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Review: Dali Katch One – soundbar or music system?

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It is not easy for a brand that wants to stand out with a new soundbar. You can do it by using state-of-the-art technology and, for example, by offering Atmos support. Or you can bet on a beautiful design and a lot of attention for a good music reproduction, as Dali does with the new Katch One.

Introduction Dali Katch One

The Dali Katch One must be one of the most striking soundbars [19659005] are those we once saw. Most sound bars are long, thin and black, the Katch One is none of those things. Instead of showing off a futuristic appearance, Dali comes with rounded corners, a hip Scandinavian fabric at the front and a shape that fits nicely into a modern Ikea interior. Some of those design elements may seem very familiar to both interior design enthusiasts and Dali connoisseurs. The Danish company has recently become more aware of the importance of interior trends, which we think is very smart. Whether you like it or not, it is wise to take into account how an audio device looks in the living room. A speaker or soundbar is simply a big thing in a room and it has to fit into the whole. That way you can make something like this even more popular with every member of the family. Dali immediately positions the Katch One as a premium soundbar, equipped with a price tag of 749 euros.


By the way, it is very important to completely omit the word “soundbar” from the Katch One in this review. It's no coincidence that this device carries the same last name as the excellent portable Katch Bluetooth speaker. Dali sees the Katch One as a soundbar, but at the same time emphasizes that this is also a modern music system. You don't have to connect it to a TV. You can just as well park it on a shelf in the kitchen or on the dresser in the dining room to stay there with music. Music can be supplied via Bluetooth or an aux input.

Where do we know this from?

The Katch One is very similar to the aforementioned Katch Bluetooth speaker . Take such a Katch and stretch it like in a comic strip or Disney cartoon and you end up with this soundbar. Or so it seems. Actually, there are some differences, such as the housing that is partly made of metal with the Katch and mainly plastic with the Katch One. The soundbar is also a bit higher: 24 cm and even 26 cm if you use the two wooden feet supplied. That is something to take into account when placing a TV on a piece of furniture. Most TV models have stands that are much less high.
Dali sells three versions of the Katch One: a black, white and a white version with a fabric front. The first two embodiments have a grid with a coarse geometric pattern formed by diagonal lines. Both approaches are smart, but we think the version with the textile front is the best. By the way, it is not a fabric from Kvadrat, the Danes who nowadays supply hip textile types to countless hi-fi brands, but it does look like one of their creations. You can also find that choice of textiles to cover a soundbar at Harman Kardons Citation Bar for 999 euros. There are, however, some differences between the Katch One and the multi-room soundbar of the Samsung daughter.


Because the Katch One is quite wide, you can place it upright on a piece of furniture. The shape is completely different than an average soundbar, much higher than wider. Yet the Dali speaker is completely stable. Children's hands will not accidentally knock him over. In the box you will find two wooden feet on which the Katch One rests. You are not obliged to use them, but the feet do complete the design.


You can also hang the Dali on the wall. This is even very easy via the two recesses at the back, no extra bracket required. The soundbar is not very heavy, so you do not need super strong anchoring. Also for this scenario there is a nice visual extra included: two leather loops that you can attach to the top of the Katch One. It then seems as if the soundbar is hanging on the wall with a few simple loops. It proves again that successful design is sometimes in very small things.

Music lover

There are two sound modes on the Katch One. You switch between the two via the button on the small remote or by a key at the top. You can hear the effect right away, because one of the two makes music sound a lot fuller and makes the voice more central. The other modes send music wider into the room and almost add some sort of echo, making music appear to play in a much larger space. To select according to taste, we would say. Some songs are better in one mode, other tracks sound a bit sharper with the other.


In 'Unsquare Dance' by The Dave Brubeck Quartet you have a nice combination of a double bass that plays far away, hand clapping in a large room and the tap on the edge of a drum panting from left to right, and back and forth. Very fascinating to hear on separate stereo speakers that are further apart, but the Katch also transmits a surprising amount of that soundstage. That is a very nice result, also because it is a natural stereo sound that we hear. That is not the case with every soundbar.
We use a Huawei P30 Pro to stream to the Katch One via Bluetooth. The aptX codec is supported, so that music in higher quality reaches the Dali speaker. Once the Bluetooth connection has been established, you can play your favorite playlist with all music apps. During this test we use Spotify and Qobuz, but there are many more options, including YouTube, Soundcloud and Tidal. There is actually no restriction on it.


