Dynaudio Confidence C2
Coherent, Competent, And Elegant
Review by Rick Jensen
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Dynaudio's C2 is part of their new Confidence series, which is in turn a result of the cascading technology from the flagship Evidence line. It is hard to think of a
loudspeaker system costing $12,000 a pair as a low-priced or mid-priced entry, but the latter is at least true at Dynaudio. That is not to say that there are not many Dynaudio products at prices more in tune with the real world - in deed, the reverse is true. There are few high-end
loudspeaker manufacturers with so many "serious" models available: over twenty different units in the Audience and Contour lines that have been quite well received over many years.
So where does the C2 fit into this huge range? The Confidence series seems pegged at audiophiles and music lovers who seek something close to the state of the art but who do not have limitless funds to spend on the cost-no-object "statement" product. The C2 was premiered at the 2002
Frankfurt Germany High End Society 2002 Show along with its larger mate, the C4
(see below photo). Both units are a product of the same research and design process, about which more below. Impressed at hearing them under show conditions, I asked for a pair to review. After some discussion with Dynaudio, I chose the C2, as it is a slightly smaller version of the C4 and more suitable for smaller rooms such as my own.
That said, the C2 is not a small loudspeaker by any means. At 61" high and 88 lbs. it has all the heft that one might want, but it is at the same time fairly easy to move around. One might think that it is even larger based only on the very substantial crates in which it is shipped. The shipping and packing are worth a comment, because they are consistent with everything about this
loudspeaker. The two crates are bound together on their own pallet. Each crate is refrigerator-sized and is held together with a couple of dozen screws. All is clearly done with the greatest care and precision. Fortunately, the C2 is easy to unpack - the instructions are clear and logical - but it does help to have a second pair of hands. Extra hands will help one to avoid scratching the cabinet during unpacking and setup, which was a beautiful blond maple on the pair I auditioned. There is no denying that the C2 is a strikingly handsome
loudspeaker. Thanks to the quality of the materials and the finish, it is likely to fit into a range of decors, even if the shape diverges a bit from the standard solid rectangle.
That shape, by the way, is a product of function before form. One of Dynaudio's goals was to design a cabinet as narrow as possible to avoid diffraction and reflections, especially in the upper frequencies. The cabinet needed also to be wide enough to mount the woofers and not to compromise rigidity. Their tactic was to mount an almost free-floating baffle of high-density fiberboard on the front, attached with a wood panel for its dampening effect. The dimensions of this baffle are scaled to the size of the individual drivers. In order to have sufficient width in the cabinet to attach the woofers, the cabinet was widened a bit where the baffle attaches with glass panels that contributed to the overall rigidity. It all sounds complicated but looks terrific; indeed, one would think that the mix of baffle, glass, and buffed maple was done for purely aesthetic reasons. Dynaudio
assures that that is not the case, but that once the design was decided; they tried to make it look as good as possible.
In addition to the cabinet, perhaps the two most important elements of the Confidence design are the new Esotar² tweeter and what they call "Dynaudio Directivity Control"
("DDC"). As most audiophiles know, Dynaudio is one of the few
loudspeaker makers who also make all of their individual drivers, many of which are supplied to other companies for use in their own products. The Esotar² is a new version of their well-known soft dome tweeter with new fabric and coating, as well as a more powerful (but compact) magnet and aluminum voice coil.
Two of the Esotar² units are used in the C2, as well as two woofers. While that is not in itself unusual, how they are used is. The DDC concept, which originated in the Evidence line, arrays the drivers symmetrically on the vertical axis but uses the two tweeters differently. Though the C2 crosses over to the tweeters at 2200Hz, the upper tweeter, via filtering, operates only from about 3kHz to 8kHz. The goal is to minimize the reflections off the ceiling and floor boundaries by narrowing vertical dispersion in that range. As a result, according to Dynaudio, the actual response in the listening position includes less of the reflected energy - and with it fewer drop-offs and fewer cancellations. According to Mike Manousselis of Dynaudio, the smoothing of the upper frequencies will "snap in" at a listening position of about two meters away and remain effective at longer distances.
