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Price: 21 900 zł + 3000 zł (pair)

Distribution: Nautilus Hi-End

ul. Malborska 24
30-646 Kraków
tel./fax: 012 425 51 20/30
tel. kom.: 507 011 858



Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Translation: Krzysztof Kalinkowski

This is not the first time we test Dynaudio loudspeakers in “High Fidelity”, but it is the first time we cooperate with the new distributor of that company, the Krakow based Nautilus Hi-End, and we start it with a very expensive model, the Confidence C1. C1 are super mini monitors, bookshelf loudspeakers that cost more than many advanced floor standing ones. Complete with stands they cost more than for example the Harpia Acoustics Dobermann I use. What is the reason for using loudspeakers, which are crippled from the very beginning, as they do not reproduce low frequencies and do not sound as dynamic, as bigger constructions? There are a few possible reasons, but for me the most important one, is that bookshelf speakers can be used in small rooms, or in those, where bass is becoming problematic. And there is a lot of such rooms.

As I mentioned, C1 are small speakers – the diameter of the midwoofer is 170mm. Its diaphragm is a subsequent version of the material called MSP (Mineral Silicate Polymer). The upper frequencies are handled by the phenomenal dome tweeter Esotar2 with 28mm diameter. Also the shape of the box is unusual – the main cabinet is extraordinary narrow, but high and deep. The drivers were not mounted directly on it, but on a special, profiled and enforced with a metal plate, MDF front panel, attached to the main body through a layer of vibration dampening material. It was designed to isolate the drivers from the vibrations of the cabinet. The speakers can be ordered with company stands, called Stand4 – a simple design, made from two pipes and sandwich type tabletops, but in fact this is a splendid stand, which I recommend for all brands of loudspeakers. When used with C1, then the top part can be removed, and the speaker can be bolted directly to the pipes – a simple, yet effective solution, and it looks great. The manufacturing quality of the speakers is fantastic – Dynaudio is world leader in terms of woodwork. Also the psyche of the owner has been taken care of, together with the sound, as the single wire terminals are of WBT make.

DoTo date we tested:

  • Dynaudio Audience 52 SE
  • Dynaudio Excite X16
  • Dynaudio FOCUS 140
  • Nagroda Roku 2006 dla Dynaudio FOCUS 140
  • Dynaudio FOCUS 140 w systemie TUTAJ
  • Dynaudio Special Twenty Five
  • Nagroda Roku 2005 dla Dynaudio Special Twenty Five


    Discs used for testing:

    • Five Songbirds, First Impression Music, FIM048 VD, HDCD; review HERE.
    • Al Green, Lay it Down, EMI, 48449-2, CCD; review TUTAJ.
    • Brenda Lee, Let Me Sing, Decca/Universal Music Japan, UCCC-9111, CD.
    • Carmen McRae, Carmen McRae, Bethlehem/JVC, VICJ-61458, K2HD.
    • Charlie Haden, The Private Collection, Naim, naimcd0108, 3xCD; review HERE.
    • Diary of Dreams, Panik Manifesto, Accesion Records, EFA 23452-2, CD.
    • Frank Sinatra, Only The Lonely, Capitol/Mobile Fidelity, UDCD 792, gold-CD; review HERE.
    • Kraftwerk, Minimum-Maximum, EMI, 334 996 2, 2 x SACD/CD.
    • Kurt Elling, The Messenger, Blue Note, 527272A, CD.
    • Lisa Ekdahl, Back To Earth, BMG Sweden, 61463 2, CD.
    • Michael Jackson, Thtiller. 25th Anniversary, Epic/Sony Music Japan, EICP-963-4, CD+DVD.
    • Pink Floyd, The Final Cut, EMI/Toshiba-EMI, TOCP-67407, CD.
    • The Beatles, 09.09.09 Sampler, EMI Records, Promo CD, 2 x CD; review HERE.
    • The Modern Jazz Quartet, Pyramid, Atlantic/Warner Music Japan, WPCR-25125, CD.

