DALI Zensor 1 5.1
Product of the Year, Awards 2013. Arguably the finest-sounding surround package available for this moneyWrite your own review
- Dynamic and expressive
- Fluid and punchy delivery
- Well-integrated subwoofer
- Fine build
- Centre speaker isn’t particularly compact and needs a large TV rack
We’ve been big fans of Dali’s Zensor range ever since it came out. So much so that the Zensor 5 5.1 surround package built around the terrific Zensor 5 floorstanders was good enough to pick up an Award last year.
If anything, this Dali Zensor 1 system is better. It’s easier to accommodate and even more consistently matched between the channels.
The Zensor 1 standmounters – like the rest of this package – are really well made. But it’s the mechanical bits that make them stand out. Their 25mm soft-dome tweeter is capable of a clear, open and refined sound that’s packed with detail, while the 13cm mid/bass driver uses Dali’s trademark wood-fibre cone.
These well-designed cones used to be reserved for the company’s more exotic products, but the technology has slowly trickled down to its more affordable ranges.
Dali designs its products to have wide sound dispersion, and they tend to perform best firing straight ahead rather than being angled-in towards the listening position. But, as always, it’s worth experimenting.
The Vokal centre speaker uses the same drivers as the Zensor 1, but doubles up on the mid/bass units. This is a chunky centre measuring 16 x 44 x 29cm, so make sure there’s enough space in the TV rack.
Dali’s new E-9F subwoofer completes the package. It’s a 31cm cube with a front-firing 23cm aluminium drive unit, ported downwards to encourage a less fussy nature when it comes to positioning.
How does it sound? It has the same combination of fluidity and dynamics we so enjoyed in the stereo Zensor 1s, but backs it up with the authority that can only come with a beautifully integrated subwoofer.
MORE: Dali Zensor 1 review
Watch something relatively low-key such as The Perks Of Being A Wallflower and the centre speaker impresses with its delicacy with voices. We admire the consistency in character between the centre and Zensor 1s too; the soundfield stays cohesive even as sounds pan between channels.
Yet put on an old favourite like Avengers Assemble and this package responds with drive and drama. There’s plenty of punch with explosions, and the ability to play at high volumes without stress too. That subwoofer is as fast as it is precise, making it a fine match with the rest of this set-up.
Switch to Alt J’s An Awesome Wave CD and we remember why we like the Zensor 1s all over again. These are enthusiastic and engaging performers that make sure the listener has a good time. That’s about as much as we can ask for on music replay.
The larger Zensor 5 5.1 package has been a favourite of ours for a while now, but this Zensor 1-based package delivers much of the same performance and is easier to accommodate in small to medium-sized rooms. It’s a winner.