Courtesy of Gearslutz what a wonderful review!
I have waited a while to post in this thread because I wanted to be sure that I could give a thorough review of the Dutch & Dutch 8c’s that was based on a long period of use, in many different applications. I have had them for over 6 weeks now and have used them to engineer, produce, mix, and master extensively, while working on a wide variety of music.
The short review? Buy them immediately. My only regret is that I knew about them 8 months before I got them and foolishly prioritized other gear purchases ahead of them instead of buying them 8 months sooner. They are flawless ALL the way up and down the frequency range and couldn’t possibly require an external subwoofer (unless you are interested in making your monitoring less accurate). That’s the short review. Regardless of what you think your brand affiliation is, if you can get the money together by any means possible, arrange a demo. But just know that if you hear them, you won’t be giving them back. Below is a detailed breakdown of my experience with these monitors over the last 6 weeks. I apologize in advance for the extensive nature of this review
The Dutch & Dutch 8c’s are without a doubt the MOST important piece of equipment I own and I would give up every other cherished piece of gear I have before parting with these. Because at the end of the day, being able to truly hear the sounds you are capturing and effortlessly shape the mixes and/or masters you are crafting is more important than any other piece of gear can possibly be. I have never felt this way about a monitor before and I have heard/owned many high quality monitors over the years.
The truth is, the 8c’s don’t care what I, or anyone else thinks of the sound they produce. My opinion on how they “sound” is irrelevant (although I feel obliged to try and explain it for people who have not heard them and are curious because this is a gear discussion forum after all!). The 8c’s represent a more objective truth than I ever imagined possible. They sound exactly as good as any record you play through them actually sounds. Nothing more, nothing less. It actually took my brain about a day to adjust to what I was hearing because I had to re-learn what it meant to simply “listen” to music. I later realized that what I had really been doing every day of my life in the studio was “interpreting” what I was hearing and trying to anticipate how things would sound in the real world across various types of playback systems. About a day after getting the 8c’s I was scrolling through my iTunes, just listening to various songs/albums for reference and I felt an odd sensation come over me that made the hair on my arms stand up. I was alone in my control room and a wave of pure anxiety came over me that I could not initially explain. The best way I can describe it is that the process inside my brain that is always trying to “interpret” what I was hearing just powered down. I wasn’t really aware that I had this mental process running in the background all of the time but BOY did I notice when it stopped functioning. And so there I was, just listening to music without applying my own personal spin on what it did or did not sound like. I was just sitting there objectively absorbing the incoming sounds and it really freaked me out. It felt as though the speakers had hacked my mind. Like they knew everything I knew about the music I had been listening to my entire life...and MUCH more. To this day, I have never listened to a single piece of music on the 8c’s and thought they were anything but accurate to what they really sound like in my real world experience. I have certainly heard many new details in the music I love that were always there but I had never noticed before. But I have never heard something on the 8c’s and thought my real world experience of it was not properly represented on them. I actually hear music in a different, much more accurate light everywhere I go now and it is a wonderful side benefit of owning the 8c’s that stretches well outside the studio.
What I decided to do next with my newfound objectivity (which I’m not sure most people would be up for) was listen backwards through my own work going all the way back to my childhood 4 Track demos. Obviously I didn’t listen to EVERYTHING I had ever worked on, but my iTunes is chronological dating back to 2006, so I just started scrolling down and clicking on albums I had done starting in June of 2018 and working my way back. I guess you could say the results were varied...because the results were pretty damn varied! I spent several hours doing this and it was extremely illuminating. I could hear the good, the not so good, the opportunities missed, the successes I had painstakingly worked for, and the real truth of what I had achieved on every project. Every thing I had struggled with and always suspected I never quite nailed was right there glaring back at me. Every record that I knew went my way sounded just as good as I always thought, even if there were little things I would do differently if I could fix them now. I could hear how hard I had tried and to what degree I had succeeded in achieving the objectives I had laid out for every project. I could also hear the different eras of preferred gear choices but MOST of all what I could hear was my previous monitoring chain at any given time and what it had compelled me to do (or not do). After a while I began to notice a trend. The records that held up well on the 8c’s sounded more like a combination of me achieving my intention and while using the best qualities of the monitoring chain I had at the time to my advantage. The records that did not fare so well sounded like the monitoring chain had obscured and overtaken my vision for the record and replaced it with the worst qualities of that monitoring chain. I guess maybe I had suspected over the years that I was “doing battle” with the monitors I had, trying to “conquer” them and get my vision for the record across, but hearing the results of each bloody battle in such stark terms on the 8c’s was a revelation. Everyone makes their system work for them at least SOME of the time, but the percentage of the time you are able to win that battle is the hallmark of when a monitor is a good fit, and historically I had chosen whichever monitors I thought would raise that percentage. And I could hear now that I was not always correct in my judgement. But the fact that I could hear all of this so plainly on the 8c’s (combined with the fact that every incredible sounding record I listened to on them was just BURSTING with immediately obvious craftsmanship) made me realize they they are almost like a “master” set of speakers. Like a master key to every door in a house, whereas other monitors only let you into to certain areas.
