DY­NAU­DIO CON­TOUR 60 LOUD­SPEAK­ERS

LOUD­SPEAK­ERS

Australian HIFI - - CONTENTS -

Dy­nau­dio’s brand new—and they are brand new!—Con­tour 60 loud­speak­ers are not just good speak­ers, they’re truly great speak­ers…

Ican hear you all now. ‘Not another re­view of a speaker from Dy­nau­dio’s Con­tour range,’ is what you’re all mum­bling un­der your col­lected breath. Yes, this IS a re­view of a model from Dy­nau­dio’s Con­tour range, but it is a brand spank­ing new model, never be­fore seen in Aus­tralia—much less re­viewed—and when I say brand spank­ing new, ALL the driv­ers in this Con­tour 60 are newly de­signed—ex­cept for the tweeter—and have never ap­peared on any pre­vi­ous Dy­nau­dio loud­speaker.

Dy­nau­dio has had a ‘Con­tour’ range since it first started build­ing loud­speak­ers forty years ago (yes, 2017 is the com­pany’s 40th an­niver­sary), so it’s the com­pany’s longest-run­ning range. It’s been up­dated sev­eral times over the years, but for the first time this new ver­sion is not an ‘up­date’ as such, but a com­plete re-de­sign. The com­pany has sim­ply kept the old ‘Con­tour’ name for nos­tal­gia’s sake.

THE EQUIP­MENT

The Con­tour 60 is a floor-stand­ing, four-driver, three-way, bass-re­flex de­sign us­ing dual 240mm bass driv­ers, dual ports, a ded­i­cated 150mm midrange driver and a 28mm soft dome tweeter.

One rea­son for the newly-de­signed driv­ers is that they weren’t de­signed by Dy­nau­dio’s own in-house de­sign team. Well they were de­signed by that team—a team that has re­cently been greatly en­larged by the new owner of Dy­nau­dio (Go­ertek) it must be said—but for this project Dy­nau­dio’s own team was joined by two ad­di­tional de­sign teams, one com­prised of bud­ding engi­neers straight out of univer­sity, and the other of ‘grey-beard’ engi­neers who had been de­sign­ing for other Euro­pean loud­speaker man­u­fac­tur­ers.

The re­sult of the col­lab­o­ra­tion is a ma­jor change in the shape of the bass driver cones from pre­vi­ous Dy­nau­dio mod­els, and a re­duc­tion in the thick­ness of the mag­ne­sium sil­i­cate poly­mer (MSP) used to make the cone. (Although the cones have a new shape and thick­ness, the ma­te­rial the cone is made of is still the same MSP the com­pany has been cham­pi­oning for years, and the dust­caps are still at­tached us­ing the same unique method.) The re­duc­tion in cone thick­ness (from 0.5mm down to 0.4mm) was to re­duce mass to ex­tend and im­prove the per­for­mance at high fre­quen­cies (well, high fre­quen­cies for a bass driver… midrange, if you like). The change in cone shape (it’s more trum­pet-shaped than pre­vi­ous Dy­nau­dio bass driv­ers) was to en­sure the cone re­tained its rigid­ity through the pass band, de­spite the re­duc­tion in the thick­ness of the cone and also to give a 20 per cent in­crease in cone area. Other ma­jor changes in­cluded the use of a fi­bre­glass voice-coil for­mer, a 24 per cent longer voice-coil wind­ing, and switch­ing the pro­file of the 7.6mm roll sur­round from be­ing semi-cir­cu­lar to el­lip­ti­cal. In what I think is the most un­usual change, Dy­nau­dio re-de­signed the spi­der to have asym­met­ric, rather than sym­met­ri­cal pleat­ing. Ac­cord­ing to Dy­nau­dio, this helps pre­vent any ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in cone move­ment and en­ables in­creased cone ex­cur­sion.

The dome tweeter is one that Dy­nau­dio has used pre­vi­ously on its more ex­pen­sive mod­els, but it’s new to the Con­tour line. It is the fa­mous Eso­tar2, which has a doped fab­ric dome backed by a damp­ing cham­ber and a neodymium mag­net. Ac­cord­ing to Roland Hoff­man, of Dy­nau­dio, the com­pany ac­tu­ally toyed with the idea of us­ing hard-dome tweet­ers on this new Con­tour Se­ries but for a num­ber of rea­sons, which he de­cided not to share with us, de­cided against it.

