Review: Dahlquist DQ-10 Speaker

Category: Speakers

Hello fellow audiophiles, I want to share with you my listening experiences of Jon Dahlquist's complete speaker system.

Many times you read reviews of the DQ-10 speakers and they most always comment on the lack of low-end and power hunger of the speakers. While true, this does not provide a true representation of what the complete Dahlquist speaker system is capable of. For those familiar with the Fulton Mod-J system, it would be like critiquing this system without its base module.

The complete Dahlquist speaker system consist of the famous DQ-10 main speakers; the DQ-1W subwoofer, the DQ-LP1 electronic crossover (and DQ-ST10 speaker stands for proper main speaker positioning).

The DQ-10 is a 5-way, open baffle, time-aligned speaker; the DQ-1W is a passive 13" subwoofer; and the DQ-LP1 is an electronic crossover that features a passive, distortion free high-pass section and a freq/gain adjustable low-pass section.

Several years after initial introduction, Dahlquist modified the main speaker design to mirror image the left and right speakers. This provided symmetry and widened the soundstage even further. If you are looking to buy a set, this is the version to get!

After 30 years of ownership the Dahlquists system still takes my breath away. The sound stage is extremely wide, I can close my eyes and picture the musicians playing, with each instrument precisely located across the front of my listening room. The accuracy and clarity is stunning, piano notes are clear and true; symbols ring with purity; acoustic guitar strings sound crisply plucked; and drum beats are powerful and tight.

The 5-way crossover network is the reason for the speaker's power hunger, it has several power resistors in it that really heat up. But what you get in return for this design is accuracy (purity of note) and clarity (distortion free) of sound because each speaker driver only has to work in a limited frequency range. This is especially true of the DQ-10 woofer driver which only has to work down to 60hz with the electronic crossover in the setup.

Because of its power hunger, it is extremely important to drive the Dahlquist system with ample power. I drive the main speakers with a Bryston 4B and the subwoofer with a Bryston 3B in mono mode, a total of 800 watts. What is important for any amplifier to achieve powerful and tight base is to not be current limited. This is the case, as with the Brystons, when the amplifier doubles its output power output when the speaker impedance is halved (i.e. 200 watts @ 8 ohms, 400 watts @ 4 ohms). Plus, the amplifiers must have a high dampening factor (i.e 500+) to ensure that the speaker driver has a single, fast excursion for a drum beat, without ringing.

With this setup, there is no one who would say the Dahlquist system lacks low-end. The frequency range is very wide, something like 25hz - 30khz. The adjustability of the DQ-LP1 crossover allows for completely seemless integration of the subwoofer into the mains. You cannot tell that the low base notes come from a seperate speaker box from the mains!

Given today's market prices, you can acquire a nice set of DQ-10s for $500, a DQ-1W for $200, and a DQ-LP1 for $300 = $1000 for the complete system. I venture to say that you cannot buy another full range speaker system for this price that will beat the Dahlquist system. You would have to spend multiples of that price to try to come close.

I certainly recommend them!

Associated gear
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I have had a pair of DQ-10's since 1983. I have had them alone, with subs and now, in my HT system (with subs again albeit not the DQ-1W). They are the mirror imaged version and FYI, any pair can be retrofitted to be mirror imaged.
They allow a synergy in my HT system that is really amazing.

By the experts, they are not a sonic match for the rest of my system (all Von Schweikert). BUT since they present such amazing imaging and accuracy, they are a fine complement imho. I originally intended to replace them and have a "matched" system but I never felt the need to.
In my HT, I am using a 100" screen and place the speakers just to either side of the screen. Other speakers would have a hole in their soundstage because it is very wide compared to the listening position BUT it is not too wide for the DQ-10's. I only know of the DQ's to throw such a wide soundstage.

Of course, in my HT system, they are supplemented by subs and that is where the beauty of it is. The DQ's are not called on to reproduce the sub frequencies and so the only negative bestowed on them is taken on by the subs - a beautiful marriage!

At one time I even experimented with 4 DQ-10's - two in the front and two in the rear. Again the imaging was so amazing it was holographic. It made action movie watching truly amazing. Alas, they are quite large and space constraints precluded me from keeping that setup...:-(
Imagine having 5 DQ-10's with the center channel behind an acoustically transparent screen! NOW WE'RE TALKING!!!

