Dynaudio has been designing and building loudspeakers for more than 40 years. In that time, the company has contributed some fairly significant products, like the Consequence loudspeaker back in 1983, the Evidence Master in 1989, the Confidence C1 Signature in 2011, and of course, the Special Forty in 2017.
In 2018, at the High End show in Munich, Germany, the Danish speaker manufacturer announced the all-new Confidence series—a significant milestone for the brand because it not only replaced the previous Confidence line but also, according to the company, outperformed the now-discontinued Evidence line. Dynaudio’s flagship lineup now includes the Confidence 20 standmount speaker ($13,000/pair, including stands; all prices USD) and three floorstanding speaker models: the Confidence 30 ($24,000/pair), Confidence 50 ($33,500/pair), and Confidence 60 ($50,000/pair). The Confidence 60 is the focus of this review.
Papa’s got a brand-new bag
Visually, the Confidence 60 is a tall, slender, subtly imposing loudspeaker with a sleek silhouette, thanks to its all-new curved cabinet. The evolution from the rectangular cabinets used in the previous Confidence series to the current bullet-shaped cabinets required a complete rethink in terms of how to form the exoskeletons. Dynaudio landed on the idea of stacking multiple layers of MDF, pressing and bonding them together, and then bending them into shape.
The Confidence 60 comes in four finishes: Midnight High Gloss, Smoke High Gloss, Ruby Wood High Gloss, and Blonde Wood. I have to say that the Smoke High Gloss painted finish on my review samples is the best I have seen in terms of paint and clearcoat quality. The Confidence 60 measures 10 43/64″W × 64 21/64″H × 18 15/32″D, and no matter where I looked on its curved cabinet, I couldn’t find any sign of warble in the substrate, imperfections in the paint, or orange peel in the finish. That’s damned impressive for a speaker this size.
All Confidence-series speakers remain bass-reflex designs, like their respective predecessors, but now use a downfiring port design derived from the same port technology used in Dynaudio’s Consequence Ultimate Edition loudspeaker. Basically, the port extends downward from deep inside the speaker, through the cabinet’s baseplate to the underside of a steel plinth beneath, where it flares out. Each speaker, including the Confidence 60, is equipped with a dense silicone port diffuser specifically shaped to complement the port flare while dividing and controlling the airflow, and eventually directing it out to the sides. The benefit of this design is threefold: decreased port noise, increased output, and lower tuning frequency.
In discussions with Michael Manousselis, Dynaudio’s President for the Americas, I learned that one of the most significant developments incorporated across the Confidence 30, 50, and 60 models is the company’s innovative multi-contoured front baffle. Previous generations of Confidence speakers used baffles made of MDF, but the precise angles, curves, and edges required by Dynaudio’s latest iteration of the Dynaudio Directivity Control (DDC) sound-beaming technology called for something far more sophisticated. So, Dynaudio went to work and created a new composite called Compex. Compex is more rigid and inert than MDF, in addition to being lighter, and it’s damped enough to absorb unwanted resonances. Dynaudio then went to work on developing, simulating, modeling, and constructing the front baffle shapes for the various speakers, and the independent aluminum waveguide that surrounds the new Esotar3 tweeter. From there, the designers performed extensive testing and analysis on prototype speakers hoisted six meters in the air in Dynaudio’s Jupiter measuring facility.
Before delving into the Jupiter facility, I want to go back and unpack Dynaudio’s innovative DDC technology, a sound-shaping technology that works by tying together multiple components of a loudspeaker, like the bass and midrange drivers, tweeter, crossover, and baffle shape. According to Manousselis, DDC “focuses the sound waves radiating from the speakers into a tight vertical ‘beam’ that avoids reflections from floors and ceilings while maintaining a wide horizontal image.”
DDC was first introduced in the Dynaudio Evidence Master, the company’s former flagship loudspeaker model, and has evolved into the version found in the floorstanders of the new Confidence range. In previous models, DDC utilized a multi-driver array with a sophisticated crossover network and dual tweeters in each loudspeaker. Thanks to measurements and subsequent analyses made possible by Dynaudio’s new Jupiter Measurement System, Dynaudio was able to refine DDC to work with just a single tweeter—through the use of the DDC Lens, Dynaudio’s version of the waveguide—and simplify the crossover in each loudspeaker.
