Dynaudio Focus 220 (£2630)

Impressive engineering doesn't necessarily translate into impressive performance

Along with the Spendor A6, Dynaudio’s Focus 220 – now in Mk II guise – is the most conservative looking speaker here. Whether you consider that a merit or demerit will depend on both your taste and your décor. Also like the Spendor it is a two-way, although in this case the soft dome tweeter is accompanied by twin bass-mid units operating in parallel. In common with all the other speakers here the 220 II is reflex loaded in the bass, with a port venting on the cabinet’s rear panel.
   Technical features highlighted by Dynaudio include the use of aluminium voice coils in both the woofer and tweeter. Although aluminium has higher resistivity than copper it also has much lower density, allowing an aluminium voice coil to be significantly lighter than a copper equivalent.
   Of large diameter, the bass-mid units’ voice coils also aid heat removal and hence increase power handling. Cone material in the twin bass-mid drivers is Dynaudio’s proprietary MSP (Magnesium Silicate Polymer), while the soft tweeter dome uses damped fabric and has a neodymium magnet system.
   Notable cabinet design features are chamfering on either side of the front baffle to reduce secondary radiation from the edges, and a mild tapering of the enclosure so that the rear panel is narrower than the front. This prevents the internal walls of the side panels being parallel, which is claimed to prevent cross-cabinet standing waves.
   Dynaudio understands that for carpet spikes to be effective they have to be thin enough and sharp enough for the speaker’s weight to drive them through to the floor beneath, something which the 220’s narrow spikes achieve with ease. 

Dynaudio has a policy of not equipping its speakers with split crossovers because it contests the merits of bi-wiring, so the 220 has only a single pair of input terminals. Initially listened to immediately after the Spendor A6, the 220 provided a touch more air and depth on the clarinet recording of the Widor composition but was less spine-tinglingly dynamic and vital than I know this piece to be.
   It bettered the A6 on the Jeremy Davenport jazz track also, with an enhanced sense of dynamic, but again the sound was notably less crisp and insightful than the best speakers here.

A lack of bass alacrity was evident in the Alison Krauss track and again my notes point up a lack of separation and insight to the recording’s production. Eric Clapton’s live performance of ‘Double Trouble’ seemed a little plodding rhythmically, with less vocal nuance and gritty dynamic than this track should serve up. Overall I found I preferred the Focus 220 II to the Spendor A6 – but nothing else in this group.