Dali KATCH One Review

Dali KATCH One Review – One like no other…

The topic of “good TV sound” has been a big issue for Dali Speaker A/S for years, and it was a great surprise to many that they did not deal with classic soundbar systems as intensively as other loudspeaker specialists. With the Dali KATCH One, however, the company now has a solution on offer that once again does things differently from comparable systems on the market and can therefore present itself almost perfectly.


It can hardly be stressed often enough: if you treat yourself to a new television set, you should also add a corresponding audio system to the list. What’s more, it’s almost essential that a TV set is upgraded with a suitable audio system in order to harmonise picture and sound quality. The reason for this is obvious: modern televisions can do “everything”, but there is one thing they cannot do, and that is deliver good sound. Even if some manufacturers promise this, a TV set that is only a few millimetres thick will not be able to accommodate a reasonable speaker system, let alone one that can at least half use volume to develop something like “sound”. Even the most diverse DSP algorithms are of little or no help, physics simply cannot be cheated…

So-called soundbar systems have been flourishing for years, as they represent the simplest and most compact solution for this task from the consumer’s point of view. After all, the aim is to add just one single system that can be integrated into the living space around the television as homogeneously and discreetly as possible.

At least a soundbar is mandatory…

Unfortunately, many consumers are tempted to buy a soundbar with their new TV, but directly from the same manufacturer, because of course the TV producers have long since realized that a lucrative market is opening up, after all, they know best how their TVs sound. However, especially when it comes to designing the slimmest possible soundbar, specialists are in demand, and they are more likely to be found in the warehouse of the proven loudspeaker specialists. What’s the point of buying a particularly inconspicuous soundbar that uses exactly the same technology as the TV set itself, and that ultimately squawks as flat and pressurelessly as the TV alone… So instead of buying another soundbar from the same company as the TV because it’s supposed to fit perfectly, you should look around the extremely wide range of products offered by the specialists.

Good sound when watching TV is not a new topic at Dali Speaker A/S

And the Danish company Dali Speaker A/S is one of these specialists, because for a long time now they have been dealing with the problem of good television sound in many different ways. However, Dali Speaker A/S did not really have a large number of these sound bar systems on offer. In 2014, Dali Speaker A/S presented the Dali KUBIK ONE system, an extremely elegant soundbar, which was to be understood as much more than just a flexible all-in-one system.

Dali Speaker A/S had no other soundbar in the conventional sense, but they focused on solutions that could also provide good TV sound, in the form of extremely compact, often very design-oriented solutions, such as the Dali KUBIK FREE and Dali KUBIK XTRA, and speaker series such as the Dali FAZON Series were actually perfect for providing a sonorous, compact audio system around the TV in combination with a compact amplifier.

But now they want to offer a classic soundbar again, a solution that delivers the best possible TV sound with the least possible effort, and with the Dali KATCH One they present a solution that is one of the most compact and elegant in its field, yet promises fine sound.

Building on the findings of the Dali KATCH…

What is striking is that the developers of the new soundbar Dali KATCH One are building on a really very, very fine product from their own company, namely the Dali KATCH. Well, the fact that they use their own technology is not at all surprising, but the fact that they use a completely different type of product, namely a portable Bluetooth speaker, is. On closer inspection, however, this is also quite understandable, since developers of both product groups – portable speakers and soundbar systems – ultimately face the same challenges. The challenge is to conjure up the best possible sound from the most compact systems possible. But in the end, this does not have much to do with “conjuring”, but only with proven expertise.

Basic…

It is clear that a soundbar must be designed in such a way that it can be integrated into the living space and connected to the TV as harmoniously as possible with the least amount of effort and expense. Speaker specialists in particular sometimes overshoot the mark here and subordinate some things to the best possible sound. Dali Speaker A/S claims to combine excellent sound with elegant appearance, and to do this in the most compact dimensions possible.

A very important point is that Dali Speaker A/S decided to change the common concept of a “soundbar”. It is quite common for manufacturers to “buy” slim forms of the actual soundbar by using the trick of an additional subwoofer. The most difficult part of designing a soundbar is therefore outsourced, because the reproduction of low frequencies, but also attractive mids, requires, as already mentioned in the introduction, generously designed drivers and above all volume. As much volume and small dimensions as possible cannot go together, so an additional subwoofer has to do this as an integral part of the sound concept, which then turns out to be more massive.

The new Dali KATCH One does not provide for an external subwoofer, in fact the only thing you buy here is the soundbar itself. The lynchpin of the Dali KATCH One is therefore a particularly sophisticated driver concept, and as we have already mentioned, this has been adopted in principle from the Dali KATCH, but also from the Dali KUBIK ONE, which was also mentioned earlier.