This Jupiter chamber—which I highly recommend checking out on YouTube—is essentially a free-field impulse-response measurement room measuring 13 meters cubed. It features a unique measurement apparatus Dynaudio calls their Jupiter Measurement System (JMS). In a nutshell, the JMS utilizes a specialized crane to lift a loudspeaker into the center of the room, where it’s subsequently measured using a large microphone array. The array consists of 31 microphones arranged in an arc, and the arc rotates 360 degrees around the loudspeaker to capture its full spherical radiation pattern.
The shape and size of the Compex front baffle and the independent baffle housing Dynaudio’s new 28mm Esotar3 tweeter are just two of the many advances Dynaudio has developed and refined using the JMS. The Esotar3 tweeter, developed specifically for the new Confidence speakers, features a specially coated silk diaphragm driven by a powerful new neodymium magnet system. There’s also a new chamber crafted from aluminum with a larger back that, in tandem with the increased magnetic power of the new neodymium motor system, delivers what Dynaudio claims is higher sensitivity and lowered resonant frequency over the previous Esotar2. This allows a single Esotar3 to reach higher SPL levels than a pair of Esotar2 tweeters while providing improved levels of refinement and detail.
The new Esotar3 tweeter also incorporates (and improves on) the airflow-optimization technology first developed for the tweeter featured in Dynaudio’s renowned Special Forty anniversary-edition loudspeaker. In the Esotar3, the rear chamber has been enlarged to reduce resonance while damping has been further optimized. The Esotar3 also features Dynaudio’s Hexis, a small plastic inner dome that replaces the previous Esotar2 tweeter’s felt ring. Hexis was designed to provide greater control over resonances while smoothing the frequency response. The dimpled plastic inner dome of the Hexis also helps eliminate standing waves, which, in turn, helps to stop driver movement the moment the music signal stops. This is how Manousselis explained it to me:
If dome resonance is halted, timing improves, imaging improves, and detail improves; so does the listening experience. Everything was meticulously simulated, tested, and refined in Dynaudio’s state-of-the-art Jupiter measuring and testing facility. The net result is higher detail resolution, improved clarity, and even better dynamics, making the Esotar3 the best tweeter Dynaudio has ever produced.
The higher-powered magnet and the DDC Lens both contribute to higher tweeter sensitivity. Since higher sensitivity translates to the tweeter requiring less input voltage to react, it also means the tweeter doesn’t get hot as fast. So the Esotar3 can play louder, and just as clearly, for longer, even without the use of heat-dissipating ferrofluid (which has been used in every Esotar tweeter up to now).
In the Confidence 60, the Esotar3 extends down to 2580Hz, at which point a pair of newly developed 5.9″ NeoTec MSP (Magnesium Silicate Polymer) midrange drivers take over. This midrange-driver design is shared across the Confidence 30, 50, and 60 loudspeakers. It features high-powered neodymium magnets, redesigned aluminum voice coils, and a new-fangled one-piece cone diaphragm. The midrange diaphragm is bonded to a new surround design that Dynaudio refers to as Horizon, in which the surround follows the cone’s shape right to the outer edge of the driver. The theory behind this innovation is that the continuous shape reduces the surround’s first resonant mode, effectively increasing the playing surface area to improve output. Each Horizon surround is bonded to a brand-new lightweight basket said to be the product of “extensive topology-optimization simulations.” Dynaudio also notes that this new basket design “increases airflow, maintains stability and rigidity, and reduces weight simultaneously without sacrificing performance.” Complementing the Horizon surround, Dynaudio now mounts each midrange driver so that it sits flush with the baffle to reduce diffraction.
