The Dali Rubicon 2-C speaker is a connected model, largely based on the design of the iconic Dali Rubicon 2. Unlike the Rubicon 2, however, it incorporates two Class D amplifiers that can deliver up to 250 watts of output power. As with its previous wireless speakers, the Danish manufacturer provides a proprietary ecosystem with the Dali Rubicon 2 Cs in which the two speakers communicate completely wirelessly. The various physical and dematerialized sources are centralized on the Dali Sound Hub preamplifier, which then transfers sound wirelessly to the speakers with a resolution that can reach 24-bit/96kHz. Sold for 4 649 euros, will this system manage to combine Dali’s expertise in passive speaker design with the convenience of wireless transmission?
Dali Rubicon 2-C: the brand
Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries, better known as DALI, was founded in 1983 by Peter Lyngdorf. This audiophile icon is also behind the brand Lyngdorf Audio and is the co-founder of the Scandinavian chain store Hi-Fi Klubben. In founding Dali, Peter Lyngdorf’s goal was to design drivers and speakers that offered exceptional performance and natural sound at competitive prices. These characteristics were apparent in the brand’s very first speaker, the Dali 2. This two-way speaker featured a woofer with a 6” cone as well as a tweeter with a 1” soft polypropylene dome and impressed many audiophiles, allowing the brand to gain a solid reputation in the hi-fi world in the mid 80s.
In addition to the technical and musical aspect, Dali rapidly rapidly focused on the design of its loudspeakers. The Danish style is reflected in each of its products, with speakers that feature refined silhouettes and innovative designs. Iconic models include the Dali DaCapo speakers, ultra-slim floorstanders featuring an impressive 0.5” x 39” ribbon tweeter to accurately reproduce the true atmosphere of the recording location and the musicians’ position on the stage.
Today, Dali is distributed in over 70 different countries. The brand designs and handcrafts its own drivers and passive filters to meet very precise specifications that are constantly evolving. You can discover the entire production process of Dali’s speakers and drivers in our article covering our tour of the Dali factory located in the Danish town of Nørager.
Over the years, Dali has never stopped innovating and now provides a very comprehensive catalog that includes compact speakers, Atmos speakers, center speakers, home theater speakers, floorstanding speakers, wireless speakers, in-wall speakers. One of Dali’s great strengths has always been its ability to adapt to changing listening habits. It is therefore only natural that the Danish brand began producing portable Bluetooth speakers, soundbars, Bluetooth headphones and wireless speakers. Today, we reviewed the Dali Rubicon 2 Cs with the Dali Soundhub wireless streamer and the Dali NPM-1 BluOS network module.
Dali Rubicon 2-C: packaging & accessories
The Dali Rubicon 2-C speakers are delivered in pairs in two separate cardboard boxes. Inside these boxes, each speaker is held firmly in place by thick sheets of polystyrene. They come with a quick installation guide, acoustic fabric speaker grilles and power cables. There are also rubber pads and two aluminum feet to accentuate the speaker and limit vibration when it is placed on a piece of furniture or a shelf.
The indispensable Dali Sound Hub preamplifier comes in another box along with a quick start guide, a power cable that is 1.7 meters long and an infrared remote control. The latter lets you select the source, control the volume and turn the speakers on and off.
Dali Rubicon 2-C: presentation
The Dali Rubicon 2-C wireless speakers use the same components that led to the success of the iconic Dali Rubicon 2. They feature the excellent 1” fabric dome tweeter, which is powered by a voice coil developed to be as light as possible in order to guarantee great responsiveness. It is placed inside a powerful magnet that carefully controls its movements. Thanks to this design, the Dali Rubicon 2C wireless speaker perfectly reproduces high frequencies up to 26kHz.
The Dali Rubicon 2-C speaker’s tweeter is paired with a large midbass driver featuring a 6” wood fiber cone. The cone is held in place by a flexible low-loss rubber surround specially designed for the Dali Rubicon 2-Cs to optimize the cone’s movements and improve the transient response.
To significantly reduce the distortion of the audio signal inside the voice coil, the Dali Rubicon 2-C speaker benefits from SMC (Soft Magnetic Compound) technology. This technology uses a magnetic element made of an alloy of multiple compacted magnet granules. This design provides high magnetic conductivity and low electric conductivity, allowing distortion caused by mechanical loss of the magnetic system to be greatly reduced. In a traditional iron magnet system, the current in the voice coil modulates the flow inside the air-gap of the magnet. The flow modulation causes distortion and creates difficult working conditions for the voice coil. Using SMC therefore greatly reduces the distortion caused by flow variations generated by the current. The coil is also enclosed in a copper capsule to reduce its inductance and incidentally the distortion/harshness of the high mids.
