Confidence C1 review
I had almost all monitors of Dynaudio range of speakers, but this one is definitely an odd-ball among whole Dynaudio range of loudspeakers, and none of the previous or lower range of monitors can come even close to them. After lot of serious technical problems with my Contour 1.3SE speakers which I owned for a year now, I finally decided to upgrade to Confidence C1. This upgrade came a bit unintentionally, since my choice of replacement for SE’s was S1.4, but I didn’t resist a fine opportunity my dealer’s offerred to me for upgrading to C1 instead at acceptable cost.
I would not repeat here all the technical details about the speakers since these data are easily available on Dynaudio site and extensively in the previous review, but rather I will try to concentrate on the merits of the C1 and my experience in my home system.
They looks beautifully- I can't agree the design is "challenging" for some as is said. On the contrary, in my view C1 are some kind of masterpiece (or trendsetter if you like) of modern speaker design, much prettier any picture can show.
Mine comes in standard rosewood finish, with perfectly matched grains alongside with also purchased Dynaudio Stand2 speaker stands, as both are good match sonically and esthetically. These high-quality stands are some 65cm high and bring the inverted tweeter about ideal listening heights, in the same time speakers being securely mounted via two screws. The only criticism I have here is about mounting the stands to the speakers: during tightening the stand-tubes (you should screw/rotate the whole tube, as the screws are inaccessible for tightening), it is inevitable the speakers bottom surface to have a ring scratch on the contact between two surfaces. In my opinion, the manufacturers should supply some acoustically inert damping; say rubber or something similar as are the rubbers sandwiched between the both plates of the stands alone. They’ll add no much cost, since the stands are unique and beside high quality, usually purchased because of unusual shape of the speakers.
The tonal balance of the C1 can be immediately recognized as “Dynaudio-brand sound”, sharing more or less the other models. However, if the speakers would be behind the curtain, or you're listening with closed eyes, it can be confused with high-quality floor stander. I mean really high quality speakers in $5-10k range!
The overall sound is never analytical, yet it is extremely detailed and full-bodied in the same time. The bass is unbelievably fast, authoritative, controlled and with surprising impact, hard to be heard even in a good floor stander. Imaging is extended far beyond the physical size and the soundstage is dark, absolutely noiseless and hiss free. The instruments on the soundstage are rendered holographically; for the first time I can say there’s also a height of the soundstage – seemingly impossible in such small speaker – and I was though that’s reserved only for big floor stander (in this respect the bigger sibling C2 impressed me mostly). Don’t be fooled by its size – C1 can provide uncompromised sound quality even in fairly large room, not sacrificing even bass (my living room is 30 square meters). The opposite is true, the recommended distance of >2m from the speakers/listening position should be taken seriously, 3m being nothing unusual. After 100 hours or so, I had to move the speakers clear of wall well into the room, and ended around 1,5m, up to my limit on the living room. Once you can adjust it to breath enough, they return spectacular sound top to bottom.
One of my and my friends favorite “test” CD is Sting’s “Brand new day”, especially track No13 “Fields of gold”. This track is excellent for quick distinguishing the bass region of any speakers, so you can try: at the beginning, there’s and excellent two-tone acoustic bass partiture, the second tone going very low, in our approximation close to 50-60Hz or so. The first (upper tone), can be reproduced by any tried speakers, but the second, lower tone of all our tired speakers (including some very good and big floor standers such is Jamo D870, B&W DM603S3 and also small N805…), is – dead, it can not be heard as it is not recorded at all. Well, through Dyn, this lower tone is floor shaking, putting in shame all floor standers in its own area we’re usually buying them: bass. And all this from 11L speaker… Amazing.
It seems that Dynaudio engineers succeeded to perform very precise phase alignments and seamless integration of the drivers, since the sound is always very rich with even harmonics, thus completely eliminating fatigue even after whole days listening session (yes, I tried). And in my opinion that's exactly the strength and the main cost ou're paying for C1 - you can not describe exactly what's good, but you can feel it... Seductive. Appealing. They don’t let you think too much about bass, mids, highs, decibels… but you’ll try all yours records, just to see if there’s maybe something you missed with all your speakers before…
Although the sensitivity of 85-86dB and impendence 4 Ohms is usual for most Dynaudio speakers, C1 sounds subjectively louder than 1.3SE or 1.3Mk2 and are much easier to drive, comparable to Audience 50/52 (I owned all three models, so I can make comparison). This is due to obviously good correction of the lowest resistance and/or phase shift. According to Germans “Stereo” and “Stereoplay” magazine (the only published professional review for now) lowest measured resistance of 3,9 and 3,8 Ohms respectively, lies above 200Hz and not in the power-demanding region of 20-200Hz. In practice, this mean that you can easily drive them even with low powered amplifier (I tried 40W mid-fi amp and works for smaller room say 4,5x4m). Even powered so, they still have "jump factor" unachievable for 1.3/SE unless you have good, high-current-monster amp. This is good news, since the tube-lovers can easily match low/moderate power with all nuances of both speakers and valves, which was not possible for the also highly regarded 1.3Mk2 and SE’s. For the rest of us, 100-Wattage upper-class SS amp will do the job, but be careful with cables- I found C1 is very cable-sensitive.
The speakers are still less than 200 hours working, so I'm expecting further improvements after run-in.
Anyway, hope some of you may find useful information here.
CD player: Rotel RCD 971 also tried NAD S500i
Itegrated amplifier: Primare A30.1
Interconects: Kimber Hero, Audiotruth Opal
Speaker cable: Transparent MusicWave, Kimber 4VS, Monster M1.5
Mains Cable: Audioquest, Kimber
Other speakers: Dynaudio Controur 1.3Mk2, 1.3SE, Audience 50