Com­pare the cab­i­net of the Con­tour 60 with pre­vi­ous Con­tour cab­i­nets and you won’t need me to tell you the changes that have been wrought! Your eyes will do the work for you.

But you can’t see in­side the cab­i­net, and so I’ll have to tell you that the Con­tour 60’s curvy side pan­els are 16mm thick, the front baf­fle is 26mm thick (12mm of MDF plus 14mm of alu­minium sheet) and the rear panel is 38mm thick. Also, Dy­nau­dio is us­ing slot­ted in­ter­nal MDF pan­els both to stiffen the en­clo­sure and also to break up in­ter­nal re­flec­tions.

The rear of the Con­tour 60s holds a few sur­prises. Firstly, rather than just a sin­gle port or slot, there are two ports, and they’re spaced very widely apart, with one al­most at the bot­tom of the en­clo­sure and one right at the top. Both ports can be ‘tuned’ by fit­ting foam bungs, which are provided with the speak­ers. Each bung is a two-stage de­sign, so you can block the port com­pletely, or sim­ply re­duce each port’s di­am­e­ter. Be­cause there are two ports, you have eight dif­fer­ent ‘tun­ings’ avail­able per speaker (and since the tun­ings don’t have to be the same in each speaker, even more tun­ings avail­able ‘per pair’).

A sec­ond sur­prise was that there’s only a sin­gle set of speaker ter­mi­nals. I would have ex­pected two sets so the Con­tour 60s could be bi-wired or bi-amped. The ter­mi­nals are very high-qual­ity WBT Nex­tGen types that are highly-praised by most re­view­ers, but I can’t say that I’m a huge fan as I find they don’t bite down onto bare wire very well. But if you use spades or rings or pins to ter­mi­nate your speaker ca­bles, they’ll work just fine.

I have to say that the fin­ish on our re­view sam­ple was one I haven’t seen pre­vi­ously, and it was sim­ply glo­ri­ous! Called ‘Grey Oak High Gloss’ it has be­come my favourite fin­ish. (The speak­ers pic­tured in this re­view are the Nat­u­ral Wal­nut finsh). If you’re not so sold on it, the Con­tour 60 is also avail­able in more con­ven­tional finishes: Wal­nut (with a light satin fin­ish), high-glass Black or White Pi­ano Lac­quer, Ivory Oak and Dark Rose­wood (High Gloss). How­ever, the pre­mium finishes de­mand a pre­mium price. Whereas a pair of Con­tour 60s fin­ished in Nat­u­ral Wal­nut and Ivory Oak Satin finishes cost $15,999, a pair in Black High Gloss, White High Gloss, Rose­wood High Gloss or Grey Oak High Gloss will set you back an ad­di­tional $2,300 per pair.

IN USE AND LIS­TEN­ING SES­SIONS

As I noted ear­lier, the Con­tour 60s are very tall, and the foot­print is quite small. Dy­nau­dio has ex­tended the foot­print by us­ing a base that ex­tends the fix­ing points past the perime­ter of the cab­i­net (a metal­lic struc­ture shaped like an ‘X’ fixed to the base) but even with this ex­ten­sion the cab­i­nets could over­bal­ance side­ways if given a hefty shove. Some­thing to bear in mind.

The height of the speak­ers and the fact that the tweeter is so high on the cab­i­net mean that the tweet­ers will be above the seated ear-height of many lis­ten­ers, and for this rea­son I’d rec­om­mend that you use the provided spikes to slightly tilt the speak­ers for­ward so they’re aimed pre­cisely at your ears. At the same time I would also sug­gest an­gling the speak­ers so the cab­i­nets are toed-in so that the tweeter of the left chan­nel is aimed di­rectly at the left ear, and the tweeter of the right chan­nel is aimed di­rectly at the right ear. I sug­gest this be­cause I found that when the speak­ers were aimed di­rectly up my room, so that the tweet­ers’ paths were par­al­lel with the side walls, I found the tre­ble just a lit­tle ‘soft’, whereas when the speak­ers were aimed as I sug­gest, I found it per­fectly bal­anced. This high-fre­quency ‘bal­ance’ is also a form of tun­ing, so by all means ex­per­i­ment with dif­fer­ent off­set an­gles.

