The Dynaudio Contour 20i that I received from the importer has been on the market for a while, but they would like to highlight it again. Dynaudio is a loudspeaker brand that does not consider it necessary to keep coming up with new models or improved versions unless there are substantial improvements to be noted. This 20i is the improved version of the original version. I can’t explain the sound differences between the two because I’ve never had the Contour 20 at home. It is in any case dangerous to make statements based on your memory. Only if you can listen to both side by side, under equal circumstances, can you say something meaningful about it. With the previous experiences of Dynaudio speakers in mind, I am very curious how the Contour 20i performs.
The Contour series consists of four models of which the Dynaudio Contour 20i is the smallest and only stand-mount. The loudspeaker has a price of € 2,499 each. The series also consists of the 25i center speaker and the 30i and 60i floorstanders. The 20i measures 210 x 440 x 360 mm (WxHxD) and is therefore quite a big boy. The Contour 20i is a two-way bass reflex system. The units used for this come from Dynaudio’s own factory. Starting with the tweeter. This is an improved version of the Esotar 2 used in the original Contour. The corners of the magnets are now rounded to improve airflow. Furthermore, a Hexis has been placed behind the dome. This Hexis is a kind of mushroom that channels the air vortices. In combination with a small piece of damping material, this ensures that the distortion is reduced. The tweeter itself is a hybrid between the tweeter from the Evoke series and the more expensive Confidence and therefore almost equal in performance to the Esotar 3. The diameter of the woofer measures 18 cm and is made of MSP, a material developed by Dynaudio that combines stiffness with a low weight. The spider behind the cone, in fact the suspension of the cone, has been renewed and made of Nomex, a form-retaining and strong material that allows air to pass through. As a result, hardly any pressure is built up behind the cone and the braking effect is minimal, which leads to good dynamic performance. Because of all the changes, the crossover filter also had to be addressed. The i-versions also have a different internal construction, new damping and reinforcements. The reflex port at the back is 18 cm long and has a diameter of 5 cm. The loudspeaker terminals are made of the well-known WBT and are designed for single-wiring. The finish has been taken to an even higher level: the 20i is available in high-gloss black and walnut veneer. The units are mounted in a 14 mm thick aluminum baffle and protrude slightly from the cabinet. A polymer has been placed between the sturdy aluminum plate and the veneered wood to decouple the units from the actual cabinet. The finish is perfect and the polymer is virtually invisible. The baffle itself is also available in black or natural aluminum color. The removable fronts are held in place magnetically and a set of foam caps are supplied as standard to close the reflex ports if necessary.
To give the Contour 20i a good workplace, my sand-filled Sound Organization stands come out of the salvage. With a height of sixty centimeters, this brings the tweeter of the speakers to ear height.Plugs of Blu Tack ensure the coupling of the speaker with the stand.The distance to the rear wall is approximately fifty centimeters and at a good distance from the side walls. After some experimentation, turning in very lightly gives the best rendering result. I use my reference set to control the speakers. As a beating heart a Devialet 220 Pro amplifier. Sources are a Bluesound Vault Gen2, a Funk Vector turntable with Shelter 301 element and streaming via Roon, directly from the network to the Devialet. For the network I use a Bonn N8 switch with Silent Angel external power supply.Cables are all from the Scottish Atlas Cables: Superior power cords, Mavros Streaming Grun and Hyper network cables, Mavros Ultra digital coax and Ascent Grun speaker cables. In the meter cupboard a separate audio group with AHP sound module and copper fuse.
Brand new loudspeakers really need some time to reach full maturity. That is why the Dynaudio Contour 20i is not seriously listened to in the first week. They can relax with internet radio eight hours a day and work a little harder in the evenings watching movies and series. What is immediately noticeable, due to the lower efficiency compared to my Audiovector R3 Arreté speakers, is that the volume knob of my Devialet 220 Pro amplifier has to be turned up a bit more to achieve the desired listening level. An amplifier with a bit of power is desirable. Another pleasant surprise is the amount of detail that the tweeter shows. Without really drawing attention to it, I sometimes hear sounds that I never noticed before. After a good week of playing, it’s time to sit back and relax, with a tablet at the ready to take notes. A now golden oldie is the album ‘Chan Chan’ by the Buena Vista Social Club. Immediately on the title track, the Dynaudio Contour 20i shows that it is made of the right stuff. Characteristic of a good stand-mount speaker is the ease with which a wide and deep soundstage is built up. The 20i is no exception, in fact, they do well above average. The recording space is projected effortlessly into my living room. All instruments have their own place in the room, with the trumpet and voices in particular standing out. The different voices can be followed separately at all times. The trumpet sounds lifelike and the beautiful tweeter ensures that there is the fierceness of the instrument, but that sharpness is fortunately lacking. The tweeter also ensures that details are beautifully reproduced, but with much more peace of mind than the super-fast all-revealing band tweeter of the Audiovector R3 Arreté loudspeaker that I normally use. This makes listening to this Contour 20i a relaxing activity without the feeling of missing details. The various instruments sound very natural and fluent and the musical coherence is top notch. The members of De Dijk are not quite as old as the men of the Buena Vista Social Club, but they are quite old. Lived and authentic I think is the best description for the voice of singer Huub van der Lubbe. The song is on the album ‘De Blauwe Schuit’ Is this train going back?, which is particularly well recorded. A challenge in terms of reproduction, such as the sticks that tap the edge of the snare drum. The Contour 20i has no problem with it, you can clearly hear the difference between the wood of the drumsticks and the metal edge of the snare drum. In addition, it remains rhythmically super tight. In addition to the aforementioned quality of the tweeter, the bass reproduction also does not disappoint. An understatement, the strings of the bass are purring and grunting that it is a delight. It sounds full, detailed and with a lot of nuance. There is a wonderful musical flow and the mood of the song is captured well. On to something more exciting and complex.
