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Review: Dali Rubicon 6 Black Edition speakers – Back in black

Review: Dali Rubicon 6 Black Edition speakers may have been tweaked a bit, but the good performance is in line with the 'regular' Rubicon model

It’s not an easy quest, the hunt for a Dali Rubicon 6 Black Edition. After all, this special edition of this popular floorstander is almost sold out. We took our chance to test it after all, because many of its advantages also apply to the regular Rubicon 6.

Dali Rubicon 6 Black Edition

It may seem a bit strange that we are discussing a Rubicon speaker from Dali. After all, the Rubicon loudspeaker line was already introduced in 2014, more than seven years ago. However, the speaker we are testing is something new and also something special, hence the extra ‘Black Edition’ behind the Rubicon 6 name. This is in fact a special edition, originally created for Black Friday in the fall of 2020, in a very limited edition. 888 pieces for the whole world to be correct. So if you see this jet black Dali speaker in the local store, you should hurry to buy it. Probably not many copies left.

The fact that we can test this Black Edition is also a good opportunity to hold the ‘normal’ Rubicon 6 up to the light. This Black Edition naturally shares a lot of DNA with that.

What 3-way floorstander
drivers ribbon tweeter, 29mm dome tweeter, 2 x 6 inch woofer
Additional double bass reflex, bi-wiring possible
Impedance 4 ohms
Sensitivity 88.5 dB
Dimensions 99 x 20 x 38 cm
Weight 20.2 kg
Price 1,999 euros

For your living room

Given that Rubicon encompasses a slew of speakers, you might be wondering how many Black Editions there are. But unfortunately: only the Rubicon 6 has been made a Black Edition, not of the other five Rubicon models. Anyone who dreams of a surround setup built from BE versions will have to put that wish away. Although the differences between this special edition and the regular Rubicons are not so great that you cannot put together a mixed setup.

That the Black Edition is a Rubicon 6 is a good thing. After all, our test room once housed a pair of Rubicon 6s that were used for tests for a year or two, until around 2018. Not the last Rubicons in the room, by the way, because for surround reviews, Rubicon LCR wall speakers, a set of Rubicon 2- monitors and a Rubicon Vokal center speaker that we have purchased. So we know what kind of meat we have in the tub.

Is it a coincidence that Dali just chose the Rubicon 6 to receive special treatment? Maybe not. This middle of the three Rubicon floorstanders is perhaps the most popular model, fitting nicely between the somewhat slimmer Rubicon 5 with one woofer and the hefty Rubicon 8 with three 6½-inch woofers. So you get deeper, more present bass without necessarily having to buy a gigantic speaker. That makes the Rubicon 6 BE suitable for music, but also if you use it as front channels in a surround setup. Or if you go for a stereo solution with your TV, for example with a NAD M10 or one of the other devices from the new generation of stereo amplifiers with HDMI-ARC input.

In terms of dimensions, the Black Edition is identical to the regular Rubicon 6. After all, the case itself has not changed. So you are talking about a 20-kg floorstander that is stranded at a height of one centimeter from a meter, with a modest width of 20 cm and a depth of 38 cm. It is not completely slim, like say the ELAC Solano that we recently reviewed. But it really isn’t a colossus either.

The slim look is enhanced by the very small feet that peep out from underneath the Rubicon 6. They are certainly hardly noticeable with this Black Edition. Still, the speaker is stable. In the box you will also find spikes that you can apply if desired to further isolate the speaker acoustically. We are not so fond of this ourselves, because our wooden floors are relatively soft. So we leave the spikes neatly in the box; we could also have opted to place small metal circles under the peaks. Or cushioned feet from a third party, such as the GAIAs from IsoAcoustics.

