audio 6AV12, which sounds just as good.
This assured 5.1 speaker system lives up to its name sonically, but we don’t think it dazzles enough to justify the asking price.
Next, read more Surround Sound System Reviews