The Dali Oberon 7 C HC 5.1 speaker pack relies on the Dali Equi ecosystem to create a scalable wireless home theater system. It relies on the power of the 24-bit/96kHz wireless transmission of the Dali Sound Hub , to which is added the Multichannel HDMI 7.1/5.1 module with HDMI eARC input to play Dolby or DTS soundtracks from the television. Retailing for €4490, this set promises to take wireless home theater systems to new heights.
Dali Oberon 7 C HC 5.1: packaging & accessories
Each speaker in the Dali Oberon 7 C HC 5.1 wireless home theater system comes with a magnetic acoustic cover and a mains power cable. It also comes with a quick installation guide and rubber pads. The essential Dali Sound Hub preamp comes in a separate box including a quick start guide, a 1.7m long power cable and an infrared remote control. We received it accompanied by the HDMI Dali module, also delivered in its own box. Finally, a USB flashdrive accompanies the set in order to carry out the update which is essential to the proper functioning of the system.
Dali Equi: wireless home theater system
The Danish manufacturer has become a master of its craft when it comes wireless speakers with the launch of the revolutionary Dali Calisto C range in 2017. The brand then continued innovating with the Equi technology and the Dali Oberon C range which consists of the Dali Oberon On Wall C , Dali Oberon 7C , Dali Oberon 1C and Dali Oberon Vokal C. For the upper Dali Rubicon C range, the wireless system includes the Dali Rubicon 2 C , Dali Rubicon 6 C and Dali Rubicon 8C loudspeakers. These active wireless speakers are directly declined from their passive counterparts in which are added a specifically calibrated amplification and a module in charge of wireless transmission. A design that allows you to enjoy true wireless hi-fi speakers and which has earned the brand praise from the international press. In particular the EISA prize which highlights “high quality musical performance thanks to the best loudspeaker technology developped by DALI”.
All speakers from the Dali Oberon C and Dali Rubicon C ranges can be used to create a wireless home theater system. To set up a wireless home theater system, the Dali Sound Hub pre-amp is essential. It groups the different sources, pre-amplies them and broadcast the signal wirelessly in 24-bit/96kHz to the connected Dali speakers. It then becomes possible to create a scalable system ranging from 2 to 7.1 channels. However, we wish there were Atmos speakers in this wireless system. Something that the Danish manufacturer could easily add later.
The Dali Sound Hub pre-amp is equipped with two analog inputs (a stereo RCA input and a 3.5mm mini-jack input) and three digital inputs (2 optical inputs and a coaxial input). It also has two bays on its back panel to mount additional modules. The first is the Dali NPM-2i BluOS , a all-rounder of a network player that we used in our review ot the Dali Rubicon 2C. The second is the new Dali HDMI 7.1/5.1 module which adds an HDMI eARC input, as well as a Dolby and DTS multi-channel decoder. This module is therefore essential for using Dali wireless speakers in a multi-channel configuration.
In terms of design, the Dali Sound Hub preamp adopts a control interface on its front panel consisting of a power button, a mute button and a source selector. The front of the device also features a large volume knob with a backlit screen to control the sound level. It also displays the general volume and the source currently playing. On its top panel, the Dali player features a lacquered surface on which a screen displays the configuration of the speakers installed. Using the Dali Sound Hub, you can also adjust the level of each speaker in the system. To do so, it is necessary to simultaneously press the mute and source selection buttons. The first speaker then emits a beeping sound. You can then easily turn its volume up or down depending on its position in the room. Once you find the setting that works the best for you, you can move on to the next speaker.
Finally, the Dali Sound Hub can be controlled remotely using its infrared remote control. This allows you to adjust the volume, select the source and turn on the pre-amp. Thanks to the Dali HDMI module, the Dali Sound Hub can also be controlled from the associated TV remote control.
