What's new

Definitive Technology Demand D17...holy cow. (1 Viewer)

Carlo Medina

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 31, 1997
Messages
12,878
I figure 19 years is long enough between speaker upgrades. In 2003 I posted on this very forum a shootout between some speakers (including my old and revered Energy C-6s) and ended up adding a tower pair of MB Quart QLS-1030s which has served me well in the intervening 19 years. When I did a major renovation of the living room I realized that I wanted greatly better off-axis performance as, even though I'm in the sweet spot when watching movies, my kitchen is connected to my living room and when I'm playing music, there is just a huge loss of sound quality when I'm in there. Now I know I can't expect on-axis performance, but I wanted to see what was out there.

I'll admit, I limited myself to Best Buy/Magnolia primarily because of their ease of return policy, and the fact that I have a BB card which entitles me to lengthy, interest free payments. I auditioned a bunch of speakers at several Magnolia store-within-a-Best Buy. Being in Los Angeles, I am an easy drive to a half dozen of them, and some had speakers set up that others didn't. Over the past few weeks I auditioned a bunch of towers from KEF, Def Tech, Martin Logan, B&W, Wharfedale, ELAC, and I'm sure I'm missing a brand or two. The Magnolia guys were very accommodating, letting me move speakers around, toeing them in, etc. It helped that I chose times when they were not busy so it's not like I was keeping them from other customers.

Obviously they all sounded very good on-axis, but when I wandered around the room off-axis, one set kept impressing me the most: the Def Tech Demand D17s. Now we all know that sounding good in showroom environment doesn't equal sounding good at home. But again, with my reward zone level and store card, I have a 30 day window. I decided to finally pull the trigger this week when they fortuitously went on sale for $1400 each, down from $1750. I also ordered their D5C center channel but that wasn't in stock, so it will arrive next weekend. It too was on sale for $640, down from $800.

Another interesting thing to me was each tower has 8" passive radiators to the side. Now I know there's no replacement for a subwoofer, and my HSU VTF-15 Mk5 is still a beast. But truth be told I was hoping to get a pair of speakers that handled bass well enough for 2 channel music that I could run it in pure stereo and not miss the sub too much. The MBQs definitely needed a sub. When running test tones they had a very uneven bass response, strong and even down to about 90hz, then the 80hz tone went down several DBs, same with 70hz. 60hz stages a bit of a comeback, but then 50 and 40hz dips a few DBs again, and 30hz makes a decent (but not strong) return. Anything below there is inaudible and immeasurable from my SPL meter. They fail the Sarah McLachlan I Love You and Glen Phillips It Takes Time tests. If you aren't familiar with those songs, get lossless streams of each, play them in your system at 2.1 and 2.0 mode. If they sound close, then you have good low bass in the main speakers. If low bass is weak in your mains, they'll sound like a member of the band is missing.

Keep in mind these speakers aren't even run in yet. Just unboxed and set up and about an hour of play time. And they pass the I Love You and It Takes Time test with flying colors. While I'm sure activating the Hsu will give me even more low end punch and rumble, listening to them in pure 2.0...and keep in mind I'm intimately familiar with these songs having listened to them hundreds of times on my home setups...I am not tempted to switch to 2.1.

But don't think that I'm implying these are one trick (bass) ponies. Sarah's vocals are conveyed wonderfully. The delicate instrumentation of the Surfacing album is wonderfully reproduced. One of my favorite sounding albums, the Red Hot Chili Peppers Blood Sugar Sex Magic has that fantastic punchiness to the bass/drum combo of Flea and Will Farrell Chad Smith (I will lay claim to noticing this many years before the Jimmy Fallon skit).

It's funny, I'd spent all week listening to my MBQs trying to get my ears to memorize their sound. You ever find that your existing gear that's about to be replaced suddenly starts sounding better when it find you've brought home your new bae? When I was unboxing the DTs, I had the MBQs playing and they were sounding pretty solid. I started worrying that the DTs would not provide enough of an improvement and I'd have to go through the trouble of repackaging them and shlepping it back to BB if they failed to impress.

90 minutes later, it seems ridiculous I even had that thought. I can't wait until the center arrives. Pretty sure I'll spend most of the weekend putting this through its paces. I'll take pictures and add them to the thread if people are interested.

I won't make any outrageous claims about these speakers. I'm certain they're not for everyone, and that there are extremely viable options around this price point. But with the sale they're on right now ($2800 for the pair, $700 off normal pricing) I find nothing to complain about. And yes, I've wandered into the kitchen and they sound much better at what has to be more than 45 degrees off axis than the MBQs do, so mission accomplished on that front. But I've gotten so much more improvement than that.

Oh and yes I re-ran the tones and the DTs have much smoother and even results in the 30-100hz range, nowhere near the peaks and dips that the MBQ has.
 

