Dynaudio Confidence C4 loudspeaker Page 2

With its narrow, 10"-wide profile, the wood-veneered cabinet looks smaller than it really is, though a 16"-wide base, fitted with spiked feet, provides mechanical stability. The drive-units are carried on a gray sub-baffle sculpted from 40mm-thick MDF, which is attached to the front of the enclosure. Fit'n'finish were superb, as should be the case at this price level.

In my approximately 3100-ft3 room, finding the positions where the Confidence C4s worked optimally was more problematic than it had been with the other speakers I've reviewed recently. In particular, getting a smooth blend between the low-bass, midbass, and upper-bass regions took much experimenting. With the C4's use of first-order crossover slopes and four drivers overlapping through much of the upper-bass region, the need to make the distances of each driver from each of the adjacent boundaries (the side and rear walls, even if the speaker's restricted vertical dispersion reduces the effects of the floor and ceiling) as different as possible becomes more complex than in the case of a speaker that uses a single woofer and a steep-slope crossover.

Even when I felt I had got the Confidences optimally set up, the low frequencies were more weighty than was strictly natural. Of course, no one ever complains about a speaker having too much bass, and with classical orchestral music, where there is no repetitive low-frequency pulse—the CD of Morten Lauridsen's Lux Aeterna (RCM 19705) that John Marks raved about in his September 2002 "The Fifth Element" column, for example—the result was nothing short of magnificent. The six-octave-tall D chord at the opening of the Introitus depends for its musical import on the double basses' 36.7Hz pedal note being reproduced to its full extent, and that the Dynaudios more than delivered.

The elevated lows were less successful on rock music, where the ubiquitous two- or four-in-the-bar kick drum tended to be elevated too high in the mix. And while on Patricia Barber's Companion (Premonition/Blue Note 5 22963 2) the speaker's in-room LF balance endowed Michael Arnopol's acoustic bass with excellent weight, it also exaggerated the sound of the thumps on track 4, "Let It Rain," where guitarist John McLean apparently strikes his instrument with the heel of his hand. Its low-frequency balance was the Dynaudio's weak point, at least in my room, where it was outpointed in this region by the Wilson and Mission speakers; there was also a slight occasional lack of upper-bass clarity. But the 1/3-octave warble tones on Stereophile's Test CD 3 were reproduced in full measure down to the 32Hz band, and even the 25Hz tone managed to shake the room. There was no wind noise to be heard from the flared ports, even at high levels, though some doubling could be heard with the 20Hz warble tone.

To return to the Lauridsen disc: It may have been partly due to the Dynaudio's powerful-sounding bass aiding the perception of the low-frequency ambience, but the speakers threw an enormous dome of ambience over and behind the singers and orchestra. In my own recent choral recordings (see January 2002, pp.61-75, and December 2002, pp.63-73), the producers did not want the singers submerged in a wet cloud of reverberation, which would work against the relatively intimate nature of the works on these CDs. But when the music is appropriately written, as the Lauridsen works are, the hall's long decay time allows the composer's suspensions and unresolved harmonies to float in the air around the singers. This effect can be addictive, but demands a speaker that is both uncolored and highly resolving in both amplitude-response and imaging domains for the reverberation not to "rattle," and for the presentation not to be degraded into a "bathroomy" soup of sound.

The C4s were indeed highly resolving when it came to stereo imaging. "Dirait-on," the fifth and final song in Lauridsen's Les Chanson des Roses on the Lux Aeterna CD, is the only one in which the singers are accompanied, by a piano. The women extend from the center of the soundstage to the left speaker, the men to the right, with the piano clearly and unambiguously set via the C4s in the center but behind the singers. In the Debussy Invocation on Cantus' ...Against the Dying of the Light (Cantus CTS1201), I mixed the piano so that its image was positioned on the right of the stage, almost level with the singers. However, when tenor Brian Arreola solos in the work's central section, he stood behind the piano—this is clearly what I heard via the Dynaudios. In addition, Brian's image remained small and well-defined, even when his voice soared at the climax before the key change that presages the choir's re-entry. It is this ability of speakers not to bloat image size as the level increases that I value highly, and that helps distinguish great speakers from the merely good.

1144 Tower Lane
Bensenville, IL 60106
(630) 238-4200