DYNAUDIO MUSIC 7 wireless music system
+ Visually arresting design – a modern sculptural item for the home environment; full-bodied, dynamic sound that is detailed, involving and room-filling; nice app design – slick and great integration with TIDAL.
– Stereo soundstage is constrained given the one-box design; can lack a little subtlety when pushed hard; not as good as a soundbar given some of the operational issues; no Spotify Connect.
DYNAUDIO has been a watchword in speaker design for many years now. The Danish company is famous for designing and building its own drivers and then incorporating them into some of the most well-regarded speaker systems in the industry. It has now branched into the lifestyle speaker market, which has been lucrative for other speaker companies who have been looking to broaden their appeal beyond audiophiles. These companies have sought to bring their hi-fi engineering prowess to create a speaker a cut above the usual Bluetooth speaker designs but with more than a hint of hi-fi whilst sporting a home- and decor-friendly form factor.
This approach has spawned a number notable designs, such as the iconic Bowers & Wilkins’ Zeppelin Series, which has in turn inspired its new Foundation series. Also notable have been the likes of Naim’s Mu-So speakers, which have also been well received by the luxury lifestyle market as well as the hi-fi market.
Dynaudio has thus created the Music series to capture a share of this potentially lucrative market. The design of the entire series shares a very sculptural look, and the choice of fabric colours to match your decor will definitely help create some “hygge” in your home. The review Music 7 unit came in a sharp-looking light grey wool cover, which would be easy to put into any modern interior.
Along the top, there are a number of switches and lights to adjust volume, play/pause/skip tracks as well as five numbered buttons which can be programmed to conveniently access playlists, Internet radio stations or certain inputs using the app. The 1 and 2 buttons also double to configure WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity respectively.
Along the back, there is a figure eight “Telefunken” mains lead socket, an optical Toslink in, an HDMI ARC port for AV use, and a 3.5mm TRS mini-jack analogue input. The unit is also supplied with a nicely turned out remote control with the basic controls mirrored on it.
This was very straightforward – downloading the very slickly designed app, and getting the speaker onto WiFi was straightforward, especially on iOS where it registers as an Airplay speaker and offers to share login credentials for the WiFi network with the speaker.
Once on the network, the app collates music from your TIDAL account based on answering a graphical survey of your music taste. Operation of the app is very immersive and design-wise, a breath of fresh air compared to the usual Spotify/TIDAL player interfaces.
The Music 7 can accept PCM signals of up to 24-bit/96kHz resolution via the optical input – so it does high res – though this isn’t necessarily the raison d’etre for this product.
I used the Music 7 in two ways. As a standalone music speaker on a table top and also as a soundbar for a TV. As a soundbar, I only used the Toslink input as my TV does not have HDMI ARC. I used mostly CD quality and compressed streams from Roon via Airplay, Spotify via Airplay, Tidal through the native app, and Bluetooth from my iPhone XS Max and Huawei P30 Pro. Interestingly, the speaker does not support Spotify Connect unlike many other WiFi enabled smart speakers.
Starting out as a standalone speaker in a room, the Music 7 has a very rich tonal balance, with good weight in the bass, well judged mid-range projection. Testing was largely with TIDAL tracks controlled using Dynaudio’s native app. The speaker has good presence in a medium-sized room, and even in a large living room, it had the ability to fill the space with a rich sound-field. Rhythm and pacing were good – if not quite as quick and lithe ad the leaner Zeppelin Air or even the Sonos Beam.
Its ability to paint a stereo soundstage is obviously limited by the one-box nature of the product, but there is definitely a width to the sound which extends beyond the confines of the enclosure – instruments and voices are painted within this soundstage with good solidity.
Specifically, on Bill Evans’ Waltz for Debby (TIDAL 16/44.1 CD quality stream), there was more than a hint of the acoustic ambiance in the Village Vanguard. Similarly, Chesky’s binaural recording of Macy Gray’s Stripped (24/96 FLAC downsampled to 16/48) had the requisite “air”, if not the dimensionality you would get from a more conventional pair of stereo speakers.
As an experiment, I switched to a mono mix of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue (24/192 FLAC downsampled to 16/48 by Roon). The Music 7 would seem to be ideal for playing mono recordings – unstruments showed layering in the mono “soundstage” with good projection of Davis’ horn in “front” of Paul Chambers’ double bass.
Switching to orchestral music, I turned to my trusty TIDAL (16/44.1) streams of Karajan’s 1963 renditions of Beethoven’s nine symphonies. The tonal richness and solidity underpinned the orchestral music well, showing the listener the ebb and flow between orchestral sections.
Finally, turning to some rock and pop, on Fleetwood Mac’s Tango in the Night (TIDAL CD quality, FLAC stream), the Music 7 once again painted a very enjoyable, foot tapping rendition of Little Lies, even with the ability to draw out some of the threads of the production. However, when pushed hard, the speaker can go very loud, but loses a little composure and becomes a bit hard in the mid-range.
Using the Music 7 as an Airplay speaker was straightforward with only a little loss of fidelity from my iPhone to the speaker. Compressed music streams from Apple Music were handled with aplomb, as were those from Spotify.
Testing on Bluetooth showed similar traits, though a further loss in fidelity could be detected, but the ease of use and utility are undeniable.
As a TV soundbar: I feel that the Music 7 is less successful as a soundbar. With the Toslink input, I initially had set-up issues to get a smooth rendition of PCM signals from the TV. But even after ironing out all of those issues, the interoperability, volume matching and switching between sources were not smooth, unlike the Sonos, which has been trouble free even using its supplied optical to HDMI dongle.
The sound was great – dialogue and background music were rendered with great richness, more so than my resident Beam – and enjoyable once set up. But the practicality of use would preclude an unconditional recommendation in this set-up. I suspect that if I were able to use the HDMI ARC connection, there would be a much better experience, but unfortunately, I was unable to test that.
vs Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air: This design has been around for quite a few years and gone through a number of iterations – this is the latest Zeppelin but has also been on the market for a few years. It has just recently been displaced by B&W’s latest Formation Wedge, but the Air still has its fans. The Music 7 exhibits a bigger, bolder sound, and solidity than the Air, but lacks the Air’s litheness and quicker pacing. It comes down to personal preference, but I think that the Air would suit most people in a smaller room, whilst the Music 7 might be a better bet in a larger living room.
vs Sonos Beam: The Beam is a much cheaper and much smaller device – so musically the Music 7 demolishes it in every way except for the Beam’s quicker bass and timing, but not as much as you might think given the difference in price. But the Beam does do its job as a soundbar very well, with slick integration with your TV as well as an existing Sonos multi-room set-up. The integration into the Sonos ecosystem and access to almost all imaginable music services is also something the Music 7 cannot compete with. I would recommend the Beam over the Music 7 if your primary use is as a soundbar.
THE LAST WORD
Dynaudio is to be applauded for a formidable first foray into the lifestyle speaker category, leveraging its considerable loudspeaker design skills to bring a very slickly designed product which shows its hi-fi heritage in the way it reproduces music. The Music 7 plays all genres of music in a very friendly yet musical style with good tonal richness and solidity.
However, there are still some rough edges when used as a soundbar with a TV and, given my caveat on not being able to test it with the HDMI ARC TV, those looking for a soundbar principally may want to look elsewhere.
Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin Air, Sonos Beam, iPhone XS Max as Dynaudio App controller, Huawei P30 Pro as Bluetooth source, Roon Server as streaming source via Airplay to Music 7.