Dali Epicon 6

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Joe
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Dali Epicon 6

Postby Joe » Fri Jul 27, 2018 5:56 pm

My PMC Twenty.26 and I have enjoyed three happy years together but recently I’ve felt like it’s time to move on, not necessarily to upgrade, but I’ve had a hankering for a different kind of sound. The Twenty 26 are great, particularly since I got my Luxman amp, but I’m increasingly drawn to a warmer, more laid back kind of sound. For my tastes I’ve found the PMC exceptional with electronica or a modern mastering with plenty of bass but they are unforgiving of a poor recording. In my room they can be weedy at low levels and too forward when loud. When I got into this hobby I was all about accurate reproduction, a flat frequency response and searching for that extra bit of detail but I don’t listen to audiophile music and the studio monitor type sound can be quite unforgiving.

I did a fair bit of reading, and a chat with Dave at Fanthorpes offered some suggestions that were in line with my thinking. The Dali Epicon 6 were top of the list, a speaker I’d heard very briefly before and enjoyed. The Spendor D9 was also a contender as it offers a more laid back presentation than PMC and an extra bass driver to add some welly. Dave also suggested the Martin Logan ESL 9 would provide a unique sound I might enjoy but sadly I felt I had to rule them out due to their size and a feeling that those big woofers would play havoc with my floor. Electrostatics also have a reputation for transparency over all else which wasn’t what I was looking for. An itch to scratch another day perhaps.

Home demo arranged. First up were the Spendor. Several boxes were ticked. Very easy to position, weighty bass (although not nearly as tight as the PMC’s transmission line), treble that is sweeter and less forward than the PMC and as always with Spendor, a quality midrange. Pianos in particular sounded nice which is always a good sign. That’s where the praise ends unfortunately. I didn’t find the soundstage at all well defined, there was little space between instruments, a lack of focus. They sounded muddled. Laid back and easy to listen to with all types of music but to my ears, in my system, they didn’t sound the money. They certainly didn’t look the money either so I would’ve had to fork out an extra grand for the premium finish. Maybe they just didn’t pair well with the Luxman. At 90dB sensitivity they’re easily driven by class A but I suspect they prefer a more lively class A/B or even D amp.

It was immediately clear to my ears that the Dalis were in a different league. They certainly sound, and look the money. They’re a unique design and sound quite unlike anything else. If I had to describe the sound in a word it would be “rich”. “Warm” might suggest rolled off treble and that certainly isn’t the case here. They “flesh out” recordings just as I hoped they would. The sound has more weight to it without being too forward, which flatters poorer recordings.

Bass packs a punch, again not nearly as tight as transmission line but the two rear ported 6 1/2” bass drivers will bring out a subtle bassline that the PMCs wouldn’t. My room is far from ideal acoustically so they are considerably quicker to lose control of the bass when you play a bass-heavy track loud but it’s not nearly as bad as I was expecting after having all sorts of trouble positioning my VA Baby Grands back in the day. In fact the speakers were simply placed my usual 50-60cm from the back wall, firing straight (as Dali insist) and they just did their thing. The speakers are considerably closer to one side wall than the other so I was expecting all sorts of boom on the left side but it’s not particularly noticeable.

The listening position is very much a sweet spot due to the ribbon tweeters. Treble has quite a unique sound. It’s delicate and extended, it sparkles but the overall balance of the speaker means they don’t sound bright. It’s at its most impressive with recordings with a high dynamic range. Xylophones and the like sound lovely. Cymbals crash when they’re supposed to and delicate brush work impresses with clarity and realism. In fact, percussion in general is something I find the Epicon’s excel at, from a thumping kick drum to complex cymbal work and the tapping of drumsticks.

The midrange is far more laid back than the PMCs, as you might expect from a design with no dedicated midrange driver. This is a feature that might not be for everyone, depending on your musical tastes. I’d love some Epicon 8 but you need a very special listening room for those! I wanted a speaker that’s good for rock and that’s exactly what I got. I dare say they’re a dab hand at Jazz too.

