The Dynaudio Contour speaker ranges have occupied Dynaudio's middle ground for many years. We previously reviewed ancestors of this Contour S 1.4: a Contour 1.3 way back in 1993 and its MkII successor in 2001.
But the latest S-type variations with their shield shaped metal front driver mounting panels look considerably different from those earlier Contours.
That 5mm-thick metal alloy front baffle, which at its top stands slightly proud of the box, is certainly the S 1.4's most visually distinctive feature. Together with the inverted driver layout, this very much dominates the appearance, creating a uniquely interesting and individual aesthetic.
Certainly it should ensure fine mechanical integrity. Furthermore, the varying width will reduce baffle-edge diffraction effects and the overlap will allow an enclosure that's less than 190mm wide accommodate a 170mm bass/mid driver.
Furthermore, the whole baffle/driver assembly is decoupled from the enclosure proper via a lossy gasket, while the optional grille is attached magnetically.
The unusually slim enclosure is beautifully finished in a wide range of alternatives, including four realwood veneers, plus high-gloss black or white, or satin silver. The rear panel has a large port and the whole speaker sits on a little plinth, which houses the crossover network and single terminal pair.
A classy Esotec-type tweeter with a 28mm fabric dome diaphragm is mounted below a 170mm bass/mid driver, which uses a 115mm plastic diaphragm-driven from a large 75mm voice coil.
The Contour S 1.4 sounds rather different, with an overall character that one of our panelists found particularly appealing, but which was rather less to the tastes of the others.
This speaker is certainly a little more laid back than other speakers, yet its essential sweetness and good voicing is undeniable. Stereo images are well presented and transients sound suitably coherent, though sibilants could sometimes be a touch obtrusive and the sound as a whole seems a little constrained and lacking in warmth.
Its most controversial sonic feature is a function of that rather too healthy mid-bass port output, especially in conjunction with the laid back upper mid and top end. With some material the combination can be very convincing, making the speaker sound significantly larger than its physical dimensions would lead one to expect, bringing an impressive sense of scale to, for example, choral material.
However, bass guitars and drums on rock tracks do have a significantly 'thumpy', resonant quality that's less welcome. Although it has many good points, the success of this attractive loudspeaker may ultimately depend on how well its substantial port output interacts with the characteristics of the listening room.
Follow TechRadar Reviews on Twitter: http://twitter.com/techradarreview