If you love what you've got, don't mess with it. Price is not a good indicator in system matching. Lots of people use lower priced monitors with high end electronics. Good speakers don't need to cost big bucks. If you're simply looking for more bottom end that's a different story. But be careful. I've been through the moving up the line to get more bass thing, and ended up going back to where I started. (Aerial 5 to 6 to 7b, now back to 5). Better bass usually introduces lots of room acoustics issues
I would try one of a couple things:
note: I am a Dynaudio dealer....
Dynaudio special 25 or C1 would offer a significant step up in performance from the S1.4
A really good sub, or better yet PAIR of really good subs in stereo would provide a significant improvement to your existing speakers, and/or work very well with the C1 if you choose to go that route.
Classical and piano can be improved greatly by a properly implemented subwoofer, and while the S5.4 would be a step in the right direction, I think the C1s with a pair of sub500s would be a better end result.
best of luck and happy listening!
I owned a pair of contour 1.3 mk II's for over 10 years. I have heard the 1.4's in a different system. They sounded similar, a little better, but it was difficult to really compare what with the different electronics. I also considered moving up the Dynaudio line because of how pleased I have been with dynaudio all these years. However,I recently replaced the Dynaudios with Merlin VSMs which use Dynaudio and scanspeak drivers and am I'm very happy with my decision. These are superb speakers and a major step up in every way.
Thanks a lot for your responses!
Meiwan, yes that was my concern too: mess with a good system can be risky. Indeed mostly what I am looking for was more authority in sound stage and bottom end. On other side it is about time to try something new. I do worry about room acoustics for floor stands because I already had to deal with it carefully with the S1.4 (and still don't quite get it yet).
Buff I like your idea with subs. I think that at least gives better flexibility. If it does the tricks for piano, I would love to try. I play on 9 foot concert grand Steinway regularly and you know how much I would love it to bring that sound (even part of it) home. While considered this idea before, I was afraid of possible integration issue with subs, and I don't know much about subs. Some suggest on choice of subs would be great.
Miker, I had no experience with Merlin speakers besides reading some good review about it. I am sure they serve you very well now, did you compare it with corresponding speakers from Dynauodio (ie. S5.4) when you were shopping for them?
All those said, some times I also feel the amp I am using may be the source of my complain, while I love how strings sound with Accuphase, I see quite often the meter max out on the E-530 when playing to near concert volume. I heard good words on Jeff Rowland (Continuum 500) driving Dynaudios, any thoughts on that too?
I really appreciate your inputs!
My advice: try separated amplification Accuphase gear like A45 + C2810. It would be perfect to make your Contours sing.
I've compared Contour S1.4 to Special 25 and found no real advantages of the S25 (which is dedicated for bigger rooms that S1.4), just better resolution, more highs and more dynamics (due to a bigger woofer). But Contour S1.4 aren't tipped on the top end so may be regarded as more forgiving for bad recordings. In terms of dynamics, tha S1.4 are astonishing for its woofer size.
For orchestral music , you probably just need to go more full range.
Try adding a sub as an easy fix. Or go to larger more full range Dynaudios if you like them in general but they just sound a tad smallish with large scale works and piano.
I have Dynaudio Contour 1.3mkIIs. They are excellent in most every regard except the sound is somewhat smallish compared to my more full range OHM Walsh speakers and this is most noticeable with large scale orchestral works.
Harbeth SHL-5 will provide everything you want from piano to guitar with exceptional impact
Harbeths don't rock like Dynaudios.
Go for the S5.4, and if you can afford it, the C4.
Rock rock:) better then dynaudio in terms of guitar,piano music,have better separation of instruments in orchestral music.If you listen dance music,go for s5.4 .These have dynamic bass,but other things are nearly the same as s1.4:) Lets remember the question abaut 'classical orchestra work and piano' music.Harbeth beats dynaudio in this area and they are cheaper and don't require expensive electronics:)
I've owned Dynaudio Contour 1.3SE's, Confidence 2 & 4, and now the Harbeth M-40.1's. While I appreciate Dynaudio and still own two pairs of Audience Monitors in secondary systems, I love my Harbeth's! They are great with tube gear and also better than the Dyn's IME in emotional conveyance of classical music.
For classical and piano, yes you may like Harbeth better. IMO Harbeth's are less neutral than dynaudio, and also less dynamic - so for me, that isn't a good thing. Looks like Pdreher feels differently moving to a Harbeth from a C4. I wonder if the room was big enough for them?
I do not feel the need to defend the Harbeths although I own a pair myself. Goatwuss has a point when he mentioned the Harbeths do not rock like the Dynaudios. What they do is they rock differently than the Dynaudios, and they do it admirably well with most types of rock music. It depends on what kind of presentation one is looking for in his/her rock music. All speakers can do rock music and it's just that some do it better(or differently) than others.
The Harbeths may be less dynamic than the Dynaudios but it can be little tricky to define which is a more neutral speaker. The benchmark of neutrality can be live music, and while most live music is very dynamic it does not do all the hifi characteristics with precision such as imaging, soundstaging etc. Live music is not overly warm, bright or analytical but has incredible slam and dynamics. Live music can also have a lot of body and density. No doubt live music is very dynamic(and the Harbeths as with most speakers fail to recreate that atmosphere) but try comparing the tone of instruments such as saxophone, trumpets, acoustic guitars on both Harbeths and Dynaudios and see which sound more like live music.
