You want better TV sound and a good music experience in one solution. Do you necessarily have to choose between a soundbar or an AV receiver with many speakers? No longer, because active stereo speakers with built-in streaming are becoming increasingly valuable alternatives that combine hi-fi sound quality with a discreet arrangement. The brand new Rubicon 6Cs from Dali aim at people who do not want to make concessions in any way.
Dali Rubicon 6C
As one of the larger speaker brands, the Dali has not escaped the fact that passive speakers that you have to control with separate electronics are no longer an issue. appeal to many consumers. The Danes have multiple answers to this trend, such as the Dali Katch One soundbar, but also see a bright future for active speakers. A pair of active speakers has some advantages compared to all rivals. Because they are “real” speakers in a separate stereo setup, they sound better than a small soundbar with mini speakers. And because the amplification is included in the speaker, there are fewer devices in the living room. A huge bonus is that a manufacturer can perfectly match that gain to the speaker itself, so that it can perform more optimally than if you combine any hi-fi amplifier with the speaker . Amplifier and speaker are really made for each other.
Dali is already busy rolling out the active speakers. The big push came with Callisto, a line consisting of a set of active bookshelf speakers and a set of floorstands. Both the Callisto 2C and the 6C connect (optionally) high quality wireless with a separate Sound Hub, a box with all kinds of inputs and (again optional) streaming that you can hide in the box. But it is certainly beautifully built to be kept in view.
The Rubicon Cs are the next step in Dali's active strategy. For those who are looking for something more luxurious and more premium than Callisto, these expensive speakers end up. The underlying platform and approach is the same: they work together with the Sound Hub, use a lossless Kleernet transmission and exist in two versions (Rubicon 6C floor stands and 2C bookshelf speakers). And does that Rubicon name sound familiar to you? That's right, these are the active versions of the passive Rubicon speakers that Dali has been offering for several years. We know them well, because the Rubicon LCR and Vokal are the backbone of the surround setup in our test room, and we used Rubicon 6s as speakers for stereo testing around 2017.
Go for a bundle
In theory Dali continues to adhere to its modular approach, whereby you purchase the speakers, Sound Hub and streaming module (NPM-1) separately. In practice, those three things are rarely sold separately at Callisto, we heard in the corridors. If you continue reading, you will soon understand why. After all, the active Dali story is only right if you combine the three elements. That means that you may only meet the Rubicon 6C in the store in a package form. The Rubicon 6C and the Sound Hub then cost 6,247 euros, which you can use to connect a lot with cables and streaming via Bluetooth. Do you want very mature streaming options over WiFi and the possibility to link multiroom to Bluesound speakers and devices from other manufacturers (NAD, Dali and recently Monitor Audio)? Then you have to add the NPM-1 module of 499 euros. That total price tag seems high, but bundles are made that are much cheaper. We understand that you will be able to purchase the full package for a suggested retail price of 6,250 euros.
With the NPM-1, a word of explanation is appropriate, because that module is just one of the things that makes the Dali platform so fascinating. After all, the Sound Hub has expansion slots that you can compare with expansion slots on a desktop PC. Just as you can plug in a new graphic card or sound card to a computer, you can screw in up to two modules at the Sound Hub that offer new possibilities. Does this remind you of NAD's MDC approach? It is indeed the same principle, but the NAD modules with which you provide an older AV receiver with 4K HDMI inputs, for example, do not work with the Sound Hub. They are similar but not the same. There is currently one expansion card for the Sound Hub: the NPM-1. This card expands the hub with BluOS streaming, which we explain in detail. Will there be other cards later? Perhaps. In the past we have heard rumors that there will be a card with HDMI ports and support for multi-channel sound. The latter is possible, because the Dali platform could wirelessly control more than two speakers. But for now there is nothing concrete to see from such an HDMI module – and maybe it never will.
Yet we find the Sound Hub's modular unique feature. Whereas other solutions with streaming may no longer really be usable after a few years, the Dali speakers still have the possibility that any changes in streaming will be absorbed with a new card.
The interest in active Speakers with streaming seem to be mainly focused on (hefty) bookshelf speakers, such as the Callisto 2C, Dynaudio Xeo 20 and KEF LS50 Wireless. The latter is perhaps the most successful example of this trend, just like the more compact KEF LSX speakers. That is not so strange in itself; many people may consider active speakers because they are looking for a more discreet, compact way to listen to music. Still, it's nice that Dali also releases these Rubicon 6Cs. They are real floor stands, sturdy column speakers that really stand there. Dali says she wants to deliver something “best in class”, which is noticeable in all areas. The finish, for example, is completely at the Rubicon level. The speakers that we receive are covered with a very large high-gloss lacquer in black, which is completely seamless over the cabinet. Equally attractive is the high-gloss white version, which is more subtle in a modern interior, and the refined walnut finish. The three versions are supplied with hip-looking fronts, which replace the classic loudspeaker cloth with a handsome fabric in Scandinavian style. Smart, because all in all, the shape of the Rubicon 6C is rather classic – but the trendy grilles make them look a lot more modern. The 6C also comes with a set with a two-part base and spikes, so that you can place the Rubicons perfectly in your room. Now that foot is not necessary to make the speaker more stable, because the Rubicon 6C is also without a very solid and heavy appearance. Each speaker weighs just under 21 kg, and that is quite something. We are not surprised either, because that loudspeaker also contains a power supply and an amplifier. We would recommend mounting the foot for better disconnection.