The right character
Earth, Wind and Fire can work with the number star, a 24 bit/48 kHz MQA version via streaming service Tidal. Mission accomplished, it’s rocking. The different voices are close to each other and blend perfectly without becoming a mush. The stereo image is wide. Despite the busy mix in which a lot is happening, you can follow the individual instruments very well. For example, if you focus on the beat ring, you will notice that it easily remains audible throughout the song. The battery of blowers crackles nicely. There is power, punch and the right amount of timbre from the brass instruments. Because of the way this Dynaudio Contour 20i handles live recordings, I select the song Gravity by John Mayer, which is on the album ‘Where The Light Is, Live in Los Angeles’. As expected, the Contour 20i perfectly translates the recording space back to my living room. It is striking how well the interaction with the different people in the audience can be followed. Not only the people in front are audible but also those much further back. John and his guitar are in the front of the picture. The whole sounds dynamic and with a lot of power. For me personally, the fierce taps on the cymbal could be a bit more pointed and the guitar solo a bit more ‘dirty’. Sounds a bit too neat to me. The advantage is that listening to music for longer than never becomes a tiring activity. The drums have power and the bass drum sounds tight, the so distinctive sound of the Hammond organ is clearly audible, with the right character. After the painfully poorly presented Eurovision performance, where only Laura Pausini’s vocals remained technically intact, I can’t resist her old hit La Solitudine to listen. Her voice sounds fantastic, warm and outspoken. When she ‘gasses’ you can hear the youthfulness in her voice and a bit of harshness takes over from the heat. The speakers know how to deal with this excellently and it remains pleasant to listen to.
When it comes to outspoken voices, you can’t ignore Frank Sinatra. On the hard disk of my Bluesound Vault is a nice 24 bit / 192 kHz MQA version of the song Close To YouAs with Laura Pausini, his voice, reproduced via the Contour 20i, sounds beautiful. Frank is singing to me one on one in my living room, this is really enjoyable. The beautiful violin playing in the background makes an extra contribution to this goosebumps moment. To stay in this bubble I listen, also in highres MQA, the duet I (Who Have Nothing) by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway. The presented image is wide and deep and extends far beyond the speakers. The hits on the bass drum are firm and well defined. Donny and Roberta sound perfect together, the urgency of the song is clearly palpable. Speaking of urgency, while visiting a friend, my attention was drawn to Willie Nelson’s album ‘A Beautiful Time’. Released on his 89th birthday. A 24 bit / 48 kHz MQA version is available via streaming service Tidal. Listening to the song I’ll Love You Till The Day I Die I am touched by the beautiful rendering of Willie’s fragile yet powerful voice. The guitar is displayed with playful ease. The strings are beautiful and the subtle echo on the voice is clearly audible. You can clearly hear the age, which gives the music extra charge and gives me a melancholic feeling. What a peace, convenience and authenticity! This Contour 20i seems made for this kind of music. In order not to end the listening session in a too sad atmosphere, some pieces of the OST of the new Top Gun Maverick film. It Top Gun Anthem shows the typical Hans Zimmer sound and reminds me of the music from the movie Gladiator, which is also written by him. The low end goes very deep and, even when the volume is turned up sharply, remains very tight and controlled. Behind it the violins and electric guitar. When the music goes to a climax and the brass instruments kick in strongly I am almost blown out of my chair. ‘Room-filling’ is the right word and a subwoofer seems superfluous in not too large listening rooms.
Conclusion – Dynaudio Contour 20i
I don’t know how the original Contour 20 sounded, but I do know that the 20i is an excellent speaker. Dynaudio puts down a speaker that is at a very high level in terms of performance. The Esotar 2 tweeter sounds subtle, very detailed and smooth. Listening fatigue will never be an issue. The bass reproduction is tight, dynamic and detailed and goes deeper than you would expect based on the cabinet content. The appearance and finish are of a very high standard, the Contour 20i exudes pure class. Dynaudio once again shows that it is a loudspeaker manufacturer that is part of the top class!
Pros of Dynaudio Contour 20i
- Brand awareness
- High-end performance
Negatives of Dynaudio Contour 20i
- Calm tuning