Review: Dynaudio Confidence C2 Speaker

Category: Speakers

Ok - so I have finally reached audio nirvana. I have been in ‘nirvana’ for a little over a year. That’s when I upgraded my speakers to the Dynaudio Confidence C2s. Why am I writing this now? I was away on a fishing trip recently and when I returned had a chance for some lengthy listening sessions. Simply put, ’nirvana’ should be shared and until now I have been too busy with other things to properly execute my audio enthusiast responsibilities.

My system:

Speakers: Dynaudio Confidence C2
Amps: Odyssey Audio Extreme Mono Blocks
Pre: Odyssey Audio Tempest (Extreme version)
CD: Jolida JD 100 (level 2 mods, GE JG5751 tubes)
Turntable: Rega Planar 25
Cartridge: Van den Hul “The Frog”
Cables: Various

Audio nirvana - what does that mean? In my mind, it simply means that all of the pieces are there, the system sings, each component compliments the others, added together the sum of the components is greater than you could ever imagine. No weak links. After each listening session, walking away thinking “man I am there” and thankful that the C2s are capable of expressing what the amps, the pre and “Frog” can conjure up.

Ok. What don’t I like about the C2s? No bi-wire option. So Dynaudio doesn’t believe in bi-wiring - IMO for $10k+, I should be able to play a bit and make that decision for myself. The price. Audio ’nirvana’ shouldn’t cost so much. Just my opinion and I am a somewhat thrifty enthusiast (I do not have an endless budget for audio gear, I buy and sell and beg my Wife with the best of them). Do I know of a better value? Not for speakers of this quality and performance. Hard to find a demo pair. IMO, anyone who sells Dynaudio ought to have a demo pair available - these are not $85k Evidence Masters. I was a bit put off with the buy them bring them home and return them if you don’t like them mentality. It would be easier for me to bring my turntable and a few selections to the dealer. Enough of the bad, on to the good parts of the review.

My listening room is in my basement and measures approximately 27 ft wide by 23 ft long. The listening ’area’ is really one half of the room about 14 x 23 - the other half of the room houses a pool table and bar. Behind the listening area, I have 2 side by side 48” french doors that open into an office. Ceilings are 7ft, and the room is carpeted. I built the room just prior to buying the C2s, I have not felt a need for any room treatments. Most of my listening is on vinyl. I listen to everything from classical, to older jazz, more progressive jazz, to all kinds of rock and roll. Some of my personal test ’tracks’ for auditioning equipment and some C2 listening comments are included at the end of this review.

On my way towards Nirvana, I owned and/or demoed some of the fine speakers from Wilson, Jm Labs, Revel, Monitor Audio, B&W and Proac, as well as a few others that I am forgetting.

Prior to buying the C2s, I owned a pair of Dynaudio Confidence C1s (book shelf offering in the Confidence line). As part of the C1 buying process, I had the chance to in home demo the C1s side by side with pairs of Dyn Contour Special 25s, Contour S3.4s and Contour T2.5s (mine - I was upgrading). The Special 25s and the 3.4s are outstanding speakers, but the C1s easily won me over. The Special 25 is a speaker that has received rave reviews, but the C1 really is something special. I mention it only as I have not seen any C1 reviews in US publications. However, it seems that these terrific bookshelves have a following. When I sold my Contour T2.5s, the C1s were in the ad pictures - in the background. LOL - I had more inquiries on the C1s than I did on the T2.5s. When I sold the C1s, it was to one of the T2.5 ‘contacts’, he drove from Kansas city to Chicago to pick them up in person.

My decision to upgrade to the C2s was a result of finishing my basement - I now had a much larger listening room. I bought the C2s without an in home audition. When I asked my Dyn dealer what to expect, he said “everything you love about the C1s - well Don - the C2s are twice the C1s”. To this day I’m not sure what he meant except maybe to highlight that the C2s have twice the tweeters and drivers that the C1s have. My expectations were that I would have the sweet highs of the C1s, a larger and deeper soundstage, slightly decreased imaging, deeper more controlled bass, and possibly a bit less clarity on complex jazz pieces (i.e. Pat Metheny) thinking that small conflicts with the lower range might toss I bit more ‘mud‘ into the listening experience. I suppose my expectations were similar to most audio enthusiasts moving from a bookshelf to a floor standing speaker with essentially the same drivers.

