Sunday, February 24, 2013

Dynaudio Confidence C1 Mk II - Quick listening impressions

I had a chance to listen to the Dynaudio Confidence C1 Mk II a few weeks ago at the local agent's showroom. The ever friendly manager, Nicholas gladly obliged my request to listen to them although I happened to be there for something else.

I noticed that the C1 is commonly compared to the Focal Diablo as they are have similar target audiences, the enthusiast that wants maximum performance from a standmounted speaker. The best advice I could ever give is simple - go out and hear both. I think they are both so differently voiced, that you should clearly prefer one over the other.

From the first few opening bars, the C1 shocks you with its dynamics and bass extension. Nicholas put it best when he described the C1 as "a floorstander with the footprint of a bookshelf speaker." The C1 clearly goes deeper than the Diablo, with at least a feeling of a 1/3 of an octave more extension. It has a lively, yet slightly warm balance that would suit rock and pop music.

The C1 projects the soundstage in a more forward fashion that the Diablo. For want of a better description, the Diablo is subjectively gentler and more laidback.

The Diablo inches ahead of the C1 in its high frequency speed and detail. The C1's treble sounds sweeter, while the Diablo has more sparkle, and resolution.

The C1 subjectively appears to me to be more power hungry than the Diablo, and was happily soaking up current from the Plinius integrated amp used for the demonstration. I also noticed that it sounds better as volume is turned up, with the first few clicks of the volume control being unable to bring the speaker to life. The C1 is most comfortable at moderate to loud volumes. In fairness, the Diablo also has a dislike for very low volumes but hits its sweet spot slightly earlier.

Both the C1 and Diablo are excellent in their own right and offer world class performance in a small package. You won't go far wrong with either, with your listening taste in music probably being the final arbiter.

From a local pricing perspective, the C1 is a very competitive value proposition. Drop by the Dynaudio showroom on the 1st floor of Adelphi for a further listen.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Telos Power Cord Round Up

A round up of 3 power cords from Telos - the Gold Signature Mk II, Branda Signature, and Platinum Signature.

Please excuse the photos. The cords are demo sets and show some signs of wear and tear. As they are on loan, the plastic wrap stayed in place for most of the photo shoot. Nevertheless, the finish on these cables are so beautiful that it actually motivated me to take out my light tent for a few close up shots.

The Branda Signature is almost as heavy and thick as the Platinum Signature.

The IEC and AC male plugs are similarly finished.

The Gold Signature Mark II

Platinum Signature
The mandatory group shot - L-R : Platinum Signature, Branda Signature, Gold Signature Mark II

Telos Gold Signature Mark II

The second generation Telos Gold power cord is the lightest and most flexible power cord in the Telos family. Like its siblings, it is finished very nicely with heavy plated copper rings attached around the cable. It is reasonably easy to manage (unlike some Anaconda like cables I've had to handle) and has an average turning radius.

Pacing wise, the Gold takes it's time. This is not a cord that has lightning fast transients and speed. Neither does it sound slow - instead it has a natural portrayal of both the initial strike and resultant decay. This is a characteristic that was common to all three Telos cords on test here.

The Gold is on the sweet and smooth side of things. Referring to my listening notes, I had written down, "Sweet and weighty midrange". Midrange is fuller than usual with a lush and fluid presentation. On the bottom end, the Gold has tight and extended bass but without the bloom that the midrange enjoys. Bass is relatively dry. High frequencies are all there but are less prominent compared to the rest of the frequencies. Soundstaging is wide, but a bit flat in depth.

Translated into music playback, violins have more body but less bite from the strings. Percussion work tends to favour drums and tom toms compared to cymbals. Flutes in particular are noticeably less airy. Female vocalists have weight and richness, but some of the texture and nuances that could be heard through my usual power cord was lost.

Compared to the best on test, there is a loss of microdetail. Assessed individually, the Telos Gold is pleasant and has more sins of omission than addition.

Telos Branda   

Both the Gold and Platinum have one single problem - the Branda. The middle-child of the Telos family is to my ear, the most pleasing and value for money !

The Gold was pleasant, but spending 50 % more on the Branda showed me that this was not the typical case of diminishing returns. The Branda improves on the Gold in all parameters.

The Branda has a more lively sound with very deep and wide soundstaging. Bass is wetter than the Gold with extension and bloom. The human voice remains full, but with texture and detail that is obscured by the Gold. High frequencies are more prominent and have excellent extension and projection. Interestingly, cymbals sound warmer on the Branda, with a more golden metallic sheen. Microdetails and dynamics are both excellent. 

The Branda is certainly not a dull and shy cable. Despite the high levels of energy, the Branda keeps everything under control. 

Telos Platinum

The Platinum was quite underwhelming after coming from the Branda. I had to switch back to the Branda after listening to the Platinum just to make sure that my observations of both cables were not misplaced.

Compared to the Branda, the Platinum had an overall lighter tone. It has an equally weighty but more rounded bass. However, its midrange and treble have less tonal density. High frequencies in particular are presented in a gentle and soft manner, compared to the more incisive character of the Branda. This translates to a nicer and more polite presentation of energetic percussion work. The cooler midrange also has a tendency to emphasize sibilance on the usual problem tracks.

While the Platinum has a very refined and intellectual presentation, it lacks the snap and verve of the Branda. Preference would very well be taste dependent but I suspect that the majority of audiophiles would prefer the Branda.


I enjoyed my time with the Telos power cords, and will especially miss the Branda when I return them  to my dealer. As a matter of value, I feel that Telos is able to compete favourably with the big brand names out there. In fact, the Branda and Platinum compared quite favourably with my usual powercords, the Acrolink  PC-6100 and Acrolink Mexcel PC-7100. The Acrolink cables had a more laid-back balance. The PC-7100 remained the most detailed power cord on test, with the finest level of microdetail, air and attack. However, the Branda and Platinum easily outperformed the PC-6100 in terms of sound staging, and bass bloom.  

The Gold needs cautious evaluation and needs more careful matching. Prospective purchasers should definitely compare the Gold to the Branda before taking the plunge.

Telos has done very well for itself -  in an sector flooded with me-too products, their power cords are unique and offer good value for money, especially the Branda. I can't wait to try the Branda interconnects when they appear on the market.