Mini Monitors - Dynaudio and JM Labs

After 11 years with my Thiel CS22 floorstanders, I’m ready to make a change and have decided to try out some mini monitors because of room size 15’x17’x7.5’ and the fact that I have a REL Stadium III to take care of the low end. I’ve narrowed my search down to two brands, Dynaudio and JM Labs. I’m looking at the Micro Utopia Be and either to the three Dynaudio models, Confidence C1, Special 25, or Contour 1.3SE.

I listen to pretty much all types of music but the majority being Jazz, Rock, and Alternative. One thing about the Thiel’s that I have always had a difficult time dealing with was that the listening position was extremely critical. The way that I have my speakers positioned, only one person at a time could truly enjoy the music from my Thiel’s. I’m hoping that I can improve my predicament with the speakers listed above as well as moving a step up in the quest for the absolute sound. I believe I have plenty of power to drive any of the speaker listed. A list of my associated equipment is listed “my system”.

Please, your recommendations or comments are welcome if you have compared or owned any speakers listed above.
I listened to the Contour s1.4's last Saturday and was very impressed with them.
I own Dynaudio Special 25s with Dynaudio Stand4. My room is almost the same dimensions as yours... Sound: Very deep and tight bass for standmount speaker( in-room to ca.25Hz!), natural midrange and extended highs. Rest of the system is ARC VT100MkIII/REF1MkII and Esoteric DV50s.
ARC tube combo is doing nice job in taming some forwardness in treble. Special 25 is not very hard to drive-I previously owned ARC VT50 and it drove it without any problems. Confidence C1 is little bit more refined sounding but, without bass capabilities of Special 25.
Also, IMO sub is something like a diversion on coherence provided by these models. I tried REL Storm 5 and it didn't blend well...
I own the original Micro Utopias and I have to say that they're the best sounding speakers I've ever owned. Without a sub there's plenty of bass, pinpoint imaging, incredible transparency, easy to drive, all in an intensely musical package. Couple that with luxurious build quality and you've got a speaker that's tough to beat, except of course by the Be version by all reports. Try it, you'll like it!
Branimir and Jond,

Can you tell me how far apart your speakers are and is the sweet spot broad enough for two to enjoy? Also please tell me how well these speakers play rock and roll?
You might want to look into some of the older Dynaudio confidence speakers (the 4 I believe) is the standmount. I owned Special 25's and after a time found them too forward in the upper midband. The confidences don't really have this anomaly to my ear. Thing is you would have to buy used and they are hard to find.
Have you considered Green Mountain Audio Callisto? Sound stage is so wide you can sit 75 degrees to the side of these amazing speakers and still enjoy the music. They play all kinds of music with ease, first order cross over and dual bottom ports. Green Mountains new website has a vast amount of information. I own these personally and have not found a monitor that performs like the Callisto. No brightness or edge to deal with, just music to enjoy. Great company and build quality.
I would take the Micros in a landslide over the Dynaudios. I've heard both of the monitors in a number of different contexts and they simply didn't get the highs right for me, despite the deep soundstage. I really wanted to like them too. The dealer who was pushing them was a great guy and I wanted to give him my business. But the Micros are something else altogether. A truly amazing speaker.
I would agree with Washline. I came very close to purchasing to a pair or 1.3se's but something was just missing. I owned a pair of JM Labs in the past and sold them to a good friend. I actually listened to them on Friday and I sometimes wonder why I sold them. The Micro BE's are truly amazing especially with good tube gear.
My experience with the Micros was not as positive as those above. I found it a bit lacking in bass and low mids. I love cello and and it did not seem to give the fullness that even my little Dynaudio 52se did. They were much better at the general midrange and highs where the Micro's excelled. I really like the Special 25's and felt that they offered a wider dynamic range and larger sound stage but this was with completely different source and amplification that I am sure was a contributor. I would really like to hear the C1's, this may be one of the finest stand speakers out there from what I have heard. If anyone has auditioned the C1's please let us know. All great speakers though.
Hello, I don't have the micro utopia Be's but am using the older mini utopia's with the REL Stadium III sub. I have found off axis listening to be very good and in geneal I don't find the speakers to be fussy about set-up. Blending the sub with the speakers has been straighforward. They are currently crossing over at 28hz which may seem low but it sounds the best. I also listen to all types of music and think the micros would be very good.
i have to say i prefered the 1.3se over the special 25,a little swetter sounding,jm micros are a fine speaker too.just depends what you ears tell you,they are all good in the system imho.
After looking at your system, I would strongly suggest you also consider the Sonus Faber Cremona Auditors. They would compliment your system nicely and are in the same price range as the Dyns and the JMS.

