REVIEW: WYNDHAM AUDIO BR3 LOUDSPEAKERS
On the world stage, there’s one area in audio manufacturing that home-grown Aussie brands have done particularly well at – loudspeakers. Nic Tatham takes a closer look at the BR3 Floor-standing speakers from Wyndham Audio.
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On the world stage, there’s one area in audio manufacturing that home-grown Aussie brands have done particularly well at – loudspeakers.
I recall cutting my hi-fi teeth at a prestigious German retailer – Werner Pawlak. A shop adorned with the crème de la crème of high-end hi-fi at the time and still does so to this day.
There was one installation I distinctly remember. We had a particularly nice system to install in a swanky apartment, and the lift was the only option for getting all the gear up there.
The loudspeaker boxes were huge; Australian speakers I’d never heard of and in their packaging boxes, they only just fit in the said lift.
They were a pair of Duntech Crown Princes and I’ll never forget that in somewhat naïve disbelief, once denuded of cardboard and packaging, anything sounding that good could have possibly originated in Australia.
That was thirty-odd years ago when Aussie hi-fi and loudspeaker manufacturers here were very few and far between. These days, it’s a different story with antipodean speakers now selling like hotcakes in many international markets.
The rest of the world has discovered and loves Aussie speakers and the past three decades has also seen the domestic market grow and with it, has come a plethora of manufacturers and local brands.
One such recent addition is Wyndham Audio. Originally hailing from Wyndham Vale in Melbourne’s south-west, the company is has relocated and now operates from Forster on the NSW mid-north coast.
The company has been in business since early 2014 and as well their loudspeakers, you also can put a complete system together from Wyndham Audio.
There’s a bunch of quality brands represented, such as Primare, Luxman, Gold Note turntables, Benz Micro cartridges and other such audio lovelies.
Keith O’Neil, the man behind Wyndham Audio, offers two speakers ranges, the CH with two models, and the BRs with three.
Topping off the latter are these, the BR3s. BR stands for bass reflex and these are three-way in driver design. A large, front-ported cabinet contains twin 20cm bass drivers, a 15cm midrange driver, and 30mm soft dome tweeter, all of which are sourced from quality driver manufacturer, Wavecor.
The cabinets are manufactured locally and are offered in a variety of different timber and piano gloss veneers. The build quality and finish are both superb, and these are substantial boxes, to put it mildly.
Each BR3 weighs in at a hernia-inducing 42kg and stands just over a metre tall, 400mm deep and 250mm wide. They’re pretty big enclosures and designed to fill a medium to large listening room.
That weight comes from some serious internal bracing and cabinet construction. Four independent baffles are used, with the tweeter and midrange driver sitting in their own internal enclosures, I’m told. The internal cabinet walls are all fully insulated and lined with acoustic dampening material.
Round the back, four large binding posts offer bi-wiring to an internal fourth order crossover, designed and built by Wyndham Audio. The cabinets sit on a low, fixed plinth, giving a bigger footprint. Four, decent sized carpet-piercing floor spikes screw into the plinth and provide stability.
Crunching the BR3’s specs, they make for reasonably amplifier-friendly pairing. Impedance is nominally rated at 4 ohms with sensitivity measured at 88dB. OK, so you’re going to need an amplifier that delivers a bit of current to drive these loudspeakers, plus they’re not the sort of load you’d want to put on the end of a low-powered valve amplifier, but any capable amplification will drive them.
In my case, I use a heavily modified Musical Fidelity power amplification stage running Class A to around 20 watts. This provides plenty of immediate ‘grunt’ plus that signature MF ‘ballsy’ current delivery, albeit on steroids.
I bi-wired the BR3s using Nordost Flatline Silver cables and had ample time with the BR3s on the end of my system. Thankfully, the review pair was also already well run-in.
The BR3s appreciate a bit of space around them. My room is fairly typical, open plan, and measures some 8 x 5 metres. Away from rear walls and corners, I discovered the BR3s prefer space in which to breathe. In my room, a good half metre (at very least) from the wall and toed-in slightly towards the listening position, proved best. Initial impressions were of a big, wholesome sound. Rich and full, but articulated too.
If it’s bass extension you’re after and the ability to drive a system as hard as you like, then look no further. Without further ado and launching in at the deep end, I popped on some Rage Against The Machine and cranked it. Whoa. Full blown, guitar-driven grunge rock is something you’ll never forget at serious volume on these speakers.
Still one of the best albums of its genre (IMHO) Rage’s self-titled first album lets rip and classic tracks such as Know Your Enemy are an assault on the aural senses but in an exhilarating, adrenalin-fuelled way.
The BR3s can definitely motor with such music, keeping a tight grip on the pounding bass while driving the increscent rhythm with deft control, but never constrained or holding the music back, in any way.
Concerned for the neighbours, I switched to something a bit more sedate and delicate. Everything Everything’s latest A Fever Dream showcases the best of lead singer Jonathan Higg’s rare falsetto vocal. The band’s music is complex and dense at the best of times, yet wonderfully opened up and laid bare by the BR3s.
The Wyndham Audio BR3s present such music with an equal measure of insight and clarity, with a very smooth and even tonal balance. Vocals are particularly pleasantly handled, and the melodic track Put Me Together oozes with presence and subtle details.
The BR3s exhibit low colouration in the midband which results in the human voice being reproduced with great fidelity. Just to confirm this, an old favourite, Patricia Barber’s sublimely live recording, Companion, took things to the next level of transparency with a noteworthy natural vocal timbre and an overwhelming sense of genuine intimate venue presence.
Keen to hear something big and orchestral, the BR3s can also reproduce scale and project a soundstage, without any hint of compression or inability to handle big, dynamic swings.
Perfect classical fodder for these floorstanders are the likes of Nielsen, Shostakovich, Mahler and a certain Brahms requiem. The composer’s Ein Deutsches Requiem is a massive performance and places all sorts of demands on audio hardware to reproduce it with the sheer magnificence of the piece.
There’s all sorts going on – massed choir, full orchestral dynamics, including the mighty organ; this masterpiece crescendos with massive timpani percussion, then tranquillity pervades in certain movements with both baritone and soprano vocals.
I loved the way the big BR3s handled the piece, taking the big dynamic shifts in their stride with great timing and tonal accuracy. They painted a huge sonic soundstage. I wished I had more room to let them expand things further, which they’d easily do.
Bass was rich and full, while the open midrange and sweet top end seamlessly integrated throughout. It’s a deeply moving piece of music, and the BR3s stirred those emotions, genuinely drawing you into the performance.
Wyndham Audio’s BR3s are a home-grown floor-standing loudspeaker capable of reproducing massive musical scale, with all manner of music.
They do so with authority, and plenty of nuance and delicacy as the music dictates. Connect them on the end of equally capable electronics, and they’ll provide a rock solid and supremely satisfying end to the audio system chain.
For more information visit Wyndham Audio.
As the former editor of AVL Magazine, a highly regarded HiFi publication throughout the 80s and 90s, Nic’s love of HiFi and Audio Visual sees him return once again to his true passion focusing primarily on 2-channel audio, the latest digital trends and vinyl playback.