You should also ex­per­i­ment with the po­si­tion(s) of the cab­i­nets rel­a­tive to the rear and side walls, be­cause I found that the bass ex­ten­sion and level var­ied a lit­tle more than usual with changes in speaker po­si­tion rel­a­tive to nearby bound­aries, which I sur­mised was most likely due to one of the ports be­ing so high. Note, how­ever, that if you com­pletely block both ports, or sim­ply just the up­per ports, the po­si­tion­ing be­hav­iour is the same as any other rear-fir­ing bass-re­flex speak­ers or in­fi­nite baf­fle de­signs.

Dy­nau­dio has earned a well-de­served rep­u­ta­tion for build­ing speak­ers that sound true-to-life and this was im­me­di­ately ev­i­dent from the very first track we span, Root­ing For You, which is the in­tro track to Lon­don Gram­mar’s lat­est al­bum, ‘Truth is a Beau­ti­ful Thing’. First, there are those eerie synth sounds then we hear Han­nah’s Reid’s sharp in­take of breath be­fore her earthy voice sings ‘ Let win­ter break, let it burn ‘till I see you again’ and the im­me­di­acy of the sound from the Dy­nau­dio Con­tour 60s is such that you’re im­me­di­ately im­mersed in the mood of the al­bum, which is more laid-back and mea­sured than what they’ve done be­fore. The ac­cu­racy of Reid’s pitch­ing is made per­fectly clear by the Con­tour 60s, par­tic­u­larly so on the more dif­fi­cult in­ter­vals. The stripped-back qual­ity of sound con­tin­ues with the sec­ond track, Big Picture, and this time the acous­tic in­stru­ments be­come more dom­i­nant in the mix, and Reid’s voice is recorded a lit­tle more nat­u­ral­is­ti­cally, giv­ing the Dy­nau­dios the chance to shine even brighter, re­veal­ing even bet­ter the clar­ity of their re­pro­duc­tion. Then, at about 1.18 into Big Picture, be pre­pared to sink deeper into your lis­ten­ing seat with sat­is­fac­tion when you hear the way they de­liver deep bass, which is flaw­lessly. Lis­ten­ing to the depth and power of the bass on this track, we could hear in­stantly why Dy­nau­dio com­mit­ted not one, but two 240mm driv­ers ex­clu­sively to de­liv­er­ing it. And when we turned up the vol­ume the room be­came com­pletely en­er­gised by the low-fre­quency en­ergy, yet the driv­ers were still very ob­vi­ously work­ing well within their ca­pa­bil­i­ties with no hint of dis­tor­tion, dou­bling, over­drive ‘waf­fli­ness’ or any of the other ‘tells’ of a driver that’s be­ing over­driven. Those over-sized voice coils and the newly de­signed sus­pen­sions are ob­vi­ously pulling their weight!

Those driv­ers are cer­tainly de­liv­er­ing down deep. We played our record­ing of Jean Guil­lou play­ing The Great Or­gan of Saint Eus­tache in Paris and the power of the low-fre­quency sound from the Dy­nau­dio Con­tour 60s as they ac­cu­rately reproduced the low-fre­quency notes from the lower man­u­als and ped­als of the or­gan was al­most breath­tak­ing: it was as if there was a sub­woofer present in the ref­er­ence sys­tem. In­deed the low­est bass was of such high qual­ity that we doubt that any sys­tem us­ing the Con­tour 60s would gain much ben­e­fit from adding a sub­woofer.

To eval­u­ate the midrange of the Dy­nau­dio Con­tour 60s we headed for an old favourite,

Jimmy Dowl­ing’s Bless­ing and Curs­ing, which de­spite its bib­li­cal ref­er­ences (Bless­ing and Curs­ing is men­tioned more than twenty times in the Bi­ble, and if you didn’t get the bib­li­cal ref­er­ence, the open­ing track, Black Book, cer­tainly gives it away.) Although Dowl­ing is a bari­tone, the sound of the gui­tars (the usual sus­pects, plus pedal steel), man­dolin and the higher-pitched backing vo­cals from Lu­cie Thorne and Liz Stringer mean that it’s a per­fect au­di­tion al­bum for midrange, not least be­cause of the su­perb pro­duc­tion by Matt Walker (who also plays gui­tars and man­dolin) and the equally su­perb record­ing qual­ity (it’s on Stovepipe Records). Very qui­etly po­etic and not nearly as ‘coun­try’ as you’d imag­ine from Dowl­ing, this al­bum is not only great for demo­ing sys­tems, it’s also a fan­tas­tic lis­ten, for the mu­si­cian­ship, the lyrics, the son­ics… the lot. We didn’t need to hear all fif­teen tracks to hear that the Dy­nau­dio de­liv­ers a per­fectly flat and beau­ti­fully un­coloured midrange, but the joy of hearing the midrange so per­fectly ren­dered en­sured that we stayed glued to our seats and heard the en­tire al­bum out any­way.

