Dali Euphonia MS 5 Floorstanding Speakers

Euphonia MS 5

  • 8” woofers in a dual chamber bass reflex enclosure
  • Low resonance all-metal reflex tubes
  • 6.5” midrange unit
  • 1” soft dome tweeter

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Thomas Csaszar   AudioPhile [Feb 17, 2009]

Anniversary Giant
The Euphonia Series was introduced in 2003 to celebrate Dali?s 20th anniversary and
reaffirm their reputation as a name to reckon with. MS 5 (MS for Main Speaker) is the
flagship of the series with design and finish truly worthy of the term flagship. The detailed
finish can be studied under a magnifying glass and the construction exudes the joy of
workmanship and solid traditional handcraftsmanship. At 124 centimeters tall and a
deadweight of 69 kg, this is an armor-crushing giant of a loudspeaker.
It is a three-way bass reflex design with dual 8? woofers, a 6.5? midrange unit and Dali?s
proprietary ribbon/soft dome high frequency module. In fact, it is more a three-and-a-halfway
design, since the dome and the ribbon do not cover exactly the same frequency
range. The high frequency module can be said to be the heart of the series, as it is
employed throughout the Euphonia range.
One might well ask: why two different types of high frequency drivers? It is a well known
fact that at rising frequencies dispersion narrows to a tight beam. Because this is
undesirable behavior, loudspeaker designers have constantly sought ways to work around
the problem. Conventional dome tweeters have good horizontal and vertical dispersion,
while ribbon drivers have fine horizontal dispersion, but poor vertical dispersion. Dali
claims that by combining these two sets of performance characteristics, they achieve
enhanced high frequency dispersion.
Most important, however, are the outstanding sonic benefits that a ribbon tweeter offers. In
many cases, a ribbon tweeter can deliver more linear frequency response and faster
transient response than a conventional dome. In addition, it is easier to minimize
distortion. Presumably, all of these qualities were desirable, but in order to ensure proper
dispersion, a dome was also used. The dome extends to 15 kHz, while the ribbon
continues all the way to 28 kHz.
The tweeter module is placed at ear-height between the midrange and bass units. This
position also ensures best possible integration between the high and mid frequencies and
allows listening positions closer to the speakers without sonic compromise.
Fibers and dispersion
The dual 8? and single 6.5? units are specially developed for the series. The goal was a
fast, yet rigid cone without resonant tendencies. To achieve this, a special type of paper
pulp cone was chosen containing unusually long wood fibers in carefully calculated
proportions. The fibers are credited with resonance control and make possible a cone with
low mass and high rigidity.
To further reduce resonance, the cone is coated with a synthetic material. Another key
design goal was minimal loss in the transition from electrical to mechanical energy. Great
emphasis has been placed on designing drivers that convert as much as possible of the
signal?s electrical energy into cone motion, instead of turning it into heat due to mechanical
resistance. An additional objective was smooth, even, room-independent dispersion. It
would seem that this goal has been achieved. One can move about freely between the
loudspeakers without radical changes in sound. Listening distance is also not a particularly
crucial parameter. The MS 5 has a large ?sweet spot.?
Tri-Wiring
The crossover filter is not left to chance in such a serious loudspeaker design. To
eliminate interference from air motion inside the enclosure and from panel vibration, the
crossover is isolated in a chamber at the base. All components are mounted to minimize
interaction, which is especially important with inductors and their magnetic fields.
All components are hard-wired, i.e. soldered directly to each other with no printed circuit
board. The loudspeakers are fitted with three pairs of terminals for optional tri-wiring. The
crossover is optimized for tri-wiring or, even better, tri-amping. At the very least, bi-wiring
or bi-amping is recommended, in which case the lower two terminal pairs (bass and
midrange) are connected together, while the high frequency input is connected separately.
We used this configuration during our listening sessions.
The terminals are of high quality and accept all types of connections. For banana plugs,
the opening can be tightened for increased contact pressure.
For enhanced structural integrity, the enclosure is made from MDF with numerous vertical
grooves to make it easier to bend. The front baffle is a sandwich construction with 16 mm
MDF on top of a 22 mm panel. The stone base, weighing in at 20 kg, is made from
crushed granite.
Never disappointed
It has always been my experience that recordings that impress the first time around tend
to die after a few listens. The best records I have heard have most often only seemed
okay after the first listen, barely hinting at their potential. But the more you listen, the better
they become. I do not know if this line of reasoning can also be applied to audio, but if so,
the MS 5 is a damn fine loudspeaker.
The first impression was not that this is an extraordinary loudspeaker, but the more we
listened, the more we were impressed. This is a loudspeaker that takes a brief while to
grow on you. It is difficult to say why this should be the case. Perhaps it stimulates