My Micros are 9 ft apart and I sit about 8 ft away. The sweet spot is about 2-3 ft across, but it might be wider if I didn't toe in my speakers as much. I toe them in so that they're pointing almost right at me to help minimize side wall reflections as my room is pretty small and I have few domestically acceptable placement options. If the toe in were less severe or if the speakers even fired straight ahead I think the the sweet spot could accomodate two people easily.
For that kind of music you like, the best is a big JBL professional studiomonitor with 12 inch woofers. You get dynamics, speed and midrange you would never get any of these speakers you listed. They are ugly, but also relatively cheap. Just try one. I have heard it compated to the thiel 2.4 without a sub on this type of music, and the difference was huge. With the JBL you really almost like on a live concert.
I auditioned many standmounts including Dyn S25, Dyn S1.4, JM Lab Micro Utopia Be, B&W 805 Sig, Sonus faber Cremona auditor, and some more I can't remember. I bought the Dyn S1.4. Dynaudio had the dynamics and the detail that enabled me to get involved in the music.
Thank you to all those who have responded so far. As the responses indicate, all listed are obviously very good speakers. If I didn't have a sub, I'd probably lean toward a Dynaudio. That Utopia tweeter is intriguing and I think it could solve my issue of not having a broader sweet spot. As Davt noted, I'd love to hear from someone who's auditioned or owns Confidence C1's. It figures that I'm also leaning toward the most expensive choice.
Both great speakers, but the Micro Utopias have to have the vote, they are from memory, more expensive, so they should be better. Dynaudio are a funny company, in that some speakers are good, others awful. For example, I liked the 1.3 standmounts a lot, the 1.8 floorstander sounded awful to me, lumpy, slow base. They are both good companies, but JM labs are special
I think the Micro Utopia's a wonderful speaker, I may have sounded a little harsh on my previous post, I just wish they had a little more bass extention and then they would be perfect. I would try to avoid the idea that a more expensive speaker must be better since it is more expensive. The number one very worst speaker I ever heard was $65,000. I think that there is a lot of very good, well designed audio equipment out there and a lot that is a jumble of expensive parts that ends up expensive and sounding horrible.
"they are from memory, more expensive, so they should be better"

Is that a joke?

Islandflyfisher - I use a Velodyne DD15 with my Dynaudio standmounts for near reference-quality bass. I high-pass the dyns for a great integration. Regarding tweeters - the JM Labs Be tweeter IS a good tweeter - but it is not anything so special to set it apart from its competition. IMHO the whole "berillium" craze is more a marketing move than anything. The Esotar tweeter in the Dyn S25 and C1 is one of the best tweeters in high-end audio, and the Esotec in the S1.4 and 1.3SE is very similar sounding to it. I personally thing the Esotar is a better tweeter than the JM Lab Be tweeter. I found it more open and less forward. So my point is - I wouldn't assume that the Be tweeter is "better" than the esotar because of the hype surrounding it. You very well may prefer it, but an audition is required to know.
I think everyone can agree that all these speakers sound great and are past the point of diminishing marginal returns, where that extra 5k will get a marked improvement in sound. I bet if you gathered them all together and played a variety of music you would like each one the best at different times. That said, if it were up to me, I'd eliminate the C1 and JM's just based on looks and price. I preffer the more traditional look of the 1.3 and special 25. Of these I'd probably go with the 1.3 since you are using a sub and won't need the 25's extra bass extension. Then I'd take the 3k+ you just saved and get some nice furniture for that listening room!! And if you still have some cash left over, a nice red wine and some fine cigars.
I strongly disagree on the comment about the "marketing" around the beryllium tweeter. If there is "hype" around this tweeter, it's because it's that good. It's both the material AND the inversion that makes the difference. Sorry but I've heard the esotar domed tweeter on pretty much the entire confidence line and I wasn't impressed. It lacks the extension of the beryllium. And as I said before, I really wanted to like it. Nothing would have made me happier than giving the Dynaudio dealer my business, but the fact was that the JM Lab speakers were more impressive.

