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Review: Dali Epikore 11 Floorstanding Speaker – The Pinnacle of Audio Excellence

Review: Dali Epikore 11 Floorstanding Speaker - The Pinnacle of Audio Excellence - Elevate your auditory experience with the Dali Epikore 11, a pinnacle of sonic perfection and innovation.

Introduction

In high-fidelity audio, the Dali Epikore 11 emerges as a towering masterpiece, pushing the boundaries of sonic excellence. With a grand debut at the High End in Munich, this Danish creation has captivated audiophiles worldwide, promising a performance reminiscent of its predecessor, the Dali Kore, but at a more accessible price point. Boasting cutting-edge technologies, meticulous design, and a colossal presence standing at 160 centimeters, the Epikore 11 is not merely a speaker but an auditory experience meticulously crafted to redefine the essence of sound reproduction.

As we welcome Epikore 11 into our Cologne editorial office, seven months of anticipation culminate in the unveiling of a speaker that transcends mere audio reproduction. From advanced SMC drives and hybrid tweeters to an innovative approach in tackling floor reflections, Dali has left no stone unturned in its pursuit of audio perfection. Join us as we delve into this monumental creation’s intricacies, exploring its design’s nuances, the symphony it orchestrates, and the sonic landscapes it promises to unveil. The Dali Epikore 11 invites us to witness the convergence of craftsmanship and technology, inviting a new era in the pursuit of auditory excellence.

Dali, short for Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries, is a beacon of audio innovation with a rich legacy spanning decades. Renowned for pushing the boundaries of sound reproduction, Dali has carved a niche for itself in the realm of high-end audio equipment. The company’s commitment to delivering unparalleled sonic experiences is evident in a diverse range of music products, each a testament to meticulous craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology. From floor-standing speakers like the Epikore 11 to a comprehensive lineup of audio solutions, Dali’s products reflect a harmonious fusion of design elegance and audiophile-grade performance, earning the brand the respect and admiration of music enthusiasts worldwide. With an unwavering dedication to pushing the boundaries of what is sonically possible, Dali continues to redefine the benchmarks of auditory excellence.

Specifications

Ways4,5
Driver7 (2x tweeter, 1x midrange, 4x woofer)
ColorB: Black MA: Maroon MH: Walnut
Frequency characteristics (±3dB)29Hz~34kHz
Sensitivity (2.83V/1m)89dB
Nominal impedance4 Oh
Recommended amplifier output40~1,000W
crossover frequency390/2,100/12,000 Hz
tweeter35mm soft dome + ribbon
midrange/woofer6 inch + 1/2 x 1 wood fiber cone/8 inch x 4 wood fiber cone
Efficiency89 dB (2,83 V / 1 m)
enclosure typeBusless type
TerminalBi-wiring/bi-amp compatible
Outer diameter dimensions (excluding spikes) H*W*D1602mm(H) x 422mm(W) x 554mm(D) *Does not include spikes
Body weight [kg]75.6kg
accessoriesSpikes, short cables, grills, crosses

Cutting-Edge Technologies

The Dali Epikore 11 is not just a speaker; it showcases cutting-edge technologies meticulously integrated to deliver an unparalleled audio experience. Among its standout features is the SMC (Soft Magnetic Composite) drive, representing the second generation of this innovative material. Compressed from a fine, magnetic powder, SMC is uniquely magnetic yet minimally electrically conductive, providing an ideal environment for maintaining a constant flow of current within the speaker.

The Evo-K hybrid tweeter takes the high-frequency performance to new heights. With a dome design boasting a large diameter of 35 millimeters, this tweeter ensures a seamless transition from mid-range to high frequencies. Above 12.5 kHz, a ribbon tweeter takes over, extending up to 30 kHz—an ultrasonic range that might be beyond the reach of human hearing but contributes to the overall richness of the audio spectrum.

Floor reflection control is another innovative technology incorporated into the Epikore 11. Recognizing the impact of gravity on sound, especially in the bass range, Dali tackles this challenge by tuning the upper woofers differently. By focusing on lower bass frequencies and strategically directing sound energy away from the floor, this feature mitigates the undesirable effects of delayed reflections, ensuring a cleaner and more balanced audio output. These intricate technological elements collectively form the backbone of the Epikore 11’s exceptional sonic performance, setting it apart as a pinnacle of audio engineering.

