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Positive Feedback ISSUE 29
january/february 2007



Confidence C1 loudspeakers - A State of Awe - Part 2

as reviewed by Chip Stern






Acoustic Zen Adagio, Joseph Audio RM25si Signature Mk2 & RM7si Signature Mk2, Meadowlark Swallows, Epos ELS-3, Alon/Nola Li'l Rascals, Linn Tukan.

VTL 5.5 vacuum tube preamp, Rogue Audio Stealth phono preamp, Manley Massive Passive Vacuum Tube Parametric Equalizer, Rogue Audio Magnum 99 vacuum tube preamp, Mesa Tigris, Linn Classik, Rogue Audio M150 Vacuum Tube Monoblocks.

Linn Unidisk 1.1 universal disc player, Upscale Audio Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 vacuum tube CD player (in 24/192 Super Tjoeb configuration), California Audio Labs CL-20 DVD-CD Player, McCormack UDP1 Deluxe universal disc player, Rega Planar 25 turntable with Rega RB600 tone-arm and Grado Statement Master cartridge, Marantz PMD430 portable cassette player/recorder w. Audio-Technica AT822 one-point stereo mic and JPS Labs Superconductor FX mic cable.

Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II interconnects, Audioquest Panther interconnects and CV-6 speaker cables, Monster Cable Sigma Retro Gold interconnects and speaker cables, JPS Labs Superconductor 2 interconnects and speaker cable, JPS Labs Superconductor 3 interconnects and speaker cables, JPS Labs Aluminata, Kaptovator, Digital and Analog AC, Acoustic Zen Gargantua II and Absolute AC.

Two PolyCrystal equipment racks, a PolyCrystal amp stand and PolyCrystal speaker stands. Power line conditioning: Equi=Tech Q650 and 2Q Balanced Power Isolation Transformers, Monster Cable AVS 2000 Automatic Voltage Stabilizer. JPS Labs Kaptovator outlet centers, Mondial Magic-Splitter, NEC CT-2070S monitor, Ringmat 330 and Signal Guard II isolation stand (turntable), Shakti Stones (electromagnetic stabilizers), PolyCrystal cones, Argent Room Lens, Echo Busters Bass Busters and absorptive and diffusive panels, Grado RS-1 Stereo Headphones


Listening Evaluations [The Money Shot]

So why then do I place such a premium on the sonic verisimilitude of the Dynaudio Confidence C1?

The Dynaudio Confidence C1 are such exemplary loudspeakers on so many levels, I hardly know where to begin. I mean, they simply sounded marvelous on everything I tossed their way, and the more I heard the more I wanted to hear, in the way that truly great audio components force you to reassess every one of your favorite recordings, as if hearing them for the first time.

God, every time I sat down before these diminutive doors of perception it was as if experiencing music for the first time, on a more profound, layered level of texture and shading, dynamic nuance and timbral grace.

Such is the joy I felt in listening to master pianist Glenn Gould's elegiac swan song, A State Of Wonder (Sony Classical/Legacy S3K 87703) on New Year's Day, 2007, when I finally got around to my final round of reference recordings for a conclusive listening session. The more I think of it, the less I feel compelled to say about my personal stash of listening experiences, save that most of the reproductive qualities I cherish in these loudspeakers are to be found in great abundance throughout Gould's reflective final performances of Bach's Goldberg Variations.

I mean if speakers do piano right, fuck all is there to say after that, right? Obviously the glory of these loudspeakers is their midrange, and in listening to the giddy percussive jauntiness of Gould's acrobatic two-handed crossing patterns on Variation 14 and the aquatic textural liquidity of Variation 15 (Canon in the Fifth), I was spellbound by the immediacy of music and my sense of the piano's physical dimensions. "How beautifully integrated the drivers are in this system, and how seamless the transition to the tweeter (at a crossover point of 1800 Hz)," I thought. Nor did I find the sound so narrowly defined at the sweet spot as to make my off-axis, adjacent room listening experiences less than realistic and involving, which again, goes right to the point about these speakers' greatness. You know how in the PhotoShop program there are all these layers of images you can overlay while maintaining and manipulating depth of field and perspective? Well, listening to the Confidence C1 in tandem with the JPS Labs, Acoustic Zen, VTL 5.5, Rogue M150, Linn 1.1 and Rega 25, I had a pretty refined signal chain to work with; no weak links; with plenty of low level resolution and power. I was hearing all of these layers of textural and rhythmic detail, ambience and silence, attack and decay, reproduced with such micro-dynamic timing and timbre that the speakers seemed to strap me to Glenn's back in some spiritual papoose, braced for the ride. The degree to which this brought out the connections and distinctions between the instrument itself and its acoustic space was breathtaking, with and added acoustic leaf peeking through the pages of detail, in the person of Gould himself, humming along passionately.

