DALI have been designing and manufacturing loudspeakers since 1983 and are located in Denmark – hence their name: Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries.
DALI’s current Hi-Fi speaker range spans more than 50 models spread over 11 product lines ranging from Soundbars and wall/ceiling mounted speakers right up to the Epicon flagship speakers – and that’s not including their additional offerings such as stands, cables and other accessories.
I have been kindly loaned the Rubicon 5 speakers you see here. These are well-placed for me to be able to give you a good idea of what to expect from DALI in your own home as they’re not the most expensive, even from within the Rubicon range, but also not the cheapest set you can get from the Danish speaker builders.
DALI Rubicon 5 design
Anyone familiar with the brand will already know that DALI tends to do things a little differently to most other speaker makers. With the Rubicon 5 this certainly remains true as you get the main driver and not one, but two tweeters working together to cover the high end.
The driver array consists of a 16.5cm bass/mid driver – manufactured in-house by DALI in Denmark – with a wood fibre cone. Paper pulp cones are used as they are extremely neutral sounding, yet light and strong. The wood fibres improve the strength of the cone and add self-damping qualities due to the erratic placement of the fibres themselves. Energy is quickly dissipated before it becomes acoustic. Which is a good thing!
Just as important is the use of SMC (Soft Magnetic Compound) in the magnet system. A patented, trickle-down technology from the flagship Epicon series, SMC has a high magnetic conductivity and a very low electrical conductivity, characteristics that result in a significant lowering of the colouration of reproduced sound.
Complementing the mid-bass are those high frequency drivers The one just above the bass/mid driver is a 29mm soft textile dome tweeter similar to those you see on most speakers but here you get the bonus of a 17mm x 45mm ribbon tweeter at the top.
The pair of Rubicon 5 speakers I have here are in a rather luxurious white high gloss finish which perfectly matches my living room style (not that this is of any interest to you, good reader) and are not overly huge at just 890mm (h) x 195mm (w) x 339mm (d).
Those dimensions are what I would describe as ‘London friendly’. I remember when I was first heading to the capital and one of the things I had to downsize when I got here was my Acoustic Energy speakers. The DALI Rubicon 5 slipped in to my lounge so easily that my other half didn’t even notice them for a good while.
The base of the speaker has 8mm inserts for spikes or rubber feet. In the supplied accessory box my sample came with spikes which I stood on solid brass shoes so as not to annoy my landlady.
The speakers do come with grilles which consist of a plastic frame supporting acoustically transparent fabric. These are attached to the cases via a plastic peg which slots into a hole above the ribbon tweeter. They look slick with them on but I really love how they look grille-less and that’s how they’ve been sat. This allows for the sheen of the gloss white, the matte silver finish around the tweeter and the rich autumnal tones of the mid/bass driver to create the over all look of the Rubicon 5s.
The Rubicon 5 speakers are well built and, at almost 16Kg each, are no lightweights but perhaps not as heavy as you might think they were going to be. Looking around the speakers the fit and quality of finish is spot on. My review set displayed a few little war-wounds, no doubt from being shipped around the country or further afield, but I am sure a pristine set is a sight to behold.
If white isn’t your thing you can choose from gloss-black, rosso-veneer or walnut.
DALI Rubicon 5 sound quality
I played around with the positioning of the Rubicon 5s and they seemed pretty happy in most situations. I found that they easily filled the room having them at either end (approx 12 foot apart) with a slight toe-in, although they did a great job at 7 foot apart and firing straight forward which again proves they are ‘London friendly’.
What really grabbed me was how engaging these speakers are. I was kind of expecting something almost clinically truthful from these, along the lines of the PMC twotwo 5s I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing before, but this was a whole different experience.
These are dynamic and energetic and really enjoy driving a tune. Before I dived in to my rock catalogue though my first stop was more to see what this double tweeter thing would bring to the table.
First track was Rodrigo y Gabriela’s ‘Juan Loco’ with all the high staccato Spanish guitar noodling it was great to hear all the nuances of the piece clearly with a huge presence when the lower ranges were brought in. At no time did the highs sound harsh or clipped.
Tracy Chapman’s ‘Behind The Wall’ left me with chills. Her unaccompanied, plaintive vocal was rich and emotive.
‘Never Let Me Go’ by Florence and the Machine sounds huge with all the layers spreading out across the soundstage and filling the room but the acoustics are still presented with great clarity.
The bass seemed to get a little bit carried away from time-to-time, especially on tracks such as ‘Schism’ by Tool and ‘The Hand That Feeds’ by Nine Inch Nails. Not that it ever gets clumsy but I did find that, on occasion, it seemed to be a little overeager – this was tempered by more positioning adjustment and I am sure having some room treatment would sort that – but I am in a rental and am limited to what I am allowed to do with the space.
The Rubicon 5 do seem to enjoy being driven, which is quite easily done. ‘Skin of my Teeth’ by Megadeth was surprisingly great as was ‘Ratamahatta’ from Sepultura. I really enjoyed the percussion from the latter and could have just had that on repeat for ages as the midrange and bass just made me content in a very primal way.
From the energy and excitement of Sepultura, the Rubicon 5 speakers can also throw the doors open on wet reverb’ed blues such as Gary Moore’s ‘Preacher Man Blues’ and the laid back sounds of ‘Blue Jeans Blues’ by ZZ Top.
These speakers also handle female vocals and strings remarkably well, Diana Krall singing ‘Temptation’ was one treat that springs to mind. Here you get the realism and live sensation without any discernible colouration.
My overall impression of the DALI Rubicon 5 speakers were that they produced an enjoyable depth of image and soundstage to the point where the speakers ‘disappear’. Before you roll your eyes, I simply mean that the sound I was hearing didn’t seem to be coming from the white boxes in the corners of the room. I was getting a room filled by instruments and artists spread across the space whilst the bass seemed to flow liquid-like about 18-inches from the back wall before enveloping the scene.
Panning from left-to-right, as Pink Floyd does so well, just magnified the width that these speakers create, making my living room feel even larger. Playing Roger Waters: The Wall on Blu-ray sounded immense.
Dali Rubicon 5 review conclusion
Whether playing tracks from CD and Blu-Ray through my Oppo disc spinner, records from my Pro-Ject 1 Xpression or streaming TIDAL playlists from my Nvidia Shield tablet via a Musical Fidelity V90 Blu, these all go to a Musical Fidelity M6si before hitting the DALI Rubicon 5 speakers and this seemed plenty to keep these speakers happy.
These are pretty compact floorstanders in comparison to others on the market but the sound they produce is much larger than their physical size would suggest.
You get plenty of rich, warm bass presence and those twin tweeters certainly level things up with the midrange coming in accurately and focused.
The finish looks great and, as a friend pointed out, managed to camouflage the speakers somewhat against my white walls. Not that these are speakers to be hidden but if you didn’t want them to be a feature of your room, well, there you go.
The main area that gets me shifting uncomfortably in my chair is the asking price. £2,400 to me still feels like quite an investment but I have been to enough Hi-Fi shows to realise that this is quite a pedestrian sum to spend for those serious about their passion.
The thing is that, at this price bracket, there’s also plenty of competition from the likes of PMC’s 20 range and Spendor’s A6R, to name but a couple. Dare I say that you could possibly pocket a grand and grab the Tannoy XT8Fs and still be happy?
All that I will say is, from what I have experienced in my own home over the past few weeks, that the DALI Rubicon 5 have never failed to leave me smiling no matter what I’ve played through them and at any volume. If it was my money, I would definitely want someone to have told me to test these before making my mind up – and there would be a huge chance that I would end up buying them.
I really don’t want to part with these.