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
Click to view my Virtual System
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.