It’s true in life and the adage finds veracity in audio: Never judge a book by its cover. If ever there was a component that exemplifies that statement, it’s the Ray-S speaker from Davone Audio. Most audiophiles would dismiss this speaker on first look, assuming that its primary design goal was simply an alluring Danish modern form factor, with sound quality an afterthought. And they would be wrong. Dead wrong.
You can count me among the doubters as I too prejudged the product. I had a firm “sound picture” in my mind as to what these speakers would be like and eschewed them as merely a lifestyle product which looked kinda’ cool, but must surely lack substance. Just a few seconds into the first cut I knew there was something quite special here, something far more than just a pretty face, the Ray-S is the real deal.
The Ray-S is quite something. There is an easeful, relaxed quality that is immediately enticing. There’s no obvious coloration, no clearly definable character that we could pin on them, just a genuine recreation that is both informative and very entertaining.
Yes, there are speakers that do some things better than the Ray-S. There are uber-resolved designs which certainly dig a bit deeper, there are speakers that will go lower and those that will play louder, but none of those singular aspects of performance can we say are weaknesses in the Ray-S. And, I would argue, none of those speakers which top the Ray-S in any one area of performance are as satisfying on as wide a range of material as the Ray-S.
I suppose some might term their presentation “polite.” I’m not sure I’d go that far – the term seems to suggest a truncated HF frequency response, and I don't think they are bandwidth limited. Regardless of how one might describe their overall tonal balance, the top-end of the Ray-S is never steely, hard-edged or analytical. Others might use the term “musical,” but I think that connotation can have a fairly broad meaning. I just call them entertaining.
Another salient quality that many will find a true blessing, is the relative unfussy nature of the Ray-S with regards to placement. Of course, like with any transducer, finding that ideal location in any space will pay dividends, but unlike many other speakers I’ve worked with (that must be really dialed-in to be listenable), the Ray-S will reward you with satisfying performance without being coddled to the nth degree.
Indeed, our first pair was plopped down in the general area that most speakers find a home in that room and connected for break-in before any serious listening. With nothing more than a cursory adjustment (rough toe-in and equal distance to the listening position), they were singing sweetly. We just turned them on and enjoyed music rather than scurrying for the laser pointer, level and tape measures.
It’s an interesting accomplishment, this ease of placement; I’ve found a just a few speakers over the years that were this way, and darned if I can figure out what it is that makes them this way. But hey, who’s complaining? The only downside I see to this characteristic is that it may lull some purchasers into never going further toward optimizing the Ray-S. Oh well, at least I know they’ll be enjoying the music, and that's what it's all about. Right?
Next Page: Design
The fluid cabinet shape has not just been an esthetic choice. The unique baffle shape, combined with the close proximity and off center mounting of the tweeter and mid driver, gives a more balanced in-room response than the popular tower shaped speaker. Practically this means that great results can be obtained without modifications to the acoustics of your listening room.
Though Ray-s is a compact design, it features a first class 8” woofer, hand assembled in Denmark. The very rigid hard paper cone operates as a piston over the working frequency range. In combination with the low-loss linear suspension and a symmetrical magnet system, the distortion is very low and transient reproduction is fast and accurate.
The Ray is elevated to the correct listening position and angle by a dedicated stand, shaped by laser and water cutters using substantial 25mm thick solid steel. Though sleek and sculptural in the design, the stand is non-resonant and extremely rigid. The small footprint also de-couples the Ray cabinet from the floor insuring excellent dynamics and tight, clean bass.
Next Page: Construction
Next Page: Specifications
Frequency response - 37-30.000Hz
Impedance - 4 ohm, 4.0 ohm minimum at 37Hz
Sensitivity - 89dB/2,83V/m
Max power - 170 W measured according to IEC 17.1
Woofer - 8” hard paper cone, Xmax 28mm peak-peak, Patented Symmetrical Drive Motor Design
Mid - 4", Proprietary cone material with the optimal balance of stiffnes, damping and density, strengthened with Egyptian papyrus fibers. Foam surround (made from polyether foam, not the the usual polyester foam which is infamous for it's short life time) for maximum transparency and midrange resolution.
Tweeter - 1" , wide surround silk dome diaphragm
Crossover - 400 Hz, 3kHz
System - Ported
Cabinet - 16 layer, 20mm thick beech wood form pressed veneer with multiple internal stiffeners. Driver placement in left and right cabinet is mirror imaged
Weight - 27 kg per piece including stand
Finish - Walnut