Between the mid-1980s and late 2000s, Stereophile published 14 reviews of loudspeakers from England’s ProAc Limited. First came Dick Olsher’s review of the ProAc Tablette in 1984. The latestuntil nowwas in 2010, when John Marks wrote about the ProAc Response D Two.
Then, in 2016, came the passing of US ProAc distributor Richard Gerberg, of Modern Audio Consultants, and for some time the company’s products weren’t available stateside.
“We lost our importer in the USA a few years ago, and it took a little while to find a replacement,” wrote ProAc’s founder, CEO, and head designer, Stewart Tyler, in an email. “It takes time to reestablish your place in the market. With our new importer”the Sound Organisation, which specializes in UK imports”and increased promotion in the press, we are gradually becoming a brand that is considered again when looking for good quality loudspeakers.”
I’ve owned three pairs of ProAcs: the Response 1SC bookshelf monitors, which were reviewed in 1999 by the late, great Wes Phillips; after that, the larger Studio 100 standmounts; and then the floorstanding ProAc Response 2.5the last loudspeakers I owned before I changed allegiance to DeVore Fidelity’s Orangutan O/93.
A good description of ProAc’s more recent sound can be had in the above-mentioned review of the Response D Two: To read it now is to almost believe he was describing the subject of this review, the ProAc Response D2R standmount ($4500/pair), which was introduced in 2019. Still, much has changed in the transition from D Two to D2R, including cabinet materials, tweeter design, crossover scheme, internal damping, and price.
Like the Response D Two, the Response D2Rwhich measures 17″ high × 8″ wide × 9.75″ deep (with ½” grilles off)is a two-way bass-reflex design. The new model retains the original’s 6.5″ SEAS/ProAc midrange/woofer with glass-fiber cone, rubber surround, copper phase plug, and Excel ceramic ring-magnet system. New to the D2R is a 2.75″ ProAc ribbon tweeterthe reason for the R in its model namewhich replaces the D Two’s 1″ silk dome. Despite this change, key specifications are the same: specified frequency range of 30Hz30kHz; nominal 8 ohm impedance; sensitivity specified merely as “88.5dB.”
Apart from its prominent 2.5″ diameter, 5″ deep plastic port, the D2R’s front baffle is distinguished by the fact that its ribbon tweeter, like the dome tweeter on the previous model, is offset toward the inside of the cabinet’s face.
“[T]weeters on the baffle are offset for a couple of reasons,” Tyler explained. “Firstly, having them offset . . . helps to prevent phase anomalies; it also helps with the soundstage by reducing reflection from the side walls.
“The ribbon tweeters in the D2R are made by ProAc using parts sourced from several places,” he continued. “The magnet is alnico; the ribbon is a 1″ corrugated aluminum piece, which makes it very reliable and capable of handling a fair amount of power.”
Much of the D2R’s cabinetas with the Response D Twois constructed of marine plywood “which is heavily damped.” Yet here, the front and back panels are comprised of high-density fiberboard; those panels are thicker than the cabinet’s shell.
“This means that resonances in the cabinet are cancelled out by the use of the different types of wood used together,” Tyler explained. “There is no internal bracing, as we do not agree with this type of design except in large bass cabinets. All our cabinets are made in the UK.”
My review pair of D2Rs arrived finished in Natural Oak. Stretchy black-fabric grilles were provided but not used. Two pairs of silver-nickel binding posts, connected by two silver-nickel rods/jumpers (for use with a single pair of speaker cables), are recessed, within a plastic molding, into the lower third of the D2R’s back panel. The D2R doesn’t include feet or cushioning pad(s); you’ll need dabs of Blu-Tack if your speaker stands don’t have rubberized pads on their top plates.
After trying several different angles and listening distances, I ended up with the ProAcs in the same area that has worked well for most bookshelf speakers in my room: with the speakers 37″ from the back wall and 50″ away from my listening seat, both distances measured from the D2R’s front baffles. The speakers were 65″ apart, measured from the inner side wall of each cabinet.
Tyler suggested toeing in the D2R to where its side walls were no longer visible. I opted for slightly less toe-in: The inner side walls were still visible, but barely. I listened with my ears just about level with the centers of the tweeters.
“We recommend that customers experiment with the positioning,” Tyler wrote. “You can try both the long and short walls of the room, but ideally they are best placed as far away as possible from walls or corners. The ideal distance between the speakers also varies from room to room, but we suggest around 612′ apart . . . toed in with the tweeters to the inside, neither cabinet wall visible. This is to achieve the sweet spot and improve the imaging.”
I used both of my turntables when evaluating the ProAcs: the Kuzma Stabi R with 4Point tonearm and Hana ML cartridge, and the Thorens TD 124 Mk.II with Jelco 350S tonearm and Hana EL cartridge. These sent their signal to a Tavish Design Adagio phono stage. A one-meter pair of Shindo RCA interconnects connected phono stage to the RCA inputs of the Cary SLI-80HS and Schiit Ragnarok 2 integrated amplifiers. Auditorium 23 speaker cables joined the Cary to the speakers. I set the Cary’s speaker-output toggles to the 4 ohm setting.
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US distributor: The Sound Organisation
1009 Oakmead Dr.
Arlington, TX 76011
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