Dali Spektor 2 £200
When you have a cache of talent that rivals view with envy, winning comes naturally
In recent years, Dali, Q Acoustics and Monitor Audio have all had What Hi-fi? Award-winners in the budget speaker category, so there was an air of anticipation when we brought new products from all three brands together in our test rooms. Acoustic Energy also has its share of review plaudits – which the four-star AE100S have generously added to here.
The AE100S may not have the absolute transparency of some of their rivals but they are hugely enjoyable, enthusiastic, room-friendly speakers ideal for smaller spaces close to a wall.
Not surprisingly for physically small speakers, all of the products in this test find their optimal balance not far from a rear wall. That’s something to bear in mind if you plan to show off your speakers on stands in the middle of a room.
Even if tucked away, the four-star Monitor Audio Monitor 100s make themselves known with their distinct bright-orange driver. If it’s a larger-scale sound you’re after, these clear, articulate, spacious performers are fine alternatives to the Acoustic Energys. But a lack of warmth, refinement and rhythmic dexterity compared with the Q Acoustics 3010is and Dali Spektor 2s leave them a star short of top marks.
The real stars of the show
It’s not surprising to see the current Award holders, the Dalis, and the babies in Q Acoustics’ latest range both holding onto their five stars. Q Acoustics has frequently been top of the budget speaker market with its 2000 and 3000 ranges, so it’s business as usual for the company here. The 3010is, as you’d expect, usurp their predecessors.
Their extra dollops of clarity and refinement build on the line’s legacy of even-handed and refined performances. And they still set the benchmark in their category for cohesiveness.
In the end it’s the Dalis, though, that elbow themselves to the front. Boundless agility, rigorous attention to detail and irrepressible enthusiasm are powerful allies, and the Dalis have them all on side. And nothing much against them.
“Boundless agility, attention to detail and irrepressible enthusiasm are powerful allies”