“Live louder” is a statement for an audio brand not aimed at the mass market but at real music lovers. And quite daring. But first, who is Vestlyd? The question is valid. The brand, pronounced “Westlüd” and sold exclusively through the “HiFi Klubben” retail chain or online, is still very young. It currently only offers two speaker models that differ in size and weight, i.e. they are technically largely identical. In addition to the “V12c” model tested here (1,298 euros)– which, in my opinion, has dimensions that are just about suitable for living space – there is the even fatter “V15c”, which is 500 euros more expensive per pair and only seems suitable for very large rooms. Unless you live in the woods anyway…
Who is Vestlyd?
The Vestlyd loudspeakers are the debut work of the Western Danish manufacturer Nordic HiFi A/S. In turn, it is – so the circle closes – a wholly owned subsidiary of the retail chain HiFi Klubben, but – according to the company – operates independently and has its development department. The clever minds who work there obviously thought: “The dignified hi-fi scene needs a speaker that sets exclamation marks!” Time seems to have fallen, do not explain at all.
If you’re wondering where the brand name, which at least for German ears seems a little strange, comes from, it’s easy to explain: “Vest” stands for west, and “lyd” is Danish for sound. Nordic HiFi also makes no secret that these “boxes” are a declaration of love to popular monitor loudspeakers from the 1970s – for example, from JBL. These originals still have a solid fan base, and in recent years JBL has even resurrected some loudspeaker lines in their original outfit. According to reports – although sometimes in a completely different price range than my test objects – they sell well. So there seems to be a relevant clientele among hi-fi fans who, apart from the mainstream, value special virtues and appreciate a special sound concept. Anyone who follows the amusing advertising clips on social media that HiFi Klubben produces to market the Vestlyd speakers will primarily see a live concert atmosphere and bearded men in lumberjack shirts and jeans acoustically “let the cow fly”. Without wanting to anticipate the sound test – it works!
What is the exact concept? In the case of the V12c, Vestlyd packs a 12-inch (= almost 30.5 centimeters!) diameter coaxial loudspeaker into a boxy MDF housing and covers the whole thing with robust black artificial leather – done. One might think. There’s a little more to it than that. The housing, built according to the classic design (e.g. a JBL L100 Classic ), is massively stiffened on the inside, with the baffle being three centimeters thick. According to the manufacturer, the drive of the coaxial chassis should be designed for the lowest possible distortion, even at high levels. What also seems necessary, the Danes give the maximum sound pressure level as 130 decibels (!), and the efficiency can be increased to 93 decibels (2.83 V/1m), also more than you can see.
The membrane of the 12 inches is made of paper. This also makes it very easy to drive and brake again. With comparatively low production costs. Which is an argument with this diameter in the overall calculation. In its center sits the tweeter membrane made of titanium which is as light as high-strength. The tweeter of the Vestlyd V12c is a so-called “compression driver” in which the membrane movement first works on a pressure chamber whose diameter is smaller than the membrane area. The whole point is a significant increase in airflow speed and efficiency. In front of the tweeter is a round waveguide lens made of aluminum, intended to ensure that the tweeter has a relatively wide radiation pattern.
In keeping with the pressure chamber, the shape of the entire coaxial chassis is reminiscent of a horn construction. Probably also intended to provide the impressive sound pressure with which the manufacturer advertises. The bass is amplified by two bass reflex openings embedded in the front of the baffle .
Monitor or no monitor?
A special feature of the Vestlyd V12c – at least, I’ve never seen it anywhere else in this price range – is on its back. A “Speakon” connection is underneath the single-wire terminal, designed with robust screw terminals. This is commonly found in loudspeakers, especially in professional stage use. An area of application that the Danes see for their “power monitors” is that the Vestlyd V12c is not tuned to be as linear and neutral as sound engineers would expect and demand from monitor loudspeakers, for example. They were designed to be more “forgiving” for use at home. The following sound test clarifies what that means.
Do you know a loudspeaker manufacturer who places warnings in a prominent place in their product description? I quote: “A Vestlyd plays so cleanly that your ears don’t necessarily notice that you’re already in the red. The speakers’ powerful capabilities and some partying or stadium-level sound pressure can quickly put you on a collision course with adults, children, and animals in the neighborhood. Enjoy responsibly!”. No joke: it says so in there.
And I can confirm that. Partially. The Vestlyd V12c and animals? I have two dogs – that fits. They are used to it getting louder with their masters and don’t give a damn. I don’t have any children in my neighborhood, so no problem. But: I have a neighborhood! And since the Vestlyd V12c moved into my listening room, I had trouble with it for the first time(!).
And before you, as a new Vestlyd owner, get angry about the new purchase: the Danish monitors do not play out of the box at the expected level. On the contrary, I was sobered immediately after unpacking the first notes. Nasal voices and a lame, dragged-out bass initially made me doubt whether I had connected the Vestlyd V12c with the correct polarity. A quick check: That was the case. So: wait. import. The large coax driver has to find its way for a few hours of operation. That goes pretty quickly. With nightly interruptions, the Vestlyd was ready for listening and testing after just under three days.
