Audition # 6Dynaudio Contour S1.4 Bookshelf Speaker
I can safely say that this speaker was the overall group favorite of the day. It performed more like a small tower speaker than a bookshelf; however I was in the minority that didn't feel this speaker was worth the asking price of $3400/pair (not saying it was a bad speaker, just overpriced. I guess that's B&M for ya).
The Dynaudio C1.4 was the second bookshelf speaker to make me ponder whether or not the subwoofer was hooked up. This time, the subwoofer had been removed from the room entirely, so there was no doubt. The bass reached lower than the Sierra-1's, but it wasn't quite as tight and musical. In fact it was a little boomy and bloated for my tastes, something that may be alleviated by crossing over to a capable subwoofer. Nonetheless, we listened to all the speakers full range without a subwoofer, so I must be truthful about what I heard. I'd like to point out that this also could have been room interaction.
The tweeter on the Dynaudio's was pretty spot on, leaning slightly on the bright side of the spectrum. It produced airy and detailed highs without giving me listener fatigue, and in comparison to the Sierra-1's tweeter, had more of a zing and seemed more factual to what was actually on the recording. In a better treated room I am confident that the tweeter would sound a little smoother but without losing any detail (which would be right up my ally).
The spectral balance of the Dyn's sounded right most of the time, but occasionally the sloppy bass took longer to decay than the rest of the frequencies, so the transition to the midrange wasn't as seamless as I had expected from a $3400/pair speaker (some midrange detail loss). The midrange was warm and engaging, but in a couple of instances shile listening off-axisI could have sworn I heard some lobing - hard to tell because it wasn't an ideal listening environment, though. YMMV.
In the end, taking into consideration price, looks (a little aggressive and modern looking for me with the grill removed), build quality and performance, I enjoyed the Dynaudio 1.4's quite a bit, but I cannot justify the asking price. The build quality of the Sierra-1's was more solid in comparison, but the top end sparkle of the Dyn's was better and had that airiness I was looking for. The Dyn's were also superior in the midrange department. However, the "fat" bass causes me to want to re-evaluate them having them crossed over to capable subwoofer. But then you're talking another $600-$1000 for the sub plus the asking price of $3400/pair of the speakers. For that price I could purchase a full surround system comprised of the Sierra-1's, or even better, a pair of Salk Song Tower's with matching center channel or a pair of Vandersteen 2CE Sig's with matching center channel. I know what I'd choose, but I'll leave that decision up to you.
The Dynaudio Contour 1.4's gets two thumbs up, but I recommend trying them paired with a subwoofer, and only if you have expendable income available, as I can think of of some speakers I feel are superior for less money. Still, don't pass up the opportunity to give them an audition. They are one of the best bookshelf style speakers I've had the pleasure to hear. Dyn prides themselves on their build and design quality, and now that I have experienced that first hand I am a fan.UPDATE
: I had the chance to re-audition these at a B&M location, and I liked them a lot more the second time around. The room was treated, and the bass "boom" was gone. Definitely two thumbs way up, but I sure wish they retailed for less than $3099/pair (at least the was the price here in WI). Due to this, I slightly edited a few things from my above review.