The speakers were neither forward nor were they bright, but when the music rose to the occasion they sang crisply and quickly; there was enormous space behind the speakers, and notes that were meant to step forward to the front of the stage leapt vividly to the fore, then had the good graces to step back into the chorus when their dance was done. As a listener I felt as though I were at the apex of a capacious three-dimensional pyramid; spatial soundstage vistas and expansive horizons were astonishingly tactile, inside and outside, fore and aft, front and center; images seemed almost backlit, so stable and detailed, without glare or bloat, smearing or compression…I mean, I could literally see the stool, piano and sound board before me, and could experience the vastness of the piano's soundboard and physical dimensions, much as the pianist might. The depiction of high frequencies was almost surreal, so transparently extended is that Esotar tweeter; complex harmonics and overtones came out airy and transparent, yet firmly defined, save that they weren't etched or edgy, sibilant or shiny. As for the bass, a foundation of speed and transient pop …a speaker working effortlessly with an amp. So when Gould chooses to really pop a bass note, it sings, and notes in the line don't blur into one another …I was feeling all the nuances of Gould's touch and his immense rhythmic command. Likewise, when he lingers on chords and let's them sustain, I could hear all the different levels of decay and pedal work, and when he chose to essay the inner voicings and poetic Uber-Harmonic implications of Bach's multi-tiered cathedrals of chords, the manner in which the Dynaudio's tracked Gould's rhythmic points of emphasis, was as spectral and textured as wind-chimes and fireflies on a summer's night.

A totally believable experience of a live piano …better than live, if you ask me, a point Gould strained to make plain after abandoning what he felt were the compromised acoustics of the concert hall experience, for the democratic perfection and un-veiled intimacy of the recording studio—where he succeeded in making his perspective the same for all listeners. This is piano as one knows a piano actually sounds… as Gould came to know it through his artistic, sensitive accommodations with recording studio technology; as profound an experience for the bloke in the top row of the balcony as the top hat and tails …down front—thousand dollar seats for everyone! And you cannot generally get that live …LIVE, save for a few happy accidents replete with free cab rides and plates of comped sushi.

This is what the audiophile experience is all about—complete immersion in the dynamic arc and textural over-leafs of Gould's performance, without compression or fatigue.

Damn, Chip, play another one

Well, they do piano okay, but how about vocals. Did you even have to ask? I listened to a lot but chose to zero in on side one of my venerable LP of Joni Mitchell's Blue (Reprise MS 2038). The track "Little Green" tells the story of a young artist giving up her baby for adoption, and the spare mix of Joni's sparkling flat top arpeggios and her angelic young voice with it's sing song recitative, purring lower register and vaulting highs, are portrayed with true to life presence and unsettling intimacy. By which I mean to say, that when Joni's voice comes forward in this simple mix, no one is moving her on to a stool in front of the stage, in front of the guitarist; she is talking to you, she is making a point of emphasis, she is projecting and you hear it as such because her voice is neither mega-phoned nor unnaturally italicized by an overly accommodating loudspeaker. Nor is there anything dry or analytical about the midrange—the depiction of tonal color employed on every note, with that splendid, wide-ranging soprano, is lush and mesmerizing. The Confidence C1 allow her guitar to shimmer, her voice to soar, and when she executes a lovely sustained diminuendo on the word "…sorrow…" you can hear how Joni gets a little closer to the microphone and allows the tail-end of her transient to fade into a dark blue horizon of silence just behind the guitar. Good source. Good speaker. Good signal chain. Goodnight, Irene…

