Dayton MK402 Review
New passive bookshelf speaker from the guys over at Parts Express. The word on the street is that they have a real crossover and are a shot at quality HiFi. Expectations are through the roof from the makers of the not great, but incredibly popular B652, and the interesting sideshow experiment B652-AIR. Let's see what Team Dayton has come up with as it's budget desktop champion.
This tweeter is a new item for Dayton Audio, and looks like a copy of the Micca MB42x tweeter. It's a 3/4 inch soft dome with a hard coating. I would have really like them to instead use the good performing, low price 1 inch ND25FA-4 dome on this speaker. I have an ND25FA on hand and it sadly will not fit in the hole. The small Peerless XT25 might fit, and I've ordered a pair to find out. I'll update the review once they arrive.
Back of the tweeter reveals that it is just a standard neo button magnet in a plastic baffle.
This 4 inch woofer has huge surround, aluminized paper cone, and a massive inverted dust cap. I'm guessing that the dust cap is heavy to add mass and lower the FS of the driver.
Back of the driver shows of a substantial magnet and a small vent for the pole piece. Note that the foam ring does almost nothing to seal up the woofer, and I needed to tighten up one of the woofers allen screws to stop it from leaking.
This rinky dink four element crossover is highly touted in the marketing materials for this speakers. The woofer gets a second order low pass, while the tweeter has a first order high pass with a resistor to volume match the drivers.
Any time you see something that looks nice on a Budget speaker you can feel confident that it's money misplaced. The beveled corners are justified in marketing material by some talk of avoiding diffraction, but a rounded corner is the best way to acomplish that task. the very slight bevel is doing almost nothing for the sound, and the money it cost in production could have and should have been spent on crossover parts and a better tweeter.
The cheap vinyl wrap covers the speaker well, and seems higher quality than the Dayton B652. The cabinet does not have corner bracing instead opting for side wall bracing and a poly foam blanket that wraps around the side walls.
This is the defining characteristic for this speakers. Coupled with the woofers low FS of 53Hz the port is tuned to ridiculously low 50Hz... now the box is way too small for this to even remotely have a chance at producing a flat to 50Hz response, but it should do more to produce an extended low end that can either be boasted with tone controls or shoved into a corner for boundry gain. I like everything about this port, it's total disregard for port chuffing with only 3/4 inch size, it's placement on the rear of the speaker to avoid cancelation, boast boundary gain, and hide port leakage and chuffing sounds. I even like the target of 50Hz, which is my minimum requirement for a standalone speaker. Only improvement I could see is using cardboard for the main port and use plastic flares for both sides to cut down on chuffing - yes there will be chuffing.
Terminals are much nicer than the Dayton B652's spring clips. These are delicate, but functional.
Grills are too thick for listening, and only provide small cut outs for the drivers to play through. While unusable for listening they should provide good protection when transporting the speakers.
The inclusion of grills is more money left on the table. Why include them if they are going to make the speaker preform worse?
Desktop Listening Notes:
Speakers are easy to setup at ear level and are a familiar size, only a hair wider and taller than the Micca MB42x.
Treble is unbearably louder than the rest of the speaker.
Bass is extended, but way too low in volume.
Upper bass honks a little bit.
I'm not going to spend much time explaining how many ways this speaker fails sonically. This is not a good sounding speaker, take my word for it.
Dayton is not doing their best here. We are looking at +-5dB over the claimed response range of 60Hz-20kHz. You may be able to salvage these speakers with basic tone controls by turning up the bass a hair, and cutting the treble a bunch.
If they were going to use a first order on the tweeter the cap and resistor are both too small, so instead of flat after the crossover point the whole response of the tweeter is a climbing nasty response. A second order on the tweeter crossed lower would flatten out the response, but would put more strain on the crappy little dome tweeter. The woofer crossover looks like it's too high as well.
It is my belief that Dayton misplaced their priorities on this speaker. You don't spend your production costs on cutting fancy designs into the face of speaker boxes when you can't even put in the correct components inside of that box.
One gold star is that I am very happy with the measured bass response and extention of this speaker given it's size. This is best in class performance for a tiny passive speaker.
7 filters get the job done. 2dB bass boast, 3dB midbass cut, take the hump out of the midrange, the rest is just cutting the treble progressively up to 8dB as it rises. I could include a bass cut to help with chuffing, but I'm getting good bass response to 42Hz in room, so I just left it alone.
Corrected Listening Impressions:
Bass response sounds great. -3dB point is 50Hz and with the cut to the upper bass there is excellent vocal clarity.
Chuffing from port is covered up in most music. When it happens it's noticeable and aggravating, but still a trade off that I think is worth it.
Imaging is nice, but I still think the 1 inch version of this dome tweeter should have been used instead of the 3/4
Goofy woofer with large surround and inverted dust cap does a lot better than you would expect.
I'm not hearing any cone breakup at all - this is better than the DSP corrected Micca MB42x.
The width of the Dayton MK402 speakers and driver spacing is damn near perfect for desktop imaging.
Soulwax with their ultra crisp and dimensional samples sound great with these speakers.
How I would fix the Dayton Audio MK402 speakers: go back to flat face MDF, and spend the money saved on flares for both ends of the port, put the 1 inch dome in the speakers, and design a good crossover with 2nd order filters for both woofer and tweeter.
For the upside - If Dayton can consistently make the MK402, warts and all, they will be a perfect replacement for the Micca MB42x recommendation. The Micca is flatter than the Dayton speakers out of the box, but the constant revisioning they means that DSP correction is trying to hit a moving target, and may not work depending on the changes. In the past Dayton's B652 has been consistent. If they can consistently make these bad speakers, then they will be the perfect recommendation for desktop system with DSP correction.
With DSP correction I like the Dayton MK402 better than the IK Multimedia iLoudMM, and prefer the bass response over even the Vanatoo Transparent Zero - which still wins for treble clarity with its nice large dome tweeter. Even with the massive collection of higher dollar speakers I have, the DSP corrected Dayton MK402 is my new personal go to desktop speaker. It's combination of size, performance, and convience(in my setup) of being a passive speaker put it above the rest.
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