As is the way with ProAc, it’s going to be rather hard to get excited about the D40/R speakers based on their looks and specification. But as we learned with the D18s on page 64, the relatively small British manufacturer is capable of producing extraordinary sound from rather ordinary-looking boxes.
Take a closer look at the D40/Rs and there are a couple of details that might hint at something more than ordinary. There’s a ribbon tweeter for a start — a 6 x 1cm unit that gives the speaker the ‘R’ in its name. You can buy a standard D40 with a conventional soft-dome tweeter for around £250 less than the D40/R, but in our minds the ribbon is worth the extra — more on that later.
Wide choice of finishes
And while we’re talking about optional extras, bear in mind that our review sample is modelling a rosewood veneer, which stretches the price right up to £7350. It’s lovely, no doubt, but we’ve also seen the standard cherry, maple, mahogany and black ash finishes, and they’re also excellent.
Look at the bottom of the speaker and you’ll also notice a downward-firing reflex port . The design lets air escape in a more consistent manner and make the speakers less fussy about placement (see panel).
But naturally it’s the sound quality that matters, and these relatively straightforward speakers are thrilling. The ProAcs are capable of huge dynamic swings and massive volume levels.
Some might wish for a little more attack but, while slightly sweetened, the sound from the D40/Rs still has plenty of drive and excitement to go with the heft, and that’s influenced no end by a quality of bass reproduction that achieves the tricky combination of depth and agility.
Detail and insight are also exceptional. It means that even the most complicated tracks (think along the lines of Radiohead’s 15 Step) are assembled with pinpoint accuracy. And yet the ProAcs never sound overly clinical — the musical message comes first, so you can sit back and enjoy the whole presentation rather than feel pushed into analysis.
That level of transparency means any changes in your system are easily noticed, and weaknesses will be exposed, but because the ProAcs are so revealing, the task of perfecting your system is made easier and (if you’re into that sort of thing) more fun. That caveat aside, the ProAcs are practically flawless. If you’ve got the money this is how to spend it.
The 90dB/W/m rating means the D40/Rs are sensitive enough to be driven by relatively low-powered amps but, although that would return perfectly adequate results, it would be squandering the real talent these speakers have to offer. We’d recommend going down the high-powered — still high-quality — route if you possibly can, especially if you’re siting the ProAcs in a particularly ample room. These speakers are capable of massive dynamic shifts and extremely loud volume levels, and it would be a shame for those qualities to be limited by your electronics.
These are big speakers and a decently large room is necessary not only to avoid them looking daft, but also to make sure they sound their best. As long as they’ve got that bit of space, it’s then simply a case of tweaking the amount of toe-in in relation to your listening position to suit your personal preference for balancing stage width and focus. And that’s about it.
Type Floorstander • Sensitivity 90dB/W/m • Impedance 4 ohms • Max power 250W • Biwirable Yes • Finishes 6 • Dimensions (hwd) 120 x 21 x 34cm
FOR: Powerful dynamics and weighty presentation; fabulous detail and rhythm; flawless build AGAINST: Won’t sound their best without top-class electronics and a bit of space
VERDICT: Epitomising ProAc’s ‘simple design and simply stunning sound’ approach, the D40/Rs are wonderful
The Rosewood veneer finish costs an extra £1225, but there are five other, equally smart colours available.