Dali Oberon 7 C HC 5.1: presentation
The Dali Sound Hub preamp, decoder and transmitter makes it possible to create a wireless home theater system with speakers from the Dali Rubicon C and Dali Oberon C ranges. For this review, we opted for the Dali Equi Oberon 7C HC 5.1 system. In addition to the pre-amp and the HDMI module, this system consists of a pair of Dali Oberon 7 C floorstanding speakers, a pair of Dali Oberon 1 C bookshelf speakers used here for the surround effects and the central speaker Dali Oberon Vokal C. We also used the Dali Sub C8-D subwoofer. This model is however the only wired element of the pack and needs to be connected to the subwoofer output of the Dali Sound Hub. For greater freedom of placement, this subwoofer can be transformed into a wireless model using the Dali Dongle Wireless Subwoofer module.
All the speakers of the Dali Oberon 7 C HC 5.1 wireless home cinema use the acoustic design of their passive counterparts, namely the Dali Oberon 7 , Dali Oberon 1 and Dali Oberon Vokal . We find in particular the 1.14″ textile dome tweeter common to the entire range. This tweeter is a bit larger than traditional models and provides a wider dispersion zone, for better perception of the different frequencies, even when the listener isn’t in the optimal listening axis. The distortion level is also reduces and power handling improved. Finally, this tweeter is capable of operating up to 26kHz on all Dali Oberon C loudspeakers, guaranteeing better perception of the various harmonics.
All the wireless speakers in the Dali Oberon 7 C HC 5.1 pack also benefit from a midrange/bass driver made by Dali. Although the diameter differs according to the speakers (1 x 5″ for the Dali Oberon 1 C, 2 x 5″ for the Dali Oberon Vokal C and 2 x 6.7″ for the Dali Oberon 7C), all the drivers are based on the same design. All feature a cone made of wood fibers to maximize rigidity and guarantee optimal operation of the drivers. The magnetic system uses proprietary SMC (Soft Magnetic Compound) technology. This makes it possible to significantly reduce the distortion of the audio signal in the voice coil. To do this, the loudspeaker magnet uses a composite magnetic compound, infinitely less conductive than most of the alloys usually used (ferrite or neodymium, for example). The voice coil is also enclosed in a copper cap to reduce its inductance and incidentally the distortion/harshness of the high-mid and treble registers. All speakers use a bass-reflex enclosure for better bass reproduction.
Each connected speaker of the Dali Oberon 7 C HC 5.1 wireless home theater system features two amplifiers, for a power of 2 x 50W RMS. The first module powers the tweeter, while the second drives the two midrange/bass speakers. These are class D models, which ensures a very good impulse response. This set can thus accumulate a total power of 500W RMS with the speakers and 670W RMS when adding the subwoofer. Furthermore, the use of dedicated amplifiers allows each loudspeaker to operate independently, without depending on the power allocated to the other loudspeakers as is the case with conventional loudspeakers connected to an AV receiver.
The Dali Sub C8-D subwoofer is equipped with a large 8″ driver to produce deeper and more powerful lows. Its cone is also made of paper pulp to maximize rigidity and ensure excellent responsiveness thanks in particular to its lightness. The driver’s magnetic system is designed around an oversized ferrite magnet and optimized to promote maximum flux within the voice coil. This 1″ coil allows significant movement to increase bass level. This long throw is also due to an imposing surround which ensures greater movement, but also more linearity for a better reproduction of transients. This driver is powered by an amplifier rated at 170 W RMS (220 W peak) and can reproduce frequencies down to 33Hz. It should thus do very well with home theater use as well but also to listen to music.
In terms of design, the various loudspeakers in the Dali Oberon 7 C HC 5.1 pack identically reproduce the understated and elegant lines of the original versions. The cabinets are made of MDF and use internal braces to limit vibrations. The Dali Oberon 7C are beautiful floorstanders with their aluminum base which gives the impression that the speaker is floating in the air. The Dali Oberon 1C are relatively compact (16cm wide by 27cm high and 23 deep), allowing them to be easily installed on a shelf, on a piece of furniture or on dedicated stands. It is also possible to mount them on the wall thanks to the integrated support. Finally, the Dali Oberon Vokal C center speaker is also quite compact (44 cm long, 16 high and 29 cm deep), allowing it to be easily installed in front of the TV or in the niche of a piece of furniture.
