Dali is a recognised master of affordable speakers. That much is obvious from the number of five-star reviews and Awards its more accessible speakers have garnered over the last decade or so. But what happens when the budget stretches beyond three figures? Does Dali still have the magic touch? We have a listen to the new Opticon 6 Mk2 to find out.
The 6 Mk2 are the smallest floorstanders in the six-strong Opticon Mk2 range, which also includes two standmounters, a dedicated centre speaker and, more unusually, a slim LCR model that’s flexible enough to work in all kinds of on-wall situations regardless of orientation thanks to a rotatable tweeter module. Clever.
Get the 6 Mk2 out of their boxes and it’s the twin-tweeter arrangement that grabs your attention first. This unusual configuration has been something of a Dali trademark at premium points for many years now, and the engineers have developed a new module for the Opticon Mk2. This high frequency module mates a conventionally designed 29mm textile dome tweeter with a 17 x 45mm ribbon unit. The crossover between the pair is set at 14kHz, and the idea is that the ribbon takes over where the dome unit starts to struggle, giving a wider, more even dispersion characteristic and increased detail.
Below that hybrid tweeter combination is a pair of 16.5cm wood-fibre coned drivers. These cones are a mix of paper and wood fibre, and deliver what Dali feels is the optimum blend of rigidity, self damping and lightness. The upper of these drivers outputs midrange and bass, while the lower one rolls in below 800Hz to augment low-frequency performance. The lows are also reinforced with a pair of revised rearward firing reflex ports, which are flared at both ends to smooth the flow of air and reduce any turbulence that causes distortion.
Nominal Impedance 4 ohms
Maximum SPL 110dB
Recommended Amplifier Power 25-200W
Crossover Frequency 800 / 2200 / 14,000Hz
Crossover Principle 2½ + ½-way
Dimensions (with base, hwd) 1001 x 195 x 330mm
Look at the published specifications and Dali describes this speaker as a '2½ + ½ way' design, which, confusing as it seems initially, makes sense. The bi-wire crossover network is kept simple in a bid to preserve sonic purity and it is mounted close to the speaker terminals to keep signal paths short.
These Opticon 6 Mk2 are reasonably sensitive at a claimed 88dB/W/m, but the nominal impedance of 4 ohms suggests that they need an amplifier with a bit of muscle. We suggest something like the Cambridge CXA81 (£999, $1299) as a good starting point, though spending more on the likes of the Naim Nait XS3 (£1299, $2999) will reap obvious sonic benefits. Of course, like most good speakers at this level, the Opticon 6 Mk2 have plenty of stretch and deliver more if fed a better signal.
These floorstanders need a bit of space to breathe, too. We find them to work best when placed well out from room walls and firing straight ahead rather than pointing towards the listening position. Such an arrangement gives a wide, expansive and reasonably balanced presentation.
Overall build quality is good. The cabinet corners are crisp and the standard of fit and finish is high. There are three finish options – satin white, satin black and tobacco oak. Unusually for this price level, Dali makes its speakers in matched pairs to ensure that the performance is as consistent as possible between channels.
Large-scale dynamic swings are handled with composure with little sense of the speakers having to strain to punch out the extremes. We’re impressed with the overall refinement, as well as the Opticons’ refusal to sound aggressive even when provoked with high volume levels or strident instrumentation. Tonally, things aren’t particularly neutral, but there’s enough in the way of balance to avoid serious complaints. Those looking at two tweeters and expecting an excess of high frequencies are in for a surprise. The highs here are nicely blended and, if anything, slightly on the understated side.
We switch to Massive Attack’s Heligoland to give the Opticons a chance to show off their rhythmic cohesion and pleasing detail recovery. There’s a good amount of insight here: the speakers dig up a fair bit of detail and organise it in a musical and entertaining way. Make no mistake, these are pleasing and accomplished speakers – but they’re not quite fully rounded.
They’re not the most exuberant performers we’ve heard at this level, sounding a little restrained through the midrange and upwards. This takes the edge off dynamics and makes vocals sound less expressive and emotive than they should. We swap around amplifiers and find something livelier such as Naim’s Nait XS3 works better than smoother sounding alternatives, but it still doesn’t quite solve the issue.
Regardless of amplifier, we notice the speakers struggle to maintain their organisational ability when asked to replay a really complex piece of music. They never go as far as to sound messy, but a feeling of unease tints the overall sound when the speakers are stressed in this way.
Our favourite Dali speakers have tended to be lively and entertaining if just a little rough around the edges. That’s a compromise we’re happy to accept given that they tend to compete at the more affordable end of the market. When price levels rise, so do the expectations. And while the Opticon 6 Mk2 are pretty good for the money, they don’t challenge the class leaders.
- Sound 4
- Compatibility 4
- Build 4
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