The Dynaudio LYD 7 is a new, bi-amplified, 2-way nearfield monitor aimed at the mid-market project and personal studio. It offers a great value by including cool features and solid performance at a reasonable price-point. It sits in the middle of a range that includes the LYD 5 and LYD 8, with the numeral indicating the woofer diameter in inches. As with all Dynaudio professional monitors, the LYD series is manufactured in Denmark.

I have been looking to upgrade my own monitors for a while now, but also have been a little price sensitive. I was eager to hear the LYD 7, since its $669 street price is within my budget.

Unpacking my review units from their sturdy and stylish shipping boxes, I was a little disappointed to see that styrofoam was used as the packing material, which was already beginning to crack and break down, sending lots of little white "styro-flakes" floating into my studio. It is 2016, and there are many more environmentally friendly and sturdier packing materials available (like extruded fiberboard). Once the speakers were unpacked, I noted the LYD 7's polymer woofer, soft-dome tweeter, and rear-mounted "voicing" settings for Bass Extension, Sound Balance, and Position.

The included documentation is clearly written and illustrated, providing a nice mini-tutorial on studio monitor setup in general, and these speakers specifically. Worth noting is that the section on the rear switches, which control the internal DSP, occurs after the speaker-placement section, when those switches are likely to be less accessible or harder to see. You may want to start with some initial settings before placing the speakers, and then, adjust accordingly, using the calibration steps outlined in the manual. If you want to get tweaky, there is a free Dynaudio app that you can download to do some basic SPL and RTA measurements. I checked it out, and it proved fairly usable. Reassuringly, the app was developed by the respectable Studio Six Digital folks, whose pro version of the software I already own. I personally dig it when manufacturers provide tools and information to educate and help consumers achieve success with their products, so this was a welcome gesture. Suffice it to say, there are some useful settings here that will allow owners to customize the LYD 7's response to their room, speaker position (e.g., near a wall), and desired voicing.

I was unable to confirm whether the speakers had gone through the recommended break-in period, so after making some adjustments to the DSP settings and positioning the monitors properly, I set about cranking some tunes, just to get sense of the sound and have my own "Memorex" moment. I appreciated the LYD 7's even tone, ample loudness when pushed, and nice level of detail in the high frequencies. Reverb tails (one of my go-to HF subtlety tests) in some slow-tempo classical pieces were nicely articulated. I never heard any turbulence, distortion, or "chuffing" from the rear port, even with low frequencies played back loudly — likely due to the unique, flared shape of the rear bass port.

After trying out some commercial releases of rock, pop, and electronica, I would say that the LYD 7's low-frequency response is somewhat restrained, despite the ability to make some adjustments in that area. Many folks would argue that a lack of hype is a good thing, but if you are a hip-hop or EDM producer, you should consider the LYD 8 instead (or a subwoofer), especially during the production phase, if you need some extra excitement down there. Folks should know I am a low-end junkie, so my evaluation of the speaker's lows should be understood with that bias in mind. I have noticed that I will tend to mix a bit bottom heavy, and my mixes have definitely needed correction in that domain during mastering or subsequent mixing. So given that, and that my own RTA measurement of the speaker (using pink noise at ~72 dB SPL) looked relatively flat, I think it's fair to say that the LYD 7 is accurate in frequency response, though possibly to the point of being cautiously so. That could be a plus, a minus, or a neutral point, depending on taste, usage, and musical genre.

Regardless of your need for "boom in the room," I did appreciate that the low end, and the frequency response overall, were consistent through a wide range of volumes — a valuable trait when evaluating how mixes will perform in the real world, and also to avoid listening fatigue in longer sessions. Moreover, I am a bit sensitive to high frequencies, and I found the highs to be very pleasing, detailed, but never harsh, even after extending listening.

I noticed that the horizontal (side-to-side) off-axis response of the LYD 7 was fairly forgiving, with a wide "sweet spot." Standing to one side, I felt like the frequency response was still good, even though the stereo imaging obviously suffered. Vertical off-axis response was less forgiving, and the manual was clear about the importance of the speakers being on the same plane as your ears — something to keep in mind as you move about the room, or when you are getting client input.

Time-domain response seemed good as well. Transients on percussive instruments were well-articulated, and low-end stuff like kick drum and acoustic bass (one of the trickier things to reproduce well, in my humble opinion) was "tight" and defined. Some of my favorite monitors have been ones with concentric-driver layout (e.g., Tannoy, UREI), due to their time alignment, phase coherency, imaging, and what I would call a "natural" sound akin to an actual acoustic source in a room. The LYD 7, despite being a standard 2-way configuration of drivers, has decent performance in this regard, though you really must have your ears on the right plane between the vertically oriented drivers, as previously mentioned. Gratefully, I have a sit/stand workstation that allows me to dial this in pretty quickly.

I wanted to see how mixes on the LYD 7 sounded on other systems, including my modest home hi-fi, my car, some decent "pro" headphones, and of course, the ubiquitous earbuds. Overall, my mix of a highly produced pop tune made a decent showing in the various environments. I was forced to swap out a synth bass patch during recall because the plug-in wasn't loading properly (that never happens!), so I had to re-balance that instrument, as well as the lead vocal. On the first pass, I found myself mixing the vocal a bit low, and the bass part a bit too forward, which would suggest the "bass kindliness" previously mentioned, as well as some midrange forwardness. After two more passes, I was able to get something I liked. I would credit this more to "learning" the characteristics of the LYD 7 than to anything inherently wrong with its performance. Over time, I am sure I would mentally adjust my mixes to compensate. I can say that the LYD 7 gives an honest, neutral presentation that will translate nicely to a variety of playback systems.

One of the least important yet most notable aspects of the LYD series is the white faceplate. I initially found it very off-putting when I first saw the series in photos. After setting up the LYD 7s and having them at my workstation for a while, I began to appreciate the modern styling and distinctive look. The speakers blended in after I got used to them, and I appreciated them as a nice break from the ever-present "black boxes" we all seem to collect. Like the ubiquitous Yamaha NS-10M, the LYD models are easily identifiable. I would encourage anyone in the market for new studio monitors in this price range, but who might be dubious about how the LYDs look, to go see them in person and give them a serious listen. Any minor gripes aside, I really like the LYD 7. It offers an audible upgrade to my current system, and though I reluctantly had to send the review pair back, I am now strongly considering a purchase for myself.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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