Dynaudio Confidence 30 loudspeaker Page 2

Using a recording of higher resolution, superb acoustics, and skilled engineering, the transparency and soundstage offered via the Confidence 30s can be literally breathtaking. On the album From Heaven on Earth – Lute Music from Kremsmunster Abbey (24/352.8 download, Challenge Classics CC72740, from spiritofturtle.com), Hubert Hoffmann plays three Partitas for solo lute written by Ferdinand Fischer. The recording, by Bert van der Wolf, was not made in the abbey but in Galaxy Studios in Mol, Belgium, which Hoffmann describes as "one of the quietest recording studios in all of Europe." With the Confidence 30s, you can hear the silence immediately as the ambience of the listening room is subsumed into that of the studio, only to discover within it a lute played by a living human being. The plucked instrument is lovely in its discreteness and rounded warmth, and you can also hear Hoffmann breathing along with the music. It would be wrong to attribute this sound quality to any particular element; any of the elements in the chain, from recording through the playback system to the room, could screw things up. Here, nothing screwed it up; indeed, this semblance of reality implies excellent performance of the Esotar3 tweeter and nigh-perfect integration of said tweeter with the C30's midrange.


Moving a very long way, over to one of my ear worms, "Hillbillies from Outer Space," from The Vaughan Brothers' Family Style (CD, Epic 46225), I could feel the impact of the upright bass and still clearly distinguish it from the drum beat, neither of which obscured the melodic lines of the Vaughan Brothers' guitars. This mix can seem dense since most of the tune and rhythm lie in the bass and lower midrange, but the Confidence 30s revealed even the occasional finger snapping that adds spice and drives the groove. Further down in the bass, the deep, plucked notes of Buster Williams's acoustic bass fiddle on "Concierto de Aranjuez," from Griot Liberte (CD, High Note HCD 7123), were impressively full and distinct, lacking only the extreme extension that comes through with a subwoofer.


Over a range of recordings—"Nobody" on Jazz (CD, Warner 3197-2) and "Coast of Malabar" from The Long Black Veil (CD, RCA Victor 09026-62702-2), Ry Cooder's voice was warmer and less nasal with the C30s than I have heard him sound with most other speakers. This was a pleasant effect and one I noticed (although not as much) with other male voices.

The Confidence 30 was superb with higher voices. I went through all my favorites, from Emma Kirkby in Mozart's Exultate Jubilate (CD, L'oiseau-Lyre 168055) and Marianne Beate Kielland in Finzi's Come Away, Death (SACD, 2L 2L-064) to Alison Kraus in "Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us" on Raising Sand (CD, Rounder 11661-9075-2) and Sara K's "I Can't Stand the Rain" from Hell or High Water (SACD, Stockfisch SFR 357.4039.2). Each of them was as clear and present as I have heard them.


With big sounds, the C30s were more than up to the task. I have been enjoying a new, successful recording of Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes with Stuart Skelton as Grimes and Erin Wall as Ellen Orford, conducted by Edward Gardner (24/96 download, Chandos CHAN 5250, from chandos.net). Skelton sings superbly but without erasing the memory of unique performances in the same role by Peter Pears (CD, London 414 577-2) and Jon Vickers (CD, Philips 432 578-2). So does Wall, who is both tender and passionate. (Sadly, Ms. Wall died this past October at the age of 44.) Gardner conjures a powerful dramatic presentation, probably his most successful to date. Chandos's typically rich sound and broad soundstage is appropriate for this masterpiece, and the Dynaudios served it all up from the silvery strings of the first "Sea Interlude," the raucous crowd scenes, the turbulence that reflects Grimes's increasing rage, and the desperation of his death. (At first, I had an inkling that the C30s were depicting a shallower soundstage than my reference speakers, but a tiny 2dB volume bump dispelled that concern.) This is a superb performance and, with sound as impactful as I heard it through the Confidence 30s, it joins the older, classic Pears/Britten and Vickers/Davis recordings as the only ones I need.