so many of our auditory ?taste buds? all at once that initially there is simply too
much information to deal with.
This is definitely a loudspeaker that we can unconditionally recommend even to
people whose sonic preferences we know nothing about. Dali Euphonia MS 5 is
such a multi-facetted loudspeaker that no listener will come away disappointed. It
doesn?t matter what sonic parameter you focus on, MS 5 masters it. It has no
aberrant characteristics that some listeners might take issue with.
A Perfect Balancing Act
With speakers in this price range, a subwoofer should not have to be your next
investment. We can eliminate any risk of such an investment straight away. If there is any
frequency range that the MS 5 masters, it is the bass. In this range, it can compete
with the best speakers we have auditioned in this series of articles. It goes way
down deep, yet remains highly articulate and dry. It has a pistonic force that reminds
us of the Revel Performa F50 with its peerless depth charge feel.
When playing music with substantial bass content, filled with synthesizer bass lines or
electric bass in the bottom octaves, they offer rich contrast and impressive control. There
is a sense of freedom and ease that imparts a very natural flow to bass information.
Those familiar with Maxwell?s ?Embrya? know the ludicrous synthesizer bass on the first
track. Put it on and turn up the volume and the sound goes straight through your body?s
organs in a manner that I have rarely heard before. The bass becomes hellishly physical.
A kidney belt is recommended to keep your inner organs in place! Still, the bass breathes
and pulsates effortlessly! Naturally, this monumental performance demands an amplifier
with excellent power reserves.
With far less expensive loudspeakers, potent bass tends to overshadow everything else,
making the system sound less coherent. But that is not a problem here. The midrange
and high frequencies integrate ideally with the powerful bass. Amazing consistency
is one of the characteristics of the MS 5 that impresses us most of all. In spite of its
powerful bass, it is perfectly balanced.
Moving up the frequency spectrum, we encounter an open, articulate midrange that
unearths a wealth of micro-details and nuances. Voices are rendered with highly
realistic body and warmth. All chest tones are present and vocals flow free and
clear. Brass instruments have a natural timbre and realistic presence. Their tonal
colors are amazing and their full dynamic capabilities are revealed.
While the midrange is perhaps not quite as focused or distinctly dynamic or as detailed as
B&W Nautilus 802, Von Schweikert VR-4 GEN III or Martin Logan Odyssey, the difference
is minimal.
But there is one area in which MS 5 far and away exceeds its fantastic bass and overall
coherence ? the upper frequencies. It is without rival and is perhaps the finest upper
range we have heard in this test series. Offhand, we cannot name any speaker that
does it better. The highs are extended and airy with incredible sparkle, dynamics
and tonal color.
It is pristine and seems completely liberated from any kind of distortion. The usually
difficult S-sounds found on many of our demo discs are handled brilliantly. We have
seldom heard such gentleness combined with such a distinct and fully mature reproduction
of the upper frequency range. It is amazingly well-integrated with the midrange and
extends upwards with stunning naturalness. Undeniably first class performance. We tip
our hats and bow in the presence of some of the finest high frequencies we have
ever heard.
Luxury for All
As should be clear by now, this is an impressive loudspeaker in so many respects.
It is impressive that Dali could bring together all the parts to create such a powerful whole.
When you sit and listen, your attention is not focused on individual aspects, instead you
can revel in a loudspeaker that plays music of all kinds and changes moods to match the
music. It approaches its task with consummate ease and never once stumbles. It
keeps a sharp eye on the musical event and has impeccable timing. It is also insanely
great fun to crank them up loud.
It is tough to come up with any reasonable or justified criticism, but if I had to guess, there
might be those would feel that the lower octaves could be just the tiniest bit faster,
although I personally have no objections on this point.
MS 5 has a warm sound that never comes close to being overblown, but when paired with
electronics with exaggerated warmth, it might be a bit much for some listeners. The stereo
image could be just a bit more focused. There are better alternatives at this price point. It
does not appear to be an especially difficult amplifier load, but we can imagine how great it
could sound tri-amped with three heavyweight power amplifiers connected directly to the
respective filter sections. Do not underestimate the importance of a powerful amplifier,
especially if you want to take full advantage of their bass potential!
This is a High End loudspeaker in the true sense of the word with such an appealing
sound that the vast majority should love it. If you were to assemble a list of the
qualities that you would expect from a speaker at this price, Dali Euphonia MS 5 fits the
bill. If you have the money and are looking for loudspeakers, you must give them a listen.
But remember to check your home owner?s insurance. It may not cover building damage
caused by bass rhythms

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
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