Confidence is a fitting name for these speakers. Everything about them, from the sonic presentation to the distinctive styling and that hefty four-grand price tag, oozes the word.
You can hear it in the sound, too. The C1s are quite possibly the most confident-sounding standmounters we've heard. They don't get fazed, no matter how complex the music gets, or how loud they are asked to play.
Listen to something difficult, say Angel from Massive Attack or Babe, I'm On Fire from Nick Cave, and the C1s will respond with breathtaking composure and insight. The Cave track in particular can sound a real mess on most speakers – but not these.
Similarly, the Massive Attack track makes most speakers crumble due to seismic lows, complex production and some punishing dynamics. Here, the C1s' bass authority, drive and rhythmic precision turn this song into a true musical event, in a manner few similarly priced speakers – including floorstanders – can match.
A presentation with authorityMuch of this is down to an exceptional bass performance. There is plenty of weight and power, yet it manages to sound taut and agile at the same time.
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No other standmounters we've heard are as authoritative, or have a presentation so solid and full-bodied. Factor in an insightful midrange, and one of the sweetest trebles around, and you have a very special product indeed.
That said, careful system matching is essential if you want the performance we've described. You need something lively to get these Dynaudios firing, something that makes the most of the speakers' rhythmical prowess and explosive dynamics, without adding weight to the lows. The Plinius 9200 integrated amp at £3000, or a top-end Cyrus pre/power combo would do it.
Solid stands are essentialYou'll also need to take care over stands: they need to be solid, without being overly massive (it'll emphasise bass), and the right height. Go too high and the presentation loses bite.
In price terms, the C1s are pitched at the top end for quality standmounts. Build and finish are as good as they need to be for the price point, but lack the luxury touches of a Sonus Faber, or the overtly high-technology content a similarly priced B&W or Focal product would flaunt.
You'll find an MDF cabinet, soft-dome tweeter and polypropylene cone in products that cost a tenth as much, but it's the carefully considered application of these that makes the C1s so special.
Four grand is a massive amount of money for any speakers, let alone a pair of medium-sized standmounts; and there is no shortage of quality competition at this price level, either.
Yet we've fallen for the C1s. Set up with care, they deliver an exceptional sound with no weaknesses. Regular readers will know that's not the kind of statement we make lightly.