    C1 are not cheap speakers, and belong to those constructions, which require a lengthy process of setting them up and finding the best place for them. Those are very precise loudspeakers, especially in terms of space, so even the smallest changes in position, by about 1cm, gave audible changes in sound – for better and for worse. Its back plate was closer to the wall than usual – for example the ProAc D1 and Spendor SP1 played better when placed further away. But when we place the Dynaudio more to the front, then they will lack some of the bass foundation. And bass from those speakers is exceptional – dynamic and precise. So it is worth to fight a bit to get it. As usual with stand mount speakers I note, that in my opinion those are “special purpose” constructions. To truthfully reproduce what was encoded in the recording, a loudspeaker system must transmit full frequency range – the wider, the better. Stand mounts do not fulfill this requirement for obvious reasons. This is why bass must be treated with a grain of salt is such designs, it is “stand mount loudspeaker bass”. But there are systems, rooms, expectations, etc, which only allow usage of such constructions. This is the reason, I test and describe them, over and over. Besides there is something appealing, something fascinating in a well made, nicely sounding bookshelf speaker. The C1 adds some unique qualities to a nice external design and highest manufacturing quality, which make us forget about the price we need to pay for them – verbatim and as a figure of speech.

    And first of all I mean the quality of sound. Since some time, I share the view of some manufacturers, about a certain weakness of soft dome tweeters. Knowing how good magnetostatic (Magnepan) and electrostatic (most of all Quad) panels can perform, knowing the sound of the A.R.T. driver, for example in the ADAM (HM2, HM1), and most of all that what the metal dome SEAS does in my Dobermann, I cannot get used to the slower, not so detailed sound of textile domes. But it was so, that one of the masters of how treble should be reproduced, was for me the tweeter from… Dynaudio, the brilliant Esotar T330, with a 28mm, silk, SOFT membrane. It found its place in the Sonus Fabera Electa Amator I, owned by Janusz, who often hosts the meetings of the Krakow Sonic Society. I remembered that, when I fired up the loudspeakers from the cover of next month’s issue of “High Fidelity”, model Prince v2 from Hansen Audio. Costing 120 000zl they should sound well, and they did. But what impressed me most, was the quality of the treble, reproduced by a… soft dome tweeter. And then I received the C1, where the treble was even a tad better, resembled more that, what I know from the Dobermann, but with a better saturation and better “fleshiness”, physical palpability of the sound. Now, that is conversion! Well – I did not change my mind, just pure physics tells, that the lighter and the stiffer a diaphragm is, the better for the sound. And yet the tweeter in the C1 is so exceptional, that I allows to put all those prejudices aside.

    The Danish loudspeakers differentiate recordings splendidly. The treble is at the same time very precise and saturated – something, what sometimes – just sometimes, but still – is lacking in the metal SEAS tweeter of the Dobermann, and what I know for example from the A.R.T. When a cymbal hits in the C1, then it is precise (attack) and has a very well defined “weight” (sustain). Due to that, the quality of the recordings is being differentiated in a very mature way – it is different, than in the Dobermann, because this is easier to accept by the listeners. When I listened to the sampler Five Songbirds, prepared by First Impression Music, the technical state of the master tape, the differences in recording technique were obvious for me, but were not obscuring the music itself. When there is much noise in the recording, like in the piece opening the disc, sung by Esther Ofarims, then I heard that like tape noise, not something connected to the music, but something below it. I made a shortcut here, because vocals are the most important “instrument” for the bookshelf speakers, but just in such recordings, the refined tonal balance of this construction was audible best.

