DALI Kore Floorstanding Speaker Review
After the presentation of the DALI Kore, in a rare moment of complete agreement, the guests left the room with a big smile on their faces. HIGH END audio show, May 2022, Munich, Germany – for someone from the press, this equates to four hectic days, a race against time to discover as many exciting new products as possible, to have them explained to you and to get hold of at least a couple of short listening sessions from a suitable sitting position.
And finally, a good 25 years have passed since the presentation of the Megaline, with which the Danish loudspeaker manufacturer first astonished the high-end audiohpiles of this world in 1996. The price of the Megaline amounted to around 44,000 euros per pair when production was finally discontinued in 2012.
However, there is not only a large gap between its predecessor and the Kore in terms of pricing and time, but also in terms of technology. After briefly reading the white paper, it becomes clear that 25 years is plenty of time to turn thoughts about improvements for the sound into specific measures and ultimately a market-ready product. Despite rumors claiming the contrary, there has been a great deal of progress, some of it very significant, in the reproduction of music via appropriate devices and loudspeakers.
Even the crossover did not find favor in the ears of the developers until various components were designed specifically for this speaker. Another task was to manufacture as much as possible in-house and to use suppliers in the region around the company's headquarters in Nørager on top of that. The image with the speakers cut open illustrates the complexity of Kore.
But now, let's move on to the heart of this loudspeaker, reminiscent of a Formula 1 racing car in its complexity and the inevitably perfect interplay of each individual component – the drivers. Here, the developers demanded a significant reduction of distortion of all kinds, higher efficiency, increased power handling for extreme dynamic capabilities, a wide and uniform dispersion angle to get the full sound experience even off-axis, a perfect impulse response and much more.
And – the advantage gained when developing and manufacturing drivers yourself – a driver layout that makes it possible to ensure harmony and a perfect division of labor with relatively few, but extremely high-quality components.
With The Bass
The voice coil gaps, one on each side of the magnet, have opposite magnetic field directions. That means that the respective voice coils must conduct current in opposite directions to generate kinetic force into the same direction.
This symmetrical design is based on a patent from the 1970s, which – as far as we know – has not been realized up until now due to its complexity. It reduces distortion and any compression effects to a considerable extent. In the case of the Kore, the innovation is that this technology has been combined with SMC, a granule with tiny independent magnetic particles. These generate an extremely high magnetic flux density of more than 1 Tesla, while the electrical conductivity is about 1/25000 of iron and has been reduced by a factor of two and a half compared to the 1st generation SMC. These technical aspects ensure that the common pole piece becomes "magnetically permeable". That in turn means that the modulation of magnetic flux caused by the movement of the voice coil is "transmitted" into the pole piece (the core) between the opposing motor systems in anti-phase. Thus, according to DALI, the cancellation of nonlinearities by this technology – named "Balanced Drive SMC", – is supposed to occur over a much wider frequency range and a wide variety of levels.
In more conventional drive systems, the heat generated by high loads causes the resistance of the voice coil to increase significantly. And of course, new discoveries have also been incorporated into the research and development concerning further aspects of a driver, such as a membrane material, surround, and basket.
In the high-frequency range, the Danish designers rely on an evolution of the hybrid dome/ribbon tweeter unit they've been using since the 1990s. But here, too, they didn't settle with taking something that was already there, but developed a new 35 mm dome tweeter that plays in the range from 2.1 kiloHertz up to 15,000 Hertz. Above that, the ribbon then takes over. The ultimate level of detail and smooth, distortion-free sound were development goals here as well, which were also achieved by lowering the resonant frequency to a harmless range. High efficiency and virtually no compression effects are also mentioned here as an additional benefit.
The moment Hans Theessink and Terry Evans performed "Delta Time", the jaws of the listeners inevitably started to drop, while a rarely experienced sparkle entered the eyes of the audience. The reason for this was to be found in an extremely rarely experienced mixture: unbelievably three-dimensional, powerful, and dynamic reproduction at low as well as adventurously high levels paired with the truly authentic timbres of voice and guitar. This being so close to the real live experience is only made possible when development and production were very careful to pay attention to apparent trivialities. With that, the sound image is just as correct in terms of tonality as in the almost holographic spatial imaging and the absolutely certain sense of perfect timing.
At all times, the Kore managed to extract the emotions in the music with playful ease. Supported by a powerful and precise bass foundation, the Danish loudspeaker monsters nevertheless managed to disappear in the listening room – at least as far as the sound was concerned, which seemingly appeared out of nowhere.
But your record collection, just like mine, fortunately does not only consist of sonic gems, but – at least I hope so – of music that we love or that we have perhaps grown fond of over the years. For a "local patriot" of the city of Cologne like myself, this obviously includes the most "Kölsch" of all Cologne bands. I'm of course talking about the Bläck Fööss, who recorded an album with new interpretations of classics from their repertoire with many guests to mark the band's recent 50th anniversary.
"Dat Wasser vunKölle" comes along with a gospel sound now, featuring a rap intro by the Beer Bitches, the band around comedian Carolin Kebekus. Over a mediocre stereo, the spoken words are hardly understandable. Over the DALI, it's completely different, however: you can understand every single word – probably even if you don't speak the local dialect.
You will search long and in vain for more premium funk than Maceo Parker's performance in Cologne's Stadtgarten in March 1992. The pure energy of those evenings – found on the the "Life On Planet Groove" album – is delivered completely effortless into the listening room by the DALI, even at breathtaking, live-like levels. The heat, which downright boiled the concert hall on a cold March evening, made us forget that we're listening to something pre-recorded as long as the record was playing. And we were constantly aware of the fact that even at levels above 100 decibels, we were far from pushing the DALI to its limits. The unbelievable effortlessness and complete transparency down to the lowest bass frequencies, with which the rhythmically intricate and detail-filled "Soul Power '92" of the nine-member line-up sounded, was simply sensational and not yet experienced in our listening room up to that point.
A striking feature of the Kore is its amazing lack of discoloration. We wondered whether the so far absolutely flawless performance of the Danish super-speakers could be convicted of sloppiness or even faultiness at any point.
The DALI Kore belongs to the very small group of super loudspeakers that can hardly be assessed by normal standards or even judged using percentages and stars. Its sound is a magnificent experience from start to finish, such as we have only experienced extremely rarely – but mostly in even more uncomfortable price ranges. The speaker's dimensions and weight will however prevent them from moving into most of the apartments or houses of music enthusiasts. The same is true for their price, which is far out of reach for the vast majority of people.
We are thus left with the hope that the Danes will soon succeed in transferring a large part of the technology and sound of this groundbreaking product into more tolerable size and weight classes. And bring the price into regions that can be reached with some saving up. With a heavy heart, we let this dream of a loudspeaker go again.
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Lab Comment And Measurements
Rated impedance at DC: 4 Ohm
Dimensions: 51 x 171 x 67 cm (WxHxD)
Voice: +45 9672 1155