Blacker than black

The most striking thing about the Black Edition is of course that black color. There is a black version of the Rubicon anyway, but this is something completely different. Instead of the black gloss lacquer of the conventional Rubicon 6, Dali opted for a matt satin finish for this special edition. It has something menacing, more technical, maybe it also beckons pro material and maybe the eighties. Perhaps it is also reminiscent of the trendy matte wraps that some petrolheads now put over their tuned four-wheeler. In any case, the finish looks very nice. The vinyl layer used lies perfectly over the MDF housing, without hard edges or seams. That’s how it should be in this price category. Fingerprint sensitive? A little, but less than the black gloss lacquer version. To be complete:

The new color of the Black Edition is a visual thing that immediately stands out, but it doesn’t stop there in terms of design tweaks. Instead of the typical deep red woofers of the Danish brand, this BE version also features pitch black drivers. Of course, we would say. However, with the rougher fibers that are characteristic of Dali in the cones. The baffle with the dome tweeter and ribbon tweeter that makes Rubicon so special has also been painted completely matte black for the occasion. The gold Dali logo is the only color highlight, plus a thin line of text with the brand name in white that wraps around the dome. The Black Edition has therefore been made as black as possible, which gives the familiar Rubicon 6 a completely different look in a not so subtle way. Slightly less classic and slightly hipper, you might say.

New cabling

The black color is what makes this Black Edition an eye-catcher. However, the audio performance was also addressed. The drivers used are the same as with the normal Rubicon 6, the major changes are in the internal cabling and the crossover filters. Especially that last part often plays an underestimated role in terms of audio performance.

In concrete terms, the normal internal cabling that runs from the crossover to the various drivers, among other things, has been exchanged for cables that are completely made of silver. On the crossover side, it has been opted for an upgrade to a new design and better capacitors from Mundorf – purveyor of these typical electronic parts to better hi-fi brands. Given that the Black Edition is barely more expensive than the regular Rubicon 6 (about 70 euros each), these are expensive upgrades. Just based on what’s been done in terms of upgraded parts, we think that Black Edition is a great deal.

dome and ribbon

One of the secret weapons of the entire Rubicon range is that dual tweeter approach, something you don’t often see with loudspeakers. It is often one technique or the other. Not so with Dali, because the Danes combine a dome and ribbon tweeter with the Rubicons (except for the Rubicon 2), where the round dome tweeter produces the majority of the higher frequencies and the ribbon tweeter above 14 kHz provides a dash of sparkle and high detail. It is also important that each type of tweeter has its own advantages. For example, a ribbon tweeter is fast and responsive, while a dome tweeter usually has a much smoother appearance. By marrying the two, you get a best of both worlds result, according to the manufacturer. Indeed, when listening to the Rubicons, we notice that they sometimes really surprise with fine details that pop up far left and right of the speakers, for example when Roon Radio presented us with ‘Den Dag (Plateaux Techniques Remix)’ by the Danish pop singer Julie Marie after we started listening to the latest album by the Danish Dicte. Why do we find that floating micro-detail somewhere surprising? Probably because Dali often strives for that broad, enveloping reproduction that makes their speakers just as suitable for listening with several people. You don’t have one small sweet spot in which everything sounds good, Dali just designs his speakers to make that sweet spot wide. That is why the manufacturer states that you should not screw them in; it is not necessary and so those so-called first reflections can contribute to the cozy sound blanket that falls over you in the sofa. Why do we find that floating micro-detail somewhere surprising? Probably because Dali often strives for that broad, enveloping reproduction that makes their speakers just as suitable for listening with several people. You don’t have one small sweet spot in which everything sounds good, Dali just designs his speakers to make that sweet spot wide. That is why the manufacturer states that you should not screw them in; it is not necessary and so those so-called first reflections can contribute to the cozy sound blanket that falls over you in the sofa. Why do we find that floating micro-detail somewhere surprising? Probably because Dali often strives for that broad, enveloping reproduction that makes their speakers just as suitable for listening with several people. You don’t have one small sweet spot in which everything sounds good, Dali just designs his speakers to make that sweet spot wide. That is why the manufacturer states that you should not screw them in; it is not necessary and so those so-called first reflections can contribute to the cozy sound blanket that falls over you in the sofa. That is why the manufacturer states that you should not screw them in; it is not necessary and so those so-called first reflections can contribute to the cozy sound blanket that falls over you in the sofa. That is why the manufacturer states that you should not screw them in; it is not necessary and so those so-called first reflections can contribute to the cozy sound blanket that falls over you in the sofa.