    And this is important, we need to remember that, despite the fact, that stand mount speakers, including C1, seem to sound with upper midrange, when we switch from large floorstanders – and especially the Hansen. It changes after a while, when hearing adapts, but the emphasis on the upper part of the sound spectrum remains. However, in the C1 we hear, that this is not about underlining the treble and upper part of the midrange, but that there is just less bass. This is a small difference, but it defines the loudspeakers as “blatant” or “precise” – and the C1 are in the second category. And this is the reason the Dynaudio show vocals so well. Yes, if there is a fault somewhere in the sound path or the recording, then it will be shown mercilessly. Despite a certain sweetness of the tweeter utilized in the C1, there is no rounding of the sound, also not on the upper midrange. This is also why the errors are not homogenized, not “melted” into the sound. But when a recording has class, and those are for example Let Me Sing Brendy Lee and Camen McRae Camen McRae, then the vocals turns out to be very bug, full and yet precise.

  • It should not be a surprise, when I say, that I listened mostly to recordings, where vocals play the most important role, when I was listening to those speakers. They provoke that themselves, presenting voices in the way I described above. Did you hear Lisa Ekdahl discs? No? Hmm… You should do something about that immediately. This is a Swedish woman with a child’s voice – but of a child with a history, in a woman’s body, who records often with Peter Nordahl Trio. Splendid articulation and beautiful timbre – something, that caught me immediately. And in addition a special band. Her best disc, recorded for the Swedish branch of BMG is Back To Earth, the best place to start our acquaintance with her and her world. C1 showed beautifully where the charm of her vocals lies – a lot of upper midrange, little diaphragm, and everything lean, coherent and fluent. And the piano – in Nature Boy it plays in the upper registers and it is a real test for the system. The Dynaudio played it without any glassiness, but with dynamics and high placed timbre. I missed a bit the filling on the lower range, to what I got used with bigger speakers, but we discussed the limitations of the stand mount speakers already. Listening to Lisa Ekdahl, singing Nature Boy, from the many interpretations I know, and I have on discs, one that comes to mind is the version by Kurt Elling. It is so different, so beautiful, that I listen to it always afterwards. Also there a major role is played by the piano – shown by the Dynaudio in an equally clean and saturated way as before – but the contrabass is equally important. When I listened to the sampler Five Songbirds, I noticed this, incredibly precisely shown instrument. It did not reach very low, but there where it was, it was very nice. There was dynamics, clarity and palpability. This was confirmed by the Elling disc – here the contrabass is recorded less edgy, a bit more natural, with slightly blurred edges and sound from the body and not the strings. And this differentiation was obvious for the C1. This is not such a precise sound like from the Mgnepan, Quad or good metal drivers. Physics does not allow that, because the polypropylene, which is the material for the diaphragm of the midwoofer, smoothens transients a bit. This is the reason, attack is not so immediate as in mentioned loudspeakers. On the other hand, bass is never dry or cold. For some people, there might be too little of it, floorstanding speakers reach lower, but it will never be bad or not precise. But it does not mean, that this is a bad perspective. Time spent with Hansen Audio loudspeakers made me look a bit differently on how sound should be in my house. Bass from those speakers, in terms of character, the characteristic, slightly warm timbre, not so contoured as in the Dobermann, was very similar to what is presented by Dynaudio, not only the C1 model.

    Because, just like I said, bass can sound very nice from the tested speakers. It is not low, not very deep – but finally those are only small bookshelf speakers with a small midwoofer. In the Hansen, the midrange driver has that diameter. This is also why dynamics is a bit restrained in the C1 – like in bookshelf speakers. But within those boundaries the loudspeakers can sound incredibly live and strong. Even symphonic music sounded with swing, power and might, like no one would expect from such small speakers. Attempts to play electronic music like Diary of Dreams or Kraftwerk ended with lack of success, and that because C1 do not tolerate recordings of lesser quality. Rock sounded much better, like Pink Floyd from The Final Cut, because the audio effects were shown very well, and Waters’ band (this disc should be treated like that) had a nice scale and depth. The sound stage was very good – deep and broad. It only lacked filling, which creates the thick base, the volume of large rooms. Despite that precision, connections and microsounds were brilliant. Like I mentioned in the beginning, you have to fight a bit with placing them right, but when we succeed, then we get an incredibly stable, deep perspective and a precise view on that, what is happening on the disc. Those beautiful loudspeakers sound as good, as they look. But you need to be careful choosing the electronics – when a system with the C1 will sound too bright, then there is time for an upgrade, and there is some kind of an error in the system. Because it cannot be in the Dynaudio. And the amplifier? The company claims, that the loudspeakers are easy to drive, but at my home they sounded best with powerful amplifiers. We can of course try a small tube amp, but it should have a good current capacity.


