Dali has long had a knack of making likeable speakers. All it takes is a short listen to confirm that the Rubicon 5 speakers are another example.
These floorstanders might not be flawless, but they have a sparkle about their performance we can’t help but enjoy.
Design and build
Dali tends to do things a little differently. While the 5s are a two-and-a-half-way design, there’s a twist: that extra half-way refers to an additional tweeter rather than the more usual dedicated bass driver.
The extra tweeter is a 17 x 45mm ribbon design – it takes over from the conventional soft-dome unit at around 14kHz, with the dual aims of maintaining dispersion at the highest frequencies and improving resolution.
Moving down the frequencies, the midrange and bass are delivered by a 16.5cm-unit tuned by a rear-firing port. The driver uses Dali’s trademark wood-fibre cone material, which is claimed to give a good balance of low weight, rigidity and damping.
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The Rubicon 5s are well built, though they feel a little lighter than expected. The white-gloss finish on our review samples is nicely applied and looks classy.
Other finish options include gloss-black, rosso-veneer and walnut. We’re happy with the level of fit and finish – it’s clear that the company has put in a great deal of effort to ensure the speakers’ quality is right.
Positioning is easy: just give the Rubicon 5s space to breathe and fire them straight ahead, rather than angling towards the listening position. The speaker’s wide dispersion makes this positioning preferable.
Once set up these towers certainly deliver. These are lively performers that have a fluid way with dynamics, and their energetic presentation makes them happy to belt out Bruce Springsteen’s Radio Nowhere – even at high volumes.
There’s an infectious sense of drive here, combined with plenty of punch. Despite a bit of excess richness in the bass, it’s agile enough not to slow things down. Overall resolution is good, making it easy to follow instrumental strands, even though the production is pretty dense.
We like the Rubicon’s way with voices too. Springsteen’s voice is rendered with convincing texture and nuance.
Moving on to Prokofiev’s Romeo And Juliet shows off the Dalis’ fine stereo imaging – it’s wide, nicely layered and well focused. Provided the rest of your kit is talented enough the 5s won’t disappoint in this respect.
What flaws do we find during our test? There are better options if tonal purity is a priority, and the very best rivals have a transparency the Dalis can’t quite match.
Neither of these things is enough to upset us too much, however.
There’s no shortage of competition at this level, with models from Spendor, ProAc and PMC setting very high standards.
Yet the Rubicons have enough appeal to be worth a serious listen. We doubt you’ll be disappointed if you pick up a pair.