I agree that the Micros lack the bass extension. You need to use them with subwoofers. They only go down to 50 hz. What do you expect?
Funny that you poke fun at my listening room furniture. I never looked at it that way but looking at my room from the outside, I can see your point. When you add shelves for CD's and DVD's, an equipment rack and room treatments, there is no room for any furniture. I had a nice leather couch in there at one time and it just got too coozy for three adults. Chairs work our better and I needed chairs that were light enough to move around when they were not in use. I need a new room or better yet, a new house. I've got the wine and do enjoy a good cigar...but not in my room.
Washline - If you like the Be tweeters better than the esotar that's great. Dont be silly though and claim that the esotar lacks "extension" compared to the focal tweeter. It +/- 3db to 25khz. Human hearing caps at 20khz.
Actually, human hearing caps out lower than 20kHz. If you are into audio, you should check to see what YOU can hear. Most men by the time they are 50 years old can't hear anything past 15kHz, if that. If you can't hear an older TV running, you can't hear 16.4kHz! If you were in the military, you probably can't hear above 13kHz. I test mine regularly and can just barely hear 18kHz which is more than all my classmates can hear.
I'm not going to make any specific recommendations, but if you're worried about sweet spot size, why not consider something time/phase cohorent? None of the speakers you've mentioned are (though I think someone mentioned Green Mountain as a possibility). The Be tweeter on the JMs is great, but I doubt it's going to affect sweet spot size.
Goatwuss, don't be silly enough to assume what my ears can and cannot hear. Speak for yourself, not for other people's organs.

If it's true that people cannot hear beyond 20 khz, then why is it the case that the brain processes signals above this range even when, as in the case of listening to high resolution audio compared to CDs, some people claim to not recognize any differences?
Islandflyfisher-My Special 25s are almost 8feet apart and I am seating 9.5feet from them. They are toe-in to cross in distant 15feet position(4.5feet behind my head). Speakers are 2.5feet from wall behind them(bass has perfect combination of depth/tightness for speaker of this size in that position). Size of the 'sweet spot' is good-two people could hear almost the same sound.
Lousyreeds1, I believe my Thiel's are time/phase coherent.
You're right, my mistake. Strange you're having problems there. Sorry I can't offer better advice...
Washline - Your run-on sentence there is incoherent. I did take a look at that link, and it seems to coincide with my point. Given that you can hear and differentiate "extension" beyond the 25khz of the esotar tweeter you must have some pretty amazing ears!

From the article you posted: "I haven't mentioned the most commonly touted marketing advantage of the new formats: their ability to capture sonic information higher than an audio CD's 22.05-kHz Nyquist-dictated cutoff. In reality, even the keenest-hearing children barely perceive audio information at 20 kHz, and, by middle age, even the sharpest ear can't hear anything higher than 15 kHz. Research data even suggests that the human auditory system lumps all frequencies higher than approximately 12.5 kHz into a single frequency "bin," in which humans cannot differentiate the various frequencies present."
Everybody: This question of whether or not we can hear very low frequencies (say 15 Hz) keeps confusing many people.

I hope I am giving away no secrets when I reveal that music is a complex superposition of many frequencies. :) To understand the basic physics involved, let's take a simple example, when there are just two frequencies present: 100 Hz, 15 Hz.

So you start with 100 Hz and that you can hear. Now, adding 15 Hz you might think that being inaudible it would make no difference to what you hear. However, the way physics of waves works, the mutual interaction (or superposition) of the two frequencies also produces 85 Hz and 115 Hz (difference and sum), and these extra frequencies are audible!