I am not sure why the topic of Dynaudios rocking harder than the Harbeths was brought up. The OP has mentioned that he mostly listens to classical orchestra and piano, and lower notes on the piano do not sound too good on the S1.4. It may be worthwhile to explore the Harbeth C7ES3 or the SHL5 as both excel in orchestra music. They sound very natural and unforced and are balanced across the frequency spectrum, which is a good thing for orchestral works. And the best part is Accuphase amps seem to match the Harbeths well. A few Harbeth owners are using the top two Class A integrated models to drive their speakers and they are extremely pleased with the results. In a nutshell the Harbeths are more organic and natural sounding than the Dynaudios, which in comparison are more precise and analytical. Both are great speakers that cater to individuals with select listening tastes and preferences.
Ryder - well said, a different tonal balance for people with different preferences. I mentioned the the rock aspect since the original poster already has dynaudios, and may be used to the way they play heavier music. I missed the part of the original post mentioning that the music is mostly classical. In this case, the harbeth's may be the better choice - but alternatively, maybe not... If the OP's only concern is bass dynamics and likes the S1.4 tonal balance, than maybe just a bigger Dynaudio is all that's required.
If on the other hand he said that he feels the Dyns are too cool sounding and is looking for more harmonic density in the midrange, than maybe a switch to Harbeth would be in order. (I don't think Dyns are too cool sounding)
I mostly listen to classical orchestra work and piano (the lower registers of piano never sounded "great" on S1.4)
The S1.4 is an amazing speaker for it's price, in fact for me, it is hard to find a better one within that price. It's shortcomings are evident when listening to acoustic instruments like piano, violins and specially cellos. The tone and harmonics are Somehow lacking and much to be desired. I still own and kept the 1.4s but have moved to the C1s for my main listening and I am quite pleased with the presentation which IMO, is much closer to the real sound by a considerable margin. I've also listened to the Harbeth SHL-5 which is an excellent speaker but the C1s presented a more convincing live presence for me. Other speakers to consider are from Verity Audio Parsifal, Vivid Audio, Sf Elipsa and Audio note. They are more expensive but so far those are the speakers which I felt is a step up to the C1s. Good luck!
Because of the power limitations of the E-530 amp and because of the large dynamic variation in classical music I would not recommend you to get the S5.4s. Firstly, the amp will work much harder and therefore will get much hotter when driving the S5.4s. Secondly, from my experiences, you will not be able to achieve that much higher SLP levels with the S5.4s compared to the S1.4s before the amp will clip. If, however, the S5.4s appeal to you that much, try them in your room before committing (and check the meters of your E-530 amp).
On the other hand, I second the C1 + sub(s) suggestion(s). The C1s alone would be a significant step up from the S1.4. Adding also a good sub (e.g. Rel or Velodyne) will further improve the playback at both loud and soft volumes. Normally, clipping should not be a problem in this set up. I too have an Accuphase combo, the E-550 class A integrated (like yours 30 watts into 8 ohms) and the DP-500 cd player driving a pair of Focal Micro Utopia Be complemented with a Rel Stentor 3 subwoofer. In the dealers room, the E-550 clipped while driving my Micros (without the sub) at loud levels. This however never happened in my room where I also use the Rel (even though my room is approximately two times larger than the dealer's room).
For classical music and piano my speaker recommendation would be Avantgarde Uno or Duo. I have recently listen to the Unos driven by the Accuphase E-560 class A amp and the combination was just marvelous. Due to their high efficiency these speakers are able to give a rather realistic reproduction of the dynamics of an orchestra at both low and high volumes, plus the 30 watts of your Accuphase will never be an issue.
I have never heard the Jeff Rowland Continuum 500 integrated, but being very found of Accuphase I would recommend you to go for one of the more powerful Accuphase class A/B integrated, e.g. E-408, E-450, E-460. You already like/know the Accuphase house sound.
Wow, what great responses, not it makes the decision easier (if not more complicated) but definitely very thoughtful and helpful inputs! You guys really understood my concern
I still like the idea of adding a sub, and move up to C1, which seems least painful. Move to separates sounds nice too, but I think it is time to move up from S1.4 though I definitely agree, for the price, it is the best I listened to. And it could be the next step.
I like how people described the Harbeth, somehow it does seem attractive to me (maybe I am judging by the look?). I would find a chance to listen to then though, and it may attract me when I hear them. Comparing it to Dynaudio, first I think Dynaudios are very neutral, at least compared to KEF or B&Ws, and I don't think they are "too cool", especially with Accuphase. I don't know what the approach Harbeth is, but I imagine it would be hard to beat the neutralness while I could expect better instrument separation and depth (which is not overly good with the S1.4).
On the other side, I love that Nvp brought up the Avantgarde, I was intrigued by their form, (again, by the looks) and I had been thinking about high sensitivity speakers to "save" my E-530 as I really like the class-A sound compared to the higher power rated E-4XX series. Seems they are hard to find, but I would love to hear them with the Accupahse, and the avant-garde form may just stimulate my desire to own them!
I own C1s and love them, having upgraded within the Dyn family (last speakers were Special 25s). IMO, the C1 is a very special speaker, especially at the price. If you can afford them, buy them. Try them without a sub, you may be perfectly happy. If not, add one or two later.