Dali Oberon 5 £699

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Awards 2018 -

There are no magic in­gre­di­ents here, no cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy to ex­plain the Oberon 5s’ unusu­ally tal­ented na­ture. Just care­ful en­gi­neer­ing and steady re­fine­ments of de­sign ideas that Dali has pur­sued across its ranges for years. The Oberon 5s are com­pact two-way tow­ers, stand­ing just 83cm tall and just over 16cm wide. There are a pair of 13cm mid/bass driv­ers and a larger-than-usual 29mm soft dome tweeter. The mid/bass driv­ers use the com­pany’s favoured wood fi­bre/fine-grain pa­per pulp cone, claimed to de­liver the drive unit holy grail of high rigid­ity with low res­o­nance.

When it comes to po­si­tion­ing, the Oberon 5s like to be a lit­tle away from the back wall and fir­ing straight ahead, rather than an­gled to­wards the lis­ten­ing po­si­tion, but they’re not too fussy and shouldn’t present any is­sues for a good, price-com­pat­i­ble am­pli­fier.

Once run in, these speak­ers re­veal them­selves as ter­rific per­form­ers. They’re re­spon­sive, mu­si­cal but, most of all, fun. They sound right at home among the com­plex rhythms and dense pro­duc­tion of Ra­dio­head’s In Rain­bows. But they bring out the emo­tion too, high­light­ing the haunt­ing na­ture of Video­tape or the uplift­ing change of gear in 15 Step’s in­stru­men­tal break. The Oberons have the dy­namic sub­tlety, rhyth­mic pre­ci­sion and sheer trans­parency to make the most of such things and re­ally draw the listener in.

A fine dy­namic reach

They’re de­tailed too, re­veal­ing low-level in­stru­men­tal strands with ease, but also man­ag­ing to ar­range that in­for­ma­tion in a com­posed and or­gan­ised way. The lead­ing edges of notes are well de­fined, but not high­lighted un­nat­u­rally. The sound sim­ply flows in an or­ganic and con­vinc­ing man­ner.

Par­tic­u­larly strik­ing is the tre­ble, which is crisp and bit­ing with­out ever be­com­ing brit­tle or shrill. It also blends seam­lessly with the speaker’s ex­pres­sive midrange per­for­mance. The Oberons sound great with voices, squeez­ing the last drop of emo­tional im­pact from Nina Si­mone’s heart-break­ing Strange Fruit. We move onto Prokofiev’s Romeo And

Juliet where the Dalis show-off their fine dy­namic reach and abil­ity to ren­der low-level shifts with skill. De­spite be­ing com­pact, those twin mid/bass driv­ers still de­liver plenty in the way of low-fre­quency punch and au­thor­ity, and go loud enough in all but the very largest of do­mes­tic set­tings.

In that case you may need to con­sider larger, more pow­er­ful al­ter­na­tives; for ev­ery­one else, there’s noth­ing not to like about the Oberon 5s.

The Oberon 5s use wood fi­bre/ pa­per pulp cones to de­liver rigid­ity and low res­o­nance

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