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Dutch & Dutch 8Cs

soundArgument

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#1
As I've mentioned on the forum, I bought a pair of Dutch & Dutch 8Cs from Purite Audio in December. I've since relocated from London to New York. Today I finally got stands, sand, and everything else needed to get set up. I need to do a little more listening before I post a full review, but my initial impression (from evening 1) is that these speakers sound impossibly good in our oddly shaped listening room.

- UPDATE AFTER WEEK 1 -


Here's a photo.




The 8Cs currently are connected via AES to a cheap Gustard U12 USB-to-AES converter, which is connected to a Windows 10 laptop running Foobar and the Tidal app. (I listen primarily to classical and thus cannot stand Roon, to which I have a 90-day trial that's going mostly unused.) To access the 8Cs' web app, which is needed to access to the speakers' internal volume control and boundary settings, they must be connected to Ethernet.

(DIGRESSION: As you can see in the photo above, a powerline Ethernet adapter currently is connected to the speakers. In addition to rendering surge protection mostly useless, the use of a powerline adapter is sure to drive certain members of the audiophile community nuts. The real problem with this setup is that network interruptions seem to be causing dropouts in the music; using my outrageously bandwidth-hungry work laptop while I'm listening is guaranteed to cause dropouts. Soon I'll have a new computer system connected to the setup. While this change perhaps sounds mundane, trust me, it will merit its own forum thread.)

Purely from listening, my impression is that the 8Cs are superbly conceived loudspeakers.

I've run some slow test sweeps over the 8Cs, which have made obvious where room modes in our space are (there's a really nasty one just below 40 Hz). In contrast to other speakers I've owned, other large discontinuities were not present. I did not measure the speakers' in-room frequency response, but a relative who owns Earthworks QTC-40s may visit soon. If he does, we'll try to take some measurements.

Despite the presence of unaddressed room modes and my use of cheap ancillaries, the 8Cs sound excellent. With apologies to Mr. Dallas Justice, I have listened a lot, and I can confirm that the cardioid midrange and DSP-driven bass boundary coupling are not gimmicks. Where room modes do not interfere, low frequencies are astoundingly realistic. For instance, on the Paavo Järvi recording of A Soldier's Tale, the bass drum strikes are uncanny. Reproduction of other percussion instruments and double bass on other recordings are similarly excellent.

The 8Cs generate an extremely specific sense of space (or, if you prefer, imaging). This sense of space is perhaps less ethereal than the sense of space that emanates from omnis or certain dipoles, but the 8Cs seem to deliver more spatial information than other speakers I've heard. A center image locks into place on every recording with something in the middle; there's no hint of dreaded "image instability." The 8Cs deliver a particularly remarkable sense of depth on a large sample of chamber music recordings, giving one a clear sense, for instance, that the string players are seated in front of the piano in piano trios.

The speakers are easy to configure. I was concerned about using a web-based app to control the speakers, but it has worked mostly without a hitch. As you can see in the photo, the speakers are both (a) toed in and (b) backed up to the wall: the inside and outside edges of the 8Cs are 9 cm and 13 cm from the front wall, respectively. Using the 8Cs' app, I dialed in 10 cm for the front wall distance. (The app provides only 10 cm increments.) The left speaker has a wall of windows approximately 72 cm to its side; I set the side wall distance for the left speaker to 70 cm. The right speaker has no nearby wall on the right, so its side wall distance is set to "free space." One might be concerned about sidewall reflections on the left in our room; however, I am not hearing any of the telltale signs of sidewall reflection problems, perhaps because the speakers are only two meters from the listening position. The tweeter waveguide and cardioid bass pattern may also mitigate reflections. Eliminating the tall rack between the speakers may be helpful, too. The rack is now approximately 60-70 cm from each speaker, and the rack is approximately 50 cm wide.

I've set maximum volume for the speakers in the Dutch & Dutch app at -25 dB; this is plenty of headroom for sane listening levels in our room on nearly all recordings. The app's volume control is not useful for fine adjustments, but setting max volume in the app will perhaps allay the concerns of those skittish about using software volume control for attenuation (as I was when I first got the speakers). With the app setting a hard limit on volume, fine adjustments can be made in playback software. I'm told that the volume controls in Roon, Foobar, JRiver, etc. are excellent; I hear no problem with them so far.