Did we men­tion that the Con­tour 60s also cre­ate im­ages across the sound­stage that will have you turn­ing your head to the new source of sound when­ever another mu­si­cian chimes into the mix. We were turn­ing our heads all through Ea­gle and the Wolf’s self-ti­tled al­bum of soul, blues and coun­try (Ea­gle and the Wolf be­ing Sarah Humphreys and Kris­ten Lee Mor­ris). Ab­so­lutely love the bluesy Mama, Son and the Holy Ghost and lis­ten­ing to them har­mon­is­ing on Th­ese Nights you’ll in­stantly know why Kasey Cham­bers is one of their big­gest fans, be­ing on record as say­ing ‘ separately Sarah and Kris are two of my favourite singer/song­writ­ers ever but the first time I heard their voices to­gether I was taken to a whole other place! The blend was like noth­ing I had ever heard be­fore and broke my heart in the most beau­ti­ful way.’ Thanks to the de­liv­ery of the Con­tour 60s you hear not only the po­si­tion­ing of in­stru­ments and voices across the sound­stage, but also the depth of that stage.

We’d heard there were many dif­fer­ences of opinion about whether Dy­nau­dio headed off in another di­rec­tion when it came to the type of tweeter that might be used in the Con­tour 60, with some of the ‘grey­beards’ on the de­sign team even sug­gest­ing go­ing from a soft dome to a hard one, so we were in­trigued to hear the Con­tour 60’s tre­ble in the flesh. We’d have to say ‘typ­i­cally Dy­nau­dio’, in that the Con­tour 60s de­liver ex­actly what’s needed, yet don’t over-de­liver by mak­ing the high fre­quen­cies sound more im­pres­sive than they were ac­tu­ally recorded. This means that the ex­treme highs can some­times sound a bit ‘soft’ on ini­tial au­di­tion, but if you lis­ten a lit­tle longer—and pay at­ten­tion—you’ll hear that all the highs fre­quency sounds are there, and at the cor­rect level, just without any ‘tizz’ sur­round­ing them. One caveat though, which is that you’ll only hear this if you an­gle the speak­ers in so they’re fac­ing the lis­ten­ing po­si­tion, and ad­just the spik­ing to get the ver­ti­cal an­gle also at the lis­ten­ing po­si­tion. If you aim the speak­ers di­rectly up the room, the high fre­quen­cies are per­cep­ti­bly softer in the mix. One thing you won’t have to bother about is re­mov­ing the grilles for se­ri­ous lis­ten­ing ses­sions and re­plac­ing them for back­ground mu­sic or when the speak­ers aren’t be­ing used at all, be­cause we found the Con­tour 60s sounded ex­actly the same ir­re­spec­tive of whether the grilles were in place or not… so Dy­nau­dio has cer­tainly aced this part of the de­sign as well.

Con­clu­sion

When you put an enor­mous amount of time, en­ergy and in­vest­ment into any project, you ex­pect a pay-off, par­tic­u­larly when you’re a com­pany with vir­tu­ally un­lim­ited de­sign and man­u­fac­tur­ing skills, acous­tic ex­per­tise and tech­ni­cal re­sources, such as Dy­nau­dio. So it’s no sur­prise that th­ese new Con­tour 60s aren’t just good loud­speak­ers… they’re truly great loud­speak­ers. Read­ers in­ter­ested in a full tech­ni­cal ap­praisal of the per­for­mance of the Dy­nau­dio Con­tour 60 Loud­speak­ers should con­tinue on and read the LAB­O­RA­TORY RE­PORT pub­lished on the fol­low­ing pages. Read­ers should note that the re­sults men­tioned in the re­port, tab­u­lated in per­for­mance charts and/or dis­played us­ing graphs and/or pho­to­graphs should be con­strued as ap­ply­ing only to the spe­cific sam­ple tested.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.