For those of you who might be considering the Dynaudio Contour 20i, I have now owned these speakers for 4 weeks (purchased new from Liquid Hi-Fi) and wanted to share my thoughts on them. I have around 250 hours on them, so they are well broken in, and the system driving them consists of Quicksilver Mono 120s using KT120s, Audible Illusions M3B, Schiit Bifrost 2/64 DAC, and Marantz CD6006 CD player (all tubes are stock). Streaming is AppleMusic/AppleClassical provided by either iPad or iPhone connected to Bifrost via USB. Speakers are set up in a dedicated listening room, 6 feet from back wall, 4 feet from side walls, and on 24" metal stands. Speakers and chair are in a 72" equilateral triangle, so a somewhat nearfield set up.
Design and Finish: My pair is in walnut, and all I can say is they are gorgeous...easily the most immaculate finish I've had on a pair of speakers. Grilles are magnetic, and binding posts are WBTs. My one small gripe is that these WBTs do not accommodate bare wire because there is no thru-hole in the post. Additionally, instead of having metal-to-metal contacts on the contact surfaces, the screw down surface is an odd synthetic 'grip' surface that makes it difficult to gauge the clamping pressure with spades. I opted for locking bananas for this reason, which was not my original preference...not a huge deal, though, all things considered. And these are hefty little guys, weighing in at 32lbs each.
Dynamics and Power: I am driving these using the 4-ohm taps on my Quicksilvers, and with 120 watts and strong power supplies in both my amps and preamp, these speakers sing at all volume levels. Of special note is just how uncompressed these speakers are. As I increase the volume, there is simply zero sense of strain, with their tonal balance remaining intact as well. These speakers are also superb at revealing low-level dynamic shifts way down into recordings, which adds a wonderful sense of live realism to any type of music that relies on accurate dynamic decay, such as one hears from acoustic guitar, piano, percussion, and small string ensembles. And the overall sense of power and utter control at higher levels is fantastic...just superb.
Treble Quality: For me, how a speaker reproduces high frequencies (2500Hz plus) is the single most critical sound component, and imo, many, many speakers don't get it quite right. The 20i's get the high frequencies RIGHT, and that is immediately evident on vocal sibilants in choral recordings, cymbal crashes, hi-hats, massed violins, and any instrument whose tone depends on high frequency harmonics. With all of these instruments, I was immediately struck by how 'live' they sounded, and by 'live', I mean utterly void of any grit or grain--smooooth! This natural treble presentation thus allows one's focus to be on the speaker's overall balance without being distracted by high frequency hash, hotness, or distortion characteristics.
Tone, Coherence, and Midrange Balance: Having lived with Spendor 1/2Es for the past 12 years as my sole speakers, I've grown accustomed to a speaker that excels at tone, driver coherence, and midrange fidelity. The Contour 20i's are their absolute equal in terms of natural midrange tone, but they surpass the Spendors when it comes to coherence; I am simply unable to detect the crossover in these Dynaudios, and that has resulted in my understanding vocal lines and lyrics that have eluded me for years with previous speakers. Additionally, the midrange is uncannily balanced and utterly seamless to my ears, a trait that is immediately evident when listening to massed violins and orchestra. As the violins move from their lower registers upward, there is zero peakiness or stridency...just natural and balanced sound like real instruments sound live. And acoustic guitar is off the charts good. Listening to John Mayer on "Inside Wants Out," and the sense of a live guitar and male vocal in front of you is uncanny. The Contours convey the wooden body of Mayer's Martin, the strings' decay and vibration, and the dynamic shadings that Mayer achieves...amazing.
Lower Registers: When is comes to bass reproduction, these speakers just make me smile. The bass in my room is even, fully extended to around 40Hz, and incredibly real sounding. Orchestral bass sections are detailed and have appropriate heft, with the Contours doing a great job at capturing exactly what the players are doing. Standup bass in jazz recordings is also phenomenal...dynamic, taut, detailed, and utterly engaging. The bass frequencies are also balanced, and just like the treble, blend seamlessly with the midrange so that one can listen for hours to the music, not 'the bass' or 'the highs.' And overall bass detail and bass decay is awesome, especially the ability to hear precisely when bass notes stop. I can hear how electric and acoustic bass players are muting the strings and also hear how drum toms decay and ring.
Overall: Although I will never sell my beloved Spendor 1/2E's, these Contour 20i's have stolen their place as the finest speakers I've had the pleasure of owning. And with over 250 hours of listening time so far from everything from Buckethead to Mahler, I have not a single complaint...not one! So for anyone in the market for an immaculately crafted speaker that conveys all types of music in a natural, non-fatiguing, and 'proper' manner, you owe it to yourself to check these out. I can assure you mine will not be going anywhere!