Home cinema speakers are about lifting your home entertainment onto a higher plane of existence. It’s all there on your video content just waiting to be unlocked: a beautiful soundtrack, clean dialogue, big-hitting bass and surround sound effects all projected onto a soundstage with you at the centre.
All you need is a great package to unlock it. Could that be the Dali Oberon 5 5.1 Speaker Package?
Build and compatibility
Upfront are the Award-winning Dali Oberon 5 floorstanders. The surrounds are either the five-star Dali Oberon 1 standmounters (£1699), which is the package we're testing, or the compact Dali On-Wall speakers (£1799). Either way, they have tidy MDF cabinets, with a choice of Black Ash, White, Dark Walnut and Light Oak finishes.
We feel rather blessed to be sat in the middle of the beautiful two-tone light oak options which are attractive, subtle, modern and the kind of speakers that would suit most rooms.
At just 83cm tall, the two-way front pair is as unobtrusive a set of floorstanders as you’ll find. They’re significantly smaller in every dimension than its main speaker package rivals, the Elac Debut 2.0 Home Theatre System and Q Acoustics 3050i Cinema Pack – and that’s well worth considering if you have limited space in which to house your 5.1 system.
The Oberon 5s have a fairly large and lightweight 29mm soft dome tweeter, and that allows it to dip into lower frequencies to help integrate itself with the sound coming from the woofers.
Those two 13cm mid/bass drivers are made from Dali’s wood fibre/fine grain paper pulp choice of cone material, which the company believes is the best available balance between rigidity and low resonance.
They’re positioned within a low-loss surround using spider suspension to focus on micro details with maximum transparency. All three units within each speaker are linked with a single-wired two-way crossover, giving a sensitivity of 88dB/W/m and a nominal impedance of 6 ohms.
It’s a similar story for the shoebox-sized Oberon 1 surround speakers. There’s just the one midrange driver here, and Dali has made these standmounters as versatile as possible by adding a wall-mounting attachment.
While they sound better than most hung like this, we’d recommend setting them around 30cm into the room for maximum clarity.
One of the key make-or-break battlegrounds of a speaker package is the centre and it’s the Oberon Vokal that is tasked with that job here.
It has the same selection of drivers as the floorstanders arranged with the tweeter in the middle and the front-facing bass port just underneath. That arrangement has been chosen to help achieve a wider dispersion pattern and make positioning less fussy.
Last but not least, is the subwoofer. It’s a Dali Sub E9-F, which is a relatively small cube that comes in Black Ash, White or Light Walnut. An aluminium-coned, 23cm woofer sits inside the MDF enclosure which itself sits 3cm off the floor, thanks to some rubber legs, creating enough space for a downward-firing bass vent to work its magic.
It’s powered by a 170W RMS Class D amplifier and has a heavy magnet motor system with a four-layered, long-stroke voice coil designed to keep the cone up to speed with the amp’s signal. There are controls around the back for fine-tuning the speaker to your room with dials for gain and crossover.
We fire up the projector and head to Deadpool on 4K Blu-ray. The film opens up with the kind of scene that puts home cinema sound through its paces. It’s chaotic – with explosions, dialogue, cars zooming left and right, and plenty of thumps and amusing details as henchmen meet their grisly ends. The Dali Oberons perform the job admirably.
Dimensions (hwd) 83 x 16 x 28cm
Dimensions (hwd) 27 x 16 x 23cm
Dimensions (hwd) 44 x 30 x 16cm
Dimensions (hwd) 31 x 29 x 31cm
There’s a beautiful rasping quality to a motorcycle as it zips across the picture trying to avoid a tumbling vehicle pile-up. It shifts across the soundstage in a wonderfully integrated fashion and, like the rest of the moving action, we’re never aware of the sound passing from speaker to speaker but more through the space around us which is exactly how home cinema should be.
There’s surprising authority and power to this relatively diminutive package as well; not as much as the crowd-pleasing Q Acoustics 3050is, perhaps, but the Dalis hold their own.
The hits are huge as airborne vehicles slam into the road with terrifying weight and every bone-crunching punch sounds as though it has been delivered with super-human strength, but the details of twisting metal and the splattering blood aren’t steamrollered by the thuds.
Switching to dialogue scenes with Wade Wilson and we’re blown away by the way the Dalis convey the character in his voice. The dynamics and detail from the centre speaker give a fabulous sense of the roughness of his timbre.
There’s more credibility to the hard-boiled background of the character as the speakers express the cracks in his tone, which you imagine are caused by things Wilson has seen and done as a Special Forces soldier. The muffled quality of his speech through the Deadpool mask is good enough to hear the texture of the disguise itself.
There are incidental moments where the detail is not quite as fine and singular as with the more delicate Elac Debut 2.0s — a glass placed upon a table, the safety clicked off a gun, for instance — they’re all present, but not quite so beautifully three-dimensional. Instead, what we have with the Dalis is the best of both worlds, and a definite overall step-up in sonic terms.
While the sub can create quite the rumble with the gain turned up high, it’s best to dial it down for a more subtle response. At sensible levels, it still delivers enough atmosphere and tone. If serious weight is what you need, then you can always upgrade to the Dali E-12F with its 30cm driver.
Lean, attractive, interesting and unfussy: these words are equally apt for both the aesthetics and acoustics of these clever performers.
The Dali Oberon 5 5.1 system presents every frequency in full, but with honesty and warmth that brings the best out of any soundtrack. They’re transparent but fun, powerful but subtle; we’d have them round to ours any day.
- Sound 5
- Compatibility 5
- Build 5
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