For contrast, I put on Emmylou Harris's Red Dirt Girl (Nonesuch 79616-2) to hear how the Dynaudios would flesh out a far more processed voice, perfectly balanced in a textured, thorny, ambient electric mix—Emmylou's vocal instrument is seemingly compressed, gated, EQd and God-knows-what else to suggest something akin to an electric guitar. Yet in opening with "The Pearl" she is never overwhelmed by her densely webbed surroundings, a pallet of watercolors and neon distortions. You hear the producer's mix, not the speaker's.

Then, much as I have tested their mettle again and again, I reached for the big boys of wham, bam and thank you 'maam: my original LP issue of the Rolling Stones' Tattoo You (Rolling Stones Records COC 16052); some selectable delectables from the buffet table of funk, blues and soul that is Iron Chef James Brown on his 4-CD collection, Star Time (Polydor); and Miles Davis' 6-CD documentation of the Jarrett-Henderson-DeJohnette-Bartz quintet over four nights with percussionist Airto joining them on the second night, and guitarist John McLaughlin for their final two sets that Saturday—The Cellar Door Sessions 1970 (Columbia/Legacy CBX 93814).

Photo credit: Deborah Feingold

On their signature anthem from the golden days of analog, "Start Me Up," Wyman's bass is beautifully centered, punchy and illuminated in the mix, while the C1's perfectly convey the rocking snap, swinging body and elemental timing of Watts' drums. With the Rogue M150 amps in triode, The Weavers Looms Guild of Electric Guitars that is Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards benefit from the uncompressed high frequency accuracy of the C1's, bringing back the Chess Studio's styled top end alive and bleeding in all their jangling attacks and lingering webs of distortions. The Dynaudio's tracked the tone and leading edge of Wyman's transient's perfectly, and like Joni Mitchell's voice, when he projected his bass with more emphasis, the dynamic arc of the phrase, the extra punch, was palpable and real…and acoustically balanced with the mix.

But probably not voiced with the copious bottom folks with cheap floor-standers get when they shove their speakers into the nearest corners …more of a bass balance to the mix. I exaggerate, but heft on the bottom? How many dance clubs have you been to. No problem …Chip to Scotty …more power! Switching the Rogues from 100 watts triode to 150 watts Ultralinear conveyed less of a pure acoustic balance (though triode has more than enough punch for moi), and more of an amplified sound system's perspective; running the tubes in Ultralinear widened the soundstage, and made Wyman's bass more commodious and forward in the mix.

The lesson to be learned here is be sure to invest in good power, and plenty of it; the Rogue M150 Monoblocks represent damn good power indeed, at any price, let alone $3999. You want even more clean, punchy, uncolored bass from these babies, it's there …more power will bring it out in spades, and any fine solid state muscle amp by the likes of Balanced Audio Technology, McCormack, Linn, Simaudio or other fine companies should do the trick.

Take it from me, the excursion and power handling of the bass/midrange driver, the sensitivity and headroom of the tweeter, are prodigious. Even in triode operation, the opening crescendo of "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" was enough to set me on my ass cowering in fear at the prospects for late night retribution on the part of my neighbors…come to think of it, for all of Dynaudio's purported reputation (everyone's repeating it around the club) as a poor match for tube amps, it's hard to imagine a more effortless match than the one I achieved between the Confidence C1, the Rogues and the VTL (running with its fully balanced output). And in triode or Ultralinear, the immensity of Michael Henderson's Fender Jazz Bass on The Cellar Door Sessions is in no way compromised or compressed, yet Miles' vocalized trumpet soars and sings and shouts unfettered, while the Confidence C1's are further able to flesh out all the background layers, dirty nuances, timbral distortions and bell like cadences of Keith Jarrett's eerie, sardonic blend of the Fender Rhodes Electric Piano and a Fender Combo Organ.

