DALI Epicon 6 Loudspeaker

Once Heard, Never Forgotten

Equipment report
DALI Epicon 6
DALI Epicon 6 Loudspeaker

No wimpy sound here, no making the great orchestral masterworks of the Romantic era sound like recorder ensembles or making rock sound as it sounds on a table radio. When Richard Strauss and Dvorák and Mahler and Wagner—or Pink Floyd, for that matter—let you have some bass excitement, you really get the point here. (The Epicon 6 is ported with two large ports in the back). I guess you get the idea that I liked this!

The Epicon 6s present a spacious sonic image, and they vanish convincingly into the soundfield that they generate. Set up pointing down the room straight ahead or only slightly toed- in, the focus of individual images is less definite than with some speakers that are intended to be listened to with the speakers pointing straight at you.

If I may be permitted an aside and a suggestion for experimenting: This spatial character is presumably in part attached to the increase in high frequencies as one gets closer to the axis, meaning that with the un-toed (or only slightly-toed position) sideways head movements increase the top end slightly from the speaker that the head moves toward. This setup is the opposite of the idea used by Ohm and others (and originally suggested I think by Spendor and the BBC) of arranging that such a head movement would diminish the highs, thus creating a kind of time/energy trading that stabilizes and focuses images. Of course, the high end has pretty much forgotten about this, and in particular doing this tends to narrow the “soundstage.” (There is a school of thought that claims that the “soundstage” is often in good part an artifact of a certain lack of image focus in the classical sense, ditto dimensionality in most cases.) If you want image focus in the classical sense, you can get it here by over- toeing the speakers, that is by bringing the flat axis to you by toeing the speakers so that the axes cross at a point considerably in front of you! You might not like this, but then again you might, and it is worth a try. And since the Epicon 6s are apparently intended to be heard slightly off-axis, you have the option here, either way.

In any case, whatever your spatial preference, the Epicon 6s are set to deliver it in the right setup. Experimentation is the key!

Overall Balance and the Midrange

As has been pointed out in TAS from the beginning, the heart of music tends to be in the midrange, and, to face the fact straight on, the midrange of the Epicon 6 is somewhat pushed back. In particular, the 1kHz to 2kHz octave and a bit above and below sound rather down in level. The speaker as a whole seems almost to exhibit some version of the “smiley face” EQ once so popular in the days when people routinely manipulated recordings— and audio systems—with analog EQ devices. This balance is in particular contrast with what seems almost to be a fad currently among speaker manufacturers as a whole to push the 1–2kHz region forward somewhat. Both sides of this have their points: Bring 1–2kHz up and the sound comes “out of the box” and certain types of vocal material are flattered. Pull 1–2kHz down and there is a nice recession of the image, distancing over- recorded, too-forward material.

Ultimately, however, to my ears, the midrange needs to be neutrally balanced (I am not a fan of the fad for pushing it forward, either). Whatever flatteries of some type or another one can get by having a bit too much or, in the present case, too little of the 1–2kHz octave, one pays at least some price in natural timbre. In particular, broadband music does not quite sound as it should on the Epicon 6s. It can sound attractive but it never comes across as completely correct in timbre.

Of course, one can EQ this region up and flatten the whole response. The speakers then sound better balanced. But midrange EQ of speakers really works best when it is a matter of very small tweaking of a balance with which one is basically happy to begin with. Making major shifts in balance by EQ is a tricky matter. The main point is that when the measured response of the Epicon 6 was flattened out, the sound changed a lot. This sort of broadband balance-change is really fairly major, though it may look small on a graph. It changes the sound of the music quite a bit.

The 1–2KHz suckout must have been a deliberate decision on the part of DALI, and I think many people will like it. So much material in the world is over-recorded that a bit of backing away from it can be all to the good. But the exact sound of instruments really is altered here. And even the apparent volume of notes can shift. On Moravec’s Debussy collection on Vox, one could notice in careful listening the slight droop in volume as he ran from below on up through the recessed range to the very top notes (which are higher than that, being 4186Hz), with the top notes coming back up in level.

This is not to say that the speaker is colored in the resonant sense. Actually, it sounds very smooth and non-resonant. What it does not sound is exactly flat.

While you may well like this, you should observe the effects carefully when you audition the speaker to be sure that you do.

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