You are correct in noting that they like power. I'm driving them with two of the channels of a Parasound A51 - 250w/ch. Flea power need not apply here...;-)
I'm also always so impressed with the dynamic range of these speakers. Whether it is soft whisper passages or thunder claps, these speakers handle them with ease.

I heartily concur with your recommendation but don't tell anyone because if I ever get a bigger room...
I once went to a friends house to hear his system that had a pair of DQ10 . That was about 28 years ago.Ive never forgotten the sound they produce . Astonishing imaging , extremely accurate focus and a magical ability to place images in their proper place on the sound stage with fully developed bodies.Wow, I have never and will never forget their sound.Tonally they were very extended on the top but a bit lacking on the bottom , but the bass their was was extremely tight and agil. The midrange was very satisfying and musical .Nuf said to let you know that what started as a visit of maybe a few hours went on till the next day at 4am...Record after record after record...AAhhh...the good old days...
I have a pair in excellent condition that I sort of dismissed until a while back. I was messing around with my HT and had ordered some new speakers. I had sold the others so I set up a temporary system utilizing the DQ 10's in front and a pair of the "New Advents" in the rear.
I have to say I was astonished at the sound field the DQ10 throws up. It was amazing. I mean wall to wall sound!
( I wasn't using a center channel but honestly, you really didn't need it.) In my room, the bass wasn't bad either. It was tight and well defined. It didn't reach the bottom octaves but how many speakers honestly do without a sub.
I decided to hook them up with better electronics in 2 channel just to listen. Again, it was really something coming from a pair of speakers this old.
I guess older technology wasn't really that bad after all. I use to consider these speakers sorta hard and bright but with current electronics, they are anything but.
I actually wished I hadn't ordered the new speakers for the fronts! They were that good!
It was the DQ-10 that got me into audio about 27 years ago. I know what you mean Bigtee. I sold my DQ-10s years ago to a friend. Got to hear them for the last time about 4 years ago before my friend sold them.The mid bass and midrange will compete with the finest speakers today and kill most of the speakers out there. Wish I had not sold them and wish I had bought them back when I had the chance.Of all the hi-end speakers I have owned it is the DQ-10 that I remember the most. I also owned the Fulton Js years ago. Bob Fulton was a great person about as friendly as they get. Miss Bob. Wish he was still with us.
When they started producing a mirror imaged version they also upgraded the caps in the crossover with metalized poly's. What they didn't do and I have done is change the 80mfd cap that separates the woofer from the rest to a Solens poly. This is the most important cap of all since all the midrange and up pass through this cap. If you have the version I have and it still has the electrolytic cap in this spot, pop for the Solens. You will truly be amazed.

I also have an older pair (not mirror imaged) that need the woofers refoamed. I don't know whether to fix them or sell them.
I had a pair for around 3 years...many years ago...I agree, very good speakers. I enjoyed many hours with mine...I suspect I still would, if I had not sold them!

The DQ 10 is what got me into higher end audio 30 years ago. It was the most amazing sound i have ever heard, at the time $900 seems like a million dollars to me and i never did get the dalquist. Years later when i got a real job, i got a pair of acoustat 3 and then the martin logan and now avantgarde which are far more costly then that pair of dalquist.But when i think of high end, DQ 10 still pop into my mind, Kinda like that first love that makes you smile. Great speaker indeed.

Muzcal 10-20-07
I also have an older pair (not mirror imaged) that need the woofers refoamed. I don't know whether to fix them or sell them.
Fix 'em! It's only about $23 for the kit for a pair of woofers. It's not very hard to do; mostly it takes some patience and care.

Here's a page on it at Parts Express, which also sells the kits:

With smaller cones, you don't really need to remove the dustcap and shim the voice coil. I replaced the foam on a pair of EPI A70s with 6-1/2" woofers and didn't need to shim them at all.

For the DQ-10, you would probably use the same kit as for the original, Large Advent speaker:, but I'd call Parts Express to make sure.