My only criticism of the 8Cs so far concerns their documentation. The manual is light on details, and, when I first set up the speakers, I did not know that, when using AES to connect the speakers, one must insert an included 110-ohm resistor (it just looks like a Neutrik connector yanked off of a mic cable) into the empty THRU output. The need for the resistor is mentioned neither in the 8Cs' manual on Dutch & Dutch's website nor in any materials in the box. (I actually thought that Dutch & Dutch had mistakenly thrown a Neutrik connector in the speakers' accessories box, but it was, in fact, the resistor.) Without the resistor, the speaker directly connected to the AES device will be silent, while the other speaker will make sound. I spent a couple of hours troubleshooting, but Keith of Purite Audio answered my question the next morning.
_____

I'll report further as my observations progress.

Thanks again to Keith of Purite Audio, for a wonderful demonstration in London, and to the Dutch & Dutch team, for answering my many questions and creating these speakers. And many thanks to Noel Nolan of Skylan stands; the quality of the stands seems excellent.
 
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oivavoi

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#3
I can disclose that I, too, sold a kidney on the black market in China, and recently ordered a pair, without having heard them. In addition to the pair of Morrison omnis I already had ordered. Getting them both within a couple of months probably. Planning to place them in different parts of the house. Feels almost obscene to spend that much money on sound reproduction, to be honest. But hopefully these will be the last two loudspeaker pairs I will ever buy, if they are what I hope they are.

Looking forward to reading more about your impressions, @soundArgument !
 

oivavoi

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#5
Two new pairs of loudspeakers at the same time that’s just greedy!
Keith
Absolutely. On the other hand I have for a long time avoided flying on vacation out of climate considerations, I don't have a car, etc. How did I get my girlfriend to go along with this "let's prioritize expensive hifi stuff over sunny vacations" thing, you may ask? I bribe her with chocolate every chance I get.
 

soundArgument

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#6
Absolutely. On the other hand I have for a long time avoided flying on vacation out of climate considerations, I don't have a car, etc.
With apologies to Mr. Gore, I have flown over 30,000 miles in January.

Oiavoi, where do you live where you don't need a car? I'm in Manhattan, and I often feel the need for a car--particularly when buying 100 pounds of sand to fill the stands for my 8Cs.

On that note, I can recommend Skylan stands to all 8C users in the United States and Canada. Skylan made 24" stands to fit the 8Cs exactly, and I got the stands 11 days after placing my order. The price was very reasonable, too.
 
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oivavoi

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#7
With apologies to Mr. Gore, I have flown over 30,000 miles in January.

Oiavoi, where do you live where you don't need a car? I'm in Manhattan, and I often feel the need for a car--particularly when buying 100 pounds of sand to fill the stands for my 8Cs.

On that note, I can recommend Skylan stands to all 8C users in the United States and Canada. Skylan made 24" stands to fit the 8Cs exactly, and I got the stands 11 days after placing my order. The price was very reasonable, too.
I live in Norway, downtown Bergen now and soon moving to downtown Oslo. Public transport has improved vastly here in recent years, plus I have an electric bike that moves me around quickly with zero effort. I'm also part of a car sharing thing which I use when doing stuff like collecting sand bags! Actually it's not that uncommon to live without a car in downtown Oslo anymore. I have many friends who do the same. Changed a lot in recent years. But it all depends on how easy it is to do it, of course.

Thanks for the tip about the Skylan stands! Will check them out.
 

Thomas savage

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#8
I live in Norway, downtown Bergen now and soon moving to downtown Oslo. Public transport has improved vastly here in recent years, plus I have an electric bike that moves me around quickly with zero effort. I'm also part of a car sharing thing which I use when doing stuff like collecting sand bags! Actually it's not that uncommon to live without a car in downtown Oslo anymore. I have many friends who do the same. Changed a lot in recent years. But it all depends on how easy it is to do it, of course.

Thanks for the tip about the Skylan stands! Will check them out.
Electronic bikes and car shares , your so advanced are you from outta space?
 

oivavoi

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#9
Electronic bikes and car shares , your so advanced are you from outta space?
Hehe:) Well, only because politicians here try to nudge us to do those kind of things. I had a car some years back. A couple of years ago they had a one off funding scheme for people who wanted to buy an electric bike, and also made it much more expensive to park downtown. Took the chance to ditch the car and got a ebike. Very surprising how easy and fun e-biking is, didn't expect that. Makes you feel like some kind of super man with that extra power when pedaling. But I realize this kind of arrangements will sound like science fiction for the rest of the world!

