Recently I tested a small solid state amplifier from Dayton Audio that put out impressive sound for its size. Today we are looking at Dayton Audio's B652 6.5" bookshelf speakers. I set these up in my music room in various locations and had some surprises along the way.
Out of the box these speakers are surprisingly rugged. At approx 6 pounds apiece they aren't lightweight speakers to hang on your wall. Choose your screws or mount carefully if they will be not supported by a shelf or furniture. The units feature a visually appealing black pica veneer (think semi gloss smooth finish) and have spring loaded quick connect speaker connection. The speakers housed within are a 6.5" polypropylene main driver with a 5/8" polycarbonate tweeter. These are pretty standard speaker dimensions but the units actually produced some great sound.
As I removed them from the box I placed them on the floor and hooked them up to the Dayton Audio DTA-1 amplifier. Each speaker is rated to handle 40 watts so the 30 watts of this unit shouldn't overpower them. I used my iPhone 4s to produce the music with the bass boost setting. Normally I use Beats earbuds to listen to music which handle the higher bass settings nicely. Surprisingly, these speakers do a great job of handling most bass response. With the first music I played with the speaker set on the floor up against the wall I was blown away by how clear the sound is of these speakers. Most two way speakers struggle as their main driver tries to push mids and bass frequencies. Usually the bass causes distortion in the speaker cone and this colors the mids in a very negative way. I guess the best way to demonstrate that would be to point out that most base car audio systems come with terrible speakers. As you turn up the volume and the cone distortion begins the mids can become a garbled mess and the bass just starts buzzing away.
The optimum listening position would be at about ear level with at least 6 feet of separation between the speakers. Once I placed them on the wall I noticed bass frequencies suddenly were diminished. If you've ever looked at most speaker setup websites the intersection of the floor and wall and corners are recommended positions for speakers. The intersection of the wall and floor naturally project frequencies up into the room and enhance bass frequencies. I was surprised such a small speaker as this one could demonstrate this. I've played with tons of speakers in this size range and I've never come across one that could output such smooth natural bass much less find it so tune-able in a room. Keep in mind I'm using a standard audio setting on a phone. Imagine if you hooked these up to a digital source with a full equalizer? As these are marketed as bookshelf or wallmount speakers I'd say a subwoofer is going to be on your shopping list.
To really test the ability to setup the speakers to the room I raised them another foot and a half which really hurt the bass response. If your planning to use these speakers this high in a room you'll need a sub-woofer to compensate. It was time to put the speakers back on the floor again for their optimal sound and work through several audio genres to see if there were any weak points. I used a couple of live heavy metal albums to try to distort the speaker cone - Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden - and the sound exhibited only tight mids and highs with a smooth bass. I've heard plenty of larger speakers with more drivers in them that couldn't produce a nice sound like this. Pretty shocking for a speaker of this size. Next I threw on some Mozart and Beethoven and again was pleased that the audio was balanced without obscuring any instruments. A small speaker is remarkably good at this genre of music. Lastly I threw on some Jazz - John Coltrane and the John Yao Quartet - again these speakers perform. The John Yao Quartet routinely slur notes from one range to another - this would really expose problems with these speakers but the sound was smooth and enjoyable. I said jazz was the last test but I did try Deadmau5 with these. It wasn't bad but you won't feel the bass with these small 6.5" drivers like you'd want to with this music. Throw in a subwoofer and that changes everything.
I don't hesitate to recommend these. For 90% of the music I tried with them they were spot on. Smooth bass and clear mids and highs are their strong point. Depending on speaker location you'll have to invest in a subwoofer. You'll probably want to anyway to make sure your not missing anything in your music. The DTA-1 amplifier was a very good match for these speakers although at 15 watts a channel that the amp produces your not going to get to the full volume of these speakers (they were loud, don't get me wrong).