Our Verdict 
Best wireless speaker up to £150, Awards 2014. The Kubik Free is a real entertainer – an enthusiastic-sounding wireless speaker mixed with a solid feature set
For 
Enthusiastic, entertaining sound
Impressive bass weight and control
Detail and dynamics in spades
Good variety of connections
AptX Bluetooth
Against 
Tiny hint of sharpness over Bluetooth
No optical or USB cables in the box
Reviewed on

Stereo speakers and speaker packages are Dali’s forte – but a wireless, active Bluetooth speaker?

This is new territory for the Danish company, so we’re looking forward to hearing how the Kubik Free stacks up.

MORE:  Awards 2014 - Best wireless speakers

Dali Kubik Free

Design

At £645, the Free doesn’t exactly sit at the budget end of the wireless speaker market. But, behind that wraparound cloth panel (you can choose from nine different colours of cloth), you quickly get an idea where the money’s gone.

Both the 5in mid-bass wood fibre cone and 25mm softdome tweeter are Dali-designed, as is the 100W digital amplifier that powers the unit.

The Free also has a mate, the Kubik Xtra. If you want a pair of Kubiks (we think this is the collective term), buying them as a package will set you back £899.

Or you can add an Xtra at a later date for £295. It’s worth considering the Kubik Xtra if you’re looking for a stereo desktop system for a PC or an alternative to your TV’s speakers.

Plug in the supplied umbilical cable and switch the Kubik Free to either left or right depending on its orientation.

Play music through the pair and you get a much greater sense of scale, with more weight and drive on tap.

There’s an expansive spread of stereo sound that a single speaker just can’t provide.

Connections

Dali Kubik Free

AptX Bluetooth allows for high-quality wireless streaming (provided you’re using a compatible smartphone or tablet), but the Dali also has a number of wired connections to hook up to, the bulk of which can be found behind a clip-in panel on the base of the speaker.

These include an optical digital input for using the speaker with a TV and a micro USB socket for connecting to a computer (both digital inputs support up to 24-bit/96kHz sampling rates).

The sockets are a little close to each other for comfort and it can get a little congested having different cables all plugged in at once.

We’re more disappointed with the fact that Dali doesn’t include an optical or USB cable in the box – it seems a little mean.

To show which input you’re using, there’s a row of symbols along the bottom edge of the speaker – a glowing white LED acknowledges your choice. 

More after the break

Remote control

Dali Kubik Free

The speaker comes with a small and pretty insubstantial remote, which offers control over volume and input selection.

Our Kubik sample didn’t always want to respond to button presses at the first time of asking, especially when it came to altering volume.

On more than one occasion it took more than a couple of deliberate presses to shift the volume.

You’ll also find power and volume controls mounted on the side of the speaker, plus a 3.5mm auxiliary input for hardwiring a smartphone or tablet.

Select the speaker’s Bluetooth connection and the Kubik Free makes itself visible to your computer or handheld device. Pairing takes a matter of seconds.

Sound quality

Dali Kubik Free

We start with a stream of Oasis and The Masterplan from an iPhone 5s. The song’s stripped back, bare intro sounds delicate and intimate.

The Kubik Free picks out a superb level of detail. Noel’s vocal sits neatly alongside the crystal-clear strumming of the acoustic guitar.

Plectrum on string sounds precise and crisp, as do the strings when they come to life later in the track.

Dali Kubik Free

Up the pace and energy with Rudimental’s Waiting All Night and the Dali shows great timing and rhythm.

Following the flow of the track, the speaker’s pensive at the start, and builds into a frantic full-on show of force.

Solid, powerful drum and bass beats, full of weight and texture, balance well with detailed, crisp highs and a natural-sounding vocal.

There’s a tiny hint of sharpness in the treble that’s most noticeable when listening over Bluetooth but it isn’t overly distracting.

Rhythms are tight and fluid, which makes for an entertaining, foot-tapping listen. It’s arguably a more mature and engaging speaker than the rival Bowers & Wilkins A7.

Verdict

The engineers at Dali have struck gold with the Kubik Free, and have used their speaker expertise to great effect. It’s another five-star product to add to their collection.

 

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