A first emotional outburst with e-bass and drum beats
Even Bush’s “More than Machines” (Album: The Art of Survival) crashed into my listening room with such bounce and penetrating power that I couldn’t help but be amazed from the depths of my soul. Please forgive this emotional outburst – more followed – but: what is happening here is not just pressure. This is brute force. But the kind that rips music fans like me off their chairs. The combination of low-tuned electric bass and drumbeat that drives “More than Machines” forward reaches very deep over the Vestlyd V12c, but I would have expected it to be even more “woofy” and growling because of the “thick cardboard”. . First and foremost, it’s not about impressive depth. OneThe Canton C 309 or my honorably graying Magnat Quantum 905 dig what feels half an octave lower and present the frequency range slightly more voluminous.
The combination of hard-hitting punch and sheer attack, the very tight, bone-dry bass, makes the difference with the Vestlyd V12c! As a result, what is heard mercilessly “kicks” directly into the pit of the stomach without detours. And hits.
Alter Bridge (Album: Pawns and Kings) is in the same genre as Bush’s colleagues. “Sin After Sin” kicks in with heavy metal legs and confirms the first listening impressions: The Vestlyd V12c likes loud and hard. The drums drive through marrow and leg, and the rumbling e-bass with razor-sharp precise relief raises the hairs on your forearms. So far, my dear friends, I have rarely experienced anything like this in my own four walls. Yes, it’s amazing how snappy and “to the point” the large coax construction processes impulses. In comparison, this is not quite as coherent as I was at the time with a Heco Direkt (3,000 euros, the model has since been discontinued), but something else is open to criticism. For a speaker in this price range – we’re talking about a unit price of just under 650 euros – the time response is flawless.
Off the gas – the cultivated level
With all the dynamic forward thrust, you might ask yourself, what happens if you want to listen to something more moderate? After all, a music lover’s life isn’t just full throttle. That’s a short answer: it works too. The wonderful Jupiter-Jones ballad “That’s how every end began” (Album: The Sun is a Dwarf Star) unfolds its soft power precisely from Vestlyd’s “I could if I could, but I also have to.” not” vote. And if I was afraid that the Vestlyd V12c would only be convincing if you let them off the leash on the level side, they still convey a good impression of the musical range even at a moderate pace.
Of course, this also applies to music that is not “quiet” anyway. The power mentioned above, “More than Machines” by Bush, is a good example. There are competitors with similar potential, whose reproduction at softer levels almost collapses. Luckily that doesn’t happen here. Of course, the bass doesn’t “press” as much, and the room image is also more compact, however, in a ratio that always corresponds to the reduced volume level.
Free from illusion: the mids
The discoloration-free, neutral mid-band conveys vocal moods without any exaggerated melting or insinuating warmth because the Danes are serious about their extraordinary mixture of quasi-PA resilience and “established” hi-fi virtues. So Hozier sings his eerily beautiful “In the woods somewhere” (Album: Hozier) with catchy presence and sharp outlines in front of the diagonally distorted instrumentation. The Irishman has a distinctive but not particularly voluminous voice. The Danish Powerbox doesn’t try to pretend, either. The Vestlyd V12c also transmits acoustic instruments such as guitars and piano in “Atmen” by Jupiter Jones (a wonderful live version from the songwriter’s TV show “TV Noir”) without slag, naturally and very clearly.
A female blues voice as a counter-check? Grainne Duffy – again from Ireland – can only be heard credibly on “Meant to Break” (album: Out of the Dark) if her singing is transmitted clearly and physically, and in no case is it too warm and softened. Some voices have a certain coolness – not necessarily coolness! – carry within themselves, which must also be accessible to the audience. Here the Vestlyd V12c does not show any noticeable weaknesses, and in the mid-range, it can keep up with more expensive sound converters, such as the Heco Direct, which I highly praised at the time.
Mercy before Justice – the Treble
Let’s get to “forgive.” “Forgive” is a double-edged sword in the hi-fi world. You know that: If you write that the loudspeaker XY forgives some weaknesses in the recording, some call out: “Sin! The thing can’t do anything, no resolution, no details!”. The others object: “But I want a fun box with any music and less audiophile recording qualities!”
In most cases, a key to which direction the good results is how the manufacturer manages to tune the high-frequency range. In the case of the Vestlyd V12c, we are dealing with a compression driver at the upper-frequency end, which is natively designed to play really loud levels. Something like that can go wrong. Can. But it doesn’t. The Danes have managed to “tame” the Titan tweeter so that it doesn’t pinch the ear canal even when walking briskly, i.e. it doesn’t become biting or poisonous but still delivers the necessary high-frequency information.
This reminds me of the Canton C309 floorstanding speaker, which won the “Fairaudios favorite award” and offered a pleasantly stress-free high-frequency range without suppressing elementary elements. Simply because the highest registers sounded slightly reduced on the level side. With the Vestlyd V12c, this very similar set-up is a little at the expense of the airiness; in direct comparison, the Hessin plays a little looser and offers a more relaxed atmosphere right at the top. What I attribute to the technical design of the Danish tweeter – compression drivers often do not sound quite as light as a feather. But there are no unreasonable hardships here or there.
