During the ISE fair in Amsterdam we were guests at the press release of the new top loudspeaker of DALI, the Epicon 6. This speaker - and the future speakers within the Epicon line - is the replacement of the current top line of DALI, the Euphonia line. DALI's CEO Lars Worre gave us the necessary technical explanation using a structured Power Point presentation of the new flagship of the Danish loudspeaker manufacturer. As it really is a top speaker, expectations were high. As excited as children with new toys, a couple of weeks after ISE 2012 we got our hands on the DALI Epicon 6 speakers in our trusted listening area.
The Danish loudspeaker manufacturer DALI has been active on our beloved audio market since 1983. Lars Worre himself gave us a technical introduction to the Epicon 6 during the ISE 2012 in Amsterdam. Worre has been working at DALI since 1991. He began his employment shortly after his engineering course and was involved with the execution of loudspeaker designs at then small DALI. In 1993 founder Lyngdorf was too busy with, among other things, the acquisition of NAD (now sold again to the Canadians), so Lars Worre was appointed as managing director. Since his entry the brand has grown rapidly to a player on the current market which leaves its personal footprints. The brand is a worthy alternative to other loudspeaker manufacturers whose products most distributors nowadays display in their shop window.
DALI Epicon 6
The Epicon 6 is a flagship product for DALI, as well as the introduction of the use of a new technology: Linear Drive Magnet System. With this technology the manufacturer is trying to limit sound distortion (deformation). For this DALI has sought out material with linear magnetic properties across the entire frequency range. They have found that in the SMC (soft magnetic compound). An external European manufacturer uses that pulverized dust (compound) to reproduce it back to one element. Around this pool element is an aluminum ring to reduce and stabilize voice coil inductance. The final effect of this new technique is a reduction of distortion (deformation) which can be both measured and heard.
Within the new top range of DALI the Epicon 6 will cost approximately 9,000 Euros per pair. The speaker has a straight baffle with a top that goes up towards the back. The speaker cabinet is curved toward the back, which is narrower than the front. The black glossy baffle ensures that the red-brown bass drivers stand out. The wood finish is also available in walnut or high gloss Ruby Macassar. The total wood finish makes this speaker into full-fledged furniture with an artful character. For the speaker lineup we find two bass drivers of 6.5 inches, a tweeter module consisting of the combination of a soft dome tweeter of 29 millimeters and a ribbon module of 10 x 55 millimeters. This combination could be called stout. Combining a dome with a ribbon is a technological achievement faster than a dome. One might expect that the transition would be a critical point, but that is anything but hard for the Epicon 6; this crossover is totally reliable under the auspice of DALI.
The speaker cabinet of the Epicon 6 can bear 110 db. The speaker has a frequency range of 35Hz-30 kHz, and thus has a fairly sturdy low. The sensitivity is 88dB. An average value is around 90dB, but we have to admit that this observation is relative, because the question is what is 'good'? From a purely theoretical point of view, because of this 'lower' sensitivity the Epicon 6 needs a heavier amplifier with more control. In retrospect, however, it was not bad at all. On the back we find robust and exceptionally high-quality solid speaker clamps. The clamps have the capacity for bi-wiring and are so large and robust that you can tighten a spade without any problem. The Epicon 6 speaker weighs 30 kg, is 125 cm high, 23 inches wide, and 44 inches deep. Thanks to the stunning finish of the speaker this is a piece of furniture in its own right that you are only too happy to display in your living or listening room.
Our first impression was visual: "that speaker looks fantastic!" Then the following question immediately comes up: "Does it produce just as great a quality of sound?" At first we did not regard our impression gotten during the press release in a hotel room at ISE 2012 as important. It is difficult to get your final judgment if you are in totally unknown circumstances. The only thing known to us from the setup used by NAD Benelux to introduce the Epicon 6 was the NAD M2 amplifier. We use this digital amplifier of NAD also as a reference amplifier in our own listening room. In addition, we were in a room where the acoustics was not good, we had no idea of the cables used, and the Epicon 6 was also new to our ears. You have to be able to analyze these separate factors one by one before you can come to a final conclusion. But after that short listening session we were all too happy to state something about the potential of the loudspeaker. So it was time to get the set home to compare it with our reference system.
In spite of the 88dB sensitivity of the Epicon 6 the speaker can easily be amplified. The abovementioned question 'What is 'good'?' is indeed relative. DALI previously had a sound profile that in our opinion was very detailed and tended to be analytical. On such occasion it is extremely important that the speaker communicates. From the first tone it produces it will attract your attention so you have that sense of communication, otherwise it would leave you cold. When that communication is there, the speaker scores extremely well musically. It produces music instead of a reproduction of loose elements of sound. This speaker grabs you from the first tone. The Epicon 6 immediately draws your attention and pulls you to listen. DALI surprised us with the positive evolution with which the sound profile has been through out.
