This 5.1 speaker system from Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries – or DALI to its friends – comes from the new Opticon series, which replaces DALI’s Ikon range and sits below Epicon, Helicon and Rubicon in the pecking order.
The 5.1 system assembled here includes a pair of Opticon 6 floorstanders at the front (£999), the Opticon Vokal centre speaker (£429), a pair of Opticon 2 standmounts (£649) on surround duty and the new SUB K-14 F (£899).
The idea behind this new range is to deliver high-end sound quality for a lower price than you’d normally expect to pay for a system of this calibre, a move made possible by DALI bringing every aspect of production in-house at its factory in Norager, Denmark.
Opticon is a stunning feat of speaker engineering across the board. The Opticon 6s are positively majestic, each one standing 1m tall with classy high-end design. The internally-braced MDF cabinets are incredibly robust.
Despite their height, the speakers don’t seem imposing thanks to their elegant, living-room friendly styling. The gorgeous high-gloss black baffle exudes luxury, with eye-catching silver trims and a metal panel at the top containing DALI’s hybrid tweeter – more on that later.
The rest of the cabinet features a high-quality vinyl finish (available in Black Ash, Light Walnut and White Matt Satin) which feels plasticky but looks lovely.
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As for the Vokal centre and Opticon 2, they’re designed with the same sense of opulence as Opticon 6, with a dashing high-gloss/vinyl combo and the same colour options.
Vokal Centre uses a bass system with two front slots as opposed to the rear-facing bass reflex ports used by the Opticon 6 and 2. This allows you to stow the Vokal away in a rack or against the wall. It’s a great looking speaker.
The Opticon 2 is a compact standmount with a slightly more voluminous cabinet than the £499 Opticon 1, making it better suited to larger rooms. DALI also sells a wall-mountable surround speaker, the Opticon LCR.
Size-wise the SUB K-14 F is an absolute brute but DALI’s classy styling means it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. It comes in White Matt Satin or Black Ash, with a high-gloss white or black baffle to match the cabinet.
Build quality is excellent, with a thick aluminium base and MDF cabinet lending heft and solidity. On the back are LFE and RCA inputs, plus crossover, phase and volume controls.
One of Opticon’s key features is DALI’s hybrid tweeter module, which includes a 28mm dome tweeter and a ribbon tweeter, the latter rolling in above 10kHz and reaching up beyond 30kHz. The ribbon resides in a separate chamber fitted with rigid bracing, shielding it from the movement of the woofers below.
Using a ribbon and dome tweeters in tandem like this brings several benefits – the ribbon’s wide horizontal dispersion and high-frequency extension combines with the dome tweeter’s ability to produce sounds from 2kHz upwards.
The only downside is that you can’t toe in the front speakers as you would normally. That’s because the ribbons’ wide dispersion could make high-frequencies cross over and result in an overly bright sound.
The hybrid tweeter is used by Opticon 6 and Vokal, but Opticon 2 uses the dome tweeter only.
Opticon 6 uses dual 6.5-inch paper/wood fibre woofers, while Opticon 2 and Vokal use one. The woofer’s magnet motor system incorporates a pole piece made from Soft Magnetic Compound (SMC), a coated magnet granule that can be formed into any shape. Its high magnetic conductivity and low electrical conductivity are highly desirable properties for a speaker magnet, as it all keeps distortion and colouration at bay. SMC is used by all models in the Opticon range.
Inside the Sub K-14 F is a 14in front-firing aluminium long stroke woofer, driven by a 500W Class D amplifier.
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This all sounds great on paper but the DALI is pretty special in practice too. Like DALI’s terrific Kubik One and Zenzor Pico, Opticon’s sound is refined and insightful thanks to those stunning hybrid tweeters, which reproduce fine detail with stunning clarity.
Mad Max Fury Road is a wonderful showcase for the Opticon’s top-end talents. As the two-headed lizard crawls across the dusty desert floor and meets the heel of Max’s boot, the fine rustle and squelch is amazingly lucid.
As the action hots up, the tweeters add sparkle and texture to every scene, whether it’s the rasp of a battered car engine, clattering metal or a howling sandstorm. But it’s presented in such a natural way that it never sounds too bright or clinical.
The tweeters add plenty of bite too, ensuring a fast, engaging listen. It’s quick, agile and unphased by big dynamic shifts.
You can push the volume up high and the Opticons take it all in their stride, kicking out an big soundstage without a hint of stridency or distortion.
And despite not using the hybrid tweeter, the Opticon 2s chip in with luscious detail of their own, ensuring a rich and immersive surround field. They’re perfectly matched with the Opticon 6 and Vokal, resulting in a nigh-on holographic soundstage.
But the Opticon system doesn’t just do the delicate stuff. It also musters the sort of chest-thumping power that makes action scenes an absolute blast. The immensely potent SUB K-14 F emits massive swathes of bass that puts your buildings insurance in jeopardy.
DALI says this sub is more home cinema focused than its other models and you can tell; there’s nothing polite or musical about its thunderous explosions and rib-rattling gunshots.
When huge rocks tumble into the ravine, the rumble is so scary you’ll think the sky is falling in. But it doesn’t emanate from a single point in the room; this is truly omnidirectional.
The sub does a great job on a smaller scale too, demonstrating superb subtlety and agility. There’s a full-bodied hum attached to rumbling car engines while Max’s gruff voice during the opening narration has depth and presence.
The Opticon Vokal reproduces dialogue brilliantly. It’s clear, detailed and authoritative – you won’t miss a single word.
Switch to two-channel and the Opticon 6s show off their musical chops with a lavish performance. Sweet treble adds air and space, while exceptional imaging and precise timing immerse you in the performance.
It’s anchored by deep, nimble bass and a solid midrange. I really can’t speak highly enough of the Opticon system’s performance.
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The DALI Opticon system isn’t cheap, but if you’re lucky enough to be shopping in this budget ball park it’s a fine choice. This beautifully made system performs beyond its price tag, offering an exceptionally powerful, detailed and immersive sound.
A wonderful advert for the Danish loudspeaker market, DALI’s Opticon system offers a sumptuous sonic performance and an elegant high-end design.