The Dali Oberon 1 C is a compact model from the manufacturer’s Dali Oberon C wireless speaker range. Its design is largely based on that of the iconic Dali Oberon 1 speaker, but it also incorporates two class D amplifiers capable of delivering 50 watts RMS.
As with its other connected speakers, the Danish manufacturer provides a unique ecosystem in which both Dali Oberon 1 C speakers communicate completely wirelessly. The various physical and dematerialized sources are centralized on the Dali Sound Hub or Dali Sound Hub Compact preamplifier. We chose to associate the second model with the Dali Oberon 1 C speakers for this test. This model wirelessly streams sound from the source to the speakers at a resolution of up to 24-bit/96kHz and also features a Bluetooth aptX HD receiver. Available for €1,290, will this system manage to combine Dali’s expertise in passive speaker design with the convenience of wireless transmission?
Dali Oberon 1 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 and in-wall speakers. One of Dali’s greatest 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, including the Dali Oberon 1 C speakers and Dali Sound Hub Compact transmitter we’re testing today.
Dali Oberon 1 C: packaging & accessories
The Dali Oberon 1 C wireless speakers come in a single box inside of which they are individually wrapped in a synthetic fabric pouch and well protected by several pieces of polystyrene. They come with two power cables, a quick-start guide, two acoustic grilles and various black and transparent rubber pads. These pads decouple the speakers from the surface on which they are placed to limit unwanted vibration and, therefore, distortion.
The indispensable Dali Sound Hub Compact transmitter is delivered in a separate, smaller box. It comes with an AC adapter and an infrared remote control with batteries. An infrared repeater is also included for easy speaker control when the Hub is placed out of reach of the remote control. This makes it ideal for installation in a closed cabinet or behind a TV.
Dali Oberon 1 C: presentation
The Dali Oberon 1 C connected speakers inherit the acoustic components that made the Dali Oberon 1 a success, including the excellent 1” fabric dome tweeter that is found in the entire Dali Oberon speaker range. This one is driven by a voice coil developed to be as light as possible to guarantee excellent responsiveness. It is placed inside a powerful magnet that ensures that its movements are closely controlled. Thanks to this design, the Dali Oberon 1 C perfectly reproduces high frequencies up to 26kHz.
The Dali Oberon 1 C’s tweeter is paired with a 5” wood fiber cone midbass driver that is mounted on a flexible low-loss rubber surround specially developed 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 Oberon 1 C’s midbass driver 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 power the two drivers efficiently, each Dali Oberon 1 C wireless speaker features two class D amplifiers each capable of delivering 50 watts of output power. These amplifiers are based on the patented feedback technology that can be found in the brand’s other connected speakers. At the output of the amplifier module, the Dali Oberon 1 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 Oberon 1 C wireless speaker has the same elegant silhouette as the Dali Oberon 1. Consequently, it is very compact (16cm wide, 27cm high and 23cm deep), which makes it easy to place in any room. Its robust MDF chassis features several braces to reduce unwanted vibrations and optimize the precision of the sound.
The only difference with the passive Oberon 1 model is on the rear panel, where the usual terminal panel has been replaced by a module with a Schuko connector to connect the power cable and a pairing button to synchronize the speakers with the Dali Sound Hub or Dali Sound Hub Compact base. An indicator LED showing the position of the speaker in the room is also present. For the moment, it is only possible to use a pair of Dali Oberon 1 C speakers, but as can be seen on the interface, future compatibility for a 5.1 or 7.1 home theater system is in the works.
Dali Sound Hub Compact
The Dali Sound Hub Compact speakers have no wired inputs and no Bluetooth or WiFi controller, so they need to be associated with their transmitter in order to work. This design is becoming more and more popular with wireless hi-fi speaker manufacturers and has many advantages. Because the sources are centralized on the transmitter unit, the speakers can be freely placed in the room, regardless of where the sources are located. In addition, the absence of connectors on the speakers makes the whole system more aesthetically pleasing, notably by eliminating the need for countless visible cables when the speakers are placed on stands or mounted on the wall.
