Dynaudio prides itself on building accurate loudpeakers and so has adopted this simple motto: “Danes don’t lie.” While I can’t vouch for all Danes everywhere, I can tell you Dynaudio’s Contour S R on-wall monitors and SUB250 powered subwoofer are sonic truth-tellers extraordinaire.
The Contour S Rs are essentially high performance mini-monitors that have been voiced for on-wall rather than stand-mount applications. The speaker features a 5-inch molded MSP (Magnesium Silicate Polymer) polypropylene woofer and a 1.2-inch ferrofluiddamped fabric dome tweeter. Both drivers are mounted to a thick metal baffle plate, which is isolated from the main enclosure by a separate damping panel. Build quality, highlighted by lovely wood veneers, is exemplary.
The SUB250 is a compact, 200 watt, acoustic suspension design based on a 10-inch MSP polypropylene woofer. The sub’s operating guide provides unusually clear, thorough, and detailed set-up instructions.
I tested the Contour S R/SUB250 system in my reference high-end audio system, mounting the S Rs on rigid, purpose-built plates positioned directly against my listening room walls. This mounting scheme closely simulated normal wall mounting while providing clearance for thick, audiophilegrade speaker cables. Before I began my listening tests, Michael Manoussellis, Director of Sales and Marketing for Dynaudio USA, told me he thought the Contour S R/SUB250 system sounded every bit as good as most equivalently priced high-end floorstanders. I was skeptical about this at first, but after hearing the system in action I’ve become a believer. Here’s why.
The Contour S R/SUB250 rig is, hands down, the best-sounding on-wall speaker system I’ve ever heard, and this is because it offers terrific top-to-bottom openness, clarity, and detail. Early on, I played the very challenging Bakels/Bournemouth recording of Vaughan Williams’s Symphony No. 7 “Sinfonia antartica” [Naxos], and I came away impressed at how the Contours delineated individual orchestral lines while preserving even the finest textural details. In the opening “Prelude” movement Vaughan Williams wrote a brief passage for a strange, ethereal-sounding “instrument” called a wind machine (meant to suggest gusts of frigid arctic air). Some speakers blur the sound of the machine so that listeners are not even sure of its presence, but through the S Rs the wind machine’s sound was so distinct that it sent shivers up my spine. Small details like these contribute a lot to overall realism, as does deep, clear bass. In the symphony’s third “Landscape” movement large-scale orchestral swells are punctuated by powerful, very low-pitched pipe organ passages. On those passages, the SUB250 reached way down deep to capture the shuddering, almost sub-audible rumble of the low pedal tones.
The Contour S Rs are accurate, neutrally voiced, and offer superb resolution of low-level details. They are also quite good imagers, I suspect because their tweeters and relatively small-diameter mid-bass drivers disperse well. Dynamics are very good up to a point, though the S Rs do, like most small monitors, have output limitations you’ll need to respect. The only small flaws I could discern were infrequent traces of edge diffraction (faint, hard-edged sounds that drew my ear to the faces of the speakers) and a narrow region in the upper midrange where, when pushed very hard, the S Rs showed hints of excess brightness. But these shortcomings are so minor that they in no way dampen my enthusiasm for the Contour S Rs.
The SUB250 performs beautifully, too, easily ranking as one of the tightest, cleanest subwoofers I’ve heard. Many otherwise good subs are afflicted with a subtle but pervasive quality of textural “thickness” that detracts from realism. Not so the SUB250; it reproduces low-frequency instruments with terrific pitch definition and transient clarity. The only drawback, as I discovered when turning up the system on Thomas Newman’s synth bass-laden soundtrack for American Beauty [Dreamworks] is that the SUB250 sounds so clean that listeners may be tempted to push volume levels to a point where the sub gets overdriven on loud low-frequency passages. But used within its limits, which are actually pretty high, the SUB250 is a gem.
The Contour S R and SUB250 system sounds superb on wellrecorded material, though it can and does expose mediocre recordings for what they are. But this is a small price to pay for an on-wall system whose sound is truly competitive with that of high-end floorstanders. This is one on-wall system that I think finicky, hard-core audiophiles might choose on the basis of its sonic prowess alone. Where I come from, that’s saying a mouthful. TPV