Dali Menuet bookshelf speakers review
After my review of the Dali Rubicon 5 floorstanding loudspeakers I was asked if Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries had anything smaller and a little more kind to the bank account. So, I asked if I could take the Dali Menuets for a spin.
I really enjoyed my time with the Rubicons – they suited my room, not only in how they looked but also with how they sounded.
Can the compact Menuet speakers wow me in the same way?
Dali Menuet design
The Menuet is equipped with a 4.5-inch wood-fiber woofer along with a 1.1-inch soft dome tweeter.
Both of these drivers are designed to be dynamic, fast, and precise.
Dali decouples each of these drivers from the cabinet using rubber gaskets. Not only do these rubber gaskets help reduce the transfer of unwanted vibrations between the drivers and the cabinet, they also create and air-tight seal around the drivers.
I like they way that Dali has integrated the downward firing air-flow optimised port in to the binding post casement. According to Dali this port was designed to do three things: Eliminate port noise, allow for a lower tuning frequency and, finally, make it possible to place the Menuet’s near, or even against, walls without adversely affecting bass precision.
The grills attach to the fronts just like the ones on the Rubicons did, via holes in the driver baskets. This is another neat design touch by the clever Danes and means that you don’t have to see ugly plugs in the face of your speakers if running them naked.
The Menuets feature subtle curves along the cabinet which measures only 9.8- x 5.9- x 9.0-inches and weigh 4.1kg each, making them truly compact bass reflex loudspeakers.
As you can tell by the photos, I was sent a pair in black high gloss lacquer but they are also available in rosso veneer, light walnut veneer, and the white high gloss lacquer.
The black is a bit of a fingerprint/dust magnet – not great for clean freaks.
Dali Menuet sound quality
When I first sat them on my stands and plugged the Dali Menuets in to my system, hastily grabbing the nearest CD to me (Pornography by The Cure), I was a little taken aback to start with. As ‘One Hundred Years’ started I was surprised by how wide and open the sound stage was on such a claustrophobic track.
The sound being projected was clear, musical and focused.
Changing the mood a little (a lot) I played Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major – Allegro con Spirito being performed by Thomas Enhco and Vassilena Serafimova. I think this is a great test, especially for the treble as one of the piano’s roles is taken by Serafimova’s marimba playing.
The diminutive Dalis manage to capture the clear ringing of the percussion as well as the decaying reverb of the piano.
The high-end wasn’t as much of a wow as I got from the hybrid ribbon/dome set-up on the Rubicons but it was revealing and crisp enough to capture the bite of the acoustic instruments when pushed but was also detailed in the softer sections.
The 4.5-inch driver was typically fast and precise through the Sonata and when changing tack again to ‘Roundabout’ by Yes.
The harmonics were bell clear but once the track kicks in the compressed, growly, plectrum-driven bassline cuts through with the notes starting and stopping on a sixpence. There is no overhang whatsoever.
I do feel that the mid-range is a little forward on the Menuets but it is so articulate and expressive I think that this gives them a great character.
Righty, it’s time to test the lows. Tool’s ‘Ticks and Leeches’ was first up and even though Justin Chancellor’s basslines aren’t of the low rumbling kind, Danny Carey’s drums more than make up for it.
This is where I think I found the Menuet’s Achilles heel – drum driven rock and metal. The presentation of the low mids was clear, focused and true but I felt that the low-end was lacking a little in depth.
The same was evident in the dirty distorted dance stylings of Nine Inch Nails and ‘The Hand That Feeds’. What should have had the pictures shaking was instead pushed out in to my face.
The bass is good – ‘U Can’t Hold No Groove’ by Victor Wooten was warm and bouncy – but I don’t think the Menuet speakers were built with clever metal in mind.
This did improve when I moved the speakers nearer the wall though, I have to say (from my original placement of about 2.5-feet from the wall pushed back to just over 1 ft). So, a note to you all considering the Menuets – remember that they like their backs up against something solid!
I replayed some Tool and this did indeed make a difference.
Keeping it Jazz-y, Stanley Clarke’s deep acoustic bass oozed musicality in ‘Bass Folk Song #13: Mingus’.
The Dali Menuet speakers handle electronica really well with Kraftwerk’s ‘The Robots’ and Cabaret Voltaire’s ‘Sensoria’ spreading their own different takes on electronic soundscapes across my living room.
The Menuet’s possess a level of balance and refinement that I was not expecting from speakers designed to be wall mounted or placed close against a wall.
They are also, to my ears, quite truthful speakers and not coloured to make up for their lack of stature.
They manage to deliver precision and balance whilst, at the same time, producing a rhythmic and engaging quality that makes listening to music fun and enjoyable.
Dali Menuet review conclusion
The Menuets practically embody size-defying dynamic range – when placed properly (ideally within 2 foot or less of a back wall).
You’re not going to get the same depth as their larger siblings but these really have to be up there as some of the best bookshelf speakers available at the moment, and in this price range.
They look great and are agile enough to handle complex music whilst not losing any of the musicality.
The Dali Menuet speakers have character along with articulate mids, detailed highs and tight, tuneful lows.
If you’re looking for speakers to wall mount or sit on a shelf – the Dali Menuet should definitely be on your audition list.
Dali Menuet speakers price and availability
The Dali Menuet bookshelf speakers are available now for £800.
Dali Menuet specs at a glance
|Frequency Range (+/-3 dB) [Hz]||59 – 25,000|
|Sensitivity (2,83 V/1 m) [dB]||86.0|
|Nominal Impedance [ohms]||4|
|Maximum SPL [dB]||105|
|Recommended Amplifier Power [W]||20 – 100|
|Crossover Frequency [Hz]||3|
|High frequency driver, Quantity||1 x 28 mm|
|High frequency driver, Diaphragm type||Soft Textile Dome|
|Low frequency driver, Quantity||1 x 4½”|
|Low frequency driver, Diaphragm type||Wood Fibre Cone|
|Enclosure type||Bass Reflex|
|Bass Reflex Tuning Frequency [Hz]||63.0|
|Connection Input||Single Wire|
Shelf or stand
|Recommended Distance From Wall [cm]||> 2|
|Dimensions With Base (HxWxD) [mm]||250 x 150 x 230|
|Optional Accessories||Wall Bracket|