(In a somewhat different context, had the two frequencies been close to each other, the brain would perceive the difference as a "beat", which is why musicians are always tuning their instruments to one another's)

So, even if you cannot hear 15 Hz by itself, you can hear its interaction with other frequencies. The frequency is not audible, but its presence is. It is like "seeing" the air because you can see the leaves move. I hope that makes some sense.
Goatwuss, a run-on sentence is a sentence in which a compound sentence receives no comma between independent clauses and before a coordinating conjunction. Sorry but none of my sentences qualify. As for the text I cited, please check note 5. That was my reference point.
Aktchi - We are not talk about low frequencies, we are talking about high frequencies above 25khz. I certainly agree with you about the low frequency point - through many trials I have my system flat to around 20hz, and certainly have learned that the bottom octave is essential for soundstage development.

I would argue though, that in the grand scheme of all things audio, and what is important vs non-important, that high-frequency extension above 25khz is trivial in significance.

Washline - Point 5 in that article is irrelevent to our discussion. The point is that increased time-domain resolution increases brain activity, not that increased frequency extension increases brain activity.

"Though the frequency-domain benefits of ultrasonic-captured information are at best dubious, time-domain advantages may be more compelling"

Note 5:

"Recent studies indicate increased brain activity in response to high-resolution audio, even when listeners don't report any audible difference between that audio and more conventional music formats "

Even if this writer agreed with your point (which he doesn't - he contradicts it) it would be theoretical as opposed to practical anyway. There are 10,000,000 more important things to optimize in your sound playback system than high-frequency extension above 25khz.
i think you are correct aball,i was in the music industry for 35 yrs playing clubs and what ever payed,it diminishes at the age of thirty five is what i heard....golden ears are gone,just kidding...but your point is strong one,imho!
Goatwuss, he cited the study, not me. I cited his citing of the study. And in doing so, I don't necessarily endorse his conclusions, so whether or not he seems to "contradict" what I say, he has admitted this study in his paper.

"I would argue though, that in the grand scheme of all things audio, and what is important vs non-important, that high-frequency extension above 25khz is trivial in significance."

How would you know if you can't hear it?

I just listened to Dynaudio C1's once again this past weekend. My opinion hasn't changed. Sorry to say. The Micro Be's mop the floor with these monitors.
"I just listened to Dynaudio C1's once again this past weekend. My opinion hasn't changed. Sorry to say. The Micro Be's mop the floor with these monitors."

I'm assuming you listened to these two pairs of speakers back to back, within the context of the same room and the same system? Because otherwise, your evaluation would be meaningless.
I've heard the C1s in a number of different contexts, with a variety of amplifiers, and no, I've never been very impressed with them. But I wanted to be. I really liked one of the dealers.

"Because otherwise, your evaluation would be meaningless."

Only to you perhaps. To me it wasn't meaningless at all.
Purchased the JM Lab Mirco Utopia's with Utopia stands. They are incredible in every way.
Goatwuss: I missed your post in which you wrote: "Aktchi - We are not talking about low frequencies, we are talking about high frequencies above 25khz. I certainly agree with you about the low frequency point..."

Clearly, you missed the whole point. It had nothing to with low or high. It was that an inaudible frequency, in the presence of another frequency (which may or may not be audible), can produce audible effects.

Take your favorite 25 khz. If you had 25 khz and 15 khz present simultaneously, their combination will produce 10 khz and 40 khz, the former of which will be audible.

Heck, if yo uhad 25 khz and 35 khz present simultaneously, both inaudible, their combination will produce 10 khz and 60 khz, the former being audible.

These are trivial example, actual music contains much more complex superpositions.
Aktchi - Can you please refer me to a reputable source explaining this phenominom?