Dali Oberon 7 C HC 5.1: testing conditions
While setting up Dali wireless speakers for stereo use has always been quick and easy, home theater setup is a bit more complex. With Dali speakers purchased or produced before the end of 2021, it will be necessary to update the firmware of each speaker to use them in a home theater system. As the Dali Oberon 7C system is devoid of network connection and mobile application, the procedure is carried out from a computer by downloading the Dali Upgrade Tool software for Mac and Windows from the Dali website. From there, you can install the latest version of the firmware for each speaker on a USB key. This is included with the center speaker. If you prefer to use your own flashdrive, it must have a storage space ranging from 512 MB to 32 GB. Note. All the data present on the flashdrive will be erased beforehand. Once the operation is complete, eject and remove the flashdrive from the PC/Mac.
To update a Dali speaker, unplug the mains power cable, then insert the USB key into the service port. Then turn the speaker back on. Power LED lights red/orange for about 1 second, then turns off again. Wait up to 20 seconds for the upgrade to complete. When the light flashes green, the upgrade is complete. Remove the USB drive and the speaker will reboot and be ready to use. This procedure must be carried out for each loudspeaker in the system, but also for the Dali Sound Hub. Without being complex, it still requires time (about 10 to 15 minutes) and patience. We are far from the simple installation process advertised by the manufacturer. Fortunately, the latest Dali productions are directly updated at the factory.
Once all the speakers have been updated, the HDMI module can be installed in the Dali Sound Hub pre-amp. Installing it is very easy. To do this, simply remove the protection placed in front of the dedicated rack, then insert the card. Note however that it is necessary to bring a Torx screwdriver to remove the cover.
Then, you can power up the Dali Sound Hub to make the pairings. To do this, first press the “Link & Connect” button on the Dali Sound Hub, then that of the speaker to be associated. Once detected, it emits a sound and allows you to define the channel to reproduce by pressing the “Link & Connect” button several times to define its role. A light located on the back of the speaker then indicates its placement in the room. Repeat these two steps on each speaker in the system. Finally, press the Dali Sound Hub pairing control one last time to finalize the procedure. If necessary, the sound level of each loudspeaker can be independently adjusted to compensate for its placement in the room.
For this test, we also used the Dali Dongle Wireless Subwoofer to wirelessly link the subwoofer. This small receiver comes with a subwoofer cable to connect it to the subwoofer and a USB-C to USB-A cable for power. This cable can be connected to the TV’s USB port or to a USB mains adapter (not included). The pairing procedure is then identical to that of the speakers.
Once the different speakers are associated, all that remains is to connect the TV via HDMI eARC so that the system is finally operational. As no HDMI cable is included with the HDMI module, it is necessary to have a quality cable such as the Norstone Arran HDMI to ensure an optimal connection. Then, you can set the Convenience or Performance mode from the HDMI module. The latter can reproduce the full dynamic range of soundtracks and films. The first can be compared to a night mode, with dynamic compression to reduce large volume differences. This function is ideal for enjoying night sessions without disturbing the rest of the family or neighbors. A dedicated command on the remote control would have been more user-friendly than a selector on the back of the hub. More extensive DSP modes like those offered by traditional home theater receivers would have been a nice touch too.
Dali Oberon 7 C HC 5.1: listening impressions
The services of the Dali Oberon 7 C HC 5.1 wireless home theater system are in perfect harmony with the pricetag. While traditional wireless systems generally suffer from a lack of power or precision due to the small size of the speakers, the Dali Oberon 7 C HC 5.1 pack has energy to spare and easily competes with traditional wired systems. this is an audiophile grade system, delivering high-end musical performances.
The Dali Equi wireless communication protocol used by the Dali Sound Hub ensures instant streaming to the speakers. Communication is always seamless and we experiences no loss of synchronization. The synchronization between sound and image is also flawless. The management of the different channels is done brilliantly, with effects that circle all around us with stunning realism. The sound effect move seamlessly from one speaker to the other with great consistency. On the latest James Bond film, the action scenes were reproduced with dynamism and authority. The numerous effects unfolded throughout the listening space and swirled around the room. The gunshots were punchy and realistic. The many explosions wounded powerful, deep and we could feel them in our chest. The Dali Oberon 7 C HC 5.1 system impresses with its ability to bring action scenes to life.