But ok, back to Dutch & Dutch !
 

Frank Dernie

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#10
With apologies to Mr. Gore, I have flown over 30,000 miles in January.

Oiavoi, where do you live where you don't need a car? I'm in Manhattan, and I often feel the need for a car--particularly when buying 100 pounds of sand to fill the stands for my 8Cs.

On that note, I can recommend Skylan stands to all 8C users in the United States and Canada. Skylan made 24" stands to fit the 8Cs exactly, and I got the stands 11 days after placing my order. The price was very reasonable, too.
When I lived in London I didn't bother with a car. For carrying heavy stuff I used a taxi, probably needed a taxi twice a year...
 

oivavoi

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#13
Thanks. Awesome review. Now I'm getting even more excited about receiving my own pair!
 

soundArgument

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#14
Thanks. Awesome review. Now I'm getting even more excited about receiving my own pair!
You should be excited. They are astounding loudspeakers. Yesterday I listened to my SACD rip of Louis Lane conducting Fanfare for the Common Man, an early digital recording on the Soundstream system. The 8Cs' reproduction of low frequencies, in our badly shaped room, is just astonishing and the best that I have heard from any loudspeakers anywhere, ever, perhaps not in terms of ultimate depth but in terms of precision and realism. Bass drums and timpanis through the 8Cs resemble what one hears in concert halls, not the nebulous booms that one hears from other speakers, including the Beolab 90s.
 

RayDunzl

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#15
What did your 8C's replace?
 

soundArgument

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#16
What did your 8C's replace?
In this space, nothing. We have never had a system in this room.

In other spaces, I've had speakers large and small: Bohlender, Genesis, Tannoy pro monitors, other speakers I am forgetting, and, most recently in London, KEF LS50s powered by a Devialet 120.

I've also spent a lot of time listening to a lot of systems across the world. I've heard two systems in HK that remain the best I've heard. I've also heard some impressive systems in Japan.

I'm not sure I've heard a better system in the United States, in terms of accuracy and precision across the frequency spectrum, than the 8Cs in my room now.

I'll soon be adding some equipment to my system that, I think, may take it to the level of the two HK systems. I will report on that change soon enough.

In addition, my wife and I intend to move to the 'burbs, at which time subs will be added to the 8Cs. After the move, I will also press the LS50s, now in storage, back into service with the Devialet and multiple DSPed subs, to accompany TV viewing.
 
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oivavoi

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#17
Is Roon working on these Dutchmen at the moment? Or not yet?

And you got me curious: What were those two systems in HK?
 

svart-hvitt

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#18
Is Roon working on these Dutchmen at the moment? Or not yet?

And you got me curious: What were those two systems in HK?
And if/when Roon is integrated, check out at which bitdepth and sample rate the DSP is done in the Dutch. Then one might be able to check if up-/downsampling in Roon is better than up-/downsampling in the hardware converter (DAC) of the Dutch.

I may be rambling here, but could you Dutch owners check out how the system handles up-/downsampling in conjunction with its DSP?
 

soundArgument

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#19
Is Roon working on these Dutchmen at the moment? Or not yet?
When I switch the speakers into Streaming mode, Roon on my Windows box does not discover them. My networking hardware mostly sucks, so I wouldn't assume that the speakers are to blame.

And you got me curious: What were those two systems in HK?
These are the best systems I've heard and are far beyond even megabuck FM Acoustics, MBL, Magico, and Living Voice systems that I've heard in non-show conditions. As it turns out, my simple D&D system is now far beyond those fancy megabuck systems in nearly all respects.
 

soundArgument

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#20
I may be rambling here, but could you Dutch owners check out how the system handles up-/downsampling in conjunction with its DSP?
I'm not sure Roon will tell us what's going on inside the 8Cs' DSP. I've been sending 44.1, 48, 88.2, and 96 kHz PCM to the 8Cs via AES without a hitch. I think Roon can tell us only what the 8Cs are receiving and what they will accept.

You might check out the 6moons review, in which Marja and Henk posted some photos of the 8Cs' circuit boards.

Without some sophisticated equipment and a willingness to disassemble the 8Cs that I do not possess, I do not know how to find out what processing is going on under the hood.
 
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