Also - For clarity, the "original" dispute was whether or not a tweeter claiming 40khz has "higher extension" than a tweeter claiming 25khz. Your point that "Take your favorite 25 khz. If you had 25 khz and 15 khz present simultaneously, their combination will produce 10 khz and 40 khz, the former of which will be audible" may be true (I'm interested in learning about this if so), but it is not relevant to "high-end extension"
Congratulations on the new speakers! I hope you love them as much as I love mine!! Happy listening!!!
Goatwuss: The phenomenon is called "superposition of waves" and is basic to all physics. Any college level text should have it.
maybe my post comes a bit late but just hope to help anyone who reads this.

i used to own dynaudio speakers. audience 60 and contour 1.3. they are both good at dynamic, open, imaging and bass punch. piano reproduction is always superior. but the tweeter, sorry to say, sounds less smooth to me, to the extend of harsh maybe. so violin and strings always sound a bit sharp and strain. it's very easy to give you a very good first impression but listening at it longer at home you may feel the sound overall is a bit hard and tired. and the tweeter needs big improvement.

was thinking to upgrade to the new dynaudio C1 but only a few minutes of listening at showroom i was surprise to find out the tweeter still sounded more or less the same.

then i got the micro utopia be on smu stands. overall comparing to dynaudio, it sounds light, easy and comfortable. the be tweeter is HEAVEN! it's so smooth and extended which makes the whole presentation airy and transparent. midrange is HEAVEN as well. smooth and so much definitions with a warm touch. violin or anything with strings sounds like a breeze. it helps reproduce piano as well. the top and midrange are steps better than dynaudios and many other brands to my ear. but, it's not perfect. the bass is far inferior than dynaudio. even my $600 audience 60 can produce much better bass punch and extension than the $6000 micro utopia be. most of the time, unless really good recorded audiophile CD, the bass punch for micro utopia simply doesnt exist. you can easily hear that the top is perfect, midrange is perfect but then the bass roll off sharply from maybe 150hz. it's pretty surprised that after you spend $6000 then find out the bass is missing.

imho, a sub for micro is a must just in order to complete the whole picture. now i am considering a REL Stadium III. i would love to have a sub utopia be but that will part me another $6000.

not trying to make any conclusions but just hope to help anyone reading this. bring a few violin CD when you audition c1 to test the tweeter, and bring a few normal recorded cd to test the bass of micro. the answer would be clear.
Liuhao, I have to disagree that the Micros do not have any bass punch at all. Sure, there are other speakers that are much more extended in the bass, but I have actually found them to be quite punchy in the bottom end. Perhaps your room is too big for them or you're underpowering them. I've run them typically with anywhere between 120W per channel up to 600W per channel and have had no compliants about the bass punch with the Micros. Even at a HiFi Show we put on in November, I had them set up in a decent sized hotel room driven by an all Cary system with the 600W per channel Cary A-306 power amp and no one complained about lack of bass at all. Check out the picture of this system at the show if you want:

Note: There is a Velodyne sub in the picture, but most of the time we did not have it turned on and the Micros bottom end filled the room very well.
Washline, wouldn't a semi-colon after 20khz been more appropriate than a comma? While not as clear as breaking it down into 2 sentences; it would have made your sentence, and the point you were trying to make, easier to follow. Don't you think?
What timing here !
I just listened to the Micro Be's and came away quite impressed with tweeter . I had originally gone to audition some Mac stuff and changed my upgrade path !
I did not think that they needed a sub . I even turned up the base , on the Mac pre , and felt that flat was fine .
I have started a thread to find another speaker with this caliber of performance for less money . Does it exist ?

Also , what are you Be owners using for amplification . The Mac stuff , tubed pre & SS amp , sounded pretty good .

Thank You
I've been enjoying a new pair of Micro Be's for about a week now and all I can say is these are AMAZING "little" speakers. It's always a joy when your system takes a big jump towards a deeper more satisfying musical experience. These speakers are in the process (still breaking them in) of doing just that.

A little history...the Micros replaced a pair of B&W N805's that had provided quite a few years of enjoyment during which time I systematically upgraded my entire system from the top on down.

