Definitive Technology Demand D15 Tower Speaker Review

Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Warlord
My pictures aren't doing this speaker justice. It is a gloss white cabinet with a finely brushed aluminum front baffle. It is pretty swank.
That's what I was thinking too. That aluminum baffle probably looks a lot sharper in person. They use it in their Mythos speakers and I think those look pretty nice too.

Honestly DefTech will always have a spot in my heart. The speakers I've heard weren't horrible speakers and a couple are/were really pretty nice, tho I did avoid those with powered sub sections. The SM65 comes to mind. I'd bought a pair of SM55s when I got back into audio for $250 and really wanted a pair of 65s. I still have a pair of Promonitor1000s. Those are what got me looking at DT to start. I couldn't believe how good that little speaker sounded. Coming here opened my eyes to a lot of other brands tho and I eventually drifted away from DefTech, but I was happy with what I had for the prices.

I'm glad to see they have a competent speaker line now and seem to be getting in touch with reality concerning published specs. Good for them.
 
slipperybidness

slipperybidness

Audioholic Spartan
That's what I was thinking too. That aluminum baffle probably looks a lot sharper in person. They use it in their Mythos speakers and I think those look pretty nice too.

Honestly DefTech will always have a spot in my heart. The speakers I've heard weren't horrible speakers and a couple are/were really pretty nice, tho I did avoid those with powered sub sections. The SM65 comes to mind. I'd bought a pair of SM55s when I got back into audio for $250 and really wanted a pair of 65s. I still have a pair of Promonitor1000s. Those are what got me looking at DT to start. I couldn't believe how good that little speaker sounded. Coming here opened my eyes to a lot of other brands tho and I eventually drifted away from DefTech, but I was happy with what I had for the prices.

I'm glad to see they have a competent speaker line now and seem to be getting in touch with reality concerning published specs. Good for them.
I almost bought a set of the 8xxx line bipole towers. But, when I auditioned (2 different show rooms), the GE T2 sounded better to my ears, so I bought the GE instead.

A couple years later, I scooped a set of the SM350 for ~50% of MSRP from NewEgg (likely the close out when they released the new SM line). Those SM350 are currently in service as my garage speakers!

I think they are pretty decent speakers. I think that they are excellent speakers if you listen to a lot of Jazz. And, I found that the SM350 sounds quite nice with my Dynaco ST-70 Tube Amplifier!
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Warlord
I almost bought a set of the 8xxx line bipole towers. But, when I auditioned (2 different show rooms), the GE T2 sounded better to my ears, so I bought the GE instead.

A couple years later, I scooped a set of the SM350 for ~50% of MSRP from NewEgg (likely the close out when they released the new SM line). Those SM350 are currently in service as my garage speakers!

I think they are pretty decent speakers. I think that they are excellent speakers if you listen to a lot of Jazz. And, I found that the SM350 sounds quite nice with my Dynaco ST-70 Tube Amplifier!
I never really gave the bipoles a fair day in court so I can't comment. Even tho I was just dipping my toes back into the pond the concept was a hard sell for me. I love the way my Sierras image and the precise soundstage. From what I understand a lot of that suffers with bipole speakers.
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Warlord
That has to be one of the ugliest speakers I've seen. :)
Have you seen one up close or just the pics? If they weren't described as such I'd never know those baffles were brushed aluminum from the images. Hard to see the gloss factor too. I agree with the offset tweeters throwing the look off a little, but I'll reserve judgement on the rest til I actually see one.
 
V

VMPS-TIII

Audioholic General
Have you seen one up close or just the pics? If they weren't described as such I'd never know those baffles were brushed aluminum from the images. Hard to see the gloss factor too. I agree with the offset tweeters throwing the look off a little, but I'll reserve judgement on the rest til I actually see one.
There are soooo many speaker choices. I'm looking for a pair of Magnepan speakers for my next listening session. I heard them mixed with other direct speakers and I was blown away by the openness and warmth of the sound combination.
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Warlord
There are soooo many speaker choices. I'm looking for a pair of Magnepan speakers for my next listening session. I heard them mixed with other direct speakers and I was blown away by the openness and warmth of the sound combination.
That's awesome, but in no way did you answer my question... lol.