The Dali Oberon Vokal C unit that accompanies this Dali wireless home theater pack ensures flawless reproduction of the dialogues. The voices are reproduced with authority and are very realistic. They benefit from a beautiful presence and are always correctly legible. No need to really push the volume to perceive all the details of the dialogues. Conversely, when the sound level is pushed to the limit, the voices remain perfectly controlled. They are well delivered and precise, just like the rest of the soundtrack. Finally, the wide dispersion of this center speaker ensures a very good perception of the dialogues without having to be right in front of the speaker. It is ideal to watch a movie with several people or to place it in a piece of furniture with a slightly offset niche.
Available in passive hi-fi versions, the speakers in the Dali Oberon 7 C HC 5.1 pack are naturally suitable for listening to music. On Hans Zimmer’s concert given in Prague, we found the rich and dynamic sound signature specific to the brand’s speakers. The different songs were delivered with a great sense of rhythm. Every detail stood out perfectly from the rest of the soundstage. The attacks were frank and incisive. The violinists’ playing were very nuanced and detailed. The high frequencies were both well articulated and smooth. The most delicate notes were reproduced without an ounce of harshness. The voices were rich, textured and each intonation was rendered with extreme finesse. The Dali Oberon 7 C HC 5.1 system is full of a multitude of micro-details and demonstrates a constant respect for timbres. It demonstrates a true audiophile character.
Dali Oberon 7 C HC 5.1: compared to…
It is difficult to compare the Dali Oberon 7 C HC 5.1 system, because it is in a category of its own. To date, no other manufacturer is able to compete with such a high-end wireless home cinema system. The majority of other wireless systems use a soundbar paired with connected speakers for surround sound. The power is less and the performance often inferior to traditionnal hi-fi speakers. The only alternative to benefit from such a powerful and musical reproduction involves choosing a pack of wired passive speakers, with the benefits and drawbacks that this implies.
Dali Oberon 7 C HC 5.1: who is it for?
The Dali Equi Oberon 7 C HC 5.1 pack is intended for any user wishing to enjoy a real cinema experience without having to run speaker cables or use an AV receiver The very high power allocated to each loudspeaker makes it possible to use this system in any room, large or small. With a minimalist and refined design, it will find its place in a living room as well as in a dedicated home theater room. The sophisticated acoustic design also makes it a great choice for concert and music lovers.
Wireless home theater systems are generally very simple to install, but the Dali Oberon 7 C HC 5.1 can be an exception on the first series marketed, with which it is necessary to update the firmware of each loudspeaker. The procedure is simple and clearly detailed by the manufacturer, but this may scare a novice user. For this reason, the Dali Oberon 7 C HC 5.1 wireless home theater pack will find its place more easily with users who feel comfortable with this procedure.
Dali Oberon 7 C HC 5.1: conclusion
Even if the Dali Oberon 7 C HC 5.1 system still has some small shortcomings, it is already revolutionizing the idea that we have of wireless home theater. It offers a more credible and serious alternative than ever to traditional systems. The use of hi-fi speakers available in amplified and wireless versions offers unparalleled performance. This set is capable of reproducing with great precision the many details of music and films. It brings movie soundtracks to life by precisely placing the many effects in space. The rendering between the different channels is perfectly homogeneous and consistent. The hallmark of the Danish manufacturer is embodied through a particularly dynamic reproduction and a real sense of detail. It remains that all the speakers marketed directly integrate the latest update so that this system is perfect and classified as the best high-end wireless home cinema.
We liked :
- The power of the system
- The dynamic and energetic sound
- The flawless channel separation
- Transmission without latency
We would have liked:
- A simpler implementation
- A command for night mode on the remote control
- A display of the active decoding mode on the Dali Sound Hub