DALI EPICON 2 Review
- Smooth, meticulously presented high-frequencies
- Deep, agile bass
- Decadent build quality
- Big and bulky
- Review Price: £3750.00
- Hybrid Tweeter Module
- 6.5in woofer
- Support for bi-wiring and bi-amping
- Walnut, Piano Black and Ruby Macassar lacquer finishes
- 33mm thick dual-layer front baffle
DALI stands for Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries, but the link to namesake Salvador is fitting. The company’s speakers are works of art, not only in terms of design but also sound quality – something we’ve experienced first hand in our reviews of its stunning Mentor and Fazon speakers.
But if we’re talking about works of art, then Epicon is the company’s Persistence of Memory. It’s a range of luxuriously built, obscenely attractive and, yes, super expensive loudspeakers, designed to make audiophiles go weak at the knees.
Epicon 2 is the smallest in the range, and is ostensibly a bookshelf speaker – although good luck finding room for these bulky beasts next to your Cobens and Grishams.
The range also features the larger Epicon 6 and Epicon 8, both floorstanding models (Epicon 8 being the daddy of the family). If you have unlimited funds, you could put together a formidable 5.1 system with this little lot, using the Epicon 6s or 8s at the front, Epicon 2s at the rear, the new Vokal centre speaker in the middle and the new SUB P-10 DSS subwoofer. But we’re testing the Epicon 2s as a stereo pair to get a flavour of their talents.
We were smitten by the Epicon 2’s jaw-dropping design the moment we liberated them from the flight case. At 10.3kg each, they’re pretty hefty – always a good sign – while their beefy size (214mm high by 366mm deep) means there’s really no alternative but to place them on DALI’s optional floor stands, which are available in a dark graphite finish for £550 a pair. Gulp!
Even more significant than their measurements is the lustrous high gloss lacquer finish, which is Walnut on our sample but there are Piano Black and Ruby Macassar options too. But even here DALI hasn’t done things by halves. They’re coated in no less than ten layers of lacquer, which is so thick that the holes for the drive units and speaker terminals have to be cut after it’s lacquered (using a CNC milling process).
This beautiful craftsmanship continues across the entire speaker. Each side is fashioned from six individual layers of MDF, curving alluringly round to join the 53mm-thick MF ‘backbone’ where the binding posts and port are located. On front the tweeter is surrounded by a light silver panel that makes a striking contrast with the darker finish around it.
Aside from the front drivers and rear port there appear to be no joins or seams whatsoever – it’s just one solid chunk of speaker. The 33mm thick dual-layer baffle is curved for added stability and is designed to radiate energy from the drivers as acoustic energy as opposed to cabinet vibration. The cabinet shape also eliminates standing waves as there are no parallel surfaces to reflect them.
On the back of each speaker are four sets of binding posts, which allows for bi-wiring (where the high-frequency and low frequency drivers are fed using separate cables) and bi-amping (where two separate amps are used, one for high and one for low frequencies), although for single wire/amp setups there are gold plated copper links to connect them up. These are large posts with chunky see-through plastic ridges to aid grip and gold-plated copper inside.
The Epicon 2 is a two-way speaker with newly designed drivers, namely a 6.5in wood fibre cone woofer and a hybrid tweeter module filtered down from DALI’s EUPHONIA and HELICON series.
This tweeter solution consists of a newly designed 29mm lightweight dome tweeter and a 10 x 55mm ribbon tweeter. They work together using the properties of both types to deliver crisp high frequencies – the ribbon’s optimal horizontal distribution of high frequencies and the dome’s low resonance, high power handling and ability to tackle frequencies from 2.5kHz upwards make them a great pairing.
As for the woofer, it benefits from DALI’s in-house driver production that started in 2009, which includes new cone impregnation and post-assembly coating processes. Behind it is a newly designed linear drive magnet system. Overall, their quoted frequency range is 47Hz to 30kHz, with a sensitivity of 87dB.
What this all adds up to is a fabulous sound, rich in detail and oozing warmth. With music, there’s passion and dynamism in spades, but everything is delivered with the level of poise and refinement you’d expect from speakers costing upwards of £3k.
They’re capable of a big, muscular sound, and when it comes to forceful parts of a song they really put their back into it. The roomy cabinets allow for excellent bass depth compared with regularly sized standmounts, so the sound feels like that of a larger floorstanding pair.
What we enjoyed the most about the Epicon 2 is its remarkably agile bass, tracking the funky live basslines on Incognito’s Surreal CD without any bloat or overhang. This results in a hugely entertaining performance when it comes to fast, uptempo material.
But with languid, mellifluous jazz albums or classical pieces, the sound is so natural, fluid and evocative that you simply can’t help but get completely lost in the music. Every last speck of delicate detail is delivered with wonderful transparency thanks to those hybrid tweeters, which results in a sonically open and insightful sound with plenty of sparkle, but not a hint of hardness – this is smooth as a baby’s bum.
The good news for movie fans is that these qualities translate beautifully to a powerful performance with Blu-ray soundtracks. Dialogue is remarkably clear, effects are ferocious but expertly controlled and they have no trouble reproducing the lower reaches of a big explosion or train crash. It’s spine-tingling stuff.
With a price tag like this you might expect nothing less, but even so there’s no denying that the Dali Epicon 2 deliver heavenly sound quality. Music playback is blessed with lucid detail, which brings an openness and insight missing from cheaper speakers, while their bass reproduction is some of the deepest and most agile we’ve heard from a pair of standmounts. Movies sound incredible too, which is great news for those hoping to expand to a full 5.1 system with some Epicon 6 or 8s at the front.