- Top-drawer build quality
- Assertive, refined sound
- Classy looks
- Bass not as authoritative as we’d like
- Wall brackets not supplied
- Review Price: £899.00
- Compact 250mm-high cabinets
- 4.5in woofer
- 1.1in soft textile dome tweeter
- Wall, bookshelf or stand mount
- Cherry Veneer, Black Satin or White Satin finish
Dali is known for unashamedly stylish speakers like the delectable Dali Fazon F5, but the Mentor Menuet sees the Danish company in a more restrained mood. These new speakers, which can be used for hi-fi or as part of a home cinema setup (front or surround), are the smallest ones ever to grace its Mentor series, but despite their compact size Dali reckons they’re still capable of delivering great power and musicality.
Dali Mentor Menuet Design
That’s not to say, however, that they’ve fallen from the ugly tree. Sure they’re not as glamorous as the Dali Fazon F5s, but there’s a quiet beauty and class about the Dali Mentor Menuet’s chiselled bodywork. They’re available in three real wood veneer finishes – Cherry, Black Satin and White Satin (we auditioned the Black version). The finish is smooth, shiny and pleasant to the touch, plus the slightly curved front and back edges lend a touch of elegance.
We’re also highly impressed by the Menuet’s build quality. Surprisingly heavy (4.2kg each) and as solid as they come, this burly build can only mean good things for performance. The compact cabinet stands 250mm tall and 230mm deep, which will make life easy when finding somewhere to install them.
The front grilles can be removed (which unusually plug into the cone surrounds, not into the main cabinet) to reveal the woofer and tweeter. The tweeter is framed by a light grey surround which complements the black satin finish nicely. A silver square etched with the Dali logo sits below them both.
Spin the speakers 360° and within the deep recess you’ll encounter a pair of remarkably large and sturdy binding posts, made from transparent plastic with huge grooves to grip them with. The front-facing holes take banana plugs.
The Menuets are designed to be placed on a shelf, mounted on the wall or placed on stands. For wall mounting, Dali sells optional two-piece wall brackets, which connect to two threaded inserts on the back of each speaker. They provide the adequate venting space between the speaker and wall using special bumpers that come with the mounting kit. If you opt for shelf placement, you’ll find a set of adhesive rubber bumpers to stick on the bottom and absorb vibration.
Dali Mentor Menuet Features
The Dali Mentor Menuets use a bass reflex design, with a 4.5-inch wood fibre cone woofer and a 1.1-inch soft textile dome tweeter. The woofer is airflow optimised to achieve the best possible coupling between the wood fibre cone and cabinet. The hole in which it’s housed is larger than normal, which Dali says optimises openness and dynamic response.
The quoted frequency range is 59Hz up to 25kHz, with a sensitivity rating of 86dB and recommended amp power of between 20 and 100W. We’re testing the Menuets as a pair but they can quite easily be used as fronts and rears in a 5.1 system, perhaps alongside Dali’s Mentor LCR centre speaker and the 500W Mentor Sub on bass duties.
Dali Mentor Menuet Performance
For such small speakers, the Menuets attack both movie and music material with a surprising amount of passion and power, creating a beautiful noise that belies their modest dimensions.
The thing that jumps out immediately is their incredibly lucid detail. Whether they’re teasing out the high frequency hustle and bustle of a movie scene or playing a delicate jazz tune, the Menuet’s don’t miss a thing.
During Hellboy II’s Troll Market scene, the fluttering fairies and tinkle of metal pots come through loud and clear, with half-heard voices and footsteps drifting in and out of earshot. And with Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, it’s like the shuffling drums and cymbals are being played in the room.
The Dali Mentor Menuets are equally assured in the midrange. Corinne Bailey Rae’s mellifluous vocals glide into the room with a richness and texture that lesser speakers gloss over, but when it comes to Adele’s urgent, lung-busting tones on Rolling In The Deep, the Dalis imbue her words with all the drive and emotion you’d expect. That goes for instruments too – trumpet and guitar solos sound wonderfully warm yet upfront and immediate.
Despite their silky ways with music, the Menuets can really pick up the pace when getting stuck into a frenetic movie scene. There’s real drive and purpose to effects and a convincing sense of scale. The front soundstage is spacious and its naturally open character really draws you in.
The only drawback is that they’re not as commanding in the lower frequencies as we hoped. There’s good bass presence, but it’s not harnessed with the same degree of control and punch as some other bookshelf speakers we’ve tested. That’s more of a problem for movie playback, in which case you’d be well advised to add a subwoofer in a 2.1 or 5.1 setup.
Dali Mentor Menuet Verdict
Dali’s Mentor Menuet is proof that good things come in small packages. These compact speakers do a fine job with anything you throw at them, from boisterous movie tracks to gentle jazz tunes, revealing layers of detail and conveying voices with smoothness and/or urgency. They don’t plumb the bass depths like some rivals but that’s a minor issue.
From a design perspective, they may lack the pizzazz of other Dali designs, but they’re classy to the core in their Black, White or Cherry finish, plus build quality is fantastic and their compact dimensions make them living-room friendly to boot. Yes they’re expensive, but their sound quality won’t leave you feeling short-changed.