I find there are generally two types of speaker, those that have you leaning forward like you’re at the mixing desk in a studio, and those that have you laying back and letting the music wash over you. The Dalis tend towards the latter category but unlike the Spendors, there is no sacrificing of insight. Everything is still well defined and easy to follow in the mix. They’re laid back yet dynamic and equally impressive at low volume. Their low noise floor and black background is noticeable even in my acoustically iffy listening room. Reverb and echo are particularly impressive.

On paper they’re more sensitive than the Twenty 26 by 2dB and although my Luxman amp was perfectly capable of driving the PMC, it’s clear the Luxman barely breaks a sweat driving these. That opens up all sorts of possibilities for dabbling with other Class A equipment in the future, although I have no intention to do so at the moment. I find myself more often reaching for the remote to turn the volume up rather than down. The music just flows with ease.

I only have one gripe with these speakers, and that’s the touch of sibilance I’m getting with some vocals. Bjork’s Vespertine springs to mind. It seems to be with singers with a high range who are close to the mic, presumably as the speakers cross over to the dome tweeter more readily than others. Not a complaint I’ve really read about with the Epicons though. It doesn’t seem such an issue with vinyl so perhaps it just doesn’t gel with the Chord DAC. A good excuse to put the Luxman DA-06 on my Christmas list then!

So, in summary, I’m very happy with the Epicon 6. A laid back, rich, romantic sound. Not an analysis tool but still very high fidelity. As with any upgrade, it has left me pondering the next, to ice the cake so to speak, but I quite like that. PMC Twenty 26 are also a great speaker and I will genuinely miss them every time I play some Massive Attack. It’s worth mentioning that when both speakers launched they were similarly priced but Fanthorpes are currently selling PMC's remaining stock for half the price of the Dalis which is something of a bargain, particularly as the Twenty5 series are going up in price next month.
Last edited by Joe on Sat Sep 22, 2018 12:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Dali Epicon 6

Postby maro73 » Fri Jul 27, 2018 7:18 pm

Congrats
Great sensation when I listened to the Epicons
Happy hours of listening mate
Cheers

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Re: Dali Epicon 6

Postby RichardLowe » Sat Jul 28, 2018 6:03 am

Great review Joe, and happy to see the hifi journey continues, well, happily! Its interesting to see how you decided you wanted a particular "colouration" and searched it out, rather than striving to achieve perfect neutrality (whatever that means, given the recording and mastering process itself adds colouration, often by design).

I thought you might go the Fact.12 route (who knows you may yet...), but that would be sticking with the PMC sound. The Dali Epicon is a great speaker - the 8 would be the one for a large room that's not going to blow you apart with bass boom, so the 6 is probably ideal by the description of your listening room.

It also sounds as if the upgrade itch has not been fully satisfied. Happy Christmas shopping, and I look forward to your thoughts on the matching Luxman DAC around December 26.
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Re: Dali Epicon 6

Postby Joe » Sat Jul 28, 2018 11:41 am

Thanks fellas.

In a way this all came about due to the nice weather we've been having. My Sony ZX2 Walkman and Oppo PM-3 came out of the drawer for the first time in a while. Combined they offer a very warm presentation. I was listening to Bowie's Moonage Daydream and loving how they smoothed over the digital edginess as brought out the bass. I went and listened to it on the Hi-fi and yikes, it could strip paint at high volume. Of course, the Hi-fi was more faithful to the mastering and it's much, much better on vinyl but it got me thinking.

RichardLowe wrote:I thought you might go the Fact.12 route (who knows you may yet...), but that would be sticking with the PMC sound.