To centralize all your sources, the Dali Oberon 1 C wireless speaker can be paired to the Dali Sound Hub or the Dali Sound Hub Compact. We used the latter for this test. The Dali Sound Hub Compact is equipped with an RCA analog input and two optical digital inputs to easily connect a TV, a CD/SACD player, a Blu-ray player or a preamplified turntable. A subwoofer output is also included.
It is also possible to connect a TV thanks to the integration of an HDMI ARC port. This allows you to retrieve the soundtrack of the program you are watching on the TV, whether it comes from an external source or from a streaming application such as Netflix, Amazon Prime or Disney+, for example. In addition, the CEC protocol allows you to control the volume directly via the TV’s remote control.
The sound of the different sources connected to the Dali Sound Hub Compact can be streamed wirelessly to the Dali Oberon 1 C speakers in a resolution of up to 24-bit/96kHz by using the i2s protocol. To do this, the Dali Sound Hub Compact transmitter generates its own wireless network across the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. This wireless communication bypasses the local network to avoid the risks of an unstable WiFi connection or insufficient bandwidth. With a latency of less than 25ms, communication is always perfectly smooth and no loss of synchronization was noticed during our test of the Dali Oberon 1 C speakers.
aptX HD Bluetooth
In addition to its many inputs, the Dali Sound Hub Compact transmitter base features a Bluetooth receiver so you can easily stream music stored on a smartphone or played on online music services. AAC and SBC codecs are supported to ensure full compatibility with any Bluetooth source, whether it is a smartphone, tablet, DAP or computer. Best of all, the aptX HD codec is also supported for high-quality transmission with compatible sources.
As its name suggests, one of the Dali Sound Hub Compact’s biggest advantages is its very small size. It is only 21cm lids, 13.2cm deep and 3cm high. This makes it easy to fit it into any hi-fi or TV cabinet right next to the sources, or even directly behind a TV. It also has two notches on its underside so that it can be mounted on a wall or on the back of a piece of furniture.
The top of the Dali Sound Hub Compact has several indicator LEDs indicating the volume of the speakers which can be easily adjusted using the included infrared remote control. The remote control is relatively compact, which makes it easy to hold, and includes all the essential commands to quickly select the source or change tracks (next or previous) when Bluetooth is used.
Dali Oberon 1 C: configuration
It only takes a few simple steps to install and configure the Dali Oberon 1 C speakers. First, you must connect the sources to the Dali Sound Hub Compact transmitter base, then turn it on. Then simply press the sync buttons on each speaker. A first press starts the synchronization with the base, while a second press sets the channel to be reproduced (left or right). The indicator light located on the back of the speakers then confirms the pairing is successful. After these few steps, the speakers are immediately operational.
For our review, we used the Zappiti One SE 4K HDR network player to play Hi-Res music. We connected the player to the Dali Sound Hub Compact’s analog input using an Audioquest Red River RCA cable. We also streamed music from a smartphone via Bluetooth to listen to songs on Spotify and Qobuz (Sublime+ account, 24-bit/192kHz streaming). Lastly, we connected the base’s HDMI ARC input to a UHD 4K television to enjoy soundtracks from movies, series and concerts.
Dali Oberon 1 C: key specs
- 2-way speaker
- Bass-reflex enclosure
- Double 50W RMS digital amplifier
- 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz wireless HD audio receiver
- 24-bit/96kHz WiFi streaming (Dali Sound Hub or Dali Sound Hub Compact required)
- 1 x 5” midbass driver with SMC technology
- 1 x 1” dome tweeter
- Frequency response: 39Hz to 26kHz
- Max. volume level: 106 dB (1w / 1m)
- Crossover frequency: 2.3kHz
- Bass-reflex tuning frequency: 52Hz
- 1 x power cable connector
- 1 x USB A port (service only)
- Dimensions (wxhxd): 162 x 274 x 234mm
- Weight: 4.4kg
Dali Oberon 1 C: listening impressions
The Dali Oberon 1 C speakers have a very similar sonic character to that of the successful Dali Oberon 1’s. On the track Tamacun by Rodrigo y Gabriela, the Dali Oberon 1 C speakers were energetic and vibrant. As usual, the 1” tweeter was very effective in reproducing all the subtleties of the high frequencies. The different chords of the acoustic guitars were therefore very natural, nuanced and full of details.