Design and Construction

The design and construction of the Dali Epikore 11 stand as a testament to the brand’s commitment to aesthetic elegance and acoustic excellence. Standing at an impressive 160 centimeters, the speaker commands attention with a visually striking yet functional design. The outwardly curved baffle contributes to its unique and imposing appearance and serves a crucial role in optimally distributing sound waves.

The seven drivers, strategically positioned on the baffle, harmoniously integrate low, medium, and high frequencies. This intricate arrangement goes beyond a standard three-way construction, featuring a massive crossover in the base of the box that splits the music into four and a half ways. The hybrid tweeter, midrange, and four bass drivers receive dedicated paths, ensuring precise frequency separation and minimizing interference.

Dali employs a clever construction strategy to combat gravity’s impact on sound reflections, particularly in the bass range. The upper woofers are meticulously tuned to focus on lower bass frequencies, redirecting profound good energy away from the floor. This calculated approach, combined with the mass of the speaker and its height, aims to offset and balance reflected sound components, preventing undesirable cancellations or frequency holes.

Internally, the construction continues to prioritize sonic purity. The midrange and bass drivers utilize Dali’s characteristic membranes crafted from papier-mâché reinforced with wood fibers. The midrange driver further benefits from a five-arm pattern punched into its membrane, enhancing stability, especially in higher frequency ranges.

The baffle is divided into three parts, with the bass drivers housed in thick MDF panels and the other three drivers mounted on a solid die-cast aluminum panel. This construction, coupled with the internal driver decoupling, helps eliminate parallel walls, preventing standing waves that could compromise the sonic integrity.

In addition to its sonic prowess, the Dali Epikore 11’s design extends to its aesthetic presentation. The case undergoes a shaping process under high heat before being adorned with wood veneer. The oxblood red membranes and hybrid tweeter contribute to a distinctive Dali visual identity. Three high-gloss finish options—black, walnut, or maroon—add a touch of customization, ensuring that the Epikore 11 not only sounds exceptional but also complements its surroundings with an exquisite and luxurious aesthetic. In every aspect, from form to function, the design and construction of the Dali Epikore 11 exemplify a meticulous blend of artistry and engineering.

Taming Gravity’s Impact

Taming the impact of gravity on sound propagation is a remarkable feat achieved by the Dali Epikore 11, showcasing the brand’s dedication to overcoming acoustic challenges. The inherent tendency of speakers to rest on the floor introduces a unique set of complications, particularly in the reproduction of bass frequencies. The Epikore 11, however, ingeniously addresses this issue with a strategic approach to the design of its upper woofers.

By recognizing that sound reflections from the floor can interfere with direct sound, especially in the bass range, Dali employs a meticulous tuning of the two upper woofers. These woofers focus on lower bass frequencies than their counterparts at the bottom, directing the profound sound energy away from the floor. While the sound still reaches the ground, the precisely calculated distance closer to the speakers ensures that the two reflected sturdy components are offset. This calculated approach aims to prevent overlapping and cancellation, mitigating the risk of frequency holes and delivering a more balanced and cohesive audio output.

This innovative strategy showcases Dali’s commitment to addressing real-world acoustic challenges and underscores the brand’s relentless pursuit of sonic perfection. The result is a speaker that not only defies the constraints imposed by gravity but leverages them to enhance the overall listening experience. In taming gravity’s impact, the Dali Epikore 11 sets a new standard for integrating physics and engineering to pursue pristine sound reproduction.

Membranes and Drive

The membranes and drive mechanisms of the Dali Epikore 11 play a pivotal role in sculpting its exceptional sound profile, underscoring the brand’s dedication to precision engineering and acoustic excellence. Employing Dali’s signature membranes made from papier-mâché reinforced with wood fibers, the midrange and bass drivers benefit from a material blend that balances rigidity and flexibility. This unique construction enhances the stability of the midrange driver, particularly in the higher frequency range, contributing to a clean and detailed sound reproduction.

