Dali Callisto 6 C and Sound Hub Wireless Loudspeaker Page 2

Spikes and grilles are provided for the speakers, though it will be down to personal taste whether you prefer the divided appearance of the naked front baffle or the similar two-part grille look. What is beyond doubt is the quality of both the hefty, heavily braced 25mm MDF cabinet and quality of the black or white finish. Yes, it may be a vinyl wrap, but Dali's been in this game for long enough to know there's vinyl and then there's vinyl, and the company both cuts and wraps its own panels to achieve the standards it requires.

sqnote Striking It Rich
At the risk of accusations of missing the point completely – not for the first time! – I kicked off listening to the Callisto 6 Cs without the Sound Hub. In other words, not wirelessly at all, but rather with the 'ADC' inputs fed from an iFi Audio Pro iDSD DAC/streamer/digital preamp [HFN Sep '18], in an attempt to get a view on how much of the sound I was hearing was the speaker, and how much – eventually – the 'wireless'.

With the speakers set up some 30cm from side and rear walls, and firing straight into the room – Dali says its wide dispersion design means toe-in isn't required – my first impressions were of speakers with a generally well-balanced sound, and a pretty powerful one whether with the dynamics of music or when pushed hard.

In practice the sound is more refined than edge-of-the-seat exciting. It has slightly loose soundstaging and a mildly soft-focus effect that takes the edge off the sense of space, even with crisp, dynamic recordings such as Alessandro Quarta's barnstorming take on Piazzolla's 'Libertango' […Plays Astor Piazzolla; IAN-Productions; 96kHz/24-bit download].

With driving rock music, too, the 6 Cs can seem a little ill at ease, as if they're rather overwhelmed by everything going on within a track like ZZ Top's slamming 'Bar-B-Q', from 1972's Rio Grande Mud [Warner Bros 3269-2 256 602]. Yes, it moves, but it hasn't quite got that fluid Texas boogie thing going, as the bass is a bit bloomy and voices can sound just a shade recessed.


That said, the Callisto 6 Cs sound big, rich and striking, and if listening to them for fun rather than analysing every element of the sound, there'd be no complaints whatsoever. What little they lack in ultimate hi-fi niceties they more than make up for in musical appeal, as I found when listening to the entirety of the recent Les Arts Florissants/William Christie set of 'Handel, Music For Queen Caroline' [Harmonia Mundi HAF8905298] and rather enjoying it.

Yes, there's a bit too much treble sting at times, especially if you ignore Dali's advice and go for a conventional toe-in, and something is missing in the presence band, making things a bit plummy – but the sound is acceptable, if hardly revelatory.

Lush In The Bass
Get closer to the raison d'être of the Callisto system with the Sound Hub, and the good news is that the wireless transmission doesn't bring a deterioration of the sound, albeit there's little it can do to iron out the problems of the balance here. True, things are a little softer when using the hub's two analogue inputs than when connecting sources using the optical or coaxial digital inputs – as one might expect given the extra ADC stage involved – but in general the Sound Hub, and its 96kHz/24-bit wireless audio transmission, is relatively transparent.

Not that this system is a hugely persuasive argument for the benefits of 'hi-res' sound, as its sonic characteristics tend to emphasise the high frequency energy, but fail to make much of the enhanced detail, insight and dynamics on offer. Florence & The Machine's 2015 set How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful [Island Records 602547236050; 96kHz/24-bit] was delivered with useful bass weight and definition, but still had that upper midband softness and excessive treble fizz, almost as though a loudness curve was being applied. The result was a temptation to back off a bit on the volume in order to calm things down.

Play Something
a little simpler, like Alison Krauss and Union Station's New Favorite [Rounder Records RRCD 0495], and you cast this Callisto system in a more flattering light, even though a bit more instrumental/vocal character wouldn't go amiss.

Meanwhile with the kind of tightly-played small-ensemble jazz so beloved of hi-fi demonstrations – eg, the MJQ's Blues On Bach [Atlantic 8122-79640-0] – the system sounds detailed as well as warm and lush in the bass, with the muted cymbals not doing much to overexcite that hybrid tweeter.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
While a move in the right direction, especially when it comes to hi-res wireless, and undeniably classy in style and build, the Callisto system's colourful sound is still unlikely to find you slinging out your conventional amp and speakers. Heard at its best when playing 'hi-fi' music – so often chosen for demos – and when run at modest levels, the 6 C is versatile but just a bit too 'characterful'.

Supplied by: DALI Audio UK Ltd, Herts
0845 644 35 37