Wow. My expectations were blown away! The C2s delivers a stunningly honest reproduction of the music, top to bottom, no holes - just seamless, honest music. Sure, the C2s have more bass than the C1s. But oh is that bottom end sweet sounding - and fast. Never boomy or artificial. The low end sounds sweet at low volumes and played really, really loud. Just right. I was amazed when I first heard the highs delivered by Dyns Esotar 2 tweeter. Imagine 2 of them, operating at slightly differing frequencies, complimenting each other as they draw the music into your soul. The C2s are honest yet musical, very clean, natural sounding, exactly what you would expect front and center to a live band.. With other manufacturers, I usually get a feeling that somewhere in the range (usually lower mid range) that some part of the listening experience is forced, possibly manufactured - something is missing that should be there or something is there more than it should be. The C2s are extremely ‘real’ and clean top to bottom. Some folks may not like that, some might think that sounds a bit clinical. The C2s are far from it. Most of my listening is from vinyl sources - IMO - clinical and vinyl is not a good match. The C2s and my vinyl collection provide and engaging and emotional listening experience.

A couple more surprises. As expected, the C2s deliver a large soundstage, wide and deep. But the imaging and 'spacing' of the musicians greatly exceeds that of the C1s (a pleasant surprise). Kind of like - just when I thought there wasn’t anything more to bring to the experience, the C2s deliver. It seems to me that the C2s are much, much more than just a couple of extra drivers, the way Dynaudio uses those drivers just enhances the edges of what the C1s deliver, bringing more musicality to the music. The C2s are everything I had secretly hoped for. The additional drivers complement one another, build on one another, add a depth and clarity beyond anything I could imagine.

How did Dynaudio do it? Dynaudio says it's a result of keeping things simple - design your own drivers, cabinets, drive them with your own electronics, and make your crossovers easy. I wonder how much of the technology from the Evidence line has been 'pushed down' to the C2. All I know is that whole is more than one could reasonably expect just looking at the parts.

As an aside, my cousin had heard my C1s and was looking to outfit a summer house with a new system. He bought a pair of the Confidence C4s. Another fabulous speaker. Very similar to the C2s (too big for my 7 ft ceilings). His electronics are all high end Arcam (CD/Pre/Amps). Prior to buying the Dyns, he was/is a big fan of Revel. His other system includes a pair of Revel Ultima Salons. It took him a while to admit that the differences were not a result of room differences (heck, the Dyns face out from a corner into a large room with high ceilings and hardwood floors), but were a result that the Dyn C4s are just better speakers than the Ultima salons. He is now a die hard Dyn fan. (Though I have to admit the Revels are a pretty speaker).

Here are a couple of quick comments on the other equipment in my ’Nirvana’ system:

Amps: Odyssey Audio Extreme Mono Blocks

Hard to find better amps for the money. Very musical but accurate. Based on a Symphonic line design. Klaus Bunge is the proprietor of Odyssey Audio. Customer Service is second to none, period. (IMO, no problem competing with my cousin’s Arcam gear.)

Pre: Odyssey Audio Tempest (Extreme version)

The Extreme version is a must if you are a fan of vinyl. The standard version is great with digital inputs (in fact, I’m not sure I can hear a difference between the two listening to Cds). (BTW - I have a standard version of the Tempest in a another system.) Again, this pre is very musical, some similarities to tubes, but retains the accuracy of solid state.

Some yahoo blasted the Tempest in an on-line review. I imagine he had them hooked up to a set of Bose speakers because I can find no fault with either version of the Tempest (and I applaud the analog upgrades on the Extreme model). I think the same yahoo said he should have known better, the Odyssey web site is not updated. To this yahoo, I say check out the Van den Hul website - yep, they make crappy products as well. Sharp as a marble IMO. Anyone interested in Odyssey should just call Klaus direct. Great service, great products.

CD: Jolida JD 100 (level 2 mods, GE JG5751 tubes)

Most of my listening is on the vinyl side. However, this is a pretty darned good CD player.

Turntable: Rega Planar 25

Pretty decent TT. Hard to beat for the money.