In a strategic evolution, the midrange driver showcases a five-arm pattern punched into its membrane, further reinforcing its structural integrity. This intricate pattern enhances stability and refines the driver’s response, particularly in the challenging higher frequencies, ensuring a nuanced and accurate portrayal of midrange tones.

To ensure precise control and responsiveness of the membranes, the Epikore 11 incorporates the second generation of Dali’s Soft Magnetic Composite (SMC) drive. This advanced material, pressed from a fine, magnetic powder, exhibits high magnetic properties while minimally electrically conductive. The result is an ideal environment for maintaining a constant flow of current within the loudspeaker, facilitating a more controlled and accurate audio signal representation.

The Evo-K hybrid tweeter manages the high-frequency spectrum, a testament to Dali’s commitment to pushing sonic boundaries. With a dome diameter of 35 millimeters, this tweeter boasts one of the largest sizes in the speaker industry. The dome design facilitates a seamless transition from mid to high-frequency ranges. Beyond 12.5 kHz, a ribbon tweeter takes over, extending the frequency response up to 30 kHz—beyond the audible range for humans but contributing to the overall richness of the sound.

The division of the baffle into three parts is not just a visual choice; it serves a critical function in isolating different frequency drivers. The bass drivers find their place in thick MDF panels, while the other three reside in a solid die-cast aluminum panel. This meticulous internal separation, coupled with the curved walls, mitigates the formation of parallel surfaces, preventing standing waves that could compromise audio fidelity.

Essentially, the membranes and drive mechanisms of the Dali Epikore 11 reflect an intricate fusion of material science and acoustic engineering. By combining advanced technologies such as SMC drive and innovative membrane designs, Dali strives to ensure that every note is faithfully reproduced with precision, clarity, and a level of detail that defines the pinnacle of high-fidelity audio.

Sonic Performance

The sonic performance of the Dali Epikore 11 is a symphony of cutting-edge technologies and meticulous design, resulting in an audio experience transcending conventional boundaries. In a comprehensive sound test, the speaker reveals its prowess across the frequency spectrum, delivering an immersive and captivating performance.

The sheer size and configuration of the Epikore 11, with its seven drivers and four-and-a-half-way crossover design, contribute to a sonic landscape that can only be described as “big.” Beyond its ability to produce endless bass, the overall musical presentation is expansive, extending well beyond the speakers’ outer edges. This creates a sense of dimensionality that not only breaks down boundaries in terms of width but also opens up the auditory horizon upwards and into the depths of the room.

During sound tests featuring diverse musical genres, the Epikore 11 showcases a meticulous ability to direct each sound to a predetermined place, akin to a particular director orchestrating a play. In tracks like Yosi Horikawa’s “Bubbles,” the speaker impressively delineates various sonic elements—balls, marbles, and spheres colliding and rolling on an invisible floor exactly at ear level. This precision in imaging expands the width of the soundstage and adds layers of depth, creating a three-dimensional sonic experience.

What sets the Epikore 11 apart is its ability to place more profound sound components with exceptional clarity on the stage. Whether it’s the thundering TomToms in My Chemical Romance’s “Welcome to the Black Parade” or the resonant tones of the deepest double bass strings in John Blek’s “Death & His Daughter,” the speaker captures the subtleties and nuances with an unparalleled level of detail and definition.

The bass performance of the Epikore 11, despite its on-paper specifications “only” reaching down to 29 hertz, proves to be formidable. Integrating the two bass reflex tubes on the back, designed to reduce the value to 24 Hertz, results in a bass foundation that seamlessly fits into the overall sonic architecture. Even deeper tones are vividly portrayed in the room, defying the challenges associated with locating low frequencies and underscoring the meticulous engineering that went into crafting this speaker.

The speaker’s approach to bass is characterized by an even foundation rather than a direct diaphragmatic attack, distinguishing it from speakers with a more pronounced punch. This nuanced bass delivery, akin to the character of the Dynaudio Confidence 30, adds an element of refinement, making the Epikore 11 suitable for audiophiles who appreciate high-end speakers focused on subtlety and precision.