Setup And Listening
The C2s were, as noted, easy to position, although it took some time to optimize them. In my room, the
loudspeakers were about 4' from the sidewalls, 7 feet apart and about 8 feet from the listening position. After lots of trial and error, I toed them in somewhat. Once you have found the right spot, you can set the
loudspeakers on their integral spikes. The spikes are set into the base plate and descend from the plate by turning a screw. (If you need to move them again, you may want to lift them, as they are not too heavy to move a short distance.)
I used the C2s both with and without the Argent Room Lens system, which helps smooth room effects in my smallish room. The C2 can put out a lot of energy and could overwhelm a very small space (though not in the treble); the Room Lens seemed to help on certain pop recordings with excess energy from the bass up through the midrange. They were driven primarily by my Music Reference RM 9-II, as well as with the Manley Neo-Classic 250s, both of which drove them with no problem whatsoever.
The first impressions were of a very smooth, seamless presentation with lots of energy in the lower and mid- bass compared to my Genesis VI. Some very small changes in
loudspeaker position - less than an inch or so - helped to get the overall balance closer to what I was used to. Only later did it become apparent that perhaps the Genesis VIs are just a bit thin where the C2s have more body.
To check out the lower frequencies, I went to "Mystery", from Anita Baker's Rapture
[Elektra 960444-1], where the bass guitar was large and round, and its texture more detailed and fuzzy than with other
loudspeakers. The husky, smoky quality of Baker's voice was most in evidence. Finally, it was clearer than ever how much the song is driven by the bass. This is a big record, with a presentation that tends toward the "wall of sound" at times. The C2s serve it well because they not only put the lower frequencies and the rhythm front and center along with Baker's voice, but they highlight the nuances in the bass and lower midrange, making it more intimate at the same time.
At the end of "No One in the World", the synth tones are delivered with snap and energy - if electronic music can sound "real", they do. That may be due to a top-to-bottom coherency that was at the root of that initial impression of seamlessness. This LP is engineered, processed and electric, but the C2s made it sound like music.
More electronica: the classic dance-pop of "A Little Respect" from Erasure's The Innocents
[Sire 25730-1] filled the room with its deep synthesizers. One might have begun to wonder if this was all too "full" and "rich", but Andy Bell's pinched, pained vocal stands in contrast to the huge beat on bottom. The distinctions between fat and thin, big and small, were neatly drawn. On the following cut, "Ship of Fools", Bell's voice is much deeper (no falsetto in this one), it sounds as if it is
mic'ed more closely, and the difference in texture stands out clearly.
However, the C2s did not appear to manufacture a bottom end where there was none to be found. The hyper-lean stripped-down production of "F*** and Run" from Liz Phair's great
Exile in Guyville [Matador OLE 051-1] came through quiet, reserved, and raw at once. Phair's vocal was intimate as befits this garage-style recording, and it sounded almost as though the C2s were replicating the amps that come with the $189.95 beginner guitar package from Guitar Center.
The C2s are eminently honest throughout the midrange and into the treble. One might say that they do not draw attention to themselves, in that there is little of the sizzle that accompanies many new designs. That unflashy character may be the result of the impression that the highest frequencies roll off just a bit; that there is the slightest roundness at the top. Nevertheless, there is nothing lacking when one listens very closely and tries to compare with the "real thing".
The piano on the Ray Charles - Cleo Laine Porgy and Bess [Classic Rhino
JP-1831] is brittle and percussive as it dances through "It Ain't Necessarily So", with terrific attack and a smooth, natural decay pattern. It sounds pretty much like our piano in the next room, albeit just a little less immediate. The guitar and bass are clean, calm and stable; the cymbal has the right shimmer. Images extend the width of the
loudspeakers, on occasion a bit more, and are sharp and stable as well. Laine's vocal, talky and intimate, has that "you are there" quality and Charles' wonderful voice is conveyed with no false
chestiness. In toto, there is not a false note throughout, and it is all done without the C2 showing off.