I had the privelege of listening to a very large pair of Magnepans, taller than I am and was pretty floored. It was quite a while ago but left a big impression on me. A good sub, lots of power, in the right room and they're hard to beat.
 
D

Danzilla31

Audioholic Ninja
That's awesome, but in no way did you answer my question... lol.

I had the privelege of listening to a very large pair of Magnepans, taller than I am and was pretty floored. It was quite a while ago but left a big impression on me. A good sub, lots of power, in the right room and they're hard to beat.
I really wanted to go with Maggie's but they are pretty particular about placement your right on how flat out amazing they sound tho
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
Another nice review Shady.

That seems a competent speaker for sure with its good midband response. However one has to ask the question what goes through the minds of these companies?

So we have a three way, with ABR tuning, below average sensitivity, a not too difficult load, but not the easiest either.

I think they could have done better with less, and therefore cheaper. For a start this is another three way where the mid can not cover the speech discrimination band. The complexity of the three way crossover has sacrificed a few db in sensitivity. They chose ABR tuning, I suppose that looks sexy, but the bass roll off is steeper than a port and it costs a lot more.

There are plenty of drivers that size that can easily be crossed at 2.5 KHz and still get as good midband response.

So my contention is that you could actually make a better speaker with 2.5 concept and cross at the same point. So you could save money on drivers, the ABRs and a simpler crossover. That would have saved a lot and you could have made better drivers. So you could have a more potent, easier to drive speaker, more sensitive and with better bass extension with less resources thrown at it.

I would bet that speaker would also be more dynamic and would have sonic benefits.
 
slipperybidness

slipperybidness

Audioholic Spartan
I never really gave the bipoles a fair day in court so I can't comment. Even tho I was just dipping my toes back into the pond the concept was a hard sell for me. I love the way my Sierras image and the precise soundstage. From what I understand a lot of that suffers with bipole speakers.
One of the show stoppers for me was the need to pull them out a bit further from the front wall due to the rear firing drivers. When space is limited, it just can't make sense.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Another nice review Shady.

That seems a competent speaker for sure with its good midband response. However one has to ask the question what goes through the minds of these companies?

So we have a three way, with ABR tuning, below average sensitivity, a not too difficult load, but not the easiest either.

I think they could have done better with less, and therefore cheaper. For a start this is another three way where the mid can not cover the speech discrimination band. The complexity of the three way crossover has sacrificed a few db in sensitivity. They chose ABR tuning, I suppose that looks sexy, but the bass roll off is steeper than a port and it costs a lot more.

There are plenty of drivers that size that can easily be crossed at 2.5 KHz and still get as good midband response.

So my contention is that you could actually make a better speaker with 2.5 concept and cross at the same point. So you could save money on drivers, the ABRs and a simpler crossover. That would have saved a lot and you could have made better drivers. So you could have a more potent, easier to drive speaker, more sensitive and with better bass extension with less resources thrown at it.

I would bet that speaker would also be more dynamic and would have sonic benefits.
The problem is that the speaker you are describing would necessarily be larger. The larger a speaker is, the weaker the sales. If you want a good high-sensitivity 2.5-way, just get a JBL HDI. The problem is it is not nearly as compact. Definitive Technology is trying to make speakers that actually sell, and I think that when people see the dead sexy industrial design of the Demand speakers, they will go for it. The fact that they also sound good is just icing on the cake. I am just happy that Definitive Technology has managed to make a speaker that looks really nice and sounds very good but doesn't cost as much as a mid-sized sedan.
 
