Germany’s Dynacord makes
a splash stateside with the
introduction of “brute” speaker system, Alpha
Product manager Jeff Taylor explains.
By John Landers
German firm Dynacord has been building
pro audio gear for over 50 years, but the brand was only recently
introduced to the United States market. Part of the Telex
Communications family, which also includes EV, Midas, Klark
Teknik, and others, Dynacord is already well-known throughout
Europe, and is becoming increasingly popular within the North
American sound reinforcement industry. Dynacord Cobra PA systems,
for example, are being selected by many leading mobile contractors
due to their portability, modularity, and superb sonic performance.
Nightclub sound is, of course, a very different animal, and
Dynacord’s purpose-built Alpha Concept system is the
of some of the finest venues around the world. Elite clubs
in Bulgaria, China, France, Romania, South Korea, Spain, and
Switzerland have all embraced it. In North America, Toronto’s
premiere dance club, Boa Redux, became the first kid on the
block to get Dynacord’s top-of-the-line system. Superstar
DJ Paul Oakenfold was quite impressed with the sound: “This
is the first time I could hear the difference between vinyl
CD on a system this big,” he reportedly remarked after
his inaugural Boa set.
During this year’s Winter Music Conference, the Alpha
Concept was officially introduced to the US nightclub market.
Celebrated Miami superclub Space unveiled a massive new Dynacord
sound system that had been surreptitiously installed during
the days prior to the conference. The reaction [see sidebar]
was both immediate and massive. Club owners, installers, and,
most importantly, patrons were all happily surprised –
almost overwhelmed – by its impact and clarity. Suddenly,
was talking about the Alpha Concept.
To learn more about this sonic phenomenon, CSI caught up
with Jeff Taylor, Dynacord’s US Product manager since
February 2003, before which he worked at both EAW and Mackie.
A tall, gregarious, and knowledgeable audio industry veteran,
Taylor has been around long enough to distinguish between
PR and actual performance, but he’s still young enough
to appreciate the energy and attitude of the nightclub scene.
Due to his role in bringing this uber-system to the US, Taylor
is definitely the Alpha Concept go-to guy.
I’ve read that Dynacord actually designs, manufactures,
and combines the various components of their audio systems.
That’s accurate. That has a lot to do with the breadth
and power of Telex brands and manufacturing facilities all
the world. Obviously, Dynacord utilizes EV transducers
So, Dynacord is more than just a loudspeaker
company? Dynacord has always been well known for
manufacturing systems solutions. That’s one of the characteristics
that makes them different from most other manufacturers. The
Cobra system, for example, is a turnkey rig. It comes complete
with an amp rack, amplifiers, digital signal processing, and
a connection panel that’s all pre-wired, assembled,
and tested before it’s sold. When you buy a Cobra system,
which is considered a pretty good size reinforcement system,
as soon as you get it out of the cardboard, you can plug it
in and turn it on. With most portable sound components, you
buy a set of amps, you buy a rack, you
buy a separate processor, and try to wire it up yourself.
Let’s talk about the Alpha Concept.
I know this is considered a new product launch in North America,
but isn’t this system already available in Europe?
Yeah, it’s been around for some time in the rest of
the world, and it’s been quite successful.
Obviously, the Alpha Concept isn’t
a line array like the Cobra systems, but what else sets it
apart? The design process was, “What do we
need to do to build the world’s best club system?”
Basically, they built a huge box with multiple components,
that’s really tailored to the characteristic sound of
electronic music. It’s what clubs want these days. That
was the eye-catching thing for [owner] Louis Puig at Space.
They’d been implementing multiple loudspeaker designs
to create the sound that they wanted.
They were forced to combine different
transducer brands, which can be tricky. This is a
one-box solution. It’s got the
size to create an optimal acoustic response, without a lot
of unnecessary, complicated, proprietary processing and control
like other systems require. It all comes down to the components
used, which are all EV, and the cabinet construction, which
is a specific type of wood, made in Europe, that’s as
dense as possible to keep resonance down. The horn mouth on
the front of the cabinet, which is very big, dictates the
frequency control and pattern control of the cabinet. It provides
the maximum impact, or the thump in your chest on the dancefloor.
Having that sheer size provides you
with a number of advantages. Club owners like a lot
of thump. With comparable systems, all of the mid-high components
use 15-inch transducers, like the Alpha does, but none of
them are horn-loaded. They’re all just front-loaded.