And finally, as I ran low on effusive metaphors, and my word count topped out above the Dow Jones Industrials' average, I briefly referenced four final discs so as to reassure myself and my readers as to the versatility and musicality of these loudspeakers. In auditioning the opening movement of Benjamin Zander's pure DSD masters of Mahler's Third (Telarc 3ACD-60599) I experienced the astonishing dynamic range of this recording, without any sense of longing for that mythical bottom octave; nor did I experience any sense of diminution in the concert hall's absolute breadth and scale, as some critics of two-way mini-monitors suggest must be the case. Then in performing on mandolin and clarinet respectively, I enjoyed the unbelievably vivid live acoustic of Andy Statman's East Flatbush Blues (Sheffa Records, Horn-3001) and Awakening From Above (Sheffa Records, Horn-3002). The former is Statman's evocation of the Bill Monroe, folk, blues and third world traditions in a bravura trio outing, his mandolin flurries and lovely phrasing suggesting at times such swinging plectrumists as Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian, while his freely inflected harmonies and altered chords at times put me in mind of jazz shaman such as Ahmad Jamal and Sonny Rollins. Bassist Jim Whitney and drummer Larry Eagle get glorious sounds from their instruments, and from the tiniest bell-like details and hand drumming textures of the latter, to the resounding attack and bottomless woody tone of the former, this is as good a jazz-style acoustic recording as you'll hear this side of ECM Records…immense physical presence and immediacy. Just listen to the same trio on the liturgical music of Awakening From Above; I experienced a metaphysical bar mitzvah of epic proportions, as the Dynaudio's flawless midrange resolution suited Statman's warmly inflected clarinet tone, Talmudic grace notes and cantorish chants to a T, as he wafted passionately over Whitney's big bowed double bass and Eagle's gong-like frame drum accents in a nostalgic, vocalized reverie. Great music…great resolution …Mazel tov.

Time to sleep, perchance to kvell, yet I return anew to a more distant piano perspective on a more modern recording, in a much larger more reverberant acoustic space to confirm my deep feelings about the truth of the Dynaudio Confidence C1 mini-monitors. On Jean-Yves Thibaudet's passionately inflected recital, The Magic Of Satie (Decca 289 470 290-2), his piano seems to float blissfully in the tranquil ambience of a Claude Monet lily pad pool, as Thibaudet remains deeply immersed in the deceptive serenity of the composer's sudden, startling shifts from quietude and flotation to chorale-like hosannas. That these loudspeakers are able to so portray those long sustained bass tones, allowing them to melt languidly into a reverberant mist of inky silence, even as they track sudden, startling dynamic shifts with such vivid immediacy and supple ease, is testament to the overwhelming sense of involvement and wonder I feel every time I sit down for a listen.

Caveats & Conclusions

And so, having deployed vast fusillades of metaphorical ordinance on behalf of the Dynaudio Confidence C1 Mini-Monitors, we now arrive at the point in the proceedings wherein I must doff my advocate's hat and put on the powdered wig of a prosecuting attorney in the attempt to fairly portray some caveats and reservations on behalf of those who might not share my enthusiasm or who possess different priorities.

Some people find their appearance off-putting. Okay, that's some pretty weak cheese, but we are grasping for straws here. I find their appearance original and distinctive, but my esteemed colleague, John Potis of 6Moons, finds them singularly unattractive. Well, to each his own, but as we have already established, the design considerations which influenced Dynaudio's use of a deep, slender cabinet and an upside-down woofer/tweeter arrangement on a rigid external baffle, are based on sound acoustic principles. Hardly a deal-breaker, but some readers may beg to differ. I think they look quite cool and find the contrast between a cherry veneered cabinet and the black baffle quite striking. Still, handsome is as handsome does, a look accentuated by the practical and aesthetic nature of their integral stands—still, to each their own. (In passing, it occurs to me that while it might further jack up the price, some sort of matching or contrasting wood veneer on the external baffle, like that lovely burled birch Dynaudio employed on the Special 25's, might add a touch of elegance. However, many listeners might find an all-ebony cabinet/baffle a more subtle look.)