Carlo Medina

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 31, 1997
Messages
12,878
Still letting the speakers break in (the au natural way of having actual music playing through them vs. burn in noise patterns) but so far I've loved the sound of everything I've thrown at them. From heavy rock like Tool, to electronic-era Radiohead, subtle artists like Norah Jones, to grunge era rock and classic rock. They just continue to impress. Here's a picture of them in place. I think I'll run them without grilles when I'm alone, and with grilles when I have company. Can't wait for the center to arrive and I'm so impressed with the sound of these that I'm contemplating placing an order for a pair of D9s to replace my surround bookshelves (which are also 20+ year old speakers, Energy e:XL-16s).

Pardon the wires, I'm doing a recabling project, and also the building is having my fireplace replaced (never use it, it's just decorative).

D17s.JPG
 
Last edited:

Carlo Medina

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 31, 1997
Messages
12,878
I ordered the center channel the same day as the D17s and that is supposed to arrive on Saturday. I ordered the D9s the day after that purchase, and they were slated to arrive next Tuesday.

Just got my order is ready for pickup confirmation...for the D9s 🤷‍♂️. I was hoping the center would arrive first (and early) since that's the most active channel when watching movies, but c'est la vie. Still a couple of hours until the store opens so who knows, maybe the D5C will arrive on a different truck this morning.

I do think when I pick them up tonight that I'll hook them up as my mains to hear their sonic qualities when given a full range of music playback, both with and without a subwoofer. I know I'll lose a significant amount of bass compared to the D17s, but I'm just curious if I find them to be recommendable as mains for those with space or budget constraints, and if that person already has a sub.

The 10" side-firing passive radiators on the D18s actually do contribute greatly to the in-room bass response of the D17s, I admit I'm curious (and maybe a bit skeptical) of the upward firing oval passive radiator on the D9s. But hey, I'm willing to be pleasantly surprised if they perform well.

Oh speaking of bass and the D17s...so I've been running music, movies and (when I'm asleep or leaving the home) burn-in tones on them. Sometimes I use the full range 20-20k tones. Others times I use bass sweep tones (20-60hz). I admit this is totally an unscientific, unmeasured observation as 1) I don't have the measuring equipment pro reviewers have, and 2) I wasn't expecting this to happen so even if I did I wouldn't have thought to measure this: I posted earlier how I wanted to hear the difference between the D17s with and without the Hsu sub. The D17s performed wonderfully and I found I could totally live without the sub for 2 channel music, very little of which goes below 30hz for the types I listen to. But when I engaged the Hsu, on certain songs you could clearly hear that last 10hz boost from the sub being activated (the aforementioned tracks by Phillips and McLachlan). You still can now, I'm not about to claim these "burned in" and now suddenly have bass that's as powerful as a separate sub...but the difference isn't as stark to my ears as it was 5 days ago.

As I said, I didn't take measurements so this is totally anecdotal. Additionally because there is work going on in my home, I have had to move and re-place the speakers for the workers to get to the fireplace. While I no doubt got them extremely close to their original positions, might one be slightly more/less toed in, or be a few centimeters different and thus have changed the in-room response? Also very possible. But whatever the reason, right now without the sub on, you'd be hard pressed if you listened to 2 channel music on my system at reasonable volumes, to figure out if the sub was on or not. I have no doubt at reference level, or for movie soundtracks with deep, loud bass, the sub would still distinguish itself easily.
 

Carlo Medina

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 31, 1997
Messages
12,878
Well now I get to drive twice to BB...just got my center channel ready for pickup email. Would've been great if it was this morning #firstworldproblems

One thing I'll say running the D9s as mains for a couple of hours. They absolutely need to be blended with a sub. I didn't run the test tones but they're definitely missing the lower registers of the D17. If you know the song "Doing It Right" by Daft Punk, there's four bass notes, and the third one is the lowest...that one is so much less audible on the D9s as it is on the D17s. But once you cross over at 80hz with a competent sub...order is restored.

So I guess my advice is: don't order the D9s if you think you can get away with them as standalone bookshelves. I probably could have saved $200 and ordered the D7s as they have the same tweeters. But the OCD in me liked that the D9s have the same sized midrange as the D5C. I realize that's dumb thinking as there's really no need to match the surrounds with the center channel as vastly different information comes out of those channels...what can I say, OCD is a pain in the a#$. But whereas I feel the passive radiators add to the D17's bass capabilities, I am not sure they do much for the D9s.

Later tonight I should finally have my all DT Demand home theater set up!
 