The best-in-class approach also extends to the drivers and reinforcement used. The Rubicon 6C is equipped with drivers at the Rubicon level (which is the second highest loudspeaker line with the Danish manufacturer): two 6 ½-inch woofers and then the dual tweeter setup characteristic of Dali consisting of a dome and a ribbon tweeter. It really is a Dali, because those woofers use the typical wood fiber that gives them a dark red, uneven structure and contain the SMC motor system that is an important ingredient in the Dali recipe. The use of a soft dome tweeter and a ribbon tweeter that work in tandem is equally unusual and largely responsible for the typical sound of Dali. As a result, the Rubicon 6C must sound very detailed and detailed at the same time.
To control all this, the speaker includes a sturdy class-D 250-watt gain hatch consisting of two amplifier units (one for the woofers, one for the tweeters). Class D takes up less space, so a logical choice, but that power is not nothing. Dali also chose to work with a digital crossover to allow the drivers to work together optimally, another advantage of active speakers.
Setting the Rubicon 6Cs is really child's play with the Sound Hub. You provide the three devices with power and you are almost done. And yes, the Rubicon Cs are “wireless”, but just like all active speakers you need a power outlet per speaker. Both on the Sound Hub and on each speaker there is a button that you have to press to connect everything together. It is of course crucial that you define the right speaker as left / right, but that is made easy by the display on the Sound Hub. When you connect the speakers, you see a speaker icon blinking in the corner of a virtual room. Furthermore, there is little to configure unless you have the streaming module in the Sound Hub. But that is not really challenging either. Install the Bluesound app on your mobile device (iOS and Android, also available for Windows and macOS), and follow the step-by-step plan to register a new device.
The Bluesound app immediately gives you complete control over the Rubicons. Not only do you have access to the many streaming options, you can also use it to switch between the physical inputs on the Sound Hub. For example, we connected our LG TV to the optical input. Switching in the app was not necessary, however, because the Hub itself detects if sound comes out of your TV and then switches automatically.
Adjusting the volume via an app is sometimes of course cumbersome. If you switch from one TV channel to a streaming service, and then discover that Netflix sounds a lot louder, for example. Fortunately, a small but good-looking remote comes with the Sound Hub. On the device itself you can also adjust the volume via the large rotary knob that is the only visual eye-catcher. Well, in the middle of the button there is a white LCD display why the volume level appears large. You do not overlook that either. And if we are still working on that: on the speakers themselves, the volume is shown via a row of illuminated LEDs. Very striking and cleverly found, but luckily you can dim or switch them off.
Streaming and multiroom
The BluOS app is well put together and works particularly well on a tablet. You look at a main screen in which your music is central, with album art printed large and with all the information presented large. Depending on the chosen service, you will see additional reading material, such as the bio of a selected artist. It is not entirely a Roon experience, but certainly not bad. Do you want to go to another service or entrance? Swipe from the left edge of the screen and you will see all the entries and registered services appear alongside playlists and presets. A nice detail: playlists include all playlists of all (registered) services and local playlists. In terms of support for streaming services, Bluesound / BluOS is a leader. Only Sonos goes a bit wider, but especially with niche services. At Bluesound you can count on 12 services (including Deezer, Qobuz and Tidal) and there is support for Google Assistant. Do you use Spotify? Then the Rubicons simply appear in the Spotify app and you can operate the Dali speakers directly there. You can also control the volume in that app.
Are those all options? No, because the BluOS platform works with Roon and Bluetooth is of course also built into the Sound Hub. You can also play your own music files over the network, with support for hi-res PCM up to 192 KHz / 24-bit. However, there is no Airplay.
Because Dali hooks up to the BluOS platform, the Rubicon 6Cs are also multi-room compatible. This means that you can operate multiple devices from the BluOS app and link them ad hoc so that they can hear the same track. You do that simply by swiping in the app from the right edge, after which you can see a list of connected devices and speakers. The interesting thing about this platform is that it is not limited to a brand. In the app you can see not only active speakers from Dali, but the many Bluesound devices, devices from NAD, and recently also a CI unit from Monitor Audio. That is a large pool of devices with which you can provide a home with audio, which is very flexible. A set of Rubicon Cs in the living room, built-in speakers in the kitchen controlled by a NAD or MA multi-zone amplifier in a rack, wireless Bluesound speakers in the dining room and a NAD M10 with audiophile speakers in the hobby room, that is all possible.  Rich and lush sound
You don't have to listen to the Rubicon 6Cs for long to realize that they are at a higher level than the rest of the playing field. Compared to many other active speakers with streaming that are currently appearing, these luxurious but also larger Dalis are aiming a bit higher. Yes, they are more expensive, but luckily they also deliver more.