    Model C1 from the company Dynaudio is part of the Confidence series. This is the smallest loudspeaker from the series – there are two floor standing speakers in the lineup and a central speaker. The C1 is a two-way, bookshelf speaker with a bass-reflex type cabinet. Its front baffle is quite extraordinary – the cabinet is quite deep and high, but very narrow. To be able to mount a 170mm midwoofer, a special, broader plate was mounted on the front, which gets narrower to the bottom. Because the loudspeakers have a reversed configuration – the tweeter is mounted below the midwoofer – a beautiful silk dome driver Esotar2 with a 28mm diameter. The midwoofer has a diaphragm made from a characteristic material named MSP (Mineral Silicate Polymer) – polypropylene with fillers – which was made from one piece of material, together with the dust cap. The voice coil is oversized, because in Dynaudio drivers, the magnet is placed inside it. This requires a special construction of the spider, as it needs to have a special profile. The front baffle is made from several layers: MDF, metal plate and a special material, which connects everything together. This gives a very rigid and damped mounting surface. On the back there is a bass-reflex outlet and singular WBT wire terminals. They are not mounted directly on the back panel, but on something resembling a low, black varnished plinth. The bass-reflex outlet is profiled, so that there are no turbulences. In the mentioned plinth the whole cross-over was placed, what isolates it from vibration. Air coils and a mighty bass coil, wound on a transformer core, were used, as well as polypropylene capacitors. The cross-over frequency is 1800Hz, and the amount of elements suggests phase correction. The inside of the cabinet is damped with thick layers of foam and artificial wool.

    The loudspeakers can be equipped with company stands, called Stand4, what I did. Those are splendid pipe constructions, with two pipes and metal tabletops. Both are a sandwich construction, made from two layers of metal plates with a layer of micro-rubber in-between. The whole stands on very stable, thick spikes. For the owners of the C1 there is another good news: the loudspeakers can be bolted directly to the stands. It is enough to remove the top of the stand and tighten the speaker directly to the pipes. I recommend them warmly, also for other loudspeakers!

    Technical data (according to manufacturer):
    Efficiency: 85dB
    Impedance: 4Ω
    Maximum power: 170W
    Frequency response (-3dB): 45Hz – 22kHz
    Cross-over frequency: 1800Hz
    Weight: 10.9kg
    Dimensions: 200 x 445 x 430mm

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    • CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Prime (tested HERE)
    • Phono preamp: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC (tested HERE)
    • Preamp: Leben RS-28CX (tested HERE; soon to be changed to Polaris II, tested HERE)
    • Power amp: Luxman M-800A (tested HERE)
    • Integrated amp: Leben CS300 (reviewed HERE)
    • Loudspeakers: Harpia Acoustics Dobermann (tested HERE)
    • headphones: AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, 600 Ω version (reviewed HERE, HERE, and HERE)
    • interconnects: CD-preamp: Wireworld Gold Eclipse 52 (tested HERE; soon to be changed to Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, article HERE), preamp-power amp: Velum NF-G SE (tested HERE)
    • speaker cable: Velum LS-G (tested HERE)
    • power cables: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9100 (CD; reviewed HERE) and 2 x Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC7100 (preamp, power amp (reviewed HERE)
    • power conditioning: Gigawatt PF-2 Filtering Power Strip (reviewed HERE)
    • audio stand Base
    • resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD (article HERE ) Turntables change continuously, as do cartridges. My dream setup: SME 30 with Series V tone-arm and Air Tight PC-1 cartridge (also in the PC-1 Mono version).