DALI Rubicon 6 Review
DALI does things a little differently and this luxury floorstander cuts to the musical chase. David Vivian takes a listen
Loudspeakers come in all shapes and sizes but there seems to be a point along the size versus price axis where the usual hi-fi considerations simply fade away. By this I mean you begin to relax while listening, the need, however subliminal, to make allowances for the volume of the enclosure, the number of drive units and the success or otherwise of their integration lets go and an immersive sense of realism takes over. The good news is it’s easy to hear (ironically because you’ll find yourself listening less intensely) and it doesn’t require a visit to the ‘High End’ to achieve.
I reckon DALI’s Rubicon 6, a substantial floorstander, is the kind of loudspeaker that should be able to pull it off, a realistic point of entry to an experience where the power of the music, rather than the limitations of the transducer, commands your attention. Of course, as DALI is keen to point out, merely stuffing an impressive number of high-tech drive units into a tall box won’t cut it either.
Founded in 1983 by Peter Lyngdorf, DALI (or the Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industry to give it its proper name) is, as Ron Burgundy might put it, kind of a big deal, employing some 200 workers producing 250,000 speakers a year from a 200,000 square foot facility in Nørager, Denmark, and it exports over 90 percent of its output. Its span of speakers is huge, going from the budget-conscious Zensor range to its A-game Epicon lineup. The Rubicons sit one level below that.
The DALI way is to do almost everything inhouse, the sole exception being dome tweeters which, while designed by DALI, are manufactured by Scan-Speak. When it comes to midrange drivers and woofers, however, the Danish brand has furrowed its own unique development path. Sidelining the usual solid iron cores for a soft magnetic compound (SMC) formulated from a composite of materials, including magnetic granules, with the aim of improving efficiency, reducing electrical conductivity and significantly lowering distortion, permitting a crossover design that retains a fl at frequency response across the critical midrange where the ear tends to be the most sensitive.
This sits well with DALI general philosophy to sound reproduction which, in essence, is to keep things fast, dynamic and fun. In this regard, its drivers are lightly damped, using low-loss rubber surrounds. Pace and timing are paramount.The Rubicon family comprises five models. The 2 is a standmount, while the 5, 6 and 8 are floorstanders.
There’s also a centre speaker for multi-channel/AV setups. The Rubicon 6 is tall and deep, but quite slim with a gently curved baffle and rear panel. The braced MDF cabinets are beautifully finished in real wood veneer and feel very inert, though at just over 20kg apiece not all that heavy.
The two 165mm wood pulp cone main drivers split low and mid duties, the lower unit operates full range and the other handles the midrange, while the 29mm fabric dome tweeter hands over to a 17 x 25mm ribbon super tweeter at 14kHz. This has a claimed frequency ceiling of 35kHz but is chiefly chosen for its wide dispersion characteristics meaning a broad ‘sweet spot’ and that little, if any, toe-in positioning towards the listening position is required.
Round the back are a brace of reflex ports corresponding to the separate chambers for the main drivers, while the two pairs of speaker terminals for bi-wiring, otherwise connected by brass links, are gold-plated and look suitably heavy duty.
Thankfully, it doesn’t require much effort to ‘walk’ the Rubicons into position – it’s advisable to leave at least a foot of space to a back wall and as much again to the sides – whereupon, if you want optimum stability and a solid coupling to the floor, you can attach the spiked outriggers.
Befitting its price, size and sonic ambition, the Rubicon 6 stands in for my regular ATC SCM 40 reference speakers and enjoys the front-end services of a Roksan Caspian M2 CD player, Chord Hugo DAC, with amplification provided by a Roksan Caspian M2 integrated amp, both by itself and with a Caspian M2 power amp in a bi-amped configuration.
The big, heavy ATC is by no means an easy act to follow, simply because it is so truthful to the source material. It tells it like it is.
If a recording is less than masterfully produced you don’t just know it, you know why. Imperfection is revealed just as starkly as genius; there’s no veneer, no rose-tinted filter, no innate intention to butter things up. Sparkling excellence shines through just as clearly as a murky mess.Perhaps wisely, the Rubicon doesn’t try to compete on these terms.
It goes its own way and if that doesn’t meet with studio-certified levels of tonal neutrality, it’s highly enjoyable and musically satisfying nonetheless. And yes, it does that ‘serious’ thing where dynamics, air and bass are sufficiently convincing to relieve you of the burden of having to mentally compensate for the information that should be there but isn’t.
Soundscapes are well proportioned, musicians, singers and instruments exist in three dimensions both bodily and spatially and there’s a generosity to the presentation that’s immediately beguiling. Strong on detail, focus and intelligibility, the DALI sounds wonderfully integrated with a spry, open, unfettered quality that makes it easy to listen to without being in any way ‘easy listening’.
It has that crucial believability in spades with a beautifully expressive and lucid midband underpinned by a seriously deep and powerful bass that never forgets to be agile and tuneful.The doubled-up tweeter complement seems to do wonders for the upper frequencies which are clean, extended, free from grain and gloriously textured. But, perhaps unsurprisingly, where the Rubicon really excels is with tempo and rhythm. It tracks the deftest shifts in timing – a dragged beat, a subtle change of emphasis – with the greatest of ease without ever sounding unnaturally sharp or punchy.
Rock – I’m thinking of Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir – thunders out with satisfying energy and drive, sounding properly massive and unstoppable. At the other end of the musical spectrum, intimate acoustic ensembles are treated with appropriate delicacy, if a little more tingle factor than you’d get with the ATC. Whether that’s strictly correct is a moot point. Probably not, but it doesn’t seem to matter.
All right, the Rubicon 6 isn’t what you’d call a monitor-class design. For those seeking tonal neutrality it comes across as being a little too well lit, so it’s probably not a good idea to team these speakers with electronics that sound leaner and brighter than the rich and beefy Roksans. That said, the tall, handsome DALI is a musical communicator of the first order bringing speed, timing, bass, brio and, perhaps most impressively of all, a believable sense of scale and dynamics to the party.Reproduces music with believable scale, pace, dynamics and a sense of joy.
DALI Rubicon 6 Specifications
2x 165mm wood fibre coned bass/mid drivers? Quoted sensitivity: 88.5dB/1W/1m
DIMENSIONS (WxHxD) 200 x 990 x 380mm