Reflections and distinctions
Having now spent many weeks with the Confidence 30s, I continue to be impressed by how immediate and gripping they make the music sound. So, why did I have an initial impression that they were a bit dull or, more specifically, that there was some emphasis on the 200–500Hz range coupled with a slight reduction in the 2–3kHz range? And why am I reporting above that I think they are so marvelous?

The obvious explanations (or scapegoats) are burn-in, speaker-setup tweaks, and listener adaptation.

I am skeptical of the first two explanations: My experience has convinced me that burn-in is at worst a short-term process of mechanical adaptation. Setup can make a difference of course, but the adjustments I made were too small, I judged, to explain the differences I was hearing.

The most likely explanation to me is that I adjusted to the Dynaudio's different presentation. I decided to do an experiment to confirm (or refute) this hypothesis.

After weeks of enjoying the C30s, I switched back to the resident Revel Ultima Studio2s. Guess what? I found them bright, with a somewhat light midbass, despite having had no such issues with them before. Since they had been burned in for hundreds of hours, and since they were in exactly the same position and orientation as before, my brain must have adapted to the slightly less bright, less forward Dynaudios.


After 3–4 days with the Studios, during which time my sense that they were bright and forward quickly faded, I switched to the C30s again and found—surprise—that they sounded much as they had at first, a little dull, with more-than-ample midbass warmth—an impression that faded once again with a few more days' listening.

I went one step further. In their preferred locations, the speakers were far enough apart that I could set both pairs up at once. I inserted a switchbox that allowed me to switch between them instantly. I used the same Canare 4S11 speaker cabling from the Benchmark AHB2 amps (footnote 2) to the switch and from the switch to each pair of speakers.

My preference varied with the program material. Male voices were fuller with the Dynaudios than with the Revels. Bass, acoustic or electric, was tighter, deeper, and more extended with the Revels, but it was bigger with the Dynaudios. The Revel treble was more detailed than the Dynaudio treble—but also etched by comparison; the Dynaudio treble was noticeably smoother—and kinder with noisy recordings. The soundstage conjured by the C30s was wide and seamless, but—despite what I had concluded earlier—the Revels seemed to offer just a bit more depth after all.

I continue to be impressed by how immediate and gripping the Dynaudio Confidence 30s make music sound. Their presentation with smaller-scale works is clear and lively. With larger ensembles in larger spaces, the C30 soundstage is wide and detailed. Across a broad range of styles and recording perspectives, they seemed balanced, neither bright nor muted, with, often, a comfortable warmth. As for dynamic range, I never approached their output limitations in my room.

The Dynaudio Confidence 30 lived up to expectations formed over years of listening at audio shows. If I were shopping for speakers today, these would be at the top of my list

Footnote 2: In addition to the Benchmarks, I also used the new NAD C 298 amp both as a stereo amp and as monoblocks. Either way, they easily drove the C30s, but the distinctions were a bit more elusive than with the Benchmarks.
Dynaudio A/S
US distributor: Dynaudio North America
500 Lindberg Ln.
Northbrook, IL 60062
(847) 730-3280

Anton's picture

I greatly appreciate your decision to talk about break in vs. 'listener accommodation.'

Very much neurologically pitch perfect!


Now, if only my budget was of the same high quality as your review!

If this product is Major League....or more like Triple A, given its place in their product lineup, that puts me at Single A...minor league!

georgehifi's picture

These things have an evil bass loading, almost as nasty as the Wilson Alexia's
JA's "should be used with amplifiers that don't have problems driving impedances of 4 ohms or lower" to me seems a little understated.