The larger size and the use of more drivers produces a fuller sound, deeper and more detailed than what you get from an (active) bookshelf speaker. John Morelands alt-country on 'LP5' even gets a near-live character on the 6Cs – and that has to do with the typical Dali choice for a broad look and the double tweeter setup with a complementary dome and a ribbon tweeter. The best of both worlds, something that we have always admired in the passive Rubicons.
As always with Dali, it is best not to screw in the Rubicon 6Cs according to the manufacturer. It is therefore allowed to flush with the wall, which is slightly more interior-friendly. If you really want to place them close to the wall (less than about 60 cm), we would recommend experimenting with a plug in one or both bass ports. They are really powerful players, these Dalis, and that is why you can experience something too dominant bass. It is not a problem but just a reality of speakers; that interaction between speakers and room is just something that you sometimes have to take into account. We do suspect that in a lot of smaller living rooms the Rubicon 2Cs (which we also visited) will be the more optimal choice, although you will miss a bit of detail and openness that the Rubicon 6Cs present.
One of the things where We always loved the original Rubicons, that enormous cosiness that you embrace. It is a quality that we also notice in the 6Cs when we listen to a number of soundtracks that Alberto Iglesias composed for Pedro Almodovar, including the works for “Todo Sobre Mi Madre” (played by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra). What the Dali's doing here is striking is creating an immense sound stage, which allows you to dive deep into the music. Dali chooses not to bet on super-tight timing and positioning, but to just open everything wide, so that the melancholic wind instruments in “Tras el Carazon de Mi Hijo” grab you straight at your heart. “Cozy”, it is a word we like to use for the Danish speakers. We can listen for hours, bathed in the delightful atmosphere of the sometimes orchestral, sometimes tending to purebred Iglesias tango. And that is exactly what we have done.
Another album that we have enjoyed listening to on the Dali's: 'Serf's Up' by The Fat White Family, sometimes some awkward, chaotic English lo-fi that the craziest instruments – cheap Casio's, a full chamber orchestra – combines to create something very intriguing. Real recordings that come across as chaotic over loudspeakers that are dynamically less strong, but still look very good on the Dali's.
Despite their civilized appearance, the 6Cs also have everything on board for electro tracks or indiepop such as 'Night Time, My Time' by Sky Ferreira. The title track ‘Boys’ demands to be played loudly, and that works quite well. The immense power of the Rubicon 6C can really be seen here when we turn the volume knob.
Perhaps an HDMI module will appear in front of the Sound Hub so that you can connect the Dalis to your television via an HDMI cable. In the meantime, you can already get a better TV sound reproduction arranged with an optical cable – and we did exactly that with an LG OLED55C9. The great thing about active speakers like this is that you improve your TV sound in one go and can listen to your music in high (stereo) quality. We are very happy about the binge-watchen of series 2 of “Narco’s: Mexico” via Netflix. Provided you position the speakers properly with respect to your TV screen, you will get a great dialog that appears to come out of the screen. At the same time, the broad appearance of the Dalis ensures that not only one person in the sweetspot has a cinematic experience. Even far off-axis, in the corner of the L-shaped sofa, it sounds in (relative) balance and voices present themselves ol.
We understand that many people go for a soundbar because this is a compact solution that can still deliver reasonable sound. But a set of active stereo speakers that you can easily connect to your television provides a completely different experience. You will be surprised how effective stereo sound is as a mood creator in films – provided it is done by a set of adult speakers like this. In particular because music simply plays a crucial role in films, something that LFE enthusiasts who hunt for large explosions often lose sight of.
The foregoing is actually true for all active speakers, not just the Dalis, but it is true that the mature format of the 6Cs and the ease of use of the Sound Hub are advantages that you will not find elsewhere soon.
The Dali Rubicon 6Cs take all the goodness of the Callistos and add a better sound quality and a better sound quality. very nice finish. That makes these active speakers very attractive, provided you are in the market for a true premium product. The higher pricing distinguishes the Rubicon 6Cs from many competitors, but Dali does offer something in return. A very mature sound that invites listening, to start with, but also excellent streaming options and connectivity. Thanks to the Sound Hub, visible cables are minimized and you get a lot of flexibility, perhaps even to build a wireless surround setup in the future. Even more important is that you enter the BluOS universe, allowing you to combine the Rubicon 6Cs with wireless Bluesound speakers and other audio devices elsewhere in your home.