Dayton B652-AIR Review (Updated 3/23/2016)

Dayton Audio B652-AIR 6-1/2″ Bookshelf Speaker Pair with AMT Tweeter – (wait until its $59.90)

Most speakers are easy to find and never sell out. The Dayton Audio B652-AIR’s are an exception because they combine the low price and quality woofer of the Dayton Audio B652 with a much improved tweeter. Instead of a cheap, but flawed speaker, you have a speaker which behaves like a lower quality version of expensive models.

As is typical with Dayton Audio speakers, it comes with lengths of speaker wire. This is something people new to the world of audio will appreciate.

It should be noted that because of the new tweeter design, the speakers should not be placed on their side for listening.

Everything there is to dislike about these speakers is excusable by the price point.

It may seem like a small thing, but changing the tweeter increased the price of the speaker by 50%. If you’ve read my review of the Dayton Audio B652, you know this change goes after the biggest flaw with those speakers. Now that’s been improved, and this speaker is something to behold as a result.

These speakers can be hard to find, they are sold out from time-to-time at Parts Express, and Amazon only offers them through Parts Express or third parties selling at a markup. That’s a testament to how the audio community feels about these speakers.

After writing this review, I’ve used them myself. They aren’t small speakers, but they fit in a canvas bag with a small amplifier. I brought them to a house some friends and I had rented for a weekend at the beach. These worked great as speakers for listening to music in the garage.

As I’ve said, these speaker took the ugly sounding treble regions from the original model and have changed them into something as good as the rest of the speaker. The only change is replacing the aluminum tweeter with an air motion transformer tweeter. On these cheap speaker models, that kind of upgrade is all it takes.

My only complaint when I’m listening is that the speaker is clearly “bright”.  The speakers always sound like someone has turned up the treble. I don’t mind this aesthetically, but it is not ideal.

While I think this is a great speaker for the money, it is important to remember that caveat “for the money”. More expensive speakers will get you better performance. But for journeyman speakers, these are a great choice.

To quote my discussion of measurements from my Dayton B652 review:

Measurements are a very important part of reviewing speakers. Most reviews you find won’t put in the effort to do the detail I have on a pair of $40 speakers. However, I make sure to include them in any review I do because it verifies that what I’m hearing corresponds to something innate about the speakers.

The first measurement we look at is the classic Bode Plot. If you’re unfamiliar with what that is, allow me to explain briefly, or just skip to my TL;DR below.

What we hear is sound is the variation in sound pressure in the air. The number of times in a second the sound pressure goes from high to low is called the “frequency” of the sound. Each note on a musical scale has its own special frequency. When a speaker is asked to play a particular note at a particular volume, it creates a slightly (and sometimes not so slightly) different volume for each tone. To create a Bode plot, you play the each note at the same volume from the speaker and record how loud it is on the microphone.

An important aside is that when doing measurements, the Bode plot (as well as others) are influenced by the room the speakers are in. I use special modern techniques of computer-aided measurement which enables me to isolate the speakers. This means my measurements are only useful above 200 Hz. Below that, the effects of the room cannot be reliably separated from the effects of the speaker.

The TL;DR of the past two paragraphs is: in a perfect world, the graph below would be a straight horizontal line and deviations from a straight line help to explain some of the imperfections of the speaker.

Now for a detailed look at the measurements. Under 1000Hz, the Dayton B652-AIR’s frequency response is identical to the original Dayton B652. This is to be expected as the only change to the speaker is to the parts that deal with high frequencies.

The large swing around 3000Hz is gone, thankfully. The crossover still isn’t great, but the result isn’t nearly as bad as it was before. The high frequencies follow about the same level of variability as the middle frequencies. That still isn’t good, but at least the problems are evenly spread out.

b652air.mat_freq

 

Again, from my review of the Dayton B652’s:

A Bode plot tells less than half the story, so there are other measurements that engineers and the best reviewers look at to examine a speaker. Below you will see a step response of the speaker. The step response is how the speaker responds to suddenly being given a large sustained voltage after a long period of quiet. Ideally, the pressure created by the speaker would rise immediately before slowly settling out. The initial sharp response is caused by the drivers, the woofer and the tweeter, jumping into position in response to the voltage. The settling out is caused by ringing in the speaker box.

In the step response below, there isn’t a sharp rise. There are a few peaks before the biggest rise. This is ultimately indicative of the poor crossover, and doesn’t add too much versus the Bode plot. The later portion , with its steady climb back to zero is indicative of the sealed box design, and it is perfectly good at that.

The step response, with its tighter rise that the Dayton B652 again shows the improvement the new tweeter brings. The recovery is the same because it comes in an identical box.

b652air.mat_step

The directional response shows this speaker is very even in all directions. This is characteristic of the new AMT tweeter Dayton Audio added.

b652air.mat_direc

So, all in all, if you’re looking for the best $60 speaker out there, I suggest you go and find the Dayton B652-AIR’s. It provides consistent, acceptable performance. They may be hard to find, but if they are in stock, these are a good choice. Dayton Audio B652-AIR 6-1/2″ Bookshelf Speaker Pair with AMT Tweeter

6 thoughts on “Dayton B652-AIR Review (Updated 3/23/2016)

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