M

Mpsafranski

Audioholic
As far as the looks go, I say I like em while staring at my black driver on black box Sierra towers ;)

I have always liked the white cabinet/black driver contrast but my wife will not ever go for it. And I dunno why but I also like the look of the tweets. I seem to be on an island on that front.

now if they rounded those edges out that’d be great. But again they don’t come any more squared off boxy and boring (shape wise) than the sierras. And I love my sierras!
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
The problem is that the speaker you are describing would necessarily be larger. The larger a speaker is, the weaker the sales. If you want a good high-sensitivity 2.5-way, just get a JBL HDI. The problem is it is not nearly as compact. Definitive Technology is trying to make speakers that actually sell, and I think that when people see the dead sexy industrial design of the Demand speakers, they will go for it. The fact that they also sound good is just icing on the cake. I am just happy that Definitive Technology has managed to make a speaker that looks really nice and sounds very good but doesn't cost as much as a mid-sized sedan.
I fail to see why they should be bigger. You would need one less driver, and an ABR box should be no bigger than a vented one.

I bet my design that one the Audiophile sound off is no bigger than those. Those are really high dynamic speakers and really accurate.

 
slipperybidness

slipperybidness

Audioholic Spartan
The problem is that the speaker you are describing would necessarily be larger. The larger a speaker is, the weaker the sales. If you want a good high-sensitivity 2.5-way, just get a JBL HDI. The problem is it is not nearly as compact. Definitive Technology is trying to make speakers that actually sell, and I think that when people see the dead sexy industrial design of the Demand speakers, they will go for it. The fact that they also sound good is just icing on the cake. I am just happy that Definitive Technology has managed to make a speaker that looks really nice and sounds very good but doesn't cost as much as a mid-sized sedan.
Are you thinking that this is likely the best sounding speaker that DT has ever produced?

I'm also getting a similar vibe for the newest Paradigms.

I agree, it is great to see some of these well known companies that had mediocre speakers (but likely good sales numbers) really start to step up their game.
 
T

TomS

Audiophyte
Wow, great review Shady. I love the looks on the Demand towers and have been waiting for some measured frequency response specs before seriously considering purchasing them. It looks like these have just about the smoothest and flattest response I have seen, regardless of price - great job DefTech!

A couple of questions: once speakers are this accurate, should the main determining factors in deciding which to buy be preferences regarding looks, output, dispersion, and of course budget? Since I love the looks and don't have a large room, is there any good reason to spend significantly more than the $3200 these cost?

Also, the Demand D9 bookshelf (with similar 5.25 mid drivers) can be found for less than $500 per pair - if one already has subwoofers, would the D9's provide similar performance at a fraction of the price of the D15's, or is there some special sauce in the towers that warrants the large price difference?
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Are you thinking that this is likely the best sounding speaker that DT has ever produced?

I'm also getting a similar vibe for the newest Paradigms.

I agree, it is great to see some of these well known companies that had mediocre speakers (but likely good sales numbers) really start to step up their game.
I don't know that this is Deftech's best speaker. I don't have a whole lot of experience with their other speakers. It is a big change from their normal bipole floor-standers. I think some people will prefer this kind of speaker to their traditional bipole, but others might prefer their bipoles. The bipole speakers will have a greater ratio of late reflections to direct sound, and that can add a greater sense of spaciousness, although perhaps at the cost of precise imaging.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Wow, great review Shady. I love the looks on the Demand towers and have been waiting for some measured frequency response specs before seriously considering purchasing them. It looks like these have just about the smoothest and flattest response I have seen, regardless of price - great job DefTech!

A couple of questions: once speakers are this accurate, should the main determining factors in deciding which to buy be preferences regarding looks, output, dispersion, and of course budget? Since I love the looks and don't have a large room, is there any good reason to spend significantly more than the $3200 these cost?

Also, the Demand D9 bookshelf (with similar 5.25 mid drivers) can be found for less than $500 per pair - if one already has subwoofers, would the D9's provide similar performance at a fraction of the price of the D15's, or is there some special sauce in the towers that warrants the large price difference?
I would say after accuracy, in the realm of performance, you should be looking at what kind of dynamic range you want and what kind of dispersion pattern you want. So how loud do you like to listen? If you intend to crank the system, you are going to want capable speakers. That may call for tower speakers rather than bookshelf speakers. Then look at what kind of dispersion pattern you are interested in. If you want a precise soundstage. maybe narrower dispersions are your cup of tea. If you want a wider and more enveloping soundstage, I would be looking at wide dispersion speakers.