Taking over from the twin midrange drivers at 200Hz is a pair of all-new 9″ MSP bass drivers designed specifically for the Confidence 60. This driver uses the same technological advances found in the midrange driver, but it’s been beefed up in several key areas. For example, the neodymium magnets it contains are among the strongest ever used in a Dynaudio speaker. Moreover, all Confidence 60 bass drivers utilize a new 2.5″ copper voice coil. Manousselis noted that further developments in airflow and venting, particularly in the bottom of the yoke, help to keep things cool, and that the dynamic range of lower frequencies in the Confidence 60 is a full order of magnitude better than previous Confidence models.
Something I noticed while unpacking each 146-pound Confidence 60 is that its composite front baffle seamlessly integrates all five drivers without using a single visible screw. When I asked Manousselis how the drivers are held in place, he described it like this:
The drivers are integrated into the baffle with special gaskets. There’s an alloy mounting plate on the back containing the screws—which means the woofers are very tightly coupled, and the tweeter and midrange drivers are decoupled as much as possible to avoid vibration. The drivers are all mounted decoupled, and throughout the baffle, they’re screwed onto a rear mounting ring. The driver and mounting ring have a specific damping material, Poron, which consists of microcellular polyurethanes filled with micro air bubbles. They keep their thickness, and “push” away the metal frames—so the driver frames are never in contact with the baffle. This means it’s important to mount the drivers with the correct torque (1N⋅m); otherwise, the Poron would become too compressed and the effect would be compromised.
Manousselis also mentioned that the Confidence 60’s Esotar3 tweeter, because of its lower mass, is able to forgo hard mounting completely and instead relies solely on multiple layers of Poron residing between midrange drivers and the tweeter chassis to hold it in place.
The Confidence 60’s crossovers are new from the ground up. There are two per speaker: a second-order network dedicated to the tweeter and midranges, and a third-order network dedicated to the bass drivers. Each was tuned with the aid of the Jupiter testing and measuring facility, and each makes extensive use of high-grade Mundorf components in the signal path. Each network is linked together using Van den Hul Snowline internal cabling. The Confidence 60 has a rated sensitivity of 87dB (2.83V/m), a frequency response of 29Hz–22kHz (+/-3dB), and a nominal impedance of 4 ohms.
Each Confidence 60 arrived entombed in its own wooden crate, along with an instruction manual, a magnetic grille, and a unique floor spike system. Having just reviewed a pair of Focal Scala Utopia Evo loudspeakers ($53,598/pair), which arrived with preinstalled wheels and a ramp in each box, I found that the Dynaudios were not nearly as easy to remove from their crates to set up. This was a two-person job, no way around it. With each Confidence 60 freed from its crate, I needed to install a quartet of what Dynaudio calls Dual Surface Feet beneath each speaker. Essentially, each foot is a beautifully anodized vibration-isolating aluminum spike that can be used with or without the magnetically attaching bottom plates. The feet are easy to install, can be adjusted to quickly level the speaker once they’re in place, and present a significant upgrade from those provided with previous Confidence models.
After some experimentation, I positioned the Confidence 60s 4.5′ from the front wall and 2′ from my side walls, leaving about 7.5′ between them in my 21′ × 11.5′ listening room. Power came by way of a pair of Classé Audio Delta Mono monoblock amplifiers connected to an Audio Research Reference 6SE preamplifier. My sources were a Meitner Audio MA3 DAC and a Pro-Ject Audio Systems RPM 10 Carbon turntable equipped with a Sumiko Starling cartridge running through a Musical Fidelity M6x Vinyl phono stage. Kimber Kable Select cables tied everything together. Music was streamed from an Intel NUC computer running Windows 10 and Roon connected via an AudioQuest Vodka Ethernet cable. Finally, Clarus Crimson power cords were used to pull power from a Torus AVR 20 power conditioner, which drew its power from a dedicated 20A outlet.