Likewise, those looking to fully pressurize a room might find the Confidence C1 a tad on the dry side compared to a superb floor-standing design such as the Acoustic Zen Adagios (which I analyzed with genuine passion some months back for 6Moons). Mind you, as a listener with Vlad the Impaler tendencies, who can never seem to get things quite loud enough to approximate live club or concert hall levels, I was frankly shocked by how effortlessly I could drive the Confidence C1 without strain or fatigue. Time and time again, as I tossed new challenges their way regarding low-end extension relative to my fave floor-standing jobbers, these diminutive Dynaudio mini-monitors delivered the goods and I found myself wanting for nothing ...I could play music just as loud as I cared to without glare or breakup, and inevitably the bass performance was exemplary and more than satisfying—tight, tuneful, focused bass with plenty of transient snap, believable dynamic impact, and no discernible overhang or colorations. Just as flat and linear as can be from top to bottom, with a gloriously capacious midrange and an exceptionally smooth, detailed, transparent top end. The bass performance of the Confidence C1 sets the table for everything on top, just as clear and clean and open as you like.

Mind you, if I were to offer prospective buyers one overriding caveat, it is this—don't skimp on quality power. This latest generation of Dynaudio loudspeakers are quite a bit more sensitive and easier to drive than past iterations. In fact, while Dynaudio has long had a reputation for power-hungry performance, I happily drove the Confidence C1 for many months in my secondary system adjacent to the main room, and close to the rear wall, with a Linn Classik, putting out roughly 75 watts per channel into a 4 ohm load. Clarity, resolution and imaging were indeed first rate.

However, there is no tap-dancing around the fact that these are no-compromise high end loudspeakers, revealing as all get out, and as such they not only complement top end components, they demand them. Jive them with some less than exemplary cables or front end components, and they will respond by undressing all gear downstream. Sure, you can mate the Confidence C1 to more humble gear, but as such, like Chris Rock suggests (in his comic rant against women who profess the belief that they don't need a man and that single-parent/fatherless homes are cool), "You can drive a car with your feet, but that don't mean it's to be done."

Uh, might there be a point in there somewhere, Chip? Yes indeed—invest in good power. No, make that great power. You'll be glad you did. The Confidence C1 Mini-Monitors really open up spatially and reach their full potential for low-end extension when mated with a high-quality amp with plenty of dynamic headroom and sufficient reserves of power to handle massive dynamic shifts and big, knee-buckling, power-sucking transients. You need to factor this into your system budget equation. Again, don't be deceived by the size of these loudspeakers…give them some serious power, and they will respond with a huge, expansive, ultra-high resolution soundstage and levels of snap, crackle and pop you thought only big speakers could deliver.

Finally, readers who follow my adventures on the 6Moons web site might be wondering how I could profess such undying enthusiasm for the Dynaudio Confidence C1, when just months ago I seemingly swore on a stack of Bibles that the Acoustic Zen Adagios were the bees' knees. Will the real Chip Stern please stand up?

Such is the nature of the reviewer's art. We get up close and personal with a piece of gear for several months, try to develop a balanced view of its relative merits and shortcomings, articulate our enthusiasm, and just as we are beginning to settle in with them, it's time to pack 'em up, ship 'em out and move on… potentially to something even more exciting—comes with the territory. Anyone recall the Hallelujah Chorus emanating from Rabbi Michael Fremer's tabernacle concerning the fantastic Manley Steelhead phono preamp in Stereophile? He had seemingly discovered the Holy Grail of analog front end components, a true and abiding love. However months latter Michael was swinging chorus after chorus of "I've Found A New Baby," in this case a phono stage from Boulder costing four times as much, that manifested itself before the Vinyl Rabbi as a burning bush of analog verisimilitude. Apples and oranges? Hamburger and steak? More like, "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with." Nothing wrong with the Manley, to put it mildly, yet along comes the Boulder sashaying down the street, and our chronicler is captivated, helpless in the throes of a bold new passion. With such serendipity only a UPS truck away, the reviewer's responsibility to delineate the relative merits and tradeoffs of two exemplary designs is vital, as if to explain how you get what you pay for. Thereafter, only the reader can decide which relative merits and tradeoffs are most important to them, and which are they willing to pay for.

