Dynaco A-10 Speakers: Little, Cute, Durable, and Nice Sounding
Nov 14, 2006 (Updated Aug 30, 2010)
Review by Horswispr
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Dynaco A-10 loudspeakers were among the best really small loudspeakers of the early 1970s. Following the success of the famous Dynaco A-25, introduced in 1969, the smaller A-10 was introduced in 1971. Only 8.5" wide x 15" tall 8" deep, and weighing about 12 lbs each, the A-10 could fit anywhere and looked essentially like a smaller A-25, with its real walnut veneer cabinets and characteristic light grille cloths. It used the same tweeter as the A-25, coupled with a smaller 6 1/2" woofer (the A-25 used a 10" woofer).
Recommend this product?
Vintage Dynaco A-10s are still popular today, and a really nice pair can command over $200 on Ebay though the retail price was only $100/pair in 1971.
I've been fixing up Dynaco A-25s lately, looking on with envy as I see pretty pairs of A-10s selling on Ebay for as much as Dynaco A-25s, so I knew I had to get me a pair.
Finally, a couple of months ago, I was able to snap up a pair of A-10s on Craigslist for under $100. As one would expect for that price, the screens were in horrible shape, and there were some small scratches in the veneer, but overall the speakers looked pretty good.
I set them up and gave a listen after cleaning up a surface or two. I wanted to see how the A-10 compared with the famous A-25.
First of all, I should mention that these speakers are cute as heck! Their small size means they can fit onto just about any bookshelf unobtrusively, and their walnut veneer is of extremely high quality: it's the same stuff as is found on the famous Dynaco A-25s. The grilles clean up nicely as well. If you can find a pair that has been skillfully restored, these are incredibly attractive little speakers.
Two things the Dynaco A-10s do NOT have: 1) there is no five-level tweeter control as there is on most A-25s. 2) The speaker wire terminals are just little screws. They do not accept banana plugs as the A-25s do, and getting speaker wire attached to the terminals can be a bit of a pain.
That said, how do they sound? Are they worth the $200 per pair some folks are paying on Ebay?
Overall, they sound like Dynaco A-25s but without the larger A-25's characteristic warmth. In other words, they sound tonally neutral, with good definition, and no real peaks or valleys in their frequency response. Music sounds like music through A-10s. But they roll off quickly in the bass, and the result is a slightly brighter, crisper presentation than with the Dynaco A-25s.
Imaging is quite good with the Dynaco A-10s. Because they're small, they act almost like mini-monitors when placed on stands. Much of the music occurs behind the plane of the speakers, and the musicians are well-spread about the soundstage. The dynamics are also good. Individual notes start and stop quickly. If anything, micro-dynamics (very subtle dynamic contrasts within the music) might be a bit better than with the A-25s, perhaps due to the smaller woofer.
But I have to admit that I sometimes missed the warmer sound of the larger Dynaco A-25s and A-35s while I was listening to the A-10s. On Greg Brown's The Poet Game, Brown's dark, gravely voice sounded good but just a tad small through the A10s. To compensate for this effect, I turned on my Cambridge Soundworks Basscube 12 subwoofer, and set the sub-woofer's volume low and the crossover frequency high. Much better.
On bluegrass music, the A-10s very clear, but I still occasionally missed the warmer sound of the A-25s. Guitars and mandolins sounded nice and crisp and were nicely suspended in space, but the upright bass that provides the rhythmic drive to bluegrass music was down in level. Again, subwoofer to the rescue.
On Govi's Seventh Heaven, a well-recorded CD of "new age" acoustic guitar with a Latin influence, the A-10s sounded really nice. In fact, I say it was with really small scale delicate music that the A-10s really shone for me. Fingers on strings sounded real, as did the tone of the acoustic guitar overall. Same with Alex DeGrassi's Slow Circle, another album of well-recorded acoustic guitar music.
On Miles Davis's jazz classic, Kind of Blue, the A-10s sounded quite good, though I again turned on the subwoofer to get the upright bass to come through with the heft I like. Miles's horn sounded crisp and clear, and individual instruments were well suspended in space.
On classical music from my local radio station, the A-10s sounded fine. The speakers sounded neutral on a wide variety of music, and announcers' voices sounded natural, not overly chesty.
Overall, I enjoyed the Dynaco A-10s. If I had enough space, I might opt for the larger Dynaco A-25 over the smaller and cuter A-10. The A-25s have more warmth, while not sacrificing much in the way of imaging. However, the A-25s are substantially larger and cannot as easily be "hidden" in a small bookshelf like the A-10 can. Plus the A-10s may have a slight edge in detail and microdynamcis through the midrange.
Another positive about the Dynaco A-10 (and other Dynaco speakers): the woofer surrounds are made of rubber, which is extremely durable, meaning you won't need a "woofer refoam" every few years. Used pairs of Advents and ARs often need work on the woofers to make them work properly.
How do the Dynaco A-10s compare with the recently reviewed KLH Model Twenty-fours, another small speaker of the same era? That's a tough call. To me, the KLH Model Twenty-fours came off as a bit brighter, while the A-10s came off as a bit smoother in the upper midrange. Bass response was roughly comparable between the two. The KLH may be a better bargain, since it seems to be relatively unknown, and nice pairs are going on EBay and Craigslist for well under $100/pair. The A-10s are a bit more of a "cult" favorite, and a really nice pair can command over $200, as much as the larger and more common A-25.
If you are looking for a set of small speakers for your den or office, and aren't concerned with the bottom couple of octaves of music (deep bass), then I'd give the A-10s a listen. If you can find a pair on Craigslist for $75 or so, snap 'em up and see if you can find a local wood worker to pretty up the cabinets and screens. A nice looking refinished pair can sometimes be found in the $150 to $190 price range. You'll be rewarded with a really attractive and good sounding set of speakers, and a part of audio history as well.
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Amount Paid (US$): 90
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