I noticed Fanthorpes just got a used pair in within budget. Probably for the best that didn't happen a couple of weeks ago because that would've really put the cat among the pigeons! I'm sure I would love them but they would rule out further dabbling with Class A.
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Re: Dali Epicon 6

Postby madaboutlawns » Sun Jul 29, 2018 8:12 am

That's an excellent write up on your new Epicon 6's Joe.
I'm a little biased towards Dali, I've got the opticon 8's and a full set of zensors on surround sound duties.
Although not very good, I've been having a piano lesson each week for the past 5 years.
I've got 3 from a digital yamaha clavinova and a baby grand to a full size Carl Mand Concert Grand piano.
In the piano world Steinway and Sons are highly regarded, I was caught captivated listening to a Steinway Lyngdorf system and left dreaming about the day I could own one.
That's when I discovered that the founder of Dali was Peter Lyngdorf, another small weight that tipped the scales in favour of Dali for me.
A lot of the Dali speakers look similar across the ranges and I wonder how they might sound when listened to side by side.

Good luck and have lots of fun with your Epicon 6's
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Re: Dali Epicon 6

Postby Rune » Thu Aug 02, 2018 11:33 pm

Excellent speaker choice and good observations in your write up.
I am not so sure the Epicon 8 needs a very special or big room to sound great. (Maybe I should not say that)

Also nice to see that Dali is getting more popular here on CU.
Source: Synology NAS, Intel NUC Linux RoonServer, RPI RoonBridge
DAC: Chord Hugo
Pre amp: MFA Baby Ref.
Amps: 4xHypex nCore
Speakers: Dali Epicon 8
Cables: ML Cryo Ref. XLR, Yannis RCA, Analysis plus big silver oval
AV: NAD 758 v3 (DiracLive), 5.1  B&W M-1, PV1D sub

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Re: Dali Epicon 6

Postby Joe » Fri Aug 03, 2018 12:05 pm

Rune wrote:I am not so sure the Epicon 8 needs a very special or big room to sound great. (Maybe I should not say that)


I think my room's big enough but I'd have to put the right speaker in front of a door so I could move the left one further from the side wall and then move the listening position back a few feet. Perhaps I should've said a more practical room ;D I wouldn't want any more bass than this with the current layout.
Michell Gyro Dec, SME IV, Ortofon Cadenza Black, Project Phono Box RS + Power Box.
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Re: Dali Epicon 6

Postby callen24 » Fri Aug 03, 2018 8:27 pm

Excellent thought through review
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Re: Dali Epicon 6

Postby Joe » Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:37 pm

Cheers.
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Re: Dali Epicon 6

Postby jules » Tue Aug 07, 2018 8:10 am

Sounds like a satisfying journey Joe, congrats.

Any photos? 8)
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Re: Dali Epicon 6

Postby caine » Tue Aug 07, 2018 5:26 pm

Great review. Heard the Epicon 8's and they sounded top shelve. I could live with them, no issues.
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Re: Dali Epicon 6

Postby Joe » Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:54 pm

jules wrote:Sounds like a satisfying journey Joe, congrats.

Any photos? 8)

Currently have the demo pair. Mine are arriving on Friday. Will post some in showcase.
Michell Gyro Dec, SME IV, Ortofon Cadenza Black, Project Phono Box RS + Power Box.
Aurender N100H, Chord Hugo TT.
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Re: Dali Epicon 6

Postby Rune » Wed Aug 08, 2018 8:17 am

I think very few speakers come close re the quality of the finish. Even speakers costing much more look cheaper.

I got the Ruby Macassar, but also considered the Walnut. What finish did you choose?
Source: Synology NAS, Intel NUC Linux RoonServer, RPI RoonBridge
DAC: Chord Hugo
Pre amp: MFA Baby Ref.
Amps: 4xHypex nCore
Speakers: Dali Epicon 8
Cables: ML Cryo Ref. XLR, Yannis RCA, Analysis plus big silver oval
AV: NAD 758 v3 (DiracLive), 5.1  B&W M-1, PV1D sub