As for looks, that is an entirely subjective matter that everyone has to weigh or themselves. It may be that another household member will not tolerate a huge unsightly speaker, in which case you are forced to spend big bucks for a pretty speaker.

As for the Demand bookshelf speakers, I don't know. There was a big gap in time between the release of the bookshelf speakers and these tower speakers, so maybe some design goals changed. The only measurement I can find for any of the Demand bookshelf speaker is here. It looks OK but not perfect. We are doing some looking into dialogue intelligibility issues in audio, and what has been found is that dips in the 2.5 to 3kHz region can adversely impact dialogue intelligibility. Well, that speaker has a broad dip right smack dab in that region. That region is where human hearing is most sensitive, by the way, and when we see voicing like that, it can be efforts by the designers to temper content there where just a slight elevation can cause something to sound a bit harsh. However, I would prefer total neutrality if it can be achieved. If a recording sucks, it isn't the job of the loudspeaker is correct it. If you want to adjust the system sound to suit your tastes, you should use an equalizer or tone control.

I can't tell you if the D15's are worth the premium over the D9s. I can tell you that if you want your speakers to get loud, you should consider getting towers over bookshelf speakers, even if you plan to use subs.
 
T

TomS

Audiophyte
Thanks Shady - That's a good point about the Demand bookshelf measurements, I hadn't seen those, but they definitely are not as good as the D15 towers - it was just wishful thinking that they would have similar performance, not to mention the output limitations of the bookshelf vs the tower!

Another question - I have Definitive in-wall and in-ceiling surround and Atmos height speakers (which I am happy with), so my OCD makes me want to brand (timbre?) match all my speakers unless there is a good reason not to. Is there any good reason to choose another well-measuring tower in the $3500/per pair range over the D15's such as the Revel F206, the JBL HDI 3800, or something else? Or is the performance of the D15's similar enough that it would make sense to brand-match my entire setup? Thanks again, and BTW I love your videos with Gene and Matthew Poes, hope to see more of those soon!
 
M

mtrot

Full Audioholic
So, in this this price range, how to decide between D15/D17, the new Polk Legend L600, JBL HDI 3800, or a nice condition used set of Revel F208 or Focal Aria 948? For an all-around system for both music and movies.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Thanks Shady - That's a good point about the Demand bookshelf measurements, I hadn't seen those, but they definitely are not as good as the D15 towers - it was just wishful thinking that they would have similar performance, not to mention the output limitations of the bookshelf vs the tower!

Another question - I have Definitive in-wall and in-ceiling surround and Atmos height speakers (which I am happy with), so my OCD makes me want to brand (timbre?) match all my speakers unless there is a good reason not to. Is there any good reason to choose another well-measuring tower in the $3500/per pair range over the D15's such as the Revel F206, the JBL HDI 3800, or something else? Or is the performance of the D15's similar enough that it would make sense to brand-match my entire setup? Thanks again, and BTW I love your videos with Gene and Matthew Poes, hope to see more of those soon!
Well, the JBL HDI 3800s are quite a bit more sensitive and do have greater dynamic range. But they cost a lot more and are larger speakers. I actually had the 3800s and the D15s at the same time and did an A/B comparison. I felt that the D15s had a bit more clarity in the midrange, but there was a big difference in sensitivity between the two speakers. The 3800s had more powerful bass, but the D15s also have excellent bass. With the D15s, I would still add a subwoofer if you like to listen at loud volumes. The 3800 does not need a sub. All a sub can do for those speakers is add extension below 30 Hz (and smooth out room modes, of course, in a multi sub system). I suspect the Revel speakers would be somewhere between the 3800 and D15. These are all excellent speakers, and I think you would be happy with any of them.
 

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