The reason I think this would work is that although the Dahlquist and Advent woofers weren't quite identical, they are very similar. Both used a 9-1/2" diaphram in a 12" basket with masonite insert, and they both contracted to the same driver mfr. The two brands' mfg. lots could get mixed up if they weren't specifically labeled. I got this info directly from Saul Marantz when he was demonstrating the DQ-10s at the stereo store I worked at in SoCal in 1975.
I have been using DQ10s since 1977 when I purchased the audio store owner's speakers that I frequented when I was a Grad Student at Rutgers. I have used them ever since and have been using them in my home theater. I finally totally rebuilt them in 2001 following the design from Layne Audio in Tennesse. The speakers were redesigned without the Super Tweeter. The speakers again were mirrored and the drivers were replaced with a Dynaudio Tweeter, Dynaudio upper Midrange, a Peerless dipole lower Midrange and a Proprietary woofer. Additionally the crossovers were redesigned and the speakers were set up for biwiring with 2 sets of terminals.

The crossovers were split between the top and bottom of the cabinet and the upper 3 drivers were mounted on a single board.

The speaker performance has improved dramatically from their original form. The sound is much like the original DQ10s but on steroids. The speakers are faster with better imaging, soundstage, more percussive, and more musical. I use a Nola LCR Reference as the Home Theater Center Channel. When I can afford it and hopefully sometime later next year, I will replace the subwoofer in my system with the Nola T-Bolt III.

I just purchased a pair at a swap meet for little to nothing. I listened to them before buying and they sound wonderful. I remember going to every stereo store I could in 1980 something, with my Shot glass speakers thinking nothing could top the little towers that I purchased in Illinois for 110.00 each brand new . They smoked many contenders and got me to sell my four JBL L-36 beauties in a heart beat, They were fantastic. Then I ran across trouble when I found a Stereo Studio with a pair of Dahlquist Dq-10 in there store. I just stood there and could'nt believe that the sound was coming from only two speakers. Needless to say I couldn't afford them. But never forgot the day my Shot glass speakers got shot down. I remember walking up to the salesman and asking what are those again and could you write that down with the price please....
If any of you were to invest in a pair today would you go after the 10's or the 20(i)'s or 30(i)'s?