A new confidence
When I first set up the Confidence 60s in my room, I positioned them so that the tweeters’ axes crossed over about a foot behind my head; this way, I was listening to them almost on axis. The sound from the 60s was good: bass notes had weight and impact, vocals sounded tonally accurate and were precisely imaged, and the top end was clean and articulate. But there was a measure of sparkle, air, and life missing. I’ve experienced this before with other brands of speakers, and the trick to eking a little more life out of the speaker has usually been to add a little more toe-in. But I was already almost fully toed in with the Confidence 60s. So, I used the opposite approach, and tried listening to the Confidence 60s more off axis by firing them straight forward. To my surprise, this helped! The soundstage opened up, but not in the way you’d expect from simply adjusting the toe-in; it wasn’t any wider, it’s just that the notes were noticeably airier. After some more fiddling, I landed on toeing them in about five degrees based on my listening position, which was 9′ away. I still wasn’t hearing the same levels of liveliness and sparkle I’m used to hearing from my Reference Paradigm Persona 7Fs, or what I heard from the recently reviewed Focal Scala Utopia Evos. But what I was hearing could now be described as thoroughly involving and compellingly convincing.
While listening to Dire Straits’ “Wild West End,” from their self-titled debut album (24-bit/88.2kHz FLAC, Universal), the Confidence 60s cast a vast soundstage with plenty of space between David Knopfler’s and Mark Knopfler’s respective rhythm and electric guitars. John Illsey’s bass was skillfully balanced, despite sounding a bit richer and denser than I’m used to, and I particularly appreciated how crisp and quick Pick Withers’s taps of the brass sounded.
Despite all of the good things I was hearing, there was still a measure of vibrancy and sparkle missing, so I transitioned over to Michael Jackson’s Thriller (24/176.4 FLAC, Sony), as I know this is a “well lit” recording. The creaky door that opens the track filled the entire front of my room, followed by the creepy footsteps that cross the room. The Confidence 60s placed the footsteps about 8′ back on the stage, which I quite enjoyed, but there was a density to the sound that prohibited images from jumping out at me with the air and spaciousness I’m accustomed to hearing.
As I continued to listen, I couldn’t shake the desire for verve in the music, so I did what any reviewer would do: I started to dissect the music. Turning up the volume didn’t help; I was able to listen to this somewhat bright-sounding track very loudly without it ever sounding bright or aggressive. Bass notes had grin-inducing punch, and the wolves throughout the track convincingly emanated from all over the room. When I added even more volume, the Confidence 60s failed to flinch—sound levels simply increased without any hint of compression in the top end, aggression in the midrange, or loss of control in the bottom end. I did manage to briefly reach a level where I could tell the Confidence 60s were starting to require more room volume to sound their best, but that just told me these speakers can play cleanly and accurately at very loud levels, given appropriate space to breathe.
When I moved on to Sarah McLachlan’s Laws of Illusion and queued up “Love Come (Piano Version)” (16/44.1 FLAC, Nettwerk), the Confidence 60s did an achingly good job of recreating this recording in my room. McLachlan’s singing voice soared as it should, dead center on stage. But what caught my ear here was the level of richness at play, which seemingly dissolved any vestige of glare to her voice. I mention this because a bit of glare is consistently present when I listen to this track loudly through my Persona 7Fs, but it was completely absent through the Confidence 60s. Equally inviting was the silky smooth, almost liquid sound of McLachlan’s piano. Reproduced in my room through the 60s, notes floated in space with resounding focus and body, although their decays were a little shorter-lived than I would have liked, bringing me back to that desire for just a wisp more top-end presence.
I have the Laws of Illusion on vinyl as well (Arista 88697-73963-1), and knowing that my vinyl rig typically adds a hint of warmth and top-end sizzle to things, I dropped the needle and listened again. Piano note decays were now sustained a bit longer than they were through the Meitner Audio MA3 DAC. McLachlan was projected into my room with a bit more sizzle, and there was a glimmer of light added to the entire presentation, giving it a bit more tonal color and bloom. Things now sounded on point, and more importantly, I arrived at two critical conclusions. First, the Confidence 60s are very transparent to the source. When I reviewed the Meitner Audio MA3, I observed that the MA3 communicated music in a more relaxed manner, and its overall sonic persona “leaned more towards lush and fluid than vivid and detailed” but never sounded unbalanced. Without question, I heard this quality through the Confidence 60s. My second insight was that if you use the Confidence 60s with warmer or relaxed-sounding electronics, you’re probably going to hear these characteristics amplified a smidge. Use them with more neutrally balanced electronics, and you might just find Nirvana.