Resolution and Occam’s Razor
Do you know the theory of Occam’s razor? Very briefly: “A theory is simple if it contains as few variables and hypotheses as possible and if these stand in clear, logical relationships to one another, from which the facts to be explained follow logically.” One could translate this as: “Just cut out everything excessive and illogical. What is left fits.” If you want to apply this to the resolving power of the Vestlyd V12c, you already know that the Danes did not design an acoustic magnifier.
Tool’s masterpiece Fear Inoculum serves me as a test bench for dissolution, and here is the structurally dense piece “Descending,” in which individual melody paths meander parallel to each other to merge into a large whole. The latter – i.e. the “big picture” – is more important to the Vestlyd monitors than following each intricate “sound branch.” At the same time, the abundance of facets that the Californian cloud of sound offers is illuminated, but please not so deep and close that it would end up sounding academic. Don’t get me wrong: The Vestlyd offers a good insight under the musical surface. But she tends to snorkel and use goggles instead of the full protection wetsuit with mask and oxygen tanks that are needed if you want to dive deeper.
If you speak to Vestlyd’s marketing department in Denmark, one of the development goals of the new loudspeaker line was to transport the concert atmosphere and live feeling into the customer’s living room. I have already shown that the Vestlyd V12c can do this with its pure desire for dynamics. But what about spatial imaging? Pleasingly realistic and close to the corresponding template, the illustration never appears artificially inflated or cramped. Only the panorama, the image to the sides, should be more generous. Doesn’t have to be as generous as with the Canton C309 I tested last, which “cheated” a little more imaging width and depth in its performance than it would be pure teaching.
The relationships between the musicians on the virtual stage appear absolutely appropriate and are also easy to locate. The Vestlyd loudspeakers underscore their rousing style by taking a small step towards the auditorium, viewed from the baseline, without obtrusively “sitting on their laps”.
The Vestlyd V12c is deliberately “different.” The charming, rustic retro look, which optically flirts with PA systems, and the amusingly “loud” advertising message can (!) give the wrong impression at first. Nevertheless: The Danes are in no way about simply knitting together plywood boxes with little to offer apart from full throttle. The discoloration-free mids alone put a stop to that. But of course: Vestlyd consistently aims at an audience that enjoys a certain acoustic forward drive and likes to turn the volume control a little further to the right. The V12c gives these music lovers rousing entertainment that suggests associations with live concerts.
The extremely powerful performance can lead to discussions with the neighborhood. However, this is not cheap superficial muscle flexing but serves the sole purpose of conveying maximum listening pleasure. Small-scale nitpicking with the finest resolution down to the faintest little note was not in the specifications of the Vestlyd V12c. Chamber music lovers with audiophile-sensitive demands will probably opt for other loudspeakers. But how do you say it correctly in the Rhineland? Every little animal has its pleasure. And for the rockers, blues, metallers, and groovers among them, there is now a new alternative on the market with an outstanding price-sound ratio! So: Get ready to rumble!
Characteristics Vestlyd V12c:
- The bass range is physically noticeable while tight and extremely “fast.” This is not due to the draft – many floor-standing speakers dig deeper – but to the almost irrepressible pressure and punch.
- After a certain break-in period, while she “noses,” the mids are very free of discoloration, without tipping over into cool and sober.
- The tweeter emits a pleasantly wide spatial radiation thanks to the “waveguide” lens in front; the upper-frequency ranges run out gently with slightly reduced airiness without appearing noticeably defensive. Free from unpleasant harshness, this benefits the “long listening suitability.”
- In a class comparison, some competitors display more detail and are finer. The coaxial system generates a good insight into the internal structures of a recording. Nevertheless, the box is not a miracle of resolution; presenting fine details on a silver platter is not its thing.
- The Vestlyd V12c represents rooms realistically in all dimensions. This means: not too compact and not artificially inflated. Individual events can be located excellently, and the musicians’ relationships are always easily understood. They shift the stage line towards the auditorium, which is beautifully involving and never intrusive.
- “Live louder” – the manufacturer has already aptly summarized the orgiastic abilities of the Vestlyd V12c in its advertising slogan.
- It fits that even heavy loud-quiet-loud passages are presented effortlessly. Excellent dynamic behavior.
- Even at a more moderate level – vulgo: room volume or below – the sound does not collapse. The audible range is maintained in an appropriate proportion.
- Model: Vestlyd V12c
- Concept: Passive compact box (two-way bass reflex) with coaxial driver
- Price per pair: 1,298 euros (matching stands: 250 euros/pair)
- Efficiency: 93dB/W/m
- Special features: Sale exclusively through the retail chain HiFi Klubben (online and on-site)
- Dimensions & Weight: 392 x 622 x 367 mm (WxHxD), 24 kg
- Colors: black
- Warranty: 2 years (5 years for “HiFi Klubben” club members)