THE CAIRNS POST 19thOctober, 1999

SPEAKERS AN AUSSIE GEM - Written by John Mamonski

It's not just wine and Magnas that South Australia is famous for.

In audiophile circles, Adelaide is the home to some of the best hi-fi speaker manufacturers in the country and indeed, the world.

Duntech was born from a project between the South Australian defence industry and university research into acoustics and loudspeakers. The results were some absolutely stunning hi-fi speakers that have been selling well in South-East Asia, but have never really taken off in Australia. Managing Director James Alexander believes this is partly due to the local market being full of cheaper imported speakers and the high cost of many previous Duntech speakers.

The flagship Sovereign series would set you back $33,500 a pair. Duntech knew how to make music sound as realistic as it should be so they decided to make a completely new range called the Gemstones which have the years of research of more expensive speakers, but at a more affordable price.

The road-test model is the Opal - a two-way, three-unit floorstanding speaker, which gives an excellent initial impression with eye catching wood veneers polished to mirror finish and a plain black front grille. The pair tested were made with Queensland walnut. Other options are Australian Jarrah or black veneer. Measuring 975mm high by 180mm wide and 200mm deep, each Opal uses three drivers vertically aligned in a two-way design. The top speaker is a 165mm bass/mid driver and sits in its own sealed infinite baffle, cut off from the lower bass/mid driver. Down below, the lowest driver is of the same type but housed in a twin vent (ported) enclosure that takes up the remainder of the interior. Both drivers are hand damped to ensure the sound is just right.

The tweeters' performance is improved by surrounding the faceplate with star-cut felt. The delight with the performance of Duntech Opals is immediate. You hear what the CD intends you to hear without the annoying colouring of sound that many so-called hi-fi speakers produce, particularly those from the United States and Japan.

You can get the same annoying effect - called harsh mid-range, by cupping your hands in front of your mouth and speaking very loudly, close to someone else's ear. Not so with the Duntech Opals - the mid-range is clear and pleasing to the ear.

Heavy-gaurge, low-loss, silver plated copper cabling is used throughout and gold plated terminals are standard. Floor spikes are included for solid floor contact.

The Duntech Opals are, without doubt, the best sounding hi-fi speakers under AU$2,500 and by taking your favourite CD's with you when you listen to them, you will discover a lot more detail in your music. Any quality 75 watt RMS per channel-plus amplifier will do justice to these great Australian music makers.