My current system breaks down as follows:
Mark Levinson 390s (fed directly into amp)
McIntosh 501's
Nordost Valkyrja Balanced IC throughout
Revel Ultima Sub30
Audience Au24 Speaker Cable
Focal-JM Labs Micro Utopia Be (on SMU stands)

As musically satisfying speaker the 805's have been over the years I felt that I just wasn't getting everything my components were capable of delivering. Having a few other financial priorities it was going to be a little while longer before making the upgrade as I've been looking at much more expensive options than the Micros.

I've heard a lot of great things about the Micros and was extremely impressed a couple of years back when I heard a pair of Altos. So when a pair of Micros showed up on AG last month at a decent price I thought to myself why not give them a try. At least they could tie me over until I decide on the speakers I really want.

Well, having lived with these babies for just over a week I may have just found what I've been missing. No, they don't have the final word on macrodynamics or overall scale (even with the Sub30), but apart from that that these speakers are truly extraordinary.

The top-end is simply beyond anything I've heard before along with transparency through the mid-band. Soundstaging and imaging are spectacular as well (you'll need to experiment w/ toe-in) and strike a wonderful balance between image focus and spaciousness. Reproduction of instrument placement, timbre and spacial cues on Dave Brubeck's "Time Out" is simply staggering. The speakers disappear completely and what's left is the music suspended in 3D space in front of you. Going through my collection of favorite "diagnostic" cd's (we all have 'em) has revealed a layer of musical detail and texture I've never heard before on my system. Another veil between the music and the listening chair has been lifted.

All in all, these speakers are a magnitude order above my old B&W's in every way. With the Sub30 the experience top to bottom is truly special, but that's another story.

I can't recommend these speakers enough. Happy Listening!!

I've listened, lived and auditioned extensively a few lines of the JM Labs and Dyns over the years & I personally would go for the Dynaudios over the JM Labs.
I find the sound of the JM labs a little bit on the hot side of things. Details in abundance but I find the mids to be a bit thin sounding.While the higher models of the JM labs offer a degree of refinement over the mid range products, I still find it lacking in robustness.

The Dyns are more neutral, more robust mids and the bass is very good. However these needs to be careful placed because they can be quite bass heavy at times.These speakers also crave for lots of good s/s power,.

Currently though I'm more in the PMC, Harbeth, Spendor camp of speakers. While these doesnt have the high's of the JM labs, or the bass of the Dyns, the mids of these speakers truly captivate my listening experience. The midrange is remarkable clear and open, which I felt the JM Labs nor the DYns amissed. Again, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. This just happens to be mine which is subjective to my listening preference and listening room.
Sorry I haven't read through the above responses if I'm repeating anything that's been said already, but as the 9-year owner of CS2.2's myself, I'd suggest maybe also checking out Thiel's latest iteration of the SCS, the SCS4. I haven't heard it yet, and am not even sure whether it has shipped yet, but the concentric tweeter/mid-woofer array will make listening position less critical than a 3-way floorstander like the 2.2 (the original version of the SCS is what turned me on to the Thiel sound in the first place many years ago). Supposed to be priced at around only $2K a pair as well, less than its predecessor despite the addition of an aluminum baffle. (Of course, the best subwoofer match ought to be one of Thiel's own, used with its model-specific crossover module.)
ALDOG & Nolitan ; The comment about another veil being lifted is exactly what I felt when I heard the Micro's ! It was as if all of the other box speakers had something covering the tweeter . The closest to a stat/panel sound that I have found .
However , I have owned a couple of JM Labs speakers from the Electra line , without the Be tweeter . I also felt like something (life,heart,sole,musicality etc.) was missing from the presentation . At first I thought it might be bass , hence my move up the line . I then tried adding a subwoofer which did not 'fix' it either .
I was so captivated with the openess of the tweeter that I did not evaluate this aspect , of the presentation , during my short audition of the Micro's . Due you , or any other owners , have this sense of something missing ?
There was also a statement made that the Dyns need an abundance of SS power . While auditioning the Micro's , the salesman stated that the Micros were previously demonstrated using a Mac tubed integrated amp . They then moved to a Mac tubed pre and a Mac SS amp (c220 & 252) and he stated that the Micros "really opened up"!
Can you , and other Micro ownwers , tell me what you are using to drive them ?

Thank you .