Review: Dahlquist DQ-10 Speaker
If any of you were to invest in a pair today would you go after the 10's or the 20(i)'s or 30(i)'s?
Yes. :-)
I had this system, too, many years ago only driven by 150w monoblocks. Swapped it for some electrostats and so forth and on. Years later, on display at a dealer, I saw a used pair with the metal cross work removed from the screens, a ribbon tweeter replacing the piezo and 3/4" dome, and the factory mod of the capacitors in the crossover in perfect condition for $250 for the pair. Looking back, I regret not buying those.
Does anyone know how the DQ-28's compare to the DQ-10, or even the 20i or 30i for that matter? I saw a pair on eBay and was quite curious about them.
Very right on review! Nice too see such interest in Dalquist in 2008. I have been using the DQ-20's for 20+ years, org. owner. Also power hungry. Used a Bryston 4B. Now VTL 225 Monoblocks. I still use a 15" Janus Sub-woofer powered with it's own 100 W amp/crossover, even though
the DQ-20's are more full range,improvement in the bass with a 10" woofer vs. DQ-10's. Love the stlye of the DQ-10's on the stands..
Too bad Jon cracked up in his Vette.
It's important to see if the woofers need to be re-coned.
When I had mine done, I couldn't believe what I was missing.
I heard Jon is not doing so well. I did not know he was in an accident. Blue strat can you give an update on how Jon is doing now? Nice system. I have heard Janus subs in several systems and like them. They are definently not one note bass.
Thanks Saygr. I understand Jon was in a car crash back in the Dalquist heydays... I just recently heard that he is doing better, but I don't have any details.
I just picked up a pair of original DQ 10 (mirror imaged version) Dahlquists and put them into my system this afternoon. WOW!!! My current speakers are Magnepan 20R's which are no slouch. My amp(s) are either a Spectron Musician iii SE MK II (with V-Caps and Bybee mods) or a pair of vintage Conrad Johnson Premier 8A monoblocs putting out 275 watts per side of pure tube power. My preamp is a Supratek Chenin. (Source is a California Audio Labs Alpha 24/96 DAC) The DQ 10's just blew me away. What incredible transients, bass and imaging. I also got the sub and passive Xover with my purchase and will be putting them into the system tomorrow, biamping with my Bryston 10B active Xover. Will most likely put the CJ Premier 8A tube monoblocs on the top and use the Spectron for the sub. Anyway, just wanted to add my experience to the chorus above about the super sound of the DQ 10's. My gut feeling is that if you have enough horsepower you can truly hear how magnificant these speakers truely are.
I want to add my own recent experience with a different Dahlquist speaker. Just for fun, I bought a used pair of Dahlquist DQM9 compact monitors here on Audiogon. I remember when they came out in the eighties, and I was curious because I had read a couple of brief raves- which of course are unreliable because you don't really know what the "raver" is comparing them to. Anyway, I am shocked by the live feel of these speakers. They are definately worth wire, crossover and binding post upgrades, and that is what I am doing. This particular model is a 3 way using 3 drivers by Magnat. Even though it is a traditional box enclosure, the midrange driver is enclosed in a tube within the enclosure. And though the execution at that time may have not been as good as it can be today, I believe that it shows that a designer's voicing of a speaker is a very critical factor in the success of the final design
When considering older equipments , we must consider there hasnt been any real technological achievement specifically asociated with speakers.Speakers have been refined over the years but basically their the some old boxes with drivers that we have had for so many years.Better drivers and crossover and better designed cabinets make for better sound reproduction.At the time the Dalquist DQ-10 were a technological achievement and their sound bears this out.If I had a pair I know that I could live with them.Even considering the modern alternatives we have today.Their that good.
I have a very modest system that my DQ-10s are the star of... Sansui 9090 receiver and a modified (Parts Connexion) Onix XCD-88 CD player. What strikes me the most about the DQ-10 is how "right" they are. I have them in my studio and listen to them for hours each day with no ear fatigue whatsoever. I have the later mirror imaged large yellow capped version DQ-10s. I haven't modified them except to decouple the piezzo tweeter. I've owned quite a few quality speakers (and still do), but these are my favorites. I also second the stellar opinions on using them as fronts in an HT system... AWESOME! I just wish they were smaller and less awkwardly shaped. lol
I remember the spring of 1976 and I was listening to one of the very early imported DQ10s here in Italy. Nothing in the shop came close to that sound experience and I am talking about the Acoustat X with their dedicated tube amplifier in the rear and the Magnepan Tympani of the time, two great loudspeakers for sure but nevertheless the DQ10 to my ears were simply superior.
Needless to say that at the time I could not afford them, because they were so expensive as well as the electronics needed to let them sing properly.
Some years later I had a real job and realized my dream, my first High End system including big Counterpoint electronics and gee what a gorgeous sound!!!
The neighbors were very mildly upset about the S.P.L I reached in my apartment but nevertheless nobody of them complained about the almost absence of both IM distortion and a dwarfed and restricted soundstage :-).
And those musical transients, they were really sharp like razors and real lifelike. The DQ10 were the first loudspeakers I have experienced which really opened a big window in the midrange, the house of music.
I am still in love with them.
What an incredible musical instrument they really are! They are truly iconoclastic because changed for ever the way to design high accuracy loudspeakers (think of the time alignment pioneered by Dahlquist and used by all the actual high end loudspeaker manufacturers).
Thank you Jon and Saul for this wonderful piece of audio art!
I purchased a pair of DQ-10 speakers back in 1980. At that time I ran them through a Nikko Beta II pre-amp and a Nikko Alpha 230 power amp. I slowly added to my system by first purchasing one DQ-1W subwoofer with a Dahlquist DQ-MX1 passive crossover. I then purchased another DQ-1W subwoofer and a Dahlquist DQ-LP1 active cross-over as well as a second Nikko Alpha 230 power amp to drive the dual subwoofers. I was back in collage then and basically added one piece of equipment each year at the end of my summer break with the money I had saved working. I completed the system in 1986. It is now 2013 and the system is still working strong and still sounds amazing. A few weeks back I noticed the left woofer in the DQ-10 was buzzing. The foam surround had detached leaving the paper cone to resonate freely. Not bad for 33 years of use, 4 of which were during during senior year of college and grad school (this equates to high volume for long periods of time). I researched getting new surrounds and re-foaming myself, but I tried that with a pair of bookshelf speakers a year ago with poor results. I found that Regnar was the best place to send these for what they call reconditioning. After placing my request via email they actually called me and explained all the procedures that they do for reconditioning the woofer. I was very impressed. I sent off the woofers a week ago so I will need to provide a follow-up once they are returned and installed into the now lifeless DQ-10s.

