Dali Spek­tor 2

FOR Ag­ile, ex­pres­sive sound; de­tail res­o­lu­tion; un­fussy na­ture AGAINST Noth­ing of note

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On pa­per there’s lit­tle to dif­fer­en­ti­ate Dali’s Spek­tor 2s from any of their main ri­vals. These com­pact speak­ers stick to the clas­sic bud­get stand­mounter for­mula like Su­per­glue does to fingers. There’s ev­ery­thing we would ex­pect from a typ­i­cal £200 box here, from two-way driver con­fig­u­ra­tion and ported basstun­ing right the way through to 25mm dome tweeter and 13cm mid/bass driver.

But as with any dish, culi­nary or acous­tic, the list of in­gre­di­ents tells you only so much, and those fa­mil­iar with Dali will know it has some­thing of a tal­ent for bud­get boxes. So it proves here.

A good start – and fin­ish

Take the Spek­tor 2s out of the pack­ag­ing and the first im­pres­sion is good. They’re nicely made with­out quite giv­ing off the qual­ity feel of the very best ex­am­ples around, per­haps. Still, the pan­els line up well and gen­eral fit and at­ten­tion to de­tail is good. There are two op­tions for the fin­ish: the wal­nut of our re­view sam­ple or black ash. Both look smart.

Let them run-in over a cou­ple of days and feed them with a good sys­tem (we use Marantz’s CD6006CD CD Player and Rega’s Brio am­pli­fier along­side our ref­er­ence Naim NDS/555PS and Gamut pre/power com­bi­na­tion) and these speak­ers sparkle.

Their rated sen­si­tiv­ity is a lit­tle on the low side so it wouldn’t hurt to part­ner them with an am­pli­fier with a de­cent amount of poke. Our usual rec­om­men­da­tions of Onkyo’s A9010 (£200), the Marantz PM6006 (£280) or Rega’s Brio (£600) will all work well.

Mounted on solid stands – Ata­cama’s Moseco 6 are rec­om­mended – these speak­ers de­liver a breadth of tal­ent few sim­i­larly priced al­ter­na­tives can match.

The big hit­ters in this part of the mar­ket had been the £160 Mis­sion LX2S and Q Acous­tics’ much ad­mired 3020s (orig­i­nally £200). Both are su­perb per­form­ers – the Missions ex­cel at clar­ity and pre­ci­sion while the 3020s of­fer an en­vi­able com­bi­na­tion of re­fine­ment and build qual­ity. These Dalis tread the mid­dle path be­tween these ri­vals bril­liantly, while adding greater verve and in­volve­ment into the pro­ceed­ings.

Play Aretha Franklin’s Nat­u­ral Woman and the Spek­tors revel in her dis­tinc­tive and pow­er­ful vo­cals. They’re de­liv­ered with nuance and pas­sion, each word crisply de­fined with no room for doubt as to the emo­tion be­hind the lyrics.

We like the co­he­sive way these speak­ers han­dle the in­stru­men­tal back­drop too, de­liv­er­ing the mu­sic with con­sid­er­able fi­nesse and pre­ci­sion.

A move on to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Over­ture shows that the Spek­tors are ca­pa­ble of high vol­umes and a de­cent de­gree of com­po­sure when pushed. There’s a pleas­ing level of ex­pres­sive res­o­lu­tion here, along with the abil­ity to or­gan­ise that in­for­ma­tion into an in­volv­ing and mu­si­cal whole.

Straight ahead

We po­si­tion the Dalis just a lit­tle out from the rear wall and fire them straight ahead, just as the com­pany rec­om­mends. This re­sults in an ex­pan­sive and sta­ble sound­stage, but when it comes to scale and au­thor­ity, the likes of the Mon­i­tor Au­dio 100s are ca­pa­ble of a lit­tle bet­ter.

Ton­ally, the Spek­tor 2s have a full­bod­ied yet bal­anced pre­sen­ta­tion. There isn’t much sign of the over-en­thu­si­as­tic tre­ble we’ve wit­nessed in pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions of bud­get Dalis. This means the 2s are easy to part­ner and less fussy about poor or ag­gres­sive record­ings.

We fin­ish with Bruce Spring­steen’s Ra­dio Nowhere and these boxes re­spond su­perbly. They de­liver the song’s hard­charg­ing rhythm track with glee, lack­ing lit­tle in the way of drive, punch or power.

If you’re look­ing for a top-class pair of bud­get standmounters, your choice just got big­ger. The likes of Mis­sion, Mon­i­tor Au­dio and Q Acous­tics pro­vide strong op­tions, but these Dalis of­fer a de­gree of en­ter­tain­ment even these tal­ented per­form­ers strug­gle to match.

“Those fa­mil­iar with Dali know it has some­thing of a tal­ent for bud­get boxes. So it proves here”

Part­nered with a suit­ably brawny amp, these Dalis are up with their best ri­vals

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