DALI is capable of crafting speakers with real flair and elegance, as anyone who’s clapped eyes on the Fazon F5 will attest. But working within the constraints of Pico’s lower price tag, the company has dialled down the glamour for a more sensible box-shaped affair.
The cabinet, which measures 230mm high by 141mm wide, is dressed in a pleasant black ash vinyl finish, with a gloss-black baffle and silver driver surrounds. They’re covered by a black cloth grille held on by plug fixings, not magnets. Pico also comes in light walnut and white vinyl finishes, both of which are stylish.
Pico’s compact size is a godsend when it comes to installation. The bass reflex cabinets benefit from being placed near a wall, which means you can push them to the fringes of a small to mid-sized room without any performance implications. In fact, you can even hang them on the wall if you prefer thanks to the keyhole fixings on the back.
Build quality is satisfying but unspectacular – the vinyl veneer and plug fixings are the hallmarks of a budget-conscious speaker, a far cry from the lacquered opulence of DALI’s high-end speakers, but it’s fine for the money.
The Pico Vokal offers the same choice of finishes and robust construction. Horizontally shaped to aid placement on a TV stand, the speaker’s small footprint enhances the system’s living room friendly credentials.
The E-9 F subwoofer comes in a choice of black ash vinyl and gloss black, making it a good match for the Zenzor speakers. Cube-shaped, compact and unobtrusive, the E-9 F is one of the easier subs to accommodate, and like the Picos you can place it near a wall thanks to the down-firing bass port. Volume, crossover frequency and phase controls on the back help you tune the sub’s performance, while sockets include LFE and L/R RCA line inputs.
DALI Zenzor Pico 5.1 – Drivers
Pico sports a 4.5in wood fibre cone mid/bass driver and a 25mm soft textile dome tweeter. It’s the same array as the Zenzor 1 and other speakers in the Zenzor range, which is why the sonically-matched Pico can be used alongside any of them.
Naturally Zenzor Pico Vokal uses the same drivers as Pico in a bid to ensure tonal consistency across the entire system, but unlike many centre speakers it doesn’t add an extra mid/bass driver to give dialogue a boost – DALI is clearly confident in the capability of its single driver.
The subwoofer employs a 9-inch aluminium woofer and a magnet system with a four-layer long-stroke voice coil. The on-board Class D amplifier doles out 170W of power, with a built-in limiter to guard against overloading.
DALI Zenzor Pico 5.1 – Performance
Don’t be fooled by Pico’s diminutive dimensions – this system belts out a decent soundstage with thrilling dynamics and plenty of low-end muscle. Through the DALI system, Mad Max Fury Road on Blu-ray is a pulsating, visceral experience. You can feel the rumble of the jeep engines and the roar of flames, while explosions punch hard.
The front trio of Pico speakers deliver a formidable wall of sound with precise placement, smooth panning and decent width. And as Nux hurtles into the sandstorm, the surround channels engulf you in a cohesive 360-degree soundstage.
But Pico’s greatest asset is high-frequency reproduction. Every scene is alive with beautifully rendered detail, from the hiss of sand to the husk of Max’s voice. The lucidity and precision here is stunning, lending a sense of intimacy and realism that makes for an absorbing listen.
Pico’s tone is refined, and remains so when you crank up the volume dial – there’s no spikiness or hardening at higher levels. However, that doesn’t mean the system is tonally dull. There’s aggression and attack behind gunshots and clattering metal, each effect projected from the cabinet with vigour. It just so happens that Pico handles it all with effortless control and poise.
Dialogue is confidently handled. Even from behind his creepy mask you can make out what Immortan Joe is saying and there’s plenty of nuance in every word. It could be a little more authoritative and full bodied perhaps, but on the whole you won’t struggle to hear the all-important exposition.
So far, so good, but the powerful subwoofer is a small sticking point. Its thunderous bass is the beating heart of the system’s performance, delivering the crucial 20-40Hz rumble that the Picos can’t muster on their own, but its substantial power makes it difficult to integrate with the other speakers.
I found myself endlessly fiddling with the volume dial to stop it overpowering the system when the big action scenes kick in. Eventually I found a decent balance with the Picos against a rear wall and the sub volume at near minimum, but it took longer than usual to get there.
This minor issue aside, the DALI system is a superb performer, and gets even better when you play music through it. Its refined tone, abundant detail and wonderful imaging makes every track sound fantastic.
Should I buy the DALI Zenzor Pico 5.1?
The DALI Zenzor Pico 5.1 is a stunning performer in almost every respect, handling movies with admirable power and finesse. The speakers muster a bigger soundstage than their size suggests and the powerful sub turns movies into a visceral experience. It’s a little too powerful for this system and proves tricky to integrate, but with careful setup you can find an acceptable balance.
Pico’s design is conservative, but its scaled-down size will be a hit with space-conscious buyers and build quality is excellent for the money. On balance the Pico system isn’t the best we’ve seen from DALI but well worth an audition.
DALI Zenzor Pico 5.1 – Verdict
It lacks the wow factor, but this impressive 5.1 system delivers refined, room-filling sound from compact speakers that won’t make major demands on your space.