Well, so which loudspeaker does Chip love more? Cone on, man, that's like asking a parent to choose their favorite children. At $4300 for the Adagios, and $6500 for the Confidence C1, these superb loudspeakers represent very different performance paradigms and design priorities. Both are high-performance, high-resolution loudspeakers, the former a floor-standing design, the later a mini-monitor; the Acoustic Zens represent an unprecedented level of musical value for money, while the Dynaudios were conceived as a cost-is-no-object statement speaker. Both have breathtakingly low levels of distortion, but the Adagios are better suited to fully pressurize a room with more humble power amps, while the Confidence C1 demand big-balled, high quality amplification. Both offer exceptionally smooth, extended top end performance, but with their higher crossover point and ribbon tweeter, the Adagio's perspective might appeal to some listeners as mellower and more laid back, while for some listeners (and this is an age old audiophile debate), the Dynaudios might prove more detailed than they are accustomed to …as such, we might extrapolate that the Adagios are more forgiving and better suited to a wider range of front end components and amplification, while the Confidence C1 represent the last word in revealing and will accept naught but the best downstream components and amplification. Some listeners will naturally gravitate towards the full-bodied, room-filling low-end extension of the Adagios—with their ultra-low distortion, underhung drivers—while others will be captivated by the expansive dimensionality of the Confidence C1, with their nonpareil, no-compromise transducers.

It actually might be more germane to compare the Dynaudio Confidence C1 Mini-Monitors directly with their spiritual antecedents, another exceptional mini-monitor, the Dynaudio Special 25. Whereas the Special 25 began as a limited edition 25th anniversary mini-monitor culled together from existing technologies and transducers, the Confidence C1 was designed from the ground up to be a state-of-the-art speaker, with advanced new transducers and internal components, and as we've already delineated, a fresh approach to cabinet design. Having lived for sometime with both loudspeakers, and having had a chance to A/B them directly at the Innovative Audio showroom in Manhattan, the similarities and differences are intriguing …in fact, some people might actually prefer the Special 25, which still represents a very musical speaker. The Special 25 are rated as going down to around 35Hz (+/- 3dB, with a resonance frequency of 39Hz), while the Confidence C1 are rated as extending down to around 45 Hz (+/- 2dB, with a resonance frequency of 44Hz) I found the measurements to be relatively conservative as both speakers evince significant bass energy down into the 28-30 Hz range. Yet while there is little difference between the bass response at average listening levels, the Special 25 have more "apparent bass," and portray a decidedly fuller, plumper low end perspective. The bottom end is more pronounced and there is more weight to the sound, a slightly heavier overall balance. However, while the Confidence C1's bass lacks the belly and warmth of the Special 25, to these ears, it is appreciably quicker, cleaner, punchier and more refined, with a tauter more focused transient response. As a result, the C1's low end foundation is flatter and more natural, providing a more linear top-to-bottom perspective. Thus the Special 25 have a far more forward presentation, while the Confidence C1 offers a far flatter, more neutral soundstage, and even greater midrange depth and layering, though the Special 25 is no slouch in this department. However, neutrality notwithstanding, the Confidence C1 is not only more linear and realistic from top-to-bottom, it is far smoother more detailed and transparent without the pronounced brightness which tends to color the Special 25's performance and give it a slightly more forward, aggressive edge.

For these reasons, there are some listeners who would find the Special 25 more to their tastes, a more exciting speaker, with a more pleasing physical presence and immediacy.

However to me, satisfying as they are, they can't hold a candle to the purity and refinement, the dimensionality and realism of the Confidence C1, which have plenty of bass energy and immediacy for this pilgrim, thank you very much—with a breath-like transparency and airiness to the top end and an elemental liquidity to the midrange that is intoxicating. The Confidence C1 allow for a total immersion in the experience, getting completely out of the way and letting the music shine through with an immense soundstage and no discernible sonic artifacts. Better yet, as I have repeatedly stated, the C1's ambient retrieval and holographic qualities border on the surreal. Like, wow!

