|Dali Suite 2.8 Speaker System|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems|
|Written by Ben Shyman|
|Thursday, 01 September 2005|
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Home theater manufacturers continue to offer consumers better performance for less money. Gone are the days when high-quality home theaters cost tens of thousands of dollars. Driving this trend is the proliferation and availability of affordable high-definition televisions, which come in the form of plasma, LCD, D-ILA and DLP rear-projection sets that cost anywhere from $1,500 to $5,500. Add in a reasonable 5.1-channel audio playback system and you can have an amazing home theater without breaking the bank. But what if you are a more serious listener and seek to build a component-based home theater that trumps the theater-in-a-box solution? Now more than ever, components are available that challenge laws of diminishing returns by offering much of the outstanding performance, build quality and aesthetics of high-end systems for a fraction of the high-end price.
Dali Loudspeakers is a relatively new player in the ultra-competitive U.S. audio-video market. In Europe, Dali is a force with over 25 years in manufacturing experience, owned by Audio Nord International, which also owns a pretty substantive retail chain. Currently, there are over 80 models in the Dali line, 50 of which are now available in the United States.
The Dali Suite 2.8 speaker system I evaluated is the company’s entry level 5.1-channel offering in North America. This Dali system consisted of Suite 2.8 floor-standing front speakers ($1,350 per pair), a Suite C 0.8 center channel speaker ($550), Suite R 0.8 rear speakers ($650/pair) and a Suite S 1.2 subwoofer ($795). Dali designed the Suite 2.8 specifically for value-oriented consumers likely to build a home theater featuring receivers from mainstream Japanese manufacturers like Sony, Yamaha and Onkyo. Knowing this, however, not for a second during my evaluation did I ever feel that the Dali Suite 2.8 was mismatched to my Proceed AVP2 processor and AMP5 five-channel amplifier. In fact, the Dali Suite seemed right at home. The full Suite 2.8 speaker system costs only $3,345 and comes in a handsome cherry veneer with black grilles or a silver finish with gray grilles.
If you are like me, the first impression a home theater component makes upon you happens before you even open the box. The Danes pride themselves on being environmentally responsible, so it is no surprise Dali uses recycled cardboard to package the Suite 2.8 system. The topic of “eco trash” has graced the pages of CNN.com in recent months and is a worry to those of us who fear for the environmental state of our planet. Dali deserves just compliments for where their heart is in terms of packaging. At the same time, their boxes weren’t robust enough to make it to my apartment in Manhattan (and a palette) without damage to the point where one could see the wood veneer on the subwoofer before opening the box. The value of sticking with environmentally friendly boxes is high, but a new design is needed in order to guarantee safe shipment from Denmark, as well as within the North American continent. Who knows when you might sell such a system to upgrade in the Dali line? You will certainly need to use your boxes all over again.
Setting up the Dali Suite 2.8 was truly simple. The speakers, including the subwoofer, are relatively light for their size and attaching floor spikes or rubber feet to each took only a few minutes. The cherry wood veneer finish of each cabinet is handsome and accentuated by the curved tapered shape, which provides each speaker with an expensive look beyond its price and, according to Dali, adds acoustical advantages as well. The grilles attach firmly and provide a very clean look.
The main front floor-standing speakers have a small footprint and the center channel cabinet has a reasonable profile at about eight inches high. The main speakers, with their 6.5-inch woofers, are less than a foot wide. This makes speaker placement relatively easy. With the bass reflex port on the front main and center channel speakers located on the front of the cabinet, the main speakers can be placed somewhat closer to a wall and the center cabinet can be situated without blocking the air port. I would however offer that the center cabinet is fairly deep and wide at 16 and 24 inches, respectively, and you should plan its placement in your system accordingly.
I appreciated the smart design of the rear speaker cabinets which are made to be hung vertically or horizontally on a wall or simply placed on stands. Attaching my Transparent speaker cables with their larger-than-average spade lugs was not ideal, however, and I would have preferred terminals on the rear speaker cabinet that are more spade-friendly.
Regarding the subwoofer, I was fortunate in that the very first place I situated the Suite S 1.2, it blended seamlessly into my listening environment. I say “fortunate” because the power cord is not detachable and is much too short for my liking. Finding a location for a subwoofer usually takes patience and frequently requires trying several different locations. With the unit having such a short power cord, subwoofer location is limited, unless you get lucky as I did, or are willing to use an extension cord (which is usually not ideal), or have many electrical outlets in your listening area. Dali should put a power cord of no less than 25 feet on its subwoofer.