DALI KORE Floor-standing Speaker Review
Years of laborious efforts have come to fruition as DALI proudly presents its flagship product – the KORE. A magnificent showcase of innovation, elegance, and excellent sound quality.
The DALI KORE speakers are an exquisite amalgamation of ebony and gold accents that leave a lasting impression on the senses. Despite not being the tallest standing speakers to have graced the market in recent years, the 1.675m KORE commands a formidable presence in any setting by its sheer size and sturdiness.
Each speaker of the KORE weighs a massive 148kg, while each crate comes in at a staggering 248kg. A “casters and ramps” method has been implemented to ease the unboxing and installation process, allowing for the smooth rolling of these mammoth speakers out of their crate and into position.
Once in place, the pegs can be dropped to support the speakers, and the casters can be carefully removed and stored for future use, should the cabinets need to be moved again.
The KORE’s exceptional performance is defined by its technical specifications rather than its aesthetic features. However, the captivating industrial design of the speaker is an undeniable sight to behold. Placing one of the 290mm woofers high up in the cabinet posed a stability concern, which was resolved by constructing the legs and the 32kg plinth using a blend of concrete and resin.
The resin serves the dual purpose of stabilizing the cabinet and affording the listener a degree of respect. The speaker’s tilt can be adjusted per the listener’s preference. The positioning of the two woofers on the panel, along with their slight angle, is an integral aspect of the overall calibration of the KORE’s output, optimized for a listening distance of three meters.
The KORE speakers are crafted grandly, emphasizing the woofers, which measure nearly 12 inches. They have dual voice coil balanced drivers and second-generation Soft Magnetic Composite (SMC) technology. The purpose behind implementing dual voice coils is to elongate the linear performance of the motor, such that when one coil leaves the surrounding magnetic field, the other takes its place.
Doing so eliminates directional nonlinearity, thus reducing distortion and increasing the maximum output. A shorting ring is also utilized to linearize the voice coil inductance, minimizing distortion. Practically, all three dynamic drivers adhere to the same “balanced drive” concept, despite the midrange unit’s significantly reduced excursion of only 178mm.
The KORE speakers also have sandwich cones made of wood fiber reinforced pulp, a material DALI has used in the past, and are known for their rich colors and natural textures. The woofers are housed in separate 72-liter reflex cabinets and have angled ports that exit through a pair of slatted exhaust pipes at the rear, providing a nominal 22Hz port tuning frequency.
On the other hand, the midrange driver is housed in an open cabinet that is attenuated. These drivers are combined with a 35mm soft fabric dome tweeter and a 10x55mm UHF planar/ribbon driver, forming the EVO-K unit, an improved version of DALI’s Epicon loudspeaker. The crossovers operate at 390Hz, 2.1kHz, and 12kHz and are of a split design, with the bass section mounted in a heavy composite chassis and the midrange to treble sections handled by a second circuit board near those drivers.
The KORE’s cabinets are made of 28mm thick birch laminated composite, constructed by a Danish furniture manufacturer specialized in curved shapes. The cabinets also contain structural elements made of die-cast aluminum, thermoset resin, and cast composite.
The interiors of the cabinets are compartmentalized, ensuring that each part of the loudspeaker operates in its own space. To achieve non-parallel surfaces, the partitions are mounted with laminated birch shelves that support the boxes. The cabinets feature a dark finish with a texture intended to accommodate the units, keep them airtight, and minimize noise.
The KORE is also relatively easy to position, with Dani recommending a distance of 3-5 meters between speakers, 1-2 meters from the wall behind them, and away from corners. If the setup conforms to the classic “equilateral triangle” layout, then there is no need for any further adjustments.
The company’s “Wide Dispersion Philosophy” is mentioned in the KORE’s “White Paper,” which can be found on the company’s website, www.dali-speakers.com/en/products/dali-kore/dali-kore (registration may be required).