In summary, the sound quality of the Dali Epikore 11 is nothing short of extraordinary. It elevates music to a new plateau, offering a sonic tapestry where every note finds its place, and every impulse, regardless of intensity, makes a distinct and impactful appearance. The speaker’s ability to balance power and finesse, coupled with its capacity to unravel the layers of complex compositions, places it among the elite in the realm of high-fidelity and high-end floor-standing speakers.

Bass Foundation and Nuanced Delivery

The Dali Epikore 11’s approach to bass is a masterclass in precision, creating an authoritative and nuanced foundation. While the speaker reaches down to 29 hertz on paper, its performance extends far beyond mere specifications, showcasing a meticulous engineering approach to low-frequency reproduction.

The speaker’s bass foundation is not geared towards a direct diaphragmatic attack that forcefully hits the listener. Instead, it opts for a more even and controlled delivery, resembling the character of the Dynaudio Confidence 30. This nuanced approach is a deliberate departure from the overtly punchy bass often associated with specific high-end speakers. The Epikore 11 focuses on crafting a bass response that is harmonious and balanced, contributing to an overall refined sonic profile.

What sets the Epikore 11 apart is its ability to integrate the bass into the overall sonic landscape seamlessly. Even though it “only” reaches 29 hertz, the two bass reflex tubes on the back, designed to reduce this value to 24 Hertz, contribute to a bass performance that effortlessly fits into the speaker’s sonic architecture. The result is a bass that not only complements the music but does so with clarity and precision, defying the inherent difficulty in locating low frequencies.

During sound tests, the Epikore 11 demonstrates its capability to portray even the deepest tones in the room vividly. This remarkable feat challenges the conventional limitations of the human ear in pinpointing low frequencies. The speaker’s bass power is not intended for sheer impact but for creating an even foundation that enhances the listening experience. This subtle yet powerful bass delivery is a testament to Dali’s commitment to crafting speakers that cater to audiophiles seeking a high-end experience focused on nuance and finesse.

The Epikore 11’s bass foundation and nuanced delivery redefine expectations, providing a refreshing alternative in high-fidelity audio. By prioritizing musicality over sheer force, Dali has created a speaker that not only reproduces low frequencies with precision but does so in a manner that elevates the entire listening experience to a level of sophistication and refinement.

Connectivity and Setup

The Dali Epikore 11 excels in sonic performance and provides a seamless and user-friendly experience in terms of connectivity and setup. The speaker is designed to accommodate high-quality amplification, ensuring users can maximize its exceptional capabilities.

Connectivity options are comprehensive, allowing audiophiles to integrate the Epikore 11 seamlessly into their audio systems. The inclusion of stable binding posts on the back, with a subtle Art Deco design, exemplifies Dali’s attention to detail. These binding posts contribute to the speaker’s aesthetic appeal and offer a secure and reliable connection for audio cables. Users can confidently pair the Epikore 11 with high-end amplifiers like the Rotel RA-1592 MK2 to unlock its full sonic potential.

Setting up the Epikore 11, despite its substantial size and weight, is facilitated by thoughtful design elements. The solid metal trusses and four spikes provide a secure foundation, preventing unwanted resonances from interfering with the speaker’s performance. Additionally, Dali includes felted spike plates in the packaging, offering an option for users who wish to avoid any potential indentation in delicate flooring.

While the speaker demands a dedicated space due to its size and the physics associated with its 14 drivers, Dali’s efforts to combat reflections and resonances enhance its adaptability to various listening environments. To achieve optimal stage presentation and allow the bass to develop fully, users should provide a minimum distance of 2.5 to 3 meters between the speakers and ensure sufficient distance from all walls.

In summary, the Dali Epikore 11 delivers an unparalleled audio experience and prioritizes user convenience in connectivity and setup. Its versatile connectivity options and thoughtful design make it a speaker that performs at the highest level and is accessible and user-friendly for audio enthusiasts seeking an immersive and hassle-free listening experience.