This new top-of-the-line speaker by DALI is a highly qualified reproducer. It definitely can produce a complete, round, grounded sound. In the depth of the low it has enough range, because the music is also harmonically built up from the low. The better that ground note is, the higher the quality of the final result will be. This characteristic became very clear to us while listening to a number of pipe organ fragments. We have a number of recordings in which you can hear the growling of the pipes, and the Epicon 6 reproduces that growling seamlessly.
The speaker has an incredibly fast low and thus a great resolving power. If we compare it to the B&W 800 diamond speakers from our reference setup, we'll have to admit that these can take more pressure because of the higher speaker cabinet and the larger bass drivers. But here we are talking about a totally different price range. When we look at the price range in which the Epicon 6 is positioned, this speaker is a clear leader! If you place various speakers within that price range beside each other and listen to them separately in order to compare them, you will agree on the fact that in terms of sound image virtually all speakers are pretty good. At that point, the sound profile will become the appealing factor that will pull you in the direction of a certain speaker. That sound profile of the DALI speakers is very open with a lot of sound between the speakers. The sound is completely three-dimensional and surrounding, around and behind the speaker. This means that you will never have the feeling that the sound comes right out of the speaker. A beautiful stage is built with an enormous depth for this price level and it clearly makes the Epicon 6 benchmarking reference material.
The mid-high range is absolutely seamless. You will not hear the units separately, Dali really succeeded in taking care of the crossover in these speakers. Because of that the music flows in all its purity and everything remains extremely homogeneous and natural. Thanks to the very fast ribbon you get an extra dimension in the high range. For specific sounds that are sensitive to the heights, such as cymbals and snare drums, you can clearly assess the quality of the heights. In such an assessment the Epicon 6 will get a great report. This extra dimension gives the heights more splendor without being intrusive. Without any doubt you will get the wow factor by the realism that gets an extra boost.
During our listening sessions we really let almost everything pass. The pop music sounds very relaxed. We could listen in a very relaxed way. Everything flowed by itself. Because of the excellent range that this speaker has in the low, it also induces relaxation. A speaker that forces the low because of a lack of bass will sound more nervous and more convulsive. The Epicon 6 remains very pleasant and natural. Classical music is also wonderful to listen to in this setup. You will get an interesting transparency in the music. That transparency is not analytical, but is a sign of good performance of the speaker. You are inclined to listen to your song from the beginning to the end. These speakers will bring out the detail on a real musical level, making musicality become a real added value. Percussion songs show the speed of the low, the transparency, dynamics, and the slam of the speakers. Another thing to take into account from our opinion when connecting these speakers is the use of cables. The Epicon 6 inevitably requires high-quality cables. This speaker has such great resolving power that it will make you painfully aware of the limitations of a basic cable. Without quality cables you will never get the full potential of these speakers realized.
In Epicon 6 DALI produces a speaker that [within its price range] should absolutely be on your shortlist. It totally withstands comparisons to other speakers of major speaker brands within this price segment. When you really are looking for the sound profile that the Epicon 6 provides it even rises above the rest. The finish of these speakers is simply phenomenal. In our opinion your female partners will have no problem with these speakers in the living room. They are fully qualified pieces of furniture which most certainly are easy on the eye. If we come back to the level of finishing, we must not forget the connections at the back. We have never seen a level of finishing that these clamps (and bridge elements!) have from other speaker manufacturers. The industry-leading DALI Epicon 6 loudspeaker has a very good price-performance ratio and absolutely deserves a recommendation!
Plus and minus points
+ Stunning finish+ Interesting speaker lineup (reflex system)
+ Mature speaker that produces the full sound range with sufficient rest
+ Excellent communicator, immediately attracts your attention with its reproduction
+ High-quality clamps / bridge elements
- Cable sensitive
- Requires quality amplifier
NAD M2 integrated digital amplifier
Marantz SC-7 Legendary Series sacd / CD player
Kimber Cables, Audio quest
Mark Levinson 531H end amplifiers, S326s preamplifier
Adele - Live at Royal Albert Hall
Dhafer Youssef - Malak
Lady Black Mambazo - Lady Black Mambazo & Friends
John Rutter - Requiem
Mahler Symphony No. 2 - Ivan Fisher
Pieter Wispelwey & Dejan Kovacevic Lazic - Brahms Sonatas
Antonio Forcione - Tears of Joy Yamamoto
Tsuyoshi Trio - Midnight Sugar (XRCD 32-bit)