DALI’s goal is to optimize the dispersion characteristics of the KORE design so that the direct and reflected sounds have similar tonal characteristics. The KORE is designed to be a stable, relatively easy amplifier load, with a nominal impedance of 4ohms, a minimum impedance of 3.2ohms at 72Hz, and a sensitivity of 88dB/W/m.
When listening to the recording of Dvořák’s Ninth Symphony with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Reiner, I was impressed by the grand and impressive sonic picture, excellent orchestral dynamics, and detail. However, the soundstage wasn’t quite as good.
The record had a bit of a “big band” flavor rather than ultimate audiophile focus, but the KORE delivered incredible speed and power, especially with the brass section.
The cover of “Automatic” by Lake St. Drive from their Fun Machine: The Sequel EP had solid imaging, with a strong emphasis on Rachael Price’s vocals and bold, punchy bass and drums, along with plenty of information from the rest of the group.
The KORE speakers can showcase their capabilities on the new Sorrows Away album with The Unthanks’ “Waters Of Tyne,” which features more vocals and allows the speakers to convey the song’s loving simplicity and clarity. Despite their size, the speakers can produce a sense of speed and lightness, as demonstrated in the John Wilson/London Symphony Orchestra recording of Harold Arlen’s The Wizard Of Oz.
The KORE also excels in reproducing the speed and control of the bass in Ben Liebrand’s new version of “Nothing Like The Sun” in Sting’s “Englishman In New York,” as well as the delicate percussion and accompanying strings. The speakers also handle Branford Marsalis’ sax solo with finesse, and DJ MONK’s “hard dub” rendition of Fragile demonstrates the speakers’ ability to handle challenging material.
The KORE speakers impress with David Bowie’s Moonage Daydream soundtrack, especially the mixes and live recordings. However, the original single version of “Starman” showcases the speakers’ capabilities in incorporating a “small ensemble” feel.
The KORE’s ability to maintain an excellent soundstage with close-focused detail from all performers is also demonstrated in Michael Wollny Trio’s “She Moved Through The Fair” from their recent Ghosts album. The piano, bass, and cymbals are all beautifully rendered, with the right punch and delicate nuances.
KORE impressively handles the intricate details and dynamics of Sondheim’s Into The Woods, particularly in the “prologue” section. The musical’s magical atmosphere is effectively conveyed as the speakers deftly navigate between the various characters and plot points.
KORE effectively conveys a sense of menace in Iggy Pop’s rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “You Want It Darker” from the Here It Is tribute album. Meanwhile, Mavis Staples’ “If It Is Your Will” benefits from the impressive sax solo of Immanuel Wilkins, which is rendered with spine-tingling clarity by the speakers.
KORE also performs exceptionally well on the Linn Records’ Bach: Orchestral Suites album. It delivers a grand, bold, and clear impression of the details of musicians performing in real space and the communication with the music. The brass and strings are a delight, and the beautiful vocals on “Twilight Zone/Twilight Tone” by The Manhattan Transfer have a wonderfully ethereal sound that transcends the 50-year-old original.
The orchestral effects, like rumbling thunder, add a sense of menace to the song, and KORE handles it all with ease, making the piece rock while conveying a palpable sense of unease.
KORE’s strengths in delivering a solid sense of presence can also be observed in Vicky Chow’s first set of Philip Glass etudes. The speaker not only accurately renders the decay of each note but also captures the instrument’s realism. Similarly, although simple in sound, Foy Vance’s “Republic of Eden” is brought to life by KORE’s ability to convey a vivid sense of performance perspective.
In conclusion, KORE speakers offer a remarkable audio experience, providing a clear and detailed soundstage that brings out the best in every genre of music. They excel at reproducing vocals and instruments with remarkable realism, and their ability to convey presence and depth is awe-inspiring. Whether you are a classical music enthusiast, a jazz lover, or a rock fan, KORE speakers will make you feel like you are in the front row of a live concert.