To effectively power the drivers, each Dali Rubicon 2-C speaker features two class D amplifiers capable of delivering up to 250 watts of output power. These amplifiers are based on patented feedback technology first introduced with the Dali Callisto 2 C and Dali Callisto 6 C wireless speakers. At the output of the amplifier module, the Dali Rubicon 2 C’s analog crossover has been replaced by a passive digital crossover to precisely redirect the different frequencies to the drivers.
Regarding its design, the Dali Rubicon 2-C speaker has a very similar silhouette to the Dali Rubicon 2. Consequently, it has a robust MDF chassis that features several braces to reduce unwanted vibrations. The only visible difference are the LEDs that have been added to the front of each speaker to indicate the volume.
The differences with the Dali Rubicon 2 are more evident on the rear of the speaker, with a Schuko connector for the power cable and a pairing button to synchronize the speakers with the Dali Sound Hub box. There is also a small LCD screen that displays the position of the speaker in the room.
The Dali Rubicon 2-C has a bass-reflex enclosure with a large circular port positioned right behind the tweeter to limit turbulence. As the port is situated on the back of the speaker, it is preferable to leave space in between the speaker and the wall to ensure that the low frequencies are dispersed effectively. For this review, we placed the Dali Rubicon 2C speakers approximately 80cm away from the wall and mounted them on NorStone Stylum 2 stands.
Dali Sound Hub: presentation
As the Dali Rubicon 2-C speakers don’t include wired inputs or a Bluetooth or WiFi network controller, they can’t work without the Dali Sound Hub wireless preamplifier. The latter is equipped with two analog inputs (one RCA stereo input and one 3.5mm mini-jack input) and three digital inputs (2 optical inputs and a coaxial input) to easily connect and centralize all your sources, including your television, CD/SACD player, Blu-ray player or pre-amplified turntable.
The sound of the various sources connected to the Dali Sound Hub preamplifier can be streamed wirelessly to the Dali Rubicon 2-C speakers with a resolution of up to 24-bit/96kHz by using the I2S protocol. For these streams, the Dali Sound Hub transmitter generates its own wireless network on either the 2.4GHz or the 5GHz band. Wireless audio communication therefore bypasses the local network to avoid the problems of an unstable or slow WiFi connection. With latency below 25ms, communication is always perfectly smooth and we didn’t notice any synchronization problems during our review of the Dali Rubicon 2C speakers.
In addition to its analog and digital inputs, the Dali Sound Hub preamplifier also incorporates a Bluetooth receiver to easily stream music stored on a smartphone or played via an online music service. AAC and SBC codecs are supported to ensure perfect compatibility with any Bluetooth source, whether its a smartphone, a tablet, a DAP or a computer. Better still, the aptX and aptX HD codecs are also included for a high-quality transmission with compatible sources. It should be noted that it is also possible to transform the Dali Sound Hub preamplifier into a powerful network streamer with direct access to different online music services (Spotify, Qobuz, Tidal, Deezer, Apple Music, etc.) by inserting a additional Dali NPM-1 BluOS module into the dedicated slot on the back of the device. Naturally, we tested this setup during our review of the Dali Rubicon 2-Cs.
Regarding design, the Dali Sound Hub preamplifier and network streamer has a control interface comprised of an on/off button, a mute button and a source selector on the front panel. A large volume knob with a backlit screen at its center is also present. On top of the Dali player is a lacquered panel on which a screen displays the configuration of the installed speakers.
The only weak point of this player, despite the elegant design of its chassis, is that it is made entirely of polymer plastic and looks simply made, in contrast to the very high quality of the speakers.
Dali Rubicon 2-C: configuration
The Dali Rubicon 2-C speakers are installed and configured in a few easy steps. First, you need to connect the various sources to the Dali Sound Hub, then turn it on. Then simply press the synchronisation buttons on each speaker in succession. The LCD screen on the back of each speaker and the Dali Sound Hub’s screen will then confirm that the pairing was successful. After these few steps, the speakers are operational.
We also used the additional Dali NPM-1 BluOS module to enjoy the many network functionalities. The module is very easy to install in the Dali Sound Hub player. To do so, simply remove the cover placed in front of the dedicated slot, then insert the module. Note that a Torx screwdriver is needed to remove the cover.
Once the Dali NPM-1 BluOS module is installed inside the player, the remainder of the configuration is carried out with the BluOS app for iOS and Android. The app first prompts you to connect to the player’s WiFi network, then to enter the password for the local WiFi. A firmware update is then carried out automatically before the player is operational. In our case, this took over an hour…
For our review of the Dali Rubicon 2-C speakers we used the Pioneer UDP-LX5000 Blu-ray player to listen to CDs. The Blu-ray player was connected to the Dali preamplifier’s analog input using Viard Audio Premium RCA cables. We also streamed music from a smartphone via Bluetooth and used the Dali NPM-1 BluOS module to listen to music on Spotify and Qobuz (Sublime+ subscription, streaming in 24-bit/192kHz). Lastly, we also connected an LG OLED television to the preamplifier using a Norstone Jura Optic cable to reproduce movie soundtracks.
