Mark Craven streamlines his listening with DALI’s smart-looking on-wall Oberon speakers. Read our DALI OBERON ON-WALL Review.
POSITION: The most affordable DALI series to use its SMC driver tech
PEERS: ELAC Debut OW4.2; Monitor Audio Soundframe 3
THERE ARE OCCASIONS when a relatively discreet on-wall speaker is desirable.
You might, for example, be short of space for rear surround speakers in an AV setup, or fancy a stereo pair to match a wall-hung TV. Yet the market isn’t exactly heaving with options. Step forward DALI’s Oberon On-Wall.
This two-way model is part of DALI’s mid-range Oberon series, fleshing out a range that also includes two floorstanders, two bookshelf speakers and a centre. You could assemble a multichannel package from these, using the On-Walls where necessary. Or you could use them on their own.
That’s a tempting price because, firstly, DALI has certainly taken care with design and styling. Naturally, the aesthetic matches the rest of the Oberon range, but I actually find the round-edged ‘rustic fabric’ grilles look better on these more diminutive enclosures. And the speakers’ 12cm depth is shallow enough to really make these look like on-wall speakers, rather than a regular, boxier cabinet masquerading as one.
The On-Walls use a 29mm soft dome tweeter, which is slightly larger than a typical high-frequency driver, and a wood fibre cone midbass driver with DALI’s patented SMC magnet technology, which the company says minimizes distortion.
The rear of the cabinet features a bass port, angling slightly down and designed specifically for on-wall installation. Attachment is via two keyhole fixings. Note that the grilles aren’t magnetic, so if you decide to remove them, the fascia displays four little holes.
DRIVERS: 1 x 29mm soft dome tweeter; 1 x 5.25in wood fibre cone midbass driver ENCLOSURE: Bass reflex (rear downfiring) FREQUENCY RESPONSE (CLAIMED): 55Hz- 26kHz SENSITIVITY (CLAIMED): 86.5dB POWER HANDLING (CLAIMED): 100W DIMENSIONS: 385(h) x 245(w) x 120(d)mm WEIGHT: 4.9kg
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Should not buy anything from AudioAffair.
See also TOP 10 Subwoofers
FEATURES: Removable fabric grille; keyhole wall-mount
Warm me up
Compared to DALI’s much costlier Phantom in-wall speakers [see HCC #276], these
Other finish options are walnut, oak and black ash affordable cabinets have a much warmer, hi-fi-style sound. That’s no bad thing, considering the potential applications.
Run as a stereo pair with music, they reveal an exceptional mid-range clarity, which results in lifelike vocals with music and strong instrumentation. Bass punch is admirable, too; the drums in the intro to Slash’s rock’n’roller Ghost (Tidal) have a good leading edge.
Switching to movies/TV yields more of the same. I ran a 2.1 setup with Arendal’s 1961 Subwoofer 1S (see page 58), as the Oberon On-Wall’s low-end reach isn’t really suited to a full-range cinematic experience, and enjoyed the speakers’ rich dialogue delivery and crisp treble.
There’s obviously no toe-in option (unless you have wonky walls), but stereo imaging is aided by impressive detail retrieval and a reasonably good dispersion. The skilful soundscapes of Dunkirk (4K Blu-ray) may lose their surround elements in 2.1, but the system brings out the LCR steering and depth of the soundstage.
Switching again, I used this well-priced pairing as surround channels in a 5.1 pack with Q Acoustics 3010i standmounts for LCR. Different drivers and cabinet design, but the Oberons’ sonic signature isn’t one that’s going to stand out unduly with a variety of speakers. What’s more likely is if you have very forceful, dynamic attacking speakers elsewhere in your setup, these might feel drowned out.
Robust and nuanced
Overall, this is a fine addition to the on-wall speaker market, and one that doesn’t have a stratospheric price tag. Sound quality is robust and nuanced, and the cabinet design is really quite eye-catching. Recommended
Supremely stylish and well-made on-wall cabinets from DALI, with an accomplished performance.
Best DALI OBERON ON-WALL prices in the US ?
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See also TOP 10 Subwoofers