Usability and Functionality

The usability and functionality of the Dali Epikore 11 reflect a commitment to delivering an exceptional audio experience with user-friendly features. Dali has focused on achieving cutting-edge sonic performance, ensuring that enthusiasts can easily navigate and customize their listening experience.

The speaker’s usability is enhanced by comprehensive controls that allow users to fine-tune audio settings according to their preferences. Dali understands that audiophiles value the ability to tailor the sound to their liking, and the Epikore 11 provides the necessary controls to achieve this level of customization.

The functionality of the Epikore 11 extends beyond basic playback, incorporating advanced features that contribute to its overall versatility. Whether users engage in critical listening sessions or enjoy a more casual music playback experience, the speaker adapts to varying preferences and environments.

One notable aspect of its functionality is the integration of advanced technologies, such as the SMC drive, Evo-K hybrid tweeter, and floor reflection control. These technologies are seamlessly incorporated into the speaker’s design, enhancing its overall performance without compromising user-friendliness.

The speaker’s versatility is further emphasized by its ability to handle various genres of music and audio formats with finesse. Whether reproducing the intricate details of classical compositions or delivering the impactful beats of contemporary genres, the Epikore 11 showcases a broad range of usability, making it suitable for diverse audiophile preferences.

Setting up and integrating the Epikore 11 into an existing audio system is straightforward, ensuring that users can quickly immerse themselves in high-fidelity audio without cumbersome processes. Dali’s attention to user experience extends to considerations such as the speaker’s placement and recommended distances, providing clear guidelines for users to optimize their listening environment.

In essence, the Dali Epikore 11 pushes the boundaries of sonic excellence and prioritizes usability and functionality. Its intuitive controls, adaptability to various preferences, and thoughtful design make it a speaker that seamlessly integrates into the lifestyles of audiophiles, offering both a sophisticated audio experience and user-friendly operation.

Technical Excellence and Unique Features

The Dali Epikore 11 stands as a pinnacle of technical excellence, boasting cutting-edge features that redefine the standards of high-fidelity audio. Dali, known for its unwavering commitment to sonic innovation, has integrated advanced technologies into the Epikore 11, contributing to its distinctive performance and elevating the audiophile experience to unparalleled heights.

SMC Drive and Evo-K Hybrid Tweeter: The heart of the Epikore 11’s technical prowess lies in its Soft Magnetic Composite (SMC) drive, a second-generation marvel that uses finely pressed magnetic powder. This unique material, highly magnetic yet minimally electrically conductive, ensures a constant flow of current in the speaker, allowing for precise membrane control. The Evo-K hybrid tweeter, featuring a 35mm dome and a planar design, handles frequencies above 3,100 Hertz. This innovative combination provides a seamless transition from mid-range to high-frequency, ensuring clarity and accuracy in reproducing the most delicate musical details.

Floor Reflection Control: Taming the impact of gravity on sound, the Epikore 11 incorporates floor reflection control to mitigate the effects of delayed reflections, particularly in the bass range. The profound sound energy is directed away from the floor by tuning the two upper woofers to focus on lower bass frequencies. This calculated approach, combined with precise distance adjustments, minimizes overlap and cancellation of frequencies, ensuring a coherent and well-balanced soundstage.

Multiple Driver Configuration: With a towering height of 160 centimeters, the Epikore 11 accommodates an array of seven drivers on its slightly curved baffle, defying the conventional three-way construction. The massive crossover, split into four and a half ways, intricately allocates responsibilities among the hybrid tweeter, midrange driver, and four bass drivers. This sophisticated configuration ensures a comprehensive and detailed division of the frequency range, contributing to the speaker’s expansive sonic capabilities.

Unique Membranes and Drive: Dali’s dedication to membrane design is showcased in the Epikore 11, where papier-mâché reinforced with wood fibers forms the membranes for midrange and bass drivers. A distinctive five-arm pattern punched into the midrange driver stabilizes it, especially in the higher frequency range. The second-generation SMC drive, crafted from magnetic powder, enables precise control by amplifiers, further enhancing the overall drive system’s efficiency.