Dali Rubicon 2-C: listening impressions
The Dali Rubicon 2-C speakers captivated us from the very first songs we listened to. On Michael Jackson’s track Billie Jean, the sound was beautifully dynamic and perfectly rhythmed. The different notes and instruments were impeccably spatialized and highlighted. Each detail was perfectly distinct from the rest of the soundstage. The King of Pop’s voice was incredibly natural and precisely reproduced.
We continued our review of the Dali Rubicon 2-C with Lana Del Rey’s track Salvatore. This song was very immersive, with an amazingly extensive soundstage, both vertically and horizontally. The New York singer’s voice unfolded with disconcerting ease, each tiny tonal variation was freely expressed. The artist almost seemed to materialize in front of us.
To finish our review, we tested the Dali Rubicon 2-C speakers’ ability to reproduce movie soundtracks. With Interstellar, composer Hans Zimmer’s iconic soundtrack immediately plunged us into the heart of the movie. The lows were lively and pleasantly deep, so much so that we didn’t feel it was necessary to add a subwoofer. The different sound effects were excellently spatialized at the front of the soundstage. The dialogues were clear, natural and perfectly centered. The speakers’ digital amplification proved to be very effective and had no difficulty filling a 20m² room with the volume set to only 15%. Lastly, streaming to the speakers was instant thanks to the DAC and the wireless communication protocol and, as a result, we didn’t notice a delay between the sound and the image. A strong point for the Dali Rubicon 2-Cs.
Dali Rubicon 2-C: compared to…
B&W Formation Duo: sold for €4000, the B&W Formation Duo speakers are the Dali Rubicon 2-C speakers’ biggest rivals. These two pairs of speakers have a very similar sound, with a dynamic, detailed and very natural restitution. However, the B&W Formation Duos offer a slightly wider soundstage. The highs are also more precise thanks to the iconic carbon Nautilus tube tweeter that is decoupled from the speaker. That said, the Dali speakers’ lows are deeper and smoother. Finally, concerning usability, the B&W Formation Duos have the undeniable advantage of including a Bluetooth and WiFi module directly inside the speakers. As a result, no extra device is needed to stream music and access online music services.
Cabasse The Pearl: a three-way model sold for 5 580 euros a pair, the Cabasse the Pearl speaker is the Dali Rubicon 2-C’s French rival. Each Cabasse The Pearl speaker has a much higher output power (1000 watts for the lows and 300 watts for both the mids and highs). Another advantage, each Pearl is equipped with a Bluetooth and network module and supports a great number of online music services. Once again, there is no need to use a separate player like you do with the Dali Rubicon 2-Cs. Regarding sound, the Cabasse The Pearls are more generous in the infrabass and bring more verve to the restitution. However, the lows are smoother with the Dali Rubicon 2 Cs. The latter also provide a wider and overall more accurate and detailed soundstage, especially in the highs.
KEF LS50 Wireless: priced at 2 290 euros per pair, the KEF LS50 Wireless speaker displays great linearity and excellent balance across the spectrum. The sound is dynamic and doesn’t emphasize one frequency range more than the others. However, the highs are a little harsher and less detailed than those of the Dali Rubicon 2-Cs. When it comes to usability, the KEF LS50 Wireless have the advantage of allowing Bluetooth and WiFi streaming without the need for an independent streamer, as is the case with the Dali model. The only weak point is that a pair of KEF LS50 Wireless is comprised of a master speaker and a slave speaker. Both speakers need to be connected to one another with an Ethernet cable, unlike the Rubicon 2-Cs that communicate completely wirelessly.
Dali Rubicon 2-C: conclusion
With the Dali Rubicon 2-C speakers, we rediscovered the qualities that made the Danish manufacturer’s high-end models a success. Energy and precision were therefore still present. Each tiny detail was flawlessly reproduced and voices were perfectly centered. The Dali Sound Hub’s WiFi transmission system proved to be very effective and we didn’t notice any lagging. However, it is a shame that the Sound Hub is essential for the speakers to work properly. Integrating a Bluetooth module or WiFi controller directly into the speakers would have been more user-friendly and more in line with rival systems. Other than that, the Dali Rubicon 2-C speakers are a serious alternative to many hi-fi systems comprised of similarly priced passive compact speakers paired with a midrange or high-end hi-fi amplifier.
What we liked
- The magnitude of the soundstage
- The tonal accuracy
- The quality of the details
- The dynamic balance
What we would have liked
- For the speakers to have been completely independent
- For the update of the Dali NPM-1 BluOS to have been quicker