Cartridge: Van den Hul “The Frog”

Wow. I never thought I would spend this kind of scratch for a cartridge. I don’t know how VDH does it (hours of hand building and testing high end cartridges?). This was one of the best upgrades on my way to ‘nirvana’. Somehow VDH found a way to reduce surface noise and deliver astonishing detail. Very natural top to bottom, no holes, a great match with the rest of the system.

Wow again - this review ended up a bit longer than I expected. I guess you can see that over a year into the C2s and I am still thrilled.

I have been a fan of Dynaudio for a number of years. Across their product lines, the value and performance is difficult (and IMHO impossible) to beat. I have owned Dynaudio Audience 72s, 52s; Dynaudio Contour 1.1s, 1.8mk11s, T2.5s, T2.1; and a pair of Dynaudio Confidence C1s. BTW - I still own the 52s, 1.1s, and T2.1.

My bottom line opinion of the C2s? Most highly recommended for anyone striving for ‘audio nirvana’.

Some of my personal test tracks for auditioning equipment. I’ve also included a few of my initial listening notes - offered to give the reader a ’sense’ of the C2 experience:

James Taylor’s - Greatest Hits - Anyone loving JT will love the C2s. Just plain natural and engaging.

Jeff Beck w/the Jan Hammer Group - Live - Never heard this album sound so good. I am drawn back to my youth. My copy is a cheap secondary pressing - sounds great -I need to find a better copy.

Neil Diamond - Serenade - I’ve seen Neil in concert a couple of times. C2s handle his voice and the musicians beautifully.

Linda Ronstadt w/the Nelson Riddle Orchestra - What’s New - Man - I hate her politics, but this one brought tears to my eyes. Listened to it twice in a row.

Frank Sinatra - Strangers in the Night - Found an unopened copy at a thrift store. Holy crap! On a Clear Day - Hard to beat Frank, period.

Peter, Paul and Mary - Ten Years Together - Wow! Two tunes stick out - Leaving on a Jet Plane and I Dig Rock and Roll Music. I am enveloped by sound - 3 dimensional? Amazing. I love this album. The world needs more of PP&M.

The Beatles - 1967-1979 - I have finally heard the low end of I am the Walrus exactly as it should be. I am struck by how good of a studio band the Beatles were. I am hearing stuff I have never heard before.

Miles Davis - In Concert - My Funny Valentine - Holy crap! I’m there. Sweetest horns I have ever heard. My Wife noticed the difference immediately - just walking by.

Led Zepplin - Houses of the Holy - Awesome. The detail on the Rain Song is amazing. Completely engaged in the music on this one. Great album. Was John Bonham the greatest rock drummer ever? Yep.

London Symphony Orchestra - Leopold Schakowsky - Scheherazade - Side two just takes me away. The power and grace and subtle emotions are no problem for the C2s.

The Jimi Hendrix Concerts - Hard to believe how much music is on this album.

Pat Metheny Group - Still Life Talking - No problem sorting out the complexities here. Lyle Mays piano work sounds simply perfect.

Little Feat - Waiting For Columbus (Live) - I’m there. All of the music is there - from the crowd to the horn section to the vocals to the ripping guitar and the drums. Great album. I have a special Mobile fidelity pressing - the C2s deserve nothing less.

Associated gear
Amps: Odyssey Audio Extreme Mono Blocks
Pre: Odyssey Audio Tempest (Extreme version)
CD: Jolida JD 100 (level 2 mods, GE JG5751 tubes)
Turntable: Rega Planar 25
Cartridge: Van den Hul “The Frog”
Cables: Various

Similar products
Wilson, Jm Labs, Revel, Monitor Audio, B&W and Proac, as well as a few others that I am forgetting.
A very nice and well compose review; I had the C2s for over three years and before them the 1.3se. I had my C2s running with Mark Levinson 432, and that combo ready did make great music. I only sold then because I when to an all tube setup and my new 75 WPC amp. Could not make them dance the way the Levinson did, IMHO. There an excellent speaker and your description of there sound is on the money.

Nicely done on the review. I am still in love with my C2 after owning it for about two years now. But I will need a better amp to feed it... what do you existing users think? I am using Musical Fidelity now... and need something with a little speed but still have that tag of sweetness...any recommendations?