Apples to oranges
Pitting the Dynaudio Confidence 60s against my Paradigm Persona 7Fs ($24,999/pair) in a head-to-head comparison immediately exposed a glaring divergence in sonic character. The 7Fs were cooler and brighter from top to bottom, whereas the Confidence 60s exhibited a warmer midrange, a darker top end, and a richer, punchier bottom end. While listening to “Billie Bossa Nova,” from Billie Eilish’s Happier than Ever (24/44.1 MQA, Interscope / Tidal), I observed the Confidence 60s deftly defined Eilish’s vocals dead center stage with an alluring sense of focus and rich tonal color. I was impressed by how definitively Eilish was placed, directly in front of the deep, crisp, yet full-bodied bassline. Through the 60s, there was no blurring of images, no homogenization of the soundstage, and no unnecessarily large scaling of objects on stage. Instruments and vocals alike were simply realistic in size and well defined in space. Finneas’s electric guitar sounded refined and textured, and the transient snap with which the Confidence 60s reproduced synth effects was quite enjoyable, and, dare I say it, accurate. I felt like I was hearing the effects as they were supposed to be experienced. I was also impressed by the level of resolution with which the artificial finger snaps were superimposed above and ahead of everything else on stage.
Switching over to the 7Fs, I found that the bass notes didn’t sound quite as fulsome but were sharper and faster in their presentation. Finneas’s electric guitar lacked a degree of warmth while sounding slightly courser in texture. The 7Fs drew the synthesized finger snaps with the same measure of resolution, but painted them further left of the stage, adding a bit of space between them and a cooler-sounding Eilish etched center stage. The Paradigm 7Fs’ more relentless recreation of subtle nuances, such as the grain in Eilish’s voice and the sound of air moving when Eilish took a breath, allowed me to more easily hear microlevel details the Confidence 60s only faintly recreated. When listening to jazz, live music, or particularly well-recorded music, I tended to prefer the 7Fs’ absolute resolution and transparency, but with other genres, such as pop, classic rock, or brighter recordings, the Confidence 60s’ slightly darker demeanor allowed the music to flow in an ultimately more inviting fashion. In the end, despite being very different sounding speakers, both were compelling, just in different ways.
Dynaudio’s new Confidence 60 loudspeaker represents a monumental leap forward compared to its predecessors. Its cabinet, fit and finish, and array of newly designed drivers absolutely exude quality, and the skilled engineering and attention to detail intrinsic in each of these features translate into sound that can best be described as seductive. While I would have liked just a hint more top-end sparkle and resolution, once I had this pair properly set up, the Confidence 60s’ uncanny ability to disappear in a room, sound good at both high and low volume levels, and reproduce bass with convincing authority kept me hunting for different music to listen to for hours on end. If that’s not the definition of a captivating loudspeaker, I don’t know what is.
. . . Aron Garrecht
- Speakers: Paradigm Persona 7F.
- Subwoofers: JL Audio Fathom f112 (2).
- Amplifiers: Classé Audio Delta Mono monoblocks (2).
- Preamplifiers: Audio Research Reference 6SE, Musical Fidelity M6x Vinyl phono stage.
- Digital-to-analog converter: Meitner Audio MA3 DAC-preamplifier.
- Sources: Intel NUC computer running Windows 10, Roon; Pro-Ject RPM 10 Carbon turntable with Sumiko Starling cartridge.
- Interconnects: Analysis Plus (digital), Kimber Kable Select KS-1116 (analog).
- Speaker cables: Kimber Kable KS-6063.
- Power cords: Clarus Crimson.
- Power conditioner: Torus AVR 20.
Dynaudio Confidence 60 Loudspeakers
Price: $50,000 per pair.
Warranty, parts and labor: Five years on purchase, eight years with registration.
Phone: +45 8652-3411
Fax: +45 8652-3116
Dynaudio North America
500 Lindberg Lane
Northbrook IL 60062
Phone: (847) 730-3280
Fax: (847) 730-3207