Weighing in near the top of Dali’s latest range, the Ikon 6 floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee.
Dali’s new Ikon is a mid-market, high-value range that draws on technology developed for the Danish brand’s senior lines. The Ikon name, in its original meaning, is suggestive of “…a person or object regarded with particular admiration or as a representative symbol” as Dali’s press material helpfully reminds us. So will the Ikon prove iconic?
The Ikon 6 is not a cost-no-object speaker, so it is no surprise to find that the enclosure is a conventional rectangular MDF box with a sandwich construction baffle, though it is equipped with discreet screw-on outrigger feet, made from neat alloy die-castings. It is a generous size box, however, and the design is anything but routine.
The drivers operate in a two-and-a-half-way configuration, with one bass unit filling in below 200Hz and a second identical-looking unit covering the same bottom end, while also extending the response to 3.2kHz. In Dali’s description of the Ikon 6, the tweeter
is treated as a single driver, but in fact it’s a hybrid unit.This was evolved from a more costly hybrid, originally used in the upmarket Euphonia and Helicon ranges.
The upper-mid to high frequencies are covered by a 28mm soft dome tweeter that has a response range covering everything above the 3.2kHz limit defined by the crossover. This is allowed to roll out naturally with no active crossover to attenuate its output at the high frequency end.
This fluid-cooled unit, which is fitted with a lightweight doped diaphragm and works in a carefully damped cavity,is said to extend beyond 20kHz, but probably at a reduced level. It is supplemented by a 17x45mm ribbon, which is rolled in at 10kHz, reaching full output by 14kHz, and with a response said to extend to well beyond 30kHz. The coverage available from this compound unit is achievable with a dome tweeter, but only with considerable difficulty, and usually at the cost of various in-band resonances and narrow directivity (assuming a standard 25mm dome).
The Dali hybrid unit is built on a common baseplate, with the narrow ribbon oriented vertically, to give an extended upper frequency response and a much greater dispersion than usual in the horizontal plane.There is nothing much that could be described as off the shelf about the rest of the design either. The bass/mid units are designed in-house, and feature 160mm cones made from a mix of paper and wood fibres. This provides a strong claimed combination of stiffness, low mass and damping, built into a die-cast alloy chassis with particular attention having been paid to effective cooling and low aerodynamic loading.
The voice coil is wound onto a 25mm former and is equipped with dual magnets to improve magnetic uniformity in the gap, and to provide a measure of magnetic shielding. The unit is anchored to the front baffle with seven screws in an attempt to ensure the baffle acts as an effective mechanical earth. The crossover is hardwired, and a twin set of solid cable terminals facilitate bi-wiring or bi-amping.
Instead of the usual moderate toe-in, the Ikon 6 is designed to be heard from a little off-axis, with the speakers pointing directly down the room. The reason is that the tweeter tends to sound a little too bright on its main axis,and Dali’s suggested positioning will ensure that a centrally placed listener hears a near-neutral balance.
This worked well in practice, but we also found it effective to toe the speakers in sharply so that their axes crossed well in front of the listening plane – this scheme benefits stereo imaging and may be fine-tuned (by adjusting toe-in) to find the most effective tonal balance.
When treated in this way, and kept well clear of walls, the result is a speaker that is unusually clean, agile and, above all, highly detailed. The Ikon 6 is one of the finest-grained, most exquisitely detailed speakers we’ve come across at anywhere near this price. The interplay of percussion can be thrilling in its complexity, and the Ikon imbues music of all kinds with a tremendous close-up presence. Nothing is allowed to escape notice, but the ability of the Ikon 6 extends well beyond sharpening the focus on treble rich sounds.
The sense of detail is apparent with music, with human voice and indeed with a broad range of instrumental material.The unusual resolving quality is tied to a powerful sense of speed, of lightning reflexes and a quick release once the moment had passed. There’s nothing sluggish about this loudspeaker, and imagery is also precisely defined, though the balance tends to dictate an image that is relatively far forward, usually in front of the loudspeakers, and relatively lacking in a sense of depth.
The downside of such a transparent transducer is that it can sound too analytical for comfort. Some will certainly react against a speaker that can be too hard and insistent, and which tends to emphasise any negative qualities in the rest of the system. This is, in fact, a moderately priced loudspeaker that needs the finesse that high-end electronics bring to the party.
On the other hand, the high sensitivity means power demands shouldn’t be an issue, and we found that Primare’s new entry-level I21 integrated amp was a capable match, with plenty of power for the job (75 watts per channel), combined with the required speed and finesse.
The bass output of the Ikon 6 is fast, tuneful and well integrated into the fabric of the sound, and although well extended it’s not excessively powerful in feel. The bass here is more about speed and articulation than it is about weight and power, but this is a substantial loudspeaker, full size in anyone’s terms, and it is far from being a lightweight.
Principally, Dali’s Ikon 6 a fast, agile and highly-detailed loudspeaker that is explicit, regardless of its price. It can sound bright, but is well-integrated through the frequency range, though it requires a little more care and attention to positioning and system set-up than some. It is a conspicuous bargain by any reckoning, as well as being a loudspeaker that will cause some who have dismissed the brand in the past to sit up and take notice.
Dali Ikon 6 | $2650 | speakers |