Our Alpha system utilizes two 15-inch woofers that are 1,000-watt
rated, four-inch voice coil woofers. It’s the best 15-inch
model that EV makes. Two of those are incorporated in the
one horn-loaded Alpha top, so you get increased efficiency
due to the horn-loading, better pattern control, and more
impact – more SPL – on the dancefloor.
I can assure you, from personal experience,
that it has a pretty dramatic effect on the end-user. So,
the speaker was a no-holds-barred design, specifically for
the club market. I assume that’s true for all four-speaker
cabinets in the Alpha Concept system? Dynacord pretty
much looked at each box on a case-by-case basis, but they’ve
always been known for innovative techniques in cabinet design.
Can you mix and match the different
components? It can
be tailored to the application needs. Dynacord would never
say that any one speaker is right for every application. You
can mix and match, but consult either a dealer or our sales
team to get some assistance.
Given the system’s price tag,
do you think it’s a good investment for a club owner?
Absolutely. One of our major selling points is system reliability.
We’re packaging the Alpha Concept system for club owners
with the remote control DSP amplifiers from EV, and software
control called IRIS. That’s different from what anyone
else has in the club world. Paired
with the Alpha Concept system, the RL-series amplifiers can
provide not only guaranteed maximum performance for the life
of the installation, but also the ultimate in reliability.
They incorporate built-in digital signal processing, so you
don’t need any external speaker processors. You just
put the amplifiers in your installation on a network. There
are different ways to configure it, but they all can be remotely
controlled via a PC,
or with a touch panel.
That’s clever. Are there other
features along those lines? Along with the built-in
DSP, there’s also a system check function that allows
for supervision and monitoring. As soon an installation is
finished, you can run a system check, which records the impedance
of each speaker cabinet, on every amplifier channel.
It basically takes a signature of the whole system. Then,
with repeated testing, you can compare that impedance curve
to track the break-in of the system. It changes over time.
Speaker design is a compromise. The laws of physics dictate
a lot more than we do. Over time, there’s going to be
a retuning of each box. The woofers will break-in; the compression
drivers will change, to a degree. The remote control amplifiers
with system supervision give you an accurate representation
of how your drivers are performing, and how they’ve
actually changed from the original tuning of the system.
Can you correct individual component
performance? You can compensate for changes in speaker
response over time. Youcan also compensate for the entire
system’s response. More importantly, it lets you know
if there’s ever a failure on the system.
So if a driver’s down, you don’t
have to walk around the dancefloor, with a finger in one ear,
trying to find that one bad transducer in a 20-cabinet system.
Hoping that your ears are working, get a ladder, call someone
in, and stick your face in front of every single box. It happens
to every club sound system over time.
That’s why sound techs get paid.
Exactly. This takes the guesswork and the trouble out of that.
It gives you the opportunityto check the system as often as
you want, and it can reported via email, a page, or an indicator
LED. The amplifiers can be programmed to tell you what’s
going on with the system. It’ll also report any amplifier
faults, a short circuit protect, a thermal protect, or anything
You’ll immediately know if a
system is being operated outside of its intended limits.
With the remote-control software, it gives you the ability
to set up the amplifiers on an IP-addressable network, which
allows any contractor, in any part of the world, to go online
and verify [system performance]. DSP-wise, you can recall
any preset at the touch of a button. One of the advantages,
as this market expands and changes, is that you can change
from live-oriented music production to a dance club.
Instead of playing around with the
EQ, you immediately get the optimal result. And the
amplifiers’ capability goes far beyond that. They can
be programmed for anything you want.
Such as compression, crossover frequencies,
time alignment…? Sure. One dance club that
we’re working with right now wants a live orientation
as well. There are different presets that will allow for a
dancefloor-oriented sound, and then for a stagesound. We can
instantly change the sonic image.
So, you can shape and steer the sound
however you want. That’s one of the things
that makes the Alpha Concept different from what’s available
on the market today. It’s a big thing. It’s club
sound taken to the nth degree.
That’s going to benefit the
people on the dancefloor who are going to stay longer and
come back frequently, because they’ll be enjoying that
experience even more. That’s got to help the bottom
line. The club scene is more and more competitive
every day, and each club is looking for an advantage to attract
more customers over other clubs. Sound is a factor in that.
The end-users, the club-goers, have higher expectations now.
High-quality car stereos and home theater systems have raised
the bar. Because you get the matched performance of our amplifiers,
which are designed specifically to go with the speaker system,
you know you’re getting the maximum efficiency out of
the system. That means fewer amplifiers per speaker and less
processing per amplifier, which means less wire, less install
time, and more room. All of those things lead to savings over