Versatile Tweeter Design: The Epikore 11’s tweeter design goes beyond conventional standards, featuring a large dome for broader radiation in the transition from mid-range to high frequencies. Above 12.5 kHz, a ribbon takes over, extending up to 30 kHz, beyond the range of human hearing. This unique design contributes to the speaker’s spatial ability to place sound components, providing a three-dimensional, immersive listening experience.

In summary, the Dali Epikore 11’s technical excellence and unique features are a testament to the brand’s relentless pursuit of audio perfection. By incorporating innovative technologies and pushing the boundaries of conventional speaker design, Dali has crafted a masterpiece that not only meets but exceeds the expectations of discerning audiophiles, delivering an extraordinary and unparalleled listening experience.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Dali Epikore 11 is a true flagship in high-fidelity audio, seamlessly blending technical brilliance with an immersive auditory experience. With a towering stature housing seven precision-engineered drivers and an intricate crossover system, this speaker represents the pinnacle of Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries’ dedication to sonic perfection. From the meticulously designed membranes and innovative SMC drive to the unique floor reflection control and versatile tweeter configuration, every aspect of the Epikore 11 reflects a harmonious synergy of cutting-edge technology and sophisticated craftsmanship, ultimately delivering a musical journey that transcends conventional boundaries.

For audiophiles seeking superior sound quality and a speaker that effortlessly integrates into their audio sanctuaries, the Epikore 11 is a formidable choice. Its usability, functionality, and attention to detail in design make it not just an audio device but a statement of uncompromising commitment to the art of sound reproduction. As the Epikore 11 takes its place among the elite in the world of high-end floor-standing speakers, it leaves an indelible mark, inviting enthusiasts to immerse themselves in an audio realm where every note finds its perfect place and every nuance is unveiled with unparalleled clarity and precision.

Reasons to Buy the Dali Epikore 11:

  1. Unparalleled Sonic Performance: The Epikore 11’s combination of advanced technologies, including the SMC drive, Evo-K hybrid tweeter, and floor reflection control, results in an audio experience that transcends conventional boundaries. Its ability to spatially place sound components and deliver a three-dimensional, immersive listening experience sets it apart in high-fidelity speakers.
  2. Innovative Design and Construction: The speaker’s unique design, with a towering height of 160 centimeters and a carefully divided baffle, contributes to its aesthetic appeal and plays a crucial role in creating a well-balanced soundstage. The attention to detail in construction, such as using quality materials and the internal decoupling of drivers, reflects Dali’s commitment to sonic excellence.
  3. Versatility and Nuanced Delivery: The Epikore 11’s ability to handle various music genres with finesse, from classical compositions to contemporary beats, makes it a versatile choice for audiophiles with diverse preferences. Its nuanced delivery, emphasizing an even bass foundation over diaphragmatic attack, suits those who appreciate high-end speakers capable of capturing the subtleties in music.
  4. Thoughtful Usability and Functionality: The inclusion of user-friendly controls, intuitive customization options, and straightforward setup guidelines make the Epikore 11 accessible to both seasoned audiophiles and newcomers to the high-end audio scene. Dali’s commitment to seamlessly integrating into users’ lifestyles enhances the overall ownership experience.

Considerations Before Buying:

  1. Space and Placement Requirements: The Epikore 11’s substantial size and air-pushing capability necessitate ample space and careful placement consideration. Prospective buyers should ensure a listening environment with at least 2.5 to 3 meters between speakers and adequate distance from walls to allow the speaker’s bass to develop optimally.
  2. Financial Consideration: While delivering exceptional value for its performance, the Epikore 11 comes with a significant price tag. Potential buyers should assess their budget and weigh the investment against their commitment to achieving the pinnacle of audio excellence.
  3. Amplification and Electronics: The Epikore 11’s potential can be fully realized with high-quality amplification. Buyers should be prepared to invest in a robust amplifier to fully complement the speaker’s capabilities.

In summary, the Dali Epikore 11 is an enticing option for those seeking uncompromising audio quality, innovative design, and a speaker seamlessly integrating into their audio sanctuaries. However, before investing, potential buyers should consider their space, budget, and commitment to a high-end audio setup.

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