I realize that this might sound insane to anyone reading this, but it is absolutely the way I still see it 6 weeks later. The 8c’s are actually on another level above most monitoring systems to the point that you can hear the qualities of the other speakers within them. BUT ultimately what you really hear is the craftsmanship and artistry of what the engineer/producer/mixing/mastering engineer was able to produce with their lifetime of combined skills. I am under no illusion that these speakers have transformed me into the greatest audio craftsman that ever lived. But what they have done and will continue to do is allow me to be my absolute best self every day. If I can envision it and I have skills to achieve, the Dutch & Dutch 8c’s will allow me to craft it. It’s the most liberating feeling I could have ever imagined and I could not possibly go back to living without them.
I know I didn’t actually describe the sound of the speakers a great deal, but I find it difficult to do. I can say that they are not fatiguing at all, sound great down low, and when cranked up they are an insanely impressive “client” speaker. The faces I have seen musical people that are not audio engineers make when listening to music on them is out of this world. I watched the hair on my buddy’s arms stand straight up. I watched a VERY low sub hit neither of us knew existed on a record make him grab his stomach like he had just been punched in the gut. I have seen every single person Melt into the nostalgia of every quality record they ever loved when listening on the 8c’s. No matter how much I hyped them up before people came over to listen, they were never anything but flabbergasted by what they heard and left 100% understanding why I SWORE they were the greatest purchase I had ever made. Every producer I know who has heard them and was in a financial position to buy them, has bought them. And every other producer who has heard mine who can’t afford them is quietly scheming a way to save up the money to get them.
Also (and maybe this goes either saying at this point), the response I have gotten from clients has been incredible. I am able to showcase every tool I have in my toolkit on every project, often times doing things I have never thought to do before, and clients have really noticed. I actually spend more time mastering because I can hear all of the available opportunities, but mixing is a totally different experience. You just apply your skills and make everything what it needs to be and it all just works. Much less wasted time, just pure results. I just sent a band that I had worked with previously their first mixes of their new album and they couldn’t believe it sounded SO much better than the final mixes of their last album. I had actually done a lot of the initial mixing on different monitors and when I heard where I was at on the 8c’s (and was bummed out by it) I basically started over at the beginning and completely overhauled it with a brand new treatment. The band was actually pretty excited with where it was headed prior to me getting the 8c’s, but were utterly blown away by my 8c treatment. This is just one of many examples and it has been the same experience with every client I’ve worked with since getting the 8c’s. This isn’t to say they weren’t happy before (they came back didn’t they!), but repeat clients that I work for regularly noticed an immediate difference. I also spent 3 weeks tracking an album on the 8c’s and got incredible tones that pretty are pretty much already mixed sounding and the band really enjoyed the monitors at all phases.
Just to get a few particulars out of the way, I monitor using a Crane Song Avocet IIa, using the Avocet Quantum DAC for my computer audio (iTunes, YouTube etc) and the Nyquist 96k convertors in my iZ ADA for monitoring Pro Tools when track/mix/master. I have the speakers about 55” apart from each other and my control room is 16’ deep X 15’ wide and isn’t completely untreated, but also very far from totally treated. It has always naturally worked for me but is not a flawless room by any means. When I entered the rear wall distance into the Web App for the 8c’s it was as if the speakers sprang to life, using the room itself to create a perfect force field of sound. Almost like it had taken the room mostly out of the equation, although I’m sure better treatment would still help somewhat. It was very bizarre (in a good way!) and I can’t imagine going back to anything less than this level of sound and technology.
None of this even mentions how incredible the people at Dutch & Dutch have been to deal with. Tyner Strub was always available to answer any questions I had and I have had many great conversations with him, mostly just consisting of me trying to explain to him JUST HOW GREAT the speakers really are! I also spoke with Martin, the designer of the 8c, and all I can say is he is way too modest given the level of quality he has achieved with his design. I owe him more than he will ever know for the time and effort he put into making the 8c a reality.
Lastly, I don’t post on GS as often as I used to and I am fully aware that many things people post on here don’t age well (self definitely included!), which is why I wanted to take the time to make sure the “honeymoon period” was over so I could write an honest account of my experience. I am quite sure there are things that I missed in my review that people are interested to know, so feel free to post your questions here and I will answer to the best of my ability