Carlo Medina

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 31, 1997
Messages
12,878
Another quick update. I know it used to be common wisdom to try and match the make/models of your 5 main channels. But with room correction software, and the acknowledgement that even "matched" speakers often have varying sized drivers, the concept of pure tonal match was deprioritized, if not debunked. I will say this, as someone who mostly had "Frankenstein" five channel setups--my old living room setup was "matching" MBQ QLS 1030s & 330 fronts with Energy e:XL-16s in the rears, and my current bedroom setup is "matching" Energy C-6 & AC-300 fronts with ELAC Debut 2 B6.2 in the rears--none of the previous setups created such a seamless 360 sound as this Demand setup does, even after Audyssey XT32 calibration. And here's the kicker, I haven't run Audyssey on the Demands (mostly because I can't find the Denon mic :lol:) they're only level matched via test tone and SPL meter. And to be honest, with what I'm hearing, I've stopped looking for the mic because it sounds pretty darned awesome.

I have a suite of downloaded Dolby Atmos, THX and DTS trailers which...being the HT dork that I am...I tend to run after calibrations (which I normally run after I acquire any new gear in the signal chain). Okay, sometimes I just run the trailers because they're sonically very cool and I like to impress my guests. All right, I occasionally run them when I'm home alone too. I really miss the early days of DVD when they occasionally used to put THX trailers in front of the movies.

Anyway, point is I'm very familiar with how my older speakers play these trailers. This is the first time I can recall where, when the sounds fly across the speakers, I'm unable to locate any transition from when it moves from one speaker to another. Not that my previous setup was so obvious that the "average" guest would ever notice, but because my hearing was attuned, I could always kind of tell the timbre mismatch between my Energy and MBQs, or my Energys and ELACs. But now? No longer. When something flies in a circle around the prime seating spot, it truly sounds like a smooth 360 sound pattern.

Unfortunately the Def Tech Demand line doesn't have any Atmos modules, and the D7s are too large aesthetically for me to want to mount on my wall (and they'd be a pain to angle down as well). So I'm replacing the ELAC Atmos modules, which are an eyesore sitting on top of the beautiful D17s as you can see in the picture, with some SVS Prime Elevations in gloss white. Those should arrive Tuesday or Wednesday and will be mounted directly behind and above the D17s, as close to where the back wall and ceiling meet, pointed down at the listening area via their angled front baffle. While it's a different make and manufacturer, I'm hoping that since Atmos heights are largely for ambient effects and are not as heavily employed as the other channels, I won't notice much of a timbre mismatch.

I will say that in the bedroom setup I have some RSL CG3 as the height speakers, and they are by far the least noticeable in terms of drawing attention to themselves, so I hold out hope that the SVSs will manage to blend in with the overall Demand soundstage.
 

Carlo Medina

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 31, 1997
Messages
12,878
SVS Prime Elevations arrived. Their gloss white is a pretty close match to the Def Techs. Not exact, if I look at it in natural sunlight, but very close. The main difference is the grilles, which are white for the SVS and silver for the DTs. But since these will be mounted up high where the front wall and ceiling meet, most of my guests will never notice.

Still waiting for stud finder to arrive before I install them, maybe tomorrow or Thursday night. But I'm doing the typical thing I do when any speakers arrive, no matter the final intended use. I've hooked them up as mains and am testing out how they perform in a 2.0 setup. Just like the D9s, they absolutely require a subwoofer, but I will say from about 70hz and up (this is an estimate I haven't run the test tones) they actually sound pretty darned good for their size. And this is just with an hour of burn-in. Given what mostly lives in the height channels for Atmos, I won't fear I'm missing out on anything. And when I use the Denon's MultiChannel Stereo to fill up the room (which I usually do when I'm doing cleaning/chores and not really critical listening) I will know that crossed over at 80hz they will more than adequately represent everything with that x-over point.
 

Carlo Medina

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 31, 1997
Messages
12,878
The Prime Elevations are installed, along with some raceways to contain the wire (I rent so I can't run wires through the walls).
IMG_1424.JPG
(not pictured: pair of D9s as surrounds and Hsu VTF3-Mk5 HP sub, Denon 4500h, Panny 820 UHD player, and an incoming Outlaw 7000X).

You also see the new D5c center right there. Really, really loving the new system. Can't wait until they finish with the fireplace replacement so I can invite people over again. I also see how obvious the reflections are in that picture, but I can tell you they are nowhere near that noticeable from the seating positions. Here's an example (and even in this shot the camera makes them more noticeable than they are to the naked eye):
IMG_1425.JPG
Even during late night watching the reflections never draw my eye, and I'm the kind of person who would get annoyed with that.

Funny thing about that video, Erin's reviewing a 9K per pair bookshelf speaker. Which is about what I paid for my entire Demand line + Hsu + Denon AVR + Panny UHD + C1 OLED + Prime Elevation.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Forum Sponsors

Forum statistics

Threads
351,014
Messages
4,938,920
Members
142,958
Latest member
Chris_Wilson3
Recent bookmarks
0
Top