In a different genre with Scorpions’ track Still Loving You, the high precision of the tweeter was beneficial to the electric guitar, which was always perfectly controlled, even during parts of the song with a lot of very high frequencies. The singer’s voice was natural and correctly positioned. The spectral balance was generally well maintained, with textured mids and a great ability to explore the high frequencies. The Dali Oberon 1 C offered a faithful reproduction of the original timbres. The lows were well structured, although sometimes a little harsh. They would benefit from more substance and depth, which isn’t surprising given the extremely compact size of the speakers. It is therefore recommended to add a subwoofer to enjoy more powerful bass.
Thanks to its HDMI ARC input, the Dali Oberon 1 C speaker can also be used to provide a more immersive movie experience than the TV’s speakers. During Quentin Tarantino’s movie Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, the dialogue was clear, natural and well centered. The different effects were very well positioned in the frontal scene. The atmosphere of the film was also beautifully recreated and transported us to Hollywood in the late 1960s. Finally, the Dali Sound Hub’s wireless transmission system proved to be very effective in ensuring instant communication with the speakers. We didn’t notice any lag between sound and image. An important factor.
Dali Oberon 1 C: compared to…
Q Acoustics Q Active 200 Google: sold for €1,799 per pair, this Q Acoustics wireless speaker also works with a hub that centralizes sources and streams them in 24-bit/96kHz to the speakers. The latter features a very similar set of connectors, with RCA, optical and HDMI ARC inputs and a Bluetooth receiver. However, it has the advantage of offering many network features with support for Chromecast, AirPlay and major online music services. Google Assistant is also available to control this Q Acoustics speaker vocally. Regarding sound, the Q Acoustics Q Active 200 Google offers a wider soundstage, with deeper, more powerful bass thanks to the integration of a 5.5” driver specifically for this frequency range. The Dali Oberon 1 C, on the other hand, is softer and more precise in the high frequencies. They are therefore more pleasant for long listening sessions.
KEF LSX Wireless: available for €1,200 per pair, the KEF LSX Wireless speaker is a 2 x 100 watt active model. Unlike the Dali Oberon 1 C, the connectors are directly located on the rear panel of the speaker, which doesn’t require a transmitter unit. There is an optical input, a mini-jack input, as well as an Ethernet port. The KEF LSX Wireless speaker can therefore be connected to the internet to access online music services and music shared over the local network. AirPlay or Bluetooth streaming is also possible. The KEF LSX Wireless speakers offer a more energetic and lively sound. The lows are also more powerful, but they still can’t compete with the accuracy and smoothness of the Dali Oberon 1 C’s highs.
Dali Oberon 1 C: conclusion
With the Dali Oberon 1 Cs, the Danish manufacturer offers a pair of wireless stereo speakers suited for any room of the house. The often criticized separate transmitter is actually one of the major advantages of these speakers, as it means you don’t have to run numerous cables to each source in your system. Soundwise, the Dali Oberon 1 C speakers impress with their high precision in the highs, which are always very detailed, nuanced and soft. The mids are also rich and textured. We would have liked the lows to have been a little deeper and more powerful, but the compact size of the speakers makes that impossible. Overall, the sound is still well balanced and very pleasant. Those who enjoy powerful bass can connect a subwoofer to the Dali Sound Hub.
What we liked
- The clear and precise highs
- The natural voices
- The speaker’s compact size
What we would have liked
- Deeper and more powerful lows
- An integrated network player