DALI Zensor 5 5.1 review

Best traditional package £700-£1500, Awards 2012. This is a brilliantly realised set-up – and cracking value, too. Tested at £1300

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Best traditional package £700-£1500, Awards 2012. A mix of ‘very good’ and ‘brilliant’ components results in truly top-notch, Award-winning sound


  • +

    Nicely made and looks the part

  • +

    effortlessly engaging with movies and music


  • -

    Subwoofer could conceivably be even more willing

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

The prognosis is good for the Dali Zensor 5 5.1 package. After all, the little Zensor 1 standmounters it uses at the rear have scored the full five stars more than once.

The tidy Zensor 5 floorstanders up front have solid four-star credentials and the E-12F subwoofer is part of the Fazon 3 5.1 package that went so well in its First Test in November 2011. Only the Zensor Vokal centre speaker is an unknown…

And not only does the Vokal not let the side down, it’s arguably the strongest part of a package that performs brilliantly across the board. This is a discreet, good-looking system, with plentiful high-gloss accents and a generous driver-count for the money.

The E-12F isn’t the most compact sub around, and at 28cm the Vokal is a deeper box than some nominal rivals, but once it’s all in situ the Zensor 5 5.1 package looks and, more crucially, sounds the part.

Rich, detailed and big on movie thrills
A wordy Blu-ray like The Big Lebowski shows the Dali package off to good effect. Dialogue is richly detailed and packed with character, the soundstage is broad and convincing, and there’s an even-handedness to the presentation that makes it a supremely easy listen.

Switch to the more testing Inception and the Dali displays tremendous pace and poise: big dynamic upheavals in the soundtrack are meat and drink to the Zensor 5 5.1, and there’s an admirable unity to its tonality from the bottom of the frequency range to the top.

Effects are securely sited, and the most fleeting of transients is described as assiduously as the big crash-bang-wallops.

Ideally, the sub would enter individual bass notes with even more alacrity, but set against the Dali’s overall excellence that’s a trifling grumble. This is a brilliantly realised set-up – and cracking value, too.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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