26
Jun
11

Duevel Planets

Roll over Holst!
Here come Duevel’s funky Planets!

“99.9% of loudspeakers you can buy today are not omni directional loudspeakers, that makes it a good reason as any, to acquaint yourself with one today…” The Tao of T

What exactly is an omni directional loudspeaker? Traditional speakers place the drive units in front of the cabinet. Sound is projected directly from the drive units towards where the speaker point. Much of the sound is output towards the front, with some of the lower frequencies directed to the sides and rear.

An omni directional loudspeaker essentially throws a lesser amount of sound towards the listener. Instead, much of the sound is directed evenly around and even behind the loudspeaker. The idea is to simulate the way sound is generated from an instrument – a point in a three-dimensional space – generating a sound wave 360 degrees. You hear part of the sound directly from the speaker and some of the sound is reflected off the room boundaries, just like how sound would be have in real life. As such, a well-designed omni directional loudspeaker aurally ‘disappears’ in the soundstage.

What I did not hear from the cute little Duevel Planets loudspeaker is the sense I am listening to one. No its not quite the perfect transducer that transport me to the recording venue; lets not kid ourselves that we can achieve this with a $2000 speaker when many $20,000 ones can’t. Instead I can vouch for the fact that this little bugger is onto something special.

If I am getting a little ahead of myself, I must admit (shhh!), I am a closet fan of omni directional loudspeakers – good company of Bose, MBL, et al. I like the fact that with Omnis, I don’t need to sit on the sweet spot to get optimal sound. In fact, there is no restriction to where you sit in the room where a pair of omnis resides. They can sound great almost anywhere, and you hear great sound almost from anywhere as well.

Duevel is one of the strong proponents of the omni directional concept. The smallest model in the range is the compact Planets, a small 83 cm tall two-way floorstanding omni that you would like to bring home and hide them away. I can just imagine you placing a pair at both ends of 3-seater couch and voila! A pair of giant headphones for three persons and you still gets a believable 360-degree sound field! Now tell me what other speaker (apart from another Duevel) can do that?

The Planets (with an ‘s’) comes in a slim cabinet, slim enough to accommodate the 6-inch midbass driver. Instead of having the drive units pointing at you, they place them on top of the slim cabinet firing upwards towards the ceiling. Round steel spheres positioned just above the drive units, a smaller one for the tweeter and a larger one for the woofer serves to diffuse the sound though I am not sure if that will give an even 360 degree dispersion. The tweeter comes in a slight horn flare that helps to direct the sound energy towards the dispersion dome, I suppose. If you place them like traditional loudspeakers, the wider side faces you and gives you a wider, airier sound. I tried them with the narrower side facing me with a discernable loss of airiness but gain somewhat in definition. You can thus possibly ‘tune’ its placement to suit your personal tastes.

The Planets has a remarkably even-handed way of going about its business. The sound is evenly balanced; nothing sticks up like the proverbial nail waiting to be hammered down. The bass end is surprisingly full bodied if a little limited at the really, really low end, not surprising given the smallish cabinet. That said, it has pretty full bass response and I doubt you’ll need a subwoofer in a reasonable sized room.

The midrange and highs must be mentioned together as one because I feel they blend so well together that it is relatively pointless to take them apart for the sake of criticism. The rich and effortless midband is a joy to listen to though you need to play them at reasonable levels. Come on, this is just a 6-inch woofer so don’t expect the impossible. The tweeters blend innocuously into the sound stage with a smooth airy balance, bound to please listeners. That may have something to do with the fact that you are listening to the dispersed sound from the tweeters.

However, if you may not have much experience with omnis, you may be duly concerned if this genre of speakers has the ability to image well. I can tell you this, the Planets image as well as any loudspeaker in its price range. But not many speakers in its price range will be able to throw as voluminous a soundstage as the Planets can. Hah!

To get the best from the Duevel Planets, you will only need a reasonable amplifier (start with a good 50 watter), while their sensitivity is middling so they cannot possibly fill a large room without sounding too midbassy (midbass emphasis). That means the Planets is best suited to smaller rooms, which is well nigh perfect because the bass response is tuned to sound full as such. A room with hard reflective surfaces such as solid walls would be ideal to allow the speaker to breathe and throw open its volumous soundstage. The reflex ports are positioned below the cabinets and a hard floor is recommended to get the best bass balance. Sounds like the Duevel Planets is just the kind of ‘real world’ loudspeaker most suited to the kind of ‘real world’ environ we have here.

Conclusion:

Pro: Good balance, big volumous sound, good staging, good bass response, flexible placement, speaker is small enough to blend effortlessly into any room, subwoofer not necessary! Wide choice of colours to match your décor.

Cons: Limit to how loud it can play so no head banging stuff, suited to smaller rooms, for larger rooms you’ll need to add a sub.

Verdict: Recommended

This article is contributed by Terence Wong of MOD AV Magazine

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