I know speaker design has improved vastly over the years with CAD and new exotic materials for stiffer drivers as well as new amplifier designs but for their age, my DQ-10s with dual DQ-1Ws and Class A bi-amplification still impress people who come over for a listen. Even the younger generation, who's hearing response is definitely much better than my aged ears, marvel at their sound.
Thanks to the three previous posters. I was just checking this thread out of curiosity, it has been a while. Fhet your comment about the Magnepan Tympani I can relate to. I had DQ-10s sold them bought Tympani 1Ds but never got as happy with them as I was with the DQ-10s. Even though I'm very happy with my current system I still miss the DQ-10s. Back in there day they were ahead of the competition.
I have a pair of DQ-10's I bought about 4-5 months ago now, the later versions with mirror image.. for kicks I decided to use these as a project to replace crossover caps, resisters, tweeter drivers... to see what would happen... 1st project was to re-foam the woofers... I did this without any problems, using the proper kit for this woofer, just took my time and worked it very carefully. I am VERY happy with the results and sound of these woofers. I replaced all the caps with either Kimber, Auricap or Dayton.. listened for a while then decided to change all the caps to Clarity caps blue or red series, so I'm letting those all burn in now with nice results.. I changed out the interior fiberglass for acousti-stuff, also adding dynamat to woofer basket and interior walls.. also added a special mass loaded 1.25" thick foam inside walls... improved bass again quite much... I cannot however get the supertweeter circuit to work.. maybe that little coil is blown? replaced all resisters with mills... put new connectors on top bypassing fuse.. using all new wire throughout.. supra wire from sweden.. tried two different tweeters finally settling on a nice small vifa soft dome with neo magnet... very very nice now... no matter what driver I hook up to supertweeter circuit, still no sound.. hmmm
Has anyone replaced the 4" phillips midrange cone with anything significantly better?? I am looking at a 4" Scanspeak cone wondering what that will do... anyone have any other recommendations?
I got a great deal on a pair of the Dahlquist DQ10's with one subwoofer and the passive crossover to the subwoofer, back in the 80's. There have been quite a few renovations and improvements made since that time. After purchasing the DQ10's I decided to change the passive crossover for the DQ-LP1 active crossover . . . glad I did as I later found a matching subwoofer on line and used with a separate amp, which at the time was the Hafler 500, which was replaced with the B & K Sonata amp. A friend, who is an electronic genius, redesigned the crossovers for the DQ10's into separate boards for the treble and bass, which was absolutely fantastic in elevating the sound. All the wiring internally and externally was replaced with Straight Wire from mid-bass on up and heavy 14-guage for the bass drivers in the DQ-10's and the subwoofers. All deflections possible from the edges of the baffles were eliminated by my own contribution. I eliminated the fuses, used B & K Professional 220M monoblocks for the DQ10's and used Straight Wire Crescendo's for the Mid-Bass and upward and Straight Wire Teflon for the Bass. The subwoofers had 14-guage wire incorporated for them. My preamp, which was a Hafler, was replaced by a Krell. I redid the woofer's surround replacement myself . . . it was fun,easy and came out wonderfully. Between the DQ10's and the subwoofers, which I have the DQ10's sitting upon, are tiptoes and tiptoes are also under the subwoofers. Professionals have raved over the midrange, the detail, imaging and staging . . . it would take me becoming very wealthy and being able to afford extraordinarily expensive speakers to make me part with these musical, dynamic, 3-D, natural sounding speakers, that sonically disappear and bring the artist right there -- center stage. These are speakers to turn down the lights . . . and be amazed!