Many slim soundbars show their limitations when you listen to faster guitar or electronic music. The small speakers cannot properly reproduce all frequencies and the accompanying wireless subwoofer is too woolly to transfer the speed into music. The Katch One is not bothered by this: it has its own woofers that can be quite low and the housing has enough volume to accommodate larger drivers that make music sound fuller. We notice this when we listen to the new “I am easy to Find” album from The National, which starts with a first track that immediately starts to work. This could easily go wrong, but the Katch One transmits the energy in this song well. If we turn the volume on, it remains relatively controlled. Case resonance does not seem to be a problem, but soundbars sometimes dare to be a problem.

A more open TV sound

And how does the Katch One perform as a soundbar? We connect it via the HDMI ARC port to our LG OLED55B6V television in the living room. Setting up is not difficult and we can use the Dali immediately. You can control the volume simply with the TV remote. However, our test device only occasionally gives sound after we have first selected the HDMI input of the soundbar on the LG, which incidentally simply produces a blue screen. If we then watch via the Netflix app or via another HDMI device, then everything works fine. We suspect that this problem occasionally arises because we received the Katch One very early, and that it is therefore a near-production model. To be sure, we take the Katch One to the test room and connect it to a Samsung UE60KS7000. That is a lot better. With some televisions, such as our Samsung, you have to dive into the TV settings to put the audio signal on PCM (or stereo). An Automatic mode usually works too.


The Katch soundbar does not process Dolby Digital or other formats. That is not so bad, because the Katch One does not pretend to deliver a pseudo surround like many other sound bars. Stereo comes out. “Just like your TV did”, you could say. The difference is that the Katch One contains larger and better speakers that are also facing forward. This immediately results in a greatly improved sound, read: much more bass, distinguished details and dialogues that are much more intelligible. We already notice that the Katch One is very high. This means there is room for larger drivers that just sound better – and you notice that.


The Katch One does the reproduction of sound effects in a soundtrack in a rather competent way. It is – again – not a soundbar focused on spectacle and surround. With films that rely heavily on music, the Katch One comes out of the corner. That can sometimes be very surprising. We viewed it – also a surprise – excellent “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” (Ultra HD Blu-ray). It is an animated film with an incredible mash-up of visual styles and with a soundtrack with a lot of hip hop that does not stop you being astonished. The second half of the film increases the tempo considerably and non-stop humor is interspersed with surreal action, tough for TV speakers or a compact soundbar to play. The Dali Katch One, however, could handle the hectic pace. Moreover, because the film turned out to be so unexpectedly fascinating, we only realized after a while how full and detailed that soundtrack could be heard in the living room. That is a good sign: the intention of a soundbar (or surround solution) must help to achieve the higher goal of “suspending your disbelief”. In other words, you do that by building a perfect surround field (see: the Sennheiser Ambeo ) or by ensuring that a stereo sound stage is put down in a big way. The Katch One is clearly aiming for the latter.

Conclusion

The elegant Scandinavian design of the Katch One is what really sets this device apart from the rest. And also that Dali first positions the Katch One as a music solution and only then as an improvement for your TV sound. The Dali succeeds particularly well in the first role. So good that it becomes interesting as a better sound solution for elsewhere in the house. For example, on a low cupboard in the dining room or on a shelf in the kitchen. As a soundbar, the Katch One delivers an open, clear sound that makes watching TV more pleasant. Musically, it surpasses many competitors. It does miss things that you actually expect at soundbars at this higher price point, such as extra HDMI inputs and WiFi streaming. Instead, the Katch One offers a simpler concept that looks particularly handsome and sounds musical.

Cons

  • No additional HDMI inputs
  • Quite high
  • Substantial price

Plus points

  • Very modern, hip design
  • Handsome both on TV furniture and on the wall
  • Can be used as a music system separate from the TV

Homecinema Magazine
Review
8.0 10 Jamie Biesemans product

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