Review: Dynaudio Contour 1.8 mkII Speaker

Category: Speakers

I have been on a speaker hunt for a while. My goal was to find a sub $3000 speaker (new or used). I was really hoping this speaker would be the one because I had read many reviews about how great Dynaudio is. I couldn't wait to get to the store and hear them.
I was sitting and listening to CD after CD... After trying to convince myself that I liked them, I gave up.
The entire Dynaudio line seemed to have very fatiguing highs. The midrange was nice and they had good mid-bass punch. They made music come alive in many ways but, something about the way the highs were delivered made me want to get away from them.
I played James Taylor, Tracy Chapman, Art Blakey, and all sounded good in some ways. The imaging was nice, they had a good presence but, weren't smooth and liquid. They were kind of brutal in their attack on certain notes. Bass was booming during some tracks and then the highs would squeel in others.
They're good speakers for someone but, if you have a harsh amp or other electronics, these speakers will not sound natural. If it's all tubes and such, you may be OK.
Build quality looked OK, the speakers have a nice finish and a clean look. Most wives would approve.

Strengths: good midrange and/or midbass, good imaging, nice looking.
Weaknesses: Fatiguing speakers

Associated gear
Rega Planet
Bryston Amp

Similar products
B&W NT series
Revel F30
Monitor Audio
I have personally found that speakers often sound bright and thin in stores. This can be due to lack of breakin or poor setup. It's a real shame, and it's one reason I turn more to the Internet to buy stuff used and try it out; that is, the in-store demonstrations often don't tell you what you need to know. I don't know the Dynaudio line very well - I've heard some at Stereophile shows sound nice and others as described above. I think it's hard to know what you are really dealing with until you get it home and break it in.
Agree with the position that a worthwhile "review" cannot be written after just listening to something at the store.
I've owned the 1.8's for over two years now and couldn't disagree more. To get the type of sound you heard out them you must have had a bad setup or something, or maybe they were damaged. The 1.8's are one of the most natural speakers I have ever heard. What you put in is what you get out. And as far as them not sounding natural with harsh electronics- why would you want them too? they should sound harsh. If you are looking for a speaker to hide the faults of your system, stay away from dynaudio, or any other hi end speakers for that matter.
I own speakers from the Dynaudio Audience line and IMO the Dyn tweeter is one of the smoothest, sweetest sounding tweeters I have heard. And these are their entry level line of speakers. Since the Contours are a step up, I find it hard to imagine that the Contour tweeter would sound harsh and fatiguing. In fact, everyone I have recommended Dyns to has been drawn to them because of the smooth NON-fatiguing highs. From my experience, Dyns are very accurate. Badly recorded source material will sound like just that - bad. This is just my opinion. Everyone is entitled to his/her own.
I normally wouldn't write a review from a store audition but, I believed they were connected well and I listened for a long time. When I heard the 1.8's, the electronics used were a Rega Planet CD player and a Bryston amp. I don't remember which pre-amp. However, it was all nice stuff.
The Audience series was connected to a Pioneer Elite receiver. (I didn't expect much from this receiver so, I didn't comment on the Audience)

In any case, maybe something was wrong or maybe my ears were still popping from a plane ride... but, I didn't care for these speakers overall. They're good in many respects but, just not for me.

I decided to buy Revel F30's in the end... They were the best to me. I haven't heard anything that sounded that good in the 2-3,k price range. (of course they're in the 'little over 3,k range' but, not much.

I didn't mean to offend anyone, hope this clarification is helpful.
Hello Carlman,

I believe what you were hearing was the Bryston amp and not the 1.8's. I've heard the Bryston 3BST and 4BST. Although they are quite respectable amps, I found them a bit rough and edgy in the high frequencies. As for your choice of the Revel F-30's, I owned a pair of M-20's and they were very forward and sharp,expecially in the highs. Short of calling them tizzy, I did found them fatiquing. Even after changing amps, from Krell to Plinius, they were still a little to forward sounding. Then I did a side by side demo of the F-30's and the Dynaudio Contour 3.0's and I immediatly sold my M-20's and bought the 1.3MKII's and 'am waiting, quite impatiantly, until I can add the 3.0's to my system. I know the 3.0's are 2K more then the F-30's but I found the 3.0's sounded that much better. I think the difference in the highs can be found in the tweeters that are used by the speakers in question. The Revels have an aluminum dome tweeter and the Dyns use a silk dome, if I'm not mistaken.

This is just my oppinion. I hope I have not offended anyone for that was not my intention.....John
After playing with the interconnects, a DAC, and various other electronics in my system, I can believe the amp to be the culprit of the non-wowing performance. I would not buy a Bryston personally.

I was hoping for a forward-sounding speaker and I knew the Revel's would do it. The M20's weren't as impressive as the F30's to me. The F30's seemed more real. I did have to turn down the tweeter a little for a more natural sound. I have not heard the 3.0. I have also found the Revel's to be very placement sensitive. I don't know if that's the case with the 1.8's but, that could have also been a factor. In any case, I'm happy with my choice and don't have any fatigue. I wish I could here a set of Dyn's on my system to hear the differences. Maybe one day.