About technology: the Rubicons were the first Dali speakers to receive the SMC technology of the high-end Epicon speakers as a gift. This very expensive substance is now also found in lower priced Dalis, but not always to the same extent. Without going into the details of what SMC does exactly, it is interesting to know that this magnetic material conducts electricity poorly (which is unusual) and therefore reacts more quickly and accurately to changes in the music.

pure fun

To test the Rubicon 6 Black Edition, we have an ideal system ready: the NAD C 658-DAC/preamplifier and the C 298 output stage with Purifi modules. With this brave duo we have everything to listen to music in high quality via streaming (BluOS and Roon). And yes, the C 658 comes with room correction via Dirac , but in this case we opt not to use this function. Dirac is definitely an added value and decisively eliminates acoustic problems, but for a test it is a little less interesting to switch on.

From the very first tones, we immediately know why we used to love those Rubicon floorstanders so much. The compelling character of these speakers immediately draws us into the folk jazz on ‘Springar’ by the Norwegian Erland Apneseth Trio (CD quality via Qobuz). It’s not that you suddenly zoom in on the folk strings or that percussion that maintains a very special, stimulating rhythm, we experience this somewhat mystical song in its entirety. Basically like you would in a room, somewhere in the middle. You also notice that Dali does not aim for a thorough neutrality or a hyper-exact reproduction, but rather opts for something that primarily focuses on listening pleasure.

It is a striking mix, the almost monotonous voice of Florence Shaw who reads free flow text over post-punk tracks on Dry Cleaning’s ‘New Long Leg’ (ALAC CD quality). Not really ‘audiophile’, but a very fresh musical breeze from the UK in its own way. It’s also the kind of music that continues to throb when you turn up the volume on these Dalis, something that wouldn’t work with more ‘audiophile’ speakers. It gets really great with a techno boom from the recent rerelease of ‘Grauzone’ (ALAC 24/48) by the Swiss group of the same name – you probably know the eighties hit ‘Eisbär’. The opening track ‘FILM 2’ starts with fat synth beats, which the Black Edition delivers quite tight and lush. The control by the C 298 also has something to do with that, because the EigenTakt reinforcement from Purifi is simply the pinnacle of class D.

Everything comes together perfectly when Mogwai’s Scots explode in the first track of ‘As Love Continues’. We are served a wall of sound with sufficient definition, so that you don’t just get squashed, but really listen with a lot of attention. The friendly nature of the Rubicons also means we find this enjoyable to listen to, while the source is regular 320 kbps MP3s. That is really a plus; you won’t be penalized for craving a Spotify playlist today.

 

Conclusion Dali Rubicon 6

Presenting music in an immersive, enveloping way is what the Dali Rubicon 6 BE does best. The Black Edition may have been tweaked a bit, but the good performance is in line with the ‘regular’ Rubicon model that was introduced in 2014. Which again shows that speakers do not become outdated like smartphones and tablets do. Yes, Rubicon still remains one of the better speaker families on the market.

It’s nice that Dali didn’t make this special edition more expensive than the regular Rubicon 6. If you like the beautiful finish and you can buy a few more, then it’s definitely worth getting it. You are not going to be disappointed.

Pros of Dali Rubicon 6

  • Nice upgrade for a modest surcharge
  • Room-filling and immersive
  • Details are sent wide and fine into the room
  • Good all-rounder, also for watching TV

Negatives of Dali Rubicon 6

  • BE is barely available
  • Works best at a greater distance from the wall

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