Larger than average drivers give the Dali a performance edge

Compared to the other speakers in this test the Lektor 8 – largest of Dali’s five-model Lektor range, not including the centre speaker and sub – looks almost old-fashioned. It isn’t size zero thin, for a start, because it uses twin 8in (200mm) bass drivers rather than the ~170mm units of the Quadral, Elac and Paradigm. Moreover, those drivers – along with the 5in midrange – don’t boast hi-tech- looking metal diaphragms but Dali’s familiar wood fibre reinforced coated paper cones, which are a dull brown colour. It’s a lot of speaker for the price, though, and those unmodishly large bass drivers – reflex loaded by ports front and rear – promise to move plenty of air.
   If you’re habituated to Dalis that feature the company’s trademark twin-tweeter module, it comes as a surprise to find that the Lektor 8 has a single soft dome tweeter. Dali’s design philosophy remains the same, though: that the speakers should be fired straight down the room rather than aimed at the listening position, to ensure reduced spectral disparity between the direct sound and first side wall reflections. That’s why, in time-honoured Dali fashion, the Lektor has a rising treble response on-axis, which is countered when listening off-axis as recommended.

EASY LISTENING
I’ve always enjoyed the large-scale image and dynamics of Dali’s Ikon floorstanders, which derives in no small part from this choice of speaker placement. I was hoping for the same from the Lektor 8 and wasn’t disappointed. What makes Dalis of this ilk special for me is that they’re just so easy to listen to. Whatever their shortcomings they have the happy (and rare) knack of just getting out of the way and letting you enjoy the music.
   This quality was apparent within the first few bars of ‘Poetspeak’. Although the piano sound here is a little dulled, the best speakers cut through that to keep the music interesting before the drums and cymbals add some zing and the bass some heft. This simple, lyrical piece of jazz was so enjoyable that I forgot the review imperative and listened through to the end.
   The Ravel fared well too, with a luminous piano sound and capricious violin, again making for a compelling musical experience. Ideally I’d have liked a little more resolution brought to bear on Scheherazade but the scale of the hall acoustic and imperious sweep of the orchestral dynamics were never in question. I’m sure I was lifted from my seat on the crescendos.
   I anticipated that the Lektor 8 wouldn’t have the insistence to make a complete success of ‘Honky Tonk Women’, and so it proved, but the essential honesty of its sound stopped the heart-rate dropping too far. More analysis would also have been welcome on ‘Well Well Well’ but, despite a slightly plodding bass, it did what Grace Jones in this mode must always do: it made you want to dance.

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Originally published in the December 2011 issue