When the recording is great, so are the C2s. Of late, I can't listen enough to Alison Krauss, whose delicate, crystal-clear voice has been recorded with great care on
Forget About It [Diverse/Rounder 002] and, with Union Station, on New Favorite
[Diverse/Rounder 001]. If you own a turntable, run out and buy these LPs; it is hard to imagine anyone, be he/she early music aficionado or
headbanger, not liking the music, and the sound is gorgeous. On the title track of Forget About It, her voice is front and center, taking up two-thirds of the stage (but not unnatural at all) but remains delicate and in balance with the accompanying instruments. I do have the sense that my Genesis VIs may be even a shade more delicate in the uppermost vocal ranges and above, but the difference is not dramatic, and may be merely a matter of taste.
One of the striking things about her style is how she uses minute changes in loudness to convey her message; the C2s give you a clean and clear window on those small changes in amplitude and dynamics. There is as well an utter lack of congestion in the presentation - that may be due to both the relatively quiet material and to the superb quality of the recording. The plucked banjo strings attack cleanly without biting your head off, the guitars are sweet and silky, and the very up-front vocal lies neatly over all the rest. Everything seems in its place - the C2s give the music room to breathe, conveying a palpable sense of space in the home.
Make no mistake - the C2s are great loudspeakers. They sound terrific in my small room and, like most fine and fairly large
loudspeakers, would sound even better in a larger one. On the one hand, they are so beautifully built and look so good that they cannot help but attract attention. Workmanship, materials and technology are all much in evidence. On the other, they are self-effacing; they don't show off. They can sound big when it is warranted and small when it is not, and they handle everything that is thrown at them without even breathing hard. Listening to the C2s, one thinks of terms such as unflappable, coherent, continuous, and extended.
In the $10K to $15K price range, there are many great loudspeakers to choose from (and well there should be). Placed next to some of the fine
loudspeakers I have heard at length - the JM Labs Mezzo Utopia, the Martin-Logan Prodigy, the Vienna Acoustics Mahler - the Dynaudio C2s are every bit their equal and in some respects (that top-to-bottom seamlessness) their superior. Moreover, Dynaudio is the essence of a serious company, dedicated to research, even a little techno-geeky, and the C2s, in their elegance and execution, are testament to that quality as well. The C2s are easy to drive, easy to look at, very easy to like, and easy to forget so that one can just listen to music. They should be on anyone's short list of great
Features And Specifications
Recommended Amplifier Power:
3 meters: 40 watts (4 ohm)
5 meters: 100 watts (4 ohm)
7 meters: 200 watts (4 ohm)
IEC Long Term Power Handling: 300 watts (4 ohm)
Impedance, Nominal: 4 ohms
Impedance, (20 to 200Hz): 4.1 - 21.3 ohms
Impedance, (200 to 20kHz): 4.4 - 8.9 ohms
Frequency Response (+/- 2dB): 28Hz to 25kHz
Resonance Frequency: 31Hz
Internal Cabinet Volume: 43 litres
Bass Principle: Reflex Weight: 88 lbs. (40 kg)
Dimensions (W x H x L): 9.4" x 61" x 17.5"
(238 x 1550 x 445 mm)
Crossover Frequencies: 2,200Hz and 8,000Hz
Crossover Slope: 6dB/octave
Connection: CE-comp. WBT gold binding
28 mm soft dome, magnetic fluid, 10 mm aluminum-alloy front, with high heat-dissipation, aluminum wire voice coil
17 cm, one-piece molded MSP-cone, 75 mm pure aluminum wire voice coil.
Separate chamber for network, glassfiber-reinforced PCB with extra copper-thickness, capacitors with low loss
dielectricum, zero compression resistors.
Cabinet: MDF sandwich
Front Baffle: 38/8/20 mm HDF/MDF/MDF sandwich
MSRP: $12,000 per pair
Voice: +45 86 52 34 11
Fax: +45 86 52 31 16
North America Distributor:
Dynaudio North America
1144 Tower Lane
Bensenville, Illinois 60106
Voice: (630) 238-4200
Fax: (630) 238-0112