Just wondering what you use before the 1.3SE... I did almost the same upgrading process... Dyanudio Audience 6 to Contour 1.3SE, then Confidence C2...

KEF 107s the Dyns were a BIG step up.
Hi, I enjoyed your review on the C2's. I also had B&W's, an early set of Tannoy Monitor Golds, and others that don't deserve mention. I was on the upgrade path, going to buy more B&W's, but I got a listen to Dynaudio's Contour 3.4's, and fell in love. When I finally did get around to the upgrade, I found my dealer had dropped the Dynaudio line to get Wilson. They did have a primo demo pair of rosewood 5.4's for the same price as new 3.4's, so I snapped them up, and haven't looked back. As you probably know, they have the same tweeters as the C2's. I love them to death, just tonight I did some fine tweeking on speaker placement, and wow, they really snapped into focus! I use an all digital front end, all upgraded by David Schulte, Marantz DV 8300, Musical Fidelity dac, and Genesis Digital Time Lens. Amp is Aragon 3002 300wpc, also upgraded by David. Up til quite recently, I was using a BAT VK 30 line stage but I'm in the process of selling it, going to get Exact Power's EP15a power regenerator, and also going to send my Fosgate FAP T1 Pre-Pro to David for upgrading, I'm expecting great things, it just seems to get better and better all the time! Dan

The Odyssey Audio Extreme monoblocks are worth a look. I absolutely love them.

From my review "Hard to find better amps for the money. Very musical but accurate. Based on a Symphonic line design. Klaus Bunge is the proprietor of Odyssey Audio. Customer Service is second to none, period. (IMO, no problem competing with my cousin’s Arcam gear.)"

You can call Klaus directly at 317-299-5578. Note that he works afternoons and nights - you won't catch him before 1:00 CST.

I had a pair of Dyn 1.8mk11s when I upgraded from Odyssey's standard monos to the Extremes. The 1.8mks are a pretty decent speaker, but for the first time (in my amp upgrade path), I felt that the amps had more to give than the speakers could deliver. Ah - went to the T2.5s, the C1s, and now the C2s. The Extremes IMO have no weaknesses when matched with the Dyns. Also - you will be surprised at the price - I think around $2800 a pair. He also sells less expensive amps that are very capable.

Here's a link to the Odyssey circle at Audiocircle:

Here are some reviews (I think I have one there from a few years ago):

Long story short - call Klaus. Great guy, great service. Tell him Don with the Dyn C2s and the 'Frog' says hello.

All others,

Thanks for the kind comments.

Enjoyed your review. I am also on an upgrade path, Triangle Celius 202's to what ? Hmmmm,,, Dyn's S5.4 or C2 ?

Anyone with comments please reply.

If you look at the specs the S5.4 is actually closer to the C4 in driver's , freq band etc then the C2's Just a huge cost difference between the 3 .

I am driving with Musical Fidelity A308CR integrated.
Super G Man,

The S5.4 is a fine speaker. I have not demoed it with the C2. As part of buying my C1s, I listened to them, the S3.4, T2.5 and Special 25s. The C1 stood out and I realized that there was a reason why the others were in the Contour line and the C1 was in the Confidence line. I believe the same would hold true C2/4 to S5.4. If I had not heard the C1s, I would have been very happy with the Special 25. Lol. If you do demo them side by side, I would be interested in your thoughts.

Also, I would not put too much stock into Dyn's published stats. I think they are very conservative. The C1 goes way lower than the published range. I have also been told that the Esotar2 tweeters between the Contour/Confidence line are NOT the same. True or not? I don't know but there is no doubt in my mind that the high end of the C1 is sweeter than that of the Spec. 25.

Best to you on your upgrade path.

I just noticed an email from a fellow A-goner who apparently has the tough job of reviewing audio equipment for a living. This review is for the C1. Well written if a bit long winded (sorry Chip) - I can't say that I disagree with anything in the review. Chip does a nice job outlining how the C1s really love quality components. I can't agree more. (And I do think the C2s are twice the fun of the C1s - hard to believe but really - when I first listened to them I thought "wow - everything the C1s are - just more".