Nor am I alone in my opinion that The Dynaudio Confidence C1 may very well be the best sounding mini-monitor ever. Several readers checked in with me over the past several months to kvell about their C1's while wondering how soon I might be expected to weigh in with my own gusto dunk benediction for the congregation.

So what is my final take? The Dynaudio Confidence C1 are surely the best mini-monitors I have ever heard, and can stand proudly next to any loudspeaker of the past decade in terms of absolute musicality, resolution and realism.

Okay, while they do so many things in such an effortless manner, surely the Confidence C1 can't do everything—there must be some people I wouldn't recommend them to. Well, first off, while there is ample bass energy right down to the bottom octave of an acoustic piano, these speakers won't give you a lap dance. The quality of the bass is remarkably tight and tuneful, with no lugubrious colorations of overhang; most surprisingly, time and time again, with ample amplification, the Confidence C1 delivered the leading edge of transients with real conviction…and I never found myself wanting for bass. Nor did I ever find their sense of scale significantly reduced or constricted compared to bigger full range speakers—the Dynaudio Confidence C1 soundstage like a motherfucker.

Still, while I was more than pleased with how the Confidence C1 pressurized my 14' X 20' X 10' room, if you have a larger room, or crave not simply the leading edge of transients but the beauty of the booty, the physical weight and chakra rattling impact of sub-sonic bass, well, you'll need a really high-fidelity subwoofer (such as one of the advanced new Thiel SmartSub models) and I would suggest that you audition more expensive floor-standing speakers (if you want to maintain comparable levels of clarity, resolution and imaging, let alone BIG FUCKING BASS, without untoward colorations). So, no, a pair of C1 will not pressurize a room like a pair of really well-engineered, no-compromise floor-stranding beauties.

Still, all things begin equal, when you factor in the unassailable top-to-bottom-quality of Dynaudio's transducers and internal components, the elegant simplicity and sonic purity of their overall design, you are left with a loudspeaker which neither adds nor detracts from the essential truth of the recording, getting out of the way and allowing for a direct emotional connection to the music that is so sweet and fulsome, so neutral and natural, so harmonically realistic and dynamically convincing, that it is hard to believe you aren't there—you aren't just listening to the music, but experiencing a palpable presence of the performers and how interacted with each other and the acoustic space in an organic sense.

People often talk glowingly of how a certain speaker disappears, yet in truth when you are listening to the Dynaudio Confidence C1 the room itself disappears, so utterly believable is its depiction of acoustic cues, so commanding and comprehensive its capacity for ambient retrieval and soundstaging, so incredibly precise and illuminating its image specificity.

Give them quality power, no BS high-rez front end components, and they can function as the revered, believable foundation for any price-performance high end sound system, desert island fantasy rig—let alone the critical near-field demands of state-of-the-art mastering suites—and they will sit up like the proud puppies they are, wag their tags enthusiastically, tuck you in at night and drive you to work. Better yet, at modest volume levels the sound was sublime, in fact I cannot recall a loudspeaker which sounded so full and true with so little gain in the circuit.

Give them quality neurologicals (speaker cabling and interconnects) and gastrointestinals (AC cords and power conditioning) and they will reward you a thousand times over with a huge, expansive soundstage, convincing frequency extension, midrange nirvana, vast expanses of clear, transparent space, and heretofore unimaginable layers of detail…as non-fatiguing and involving an experience of music as you've ever heard.

So, if like me, you place a premium on the elegant purity, coherence and direct emotional connection of a simple two-way with a first-order crossover, and if you would gladly sacrifice the boom-boom-boom and instant gratification of the stripper's milieu, for the emotional honesty, long-term commitment and emotional subtlety of a smart, funny, engaging woman (mixing metaphors like a drunken sailor, can Chip possibly make it to the end with his manhood and sanity intact Editor), then the Dynaudio Confidence C1 could prove to be a truly ideal life partner, till death do you part (or the next sweet thing comes along).

Still, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better loudspeaker at any price, even among the Confidence C1's bigger siblings, the floor-standing Confidence C2 and C4.

The Dynaudio Confidence C1 Mini-Monitors are as close to perfection as loudspeakers get. Chip Stern

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