Daedalus Audio Pan: An Unreview

Scott Dalzell of Viva Hifi, out in NoVA, was very kind to accommodate my schedule and invited me to visit with a pair Lou Hinkley’s new speakers, the Daedalus Audio Pan. And by “visit with”, I mean just that — it was a happy afternoon jamming with Scott. All I’m doing is offering up that time, so, call this a preview, an un-review, an experiential slipstream event, but whatever you do, don’t call it Shirley.

The Pan is a stand-mount loudspeaker built to master craftsman standards — it’s absolutely gorgeous to the eye and the hand. The solid-wood cabinets are just that, solid wood. No veneers. Lou doesn’t do veneer. As with a fine instrument, Lou believes that natural wood has a significant and positive contribution to make to the sound of his loudspeakers, and removing that aspect would not only destroy the potential for greatness, but might also be a mortal sin. Better safe than sorry, right? Right. With proper design and adequate bracing, the Daedalus Audio cabinets are very robust, nearly inert to the knock (my knuckle thuds more than raps), and boy-howdy, they sing.

As I mentioned, Scott and I spent a couple of happy hours touring through his demo system: a ModWright Audio KWA 150 stereo amplifier was paired with a matching LS 100 tube pre amplifier. A VPI Classic 2 turntable, with a VPI-branded Soundsmith Zephyr cartridge, played into the integrated phono stage on the LS 100. The digital front end was one of Dan Wright’s tube modifications of the Sony XA-5400ES, which sports a custom ModWright external power supply. All the cables came from WyWires‘ excellent Silver line, my personal references, including interconnects, speaker cables and power cords.

We played through a variety of tunes, including Dave Brubeck’s Time Out, Jem’s Finally Woken, Chris Jones’ Roadhouses & Automobiles, Shelby Lynne’s Just a Little Lovin
 and Kathleen Edwards’ VoyageurHere’s what I heard:

Detail retrieval on the Pan is about as good as it gets. At slightly louder than normal volumes, the Cricket Test turned the listening room into a woodland field. Bugs were damn near everywhere. This was easily on par with some of the best detail retrieval I’ve heard in a home setup.

Tonally, these loudspeakers are every bit as luscious as their shocking good looks. Guitar was downright eerie. Strings had bite, piano had bite, decay was excellent. These were convincingly real instruments being played. I could find no faults here. Like, at all.

Soundstage was deep and wide, but some of this was the room (purpsoe-built rooms are something of a cheat, and this one was set up well), and some of this was gear, and some of this was speaker … all I could say was the soundstage was not constricted in any way that I wasn’t expecting in setup like this. In a larger room, the Pans might “do more”, maybe, but in this room, I really lacked for nothing. The music flowed out of the speakers, crested, and crashed in waves that were tactile, sensuous and altogether engrossing.

Got a crappy source? You’re going to get so-so results — the Kathleen Edwards LP sounded by turns a tad thin, a bit watery, and perhaps a touch flabby. The Shelby Lynne LP, played back immediately following the exact same track played from CD, was stunningly immersive, tonally spot-on, sweet and tight (I’ve already ordered this LP as result of this listening test).

Down low … well, you can’t have everything. I’d mark this standmount as a solid bass performer with linear output to 45Hz or so, maybe a bit lower, before physics kicks in and starts laughing at your audacity — there’s just so much a standmount can do. What a standmount can do, the Pan does do, however — I had to go out of my way to find tracks (“No Sanctuary Here” and “Come On Closer”) that would call attention to the lack of that bottom octave. Again, this isn’t a surprise or even a knock on the Pan — stand mounts really don’t play here, but … well, you never know.

The Pan is a solid offering in the standmount space. I can’t see any reason to not heartily recommend them to anyone interested in a furniture-grade addition to their smaller spaces. At 94dB, the Pan is dynamic, big-hearted, and as much a delight to listen to as it is to look at. Two big thumbs up — and definitely worthy of a longer look.

Note the tilted face — this reduces internal cabinet resonances. Also lets you get a bit more focus when placed straight-on in the room.
Not sure who makes the stands. Sound Anchor?
Looks like a hand-rubbed oil-based finish. This is real wood, people!
Front ported, the Pan should be easier to place near front-wall boundaries. Not that I would if you could avoid it, but the port won’t be a problem there.
Handsome devil

VPI Classic 2 turntable, with included JMW tonearm and optional VPI/Soundsmith Zephyr cartridge.
Soundsmith Zephyr

Modwright-modded digital sources from Sony and Oppo
“ModWrighted” Sony CD player
“ModWrighted” Oppo
Electronics from ModWright. That QOL thingie I had turned off for this session.

Speaker terminals for Pan
Rear of the Pan cabinet, with terminals

I’m ready for my close-up

WyWires cables, including Juice II power cords and Silver interconnects and speaker cables.