Cheers George

ZdzislawBoniek's picture

I wanted to get this speaker from my local Dynaudio dealer BUT they cannot get it for me because they are not "Confidence certified" dealer!
Its a nonsense - Dynaudio will loose sale because they will not let their dealer sell $21k speaker....
To become a "Confidence" dealer, one has to have at least 3 pair from the line as a demo - I do not blame dealer for now wanting stock something that might not sell.
sad....I emailed Dynaudio Denmark about this issue and am curious to see their response...

aRui's picture

I read the review and realized that the Revel Ultima2 series, which was almost 15 years old design, still stand strong against the New Dynaudio Confidence. I auditioned the Revel Salon2 vs Dynaudio Confidence 50 (about same prices when I auditioned) and end up picked the Revel Salon2 :) I had some more chances to audition the New Confidence after I purchased the Salon2. And I have never regretted my decision.

latinaudio's picture

The reason? There have not been great advances in the design and construction of loudspeakers as there has been in electronics. Subtle changes yes, but important breakthroughs no. Including the monstrous YG Acoustics speakers :)

w1000i's picture

The reason not new driver that revolutionize the consept.

georgehifi's picture

Yes drivers in particular, some inventor has to find a different way of pushing and pulling air into a room, and lowering the mass of whatever it is considerably.

Cheers George

a.wayne's picture

Smooth step response is not what fig 6 makes ...


Ortofan's picture

... these speakers may not have been the optimal choice due to their particularly low minimum impedance.

The manual for the AHB2 specifies an output current capability of 29A into a 1Ω, or about 840W.
However, peak output power tests conducted by HiFi News resulted in outputs of 108W / 200W / 346W / 230W into 8Ω / 4Ω / 2Ω / 1Ω.
The 230W output into 1Ω is equivalent to only about 15A, not 29A.

By comparison, the HiFI News test of the Rotel RB-1582 resulted in peak outputs of 295W / 555W / 1005W / 1630W into 8Ω / 4Ω / 2Ω / 1Ω.
The 1630W output into 1Ω is equivalent to about 40A.



Kal Rubinson's picture

Your comments are acknowledged but please note that the NAD C298, in stereo and monobloc, was also used in this review.

Ortofan's picture

... have significantly greater peak power output capability than a Benchmark AHB2 - assuming that it meets/exceeds those specs.
None of the tests I've seen, thus far, have measured the power output at loads of 2Ω, or lower.
The one review that attempted to measure peak power encountered issues with the protection circuit.

NAD claims peak power outputs in two-channel mode of 260W / 490W / 570W into 8Ω / 4Ω / 2Ω.
Further stated is a peak current output of 25A into 1Ω, which would equate to 625W.
In bridged/mono mode, NAD claims peak power outputs of 1000W / 1100W into 8Ω / 4Ω. The small power increase into 4Ω, versus 8Ω, suggests that some limiting mechanism is already coming into effect at that impedance.

Operating in bridged/mono mode increases the output voltage capability, but doesn't provide a higher power output at lower impedances if the amplifier can't supply the needed current and/or the protection circuit won't permit it.

JHL's picture

...the slow, inevitable spiral toward the drain of audio as an objective aural experience, to be replaced by a gross commoditization wrought by meter readers, detached techs, and pugilistic invaders with a short stack of random data, we're reminded that fifteen amperes of audio current is insufficient to drive a competent residential loudspeaker.

Maybe we need a new Paradigm. One overtly unmoored from the former realities we thought we'd built fifty years of rich audio experience upon. Apparently it was we who were deaf and the non-listener who, somehow, really knew what was going on.

Fifteen amperes.

Ortofan's picture

... power amp, with an output current capability exceeding 100A, would be simply ... pointless.

JHL's picture

How would we frame even fifteen amperes applied to voice coils that will promptly convert ninety-nine percent of that half a thousand watts into heat.

Kal Rubinson's picture

.....objective aural experience.....

All aural experiences are subjective.

jond's picture

Kal thanks for the heads up on Buster Williams Griot Liberte I gave it a listen and it was a lovely record. I'm now on a Buster Williams tear!