|Dynaudio Contour Speaker System (S 1.4, S C, Sub 250)|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems|
|Written by Brian Kahn|
|Tuesday, 01 July 2008|
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Last summer, my wife and I decided to put our condominium on the market and buy a house. As part of the process, we had our realtor walk through the condo and make recommendations for “staging” it to make it more attractive to more buyers. The first thing she asked me to do was to get rid of my large floor-standing towers in the living room and replace them with something smaller. I was mortified, as I really enjoyed having full-sized speakers in my living/theater room. I spoke with Mike Manousselis of Dynaudio shortly thereafter and explained my situation. Mike assured me that he had a system from the Contour series that would fulfill my needs. It was like a scene out of one of those fix ‘em up shows on the DIY Network, but I needed a bigger house in a down real estate market, so desperate measures like boxing up my MartinLogans were in order.
Dynaudio is a Danish company that has been in business since 1977. I first became aware of them in the late ‘80s when I was competing in IASCA car audio tournaments (yes, my hearing has been tested recently and it is very good). Along with many other competitors, I used Dynaudio drivers in our cars. The particular driver I used was a seven-inch woofer that I understand is still widely used today. In addition to the car audio competitors, Dynaudio sold drivers to many speaker manufacturers, including some of the big names in high-end audio. Dynaudio more recently supplemented their driver sales and began to manufacture speakers.
The Contour series is slightly above the midpoint in the range of Dynaudio lines, just below the Confidence and Evidence series of speakers. The series consists of two floor-standing models, one stand-mounted model, one wall-mounted model and two center channel models.
Shortly thereafter, I received four Contour 1.4 stand-mounted speakers ($3,300 pair), one Contour SC ($2,100 each) and two Sub 250s ($1,000 each), all in a Rosewood veneer. The finish is furniture-grade and other wood veneers are available. The Contour 1.4 is a compact speaker that looks smaller than its dimensions of 7.4 inches wide by 15.8 inches high by 13.4 inches high would suggest. The SC center channel is likewise compact at 19.3 inches wide by 9.1 inches high by 10.2 inches deep, as are the subwoofers, which measure roughly 12 inches square.
Despite the 1.4’s small size, it is extremely solid, weighing in at approximately 28 lbs. The design immediately got my attention, as the woofer is positioned above the tweeter, rather than in the more traditional position below. With the 1.4s mounted on their stands, the woofer is high enough to minimize interaction with the floor. The 1.4s are designed to work with Dynaudio’s Stand 4. When these are used together, the bottom of the speaker becomes the stand’s top plate. Of course, both the stands and the speakers can be used separately.
I decided to run the 1.4s without grilles to expose the 5mm thick metal baffle that covers the majority of the front panel of the speaker. The baffles themselves are quite attractive. They run the width of the cabinet at the top and through a gentle curve taper to about half that width just below the tweeter. The metal baffles have cutouts for the steel-framed 6.8-inch mid-woofer and 28mm soft dome tweeter. The fit and finish of the individual components and how they fit together is extremely good, evidence of high manufacturing standards. The baffles are isolated from the cabinets by a layer of resonance-absorbing material. Further bracing within the cabinet structure keeps vibrations, and their resultant coloration, to a minimum. The crossover assembly uses specially selected wiring and components mounted to a massive socket on the 1.4’s base by vibration-absorbing glue.
At the heart of the 1.4 are its drivers. As discussed above, Dynaudio has been long known as a manufacturer of premium drivers and the drivers utilized in their Contour series are indeed special. The mid-woofer utilizes a 6.8-inch geometrically optimized MSP cone diaphragm driven by a nearly three-inch pure aluminum voice coil. The tweeter is a new model from Dynaudio’s lauded Esotec series. The 1.1-inch soft dome tweeter has a multiple layer coating to maximize performance. The tweeter is also driven by a large, pure aluminum voice coil. The rear portion of the tweeter assembly has a cone that disperses the back wave into a special absorption chamber. The overall combined sensitivity is 85 db. Frequency range is not specified.
The SC center channel uses an Esotec tweeter nearly identical to that of the Contour 1.4. The tweeter is flanked by two six-inch mid-woofers of similar design to those in the 1.4s. Dynaudio makes an optional base for the SC that allows the speaker to be pivoted along its horizontal axis, aiming the drivers at the proper listening height.
Lastly, the Sub 250 is a powered 200-watt single 10-inch driver subwoofer. The cabinet is roughly one cubic foot with the amplifier cooling fins, connections and control panel on the back. The front features a simple, removable black cloth grille. The rear panel features an IEC power plug, selectable gain, low pass filter and phase switch. The SAT high pass is also selectable. For multiple subwoofers, there is a slave mode setting. Connections are of the RCA type and include LFE input/output, as well as SAT/Sub stereo inputs and outputs. Frequency range is specified as 29-250 Hz.