Dali Opticon 2
FOR Fast, articulate midrange; strong dynamics; lovely design AGAINST Need careful systemmatching; bass isn’t punchiest
“Having the Dali name on a pair of speakers is usually a guarantee of good times. Thankfully, these Opticon 2 standmounts are no exception”
Unlike the jobsworth accountant, Dali speakers tend to make having fun their number one priority, as many an hour spent tapping our feet to 1970s disco tracks through a pair of the Danish company’s speakers will attest.
From the entry-level Zensor 1s, right up to the high-ranging Epicon 8s and the Opticon 1s and 6s, the company’s name on a pair of speakers is often a guarantee of good times. Thankfully, these Opticon 2s – the larger of the two standmounts in the company’s midsitting range – are no exception.
With a name like ‘Opticon’, you may expect them to be all muscle and authority – but, while these are indeed attributes, Dali makes a point of wanting the range to be a ‘true’ Dali speaker series. And aren’t they just.
Skipping past our 1970s playlist, we opt to play the Silent Shout album by Swedish electro-pop duo The Knife instead. The Opticon 2s deliver the headrush supernatural-esque electro melodies in the title track superbly – their fast, timely and dynamic midrange coming into its own, and making the handling of the track’s energetic polyrhythms and swerving of any mis-steps sound remarkably easy.
Couple that with sweeping dynamics and impressive scale and it becomes apparent that roof-raising volume isn’t necessary for you to be manipulated into a sit-down rave in your own armchair.
The Knife edge
That midrange articulacy does wonders for vocals, first from The Knife and later the hauntingly reverbed voices of Timber Timbre. Expressive and open, the Dalis serve up clarity and insight, proving more than happy to carry any emotional weight required.
While there’s a distinct boldness to them, it’s tamed with a calming degree of subtlety and precision. Everything from track-dominating drums to slight cymbal taps has a finality and purpose in the mix. And despite our best efforts, they are hard to wrong-foot too.
The seismic bassline of The Knife’s track is agile, and with the help of the Dali’s bass port sinks deep as a thumping beat breaks above it. However, it’s never quite as hard-hitting or penetrating as it is through the Dynaudio Emit M20s. Bringing the Dalis closer to a wall helps with bass solidity and punch, but there is a balance to be struck – adding low-end substance can reduce the nimbleness that makes them so likeable. Just be prepared to experiment a little with speaker positioning.
Matches the decor
The treble runs a little enthusiastically, especially at higher volumes – but, although the presentation is on the bright side, only poor system-matching could cause it to be a problem. For this reason, it’s important to partner the Dalis with smooth, richer-sounding kit: the Arcam A19 stereo amplifier, for example.
You needn’t worry about your Opticon 2s matching the decor though. They come in a black, white or walnut vinyl, which is smart and well applied – even if we prefer the glossier, more modern and expensive-looking paint finish of the Wharfedale Reva-2s.
The 16.5cm mid/bass driver cone is made of paper with wood fibres added to improve stiffness, and its mahogany tint adds to the aesthetic interest. High frequencies are delivered by a 28mm soft dome tweeter, rather than the dual ribbon/dome arrangement of the larger speakers in the Opticon range.
The Opticon 2s aren’t the most versatile standmounts on the market, nor the most sonically complete (as a comparison with the Dynaudio Emit M20s demonstrates), but that doesn’t take away from the fact they are talented, entertaining speakers. If care is taken to partner these Dalis with the right kit, then these are a great option.
You’d expect muscle from the Opticon 2s, but they are also ‘true’ Dali speakers