First things first…

It must be clearly stated that when deciding for or against an audio system for the television set, design plays an essential, if not the most important role for the vast majority of customers, as do the possibilities for integrating this audio system into the home environment.

Dali Speaker A/S has obviously come up with a number of ideas here, as the Dali KATCH One is not only an extremely elegant but also a compact solution. No more than 860 mm in width, 164 mm in height, and only 69 mm in depth, this solution measures 3.7 kg. It is available in black, white or white with a grey front, with the manufacturer himself referring to Iron Black, Ivory White and Mountain White.

The round design, the slim housing and last but not least a front covered with a high-quality, acoustically transparent textile covering ensure that the Dali KATCH One fits into any living environment.

All good things come in threes…

The three options that are available for mounting or installation must be particularly emphasised. On the one hand, Dali KATCH One can be easily mounted on the wall, just like many other such solutions, using the slotted holes on the back.

To be honest, this is probably the “worst” option, because the second option, which Dali Speaker A/S has provided here, is much more elegant. The Dali KATCH One is delivered with two leather loops that are mounted on the upper side, and with the help of which the soundbar can be hung on the wall. By the way, the Dali KATCH One also comes with an integrated cable management system, so that no cables are visible.

And if you want to place the Dali KATCH one directly on a lowboard or sideboard under the TV, you can of course do the same, and here too the Danes have come up with a special feature, namely discreet but extremely elegant wooden feet which are plugged in at the bottom. A rubberised underside ensures that the surface of the furniture is protected. In addition, this also ensures optimal decoupling.

The really important thing…

But now let’s get back to what is really essential about the Dali KATCH one, namely all the things Dali Speaker A/S has done to create fine sound from the compact cabinets.

It is hard to believe that the Dali KATCH one uses no less than ten loudspeaker drivers, although it is basically a 2 1/2-way system. As already described, the developers of the new Dali KATCH one have relied on the experience of the Dali KUBIK One and Dali KATCH, especially in the design of the very flat bass drivers, which are due to the special conditions. Four of these are used, each with a diameter of 90 mm and mounted on an aluminium membrane with a fabric dust cap. Despite their flat design, these are designed as long-stroke diaphragms, whereby a special suspension of the centering spider plays a key role as the central component, since it ensures that the same degree of excursion is achieved here as with a conventional driver. The aluminium cone is essential for a clean and discolouration-free reproduction. According to the manufacturer, the combination with fabric guarantees the lowest possible surface resonances and thus a detailed and clear radiation.

These four active low-frequency drivers are combined with four passive radiators, which also have a metal diaphragm, but 115 mm in diameter. These support the reproduction especially in the bass range, since they work similar to a bass reflex system, only much more effective and controlled. For this purpose the manufacturer specifies a crossover frequency of 250 Hz.

Two 21 mm tweeters are responsible for the high frequency range. These are fabric dome tweeters and thus models that are known from Dali Speaker System in the upscale segment. A particularly powerful drive system based on neodymium magnets is used here, which accurately set the ultra-lightweight diaphragm in motion, while still being highly resilient and highly sensitive. On the one hand this guarantees a detailed and precise reproduction in the high frequencies, and on the other hand the comparatively large diameter allows the tweeters to play very “low” in the frequency range down to 2.5 kHz, the crossover frequency to the woofers on the Dali KATCH one. All in all, a frequency range between 46 Hz and 25 kHz can be reproduced in this way. Of course, the drivers are controlled by a DSP-based signal processing, which – according to the manufacturer’s promise – only has to intervene very discreetly due to the described design measures.

This DSP receives all signals via digital inputs with up to 24 bit and 192 kHz, internally the Dali KATCH one works with 24 bit and 96 kHz. Its task is to optimally control all six active chassis of the Dali KATCH one at all times in order to guarantee best results, free of distortion and clean.

For the amplifier, Class D is used, with four times 50 Watts available here. The amplifier has a large switched-mode power supply as a “power reserve”.

One more thing to mention here is the remarkably complex construction of the housing. For the housing of the Dali KATCH one, the developers used a very rigid and robust material, namely glass fibre reinforced ABS. This provides a very rigid construction as an optimal basis, free of vibrations that could damage the sound.

In addition, the drivers are not only located at the front, but also partly at the rear, and numerous complex flow channels lead through the cabinet, in order to make optimum use of the available volume, to control the airflow internally in the best possible way, to be able to include even the wall behind the soundbar in the sound shaping process, and thus to guarantee a particularly impressive reproduction with optimum radiation.

It is also remarkable that the developers at Dali Speaker A/S fortunately almost completely dispensed with any further “calculation gimmicks” of their DSP. So you won’t find any extreme bass boosting or virtual surround attempts here. Only two pre-programmed sound modes are available on the Dali KATCH one, the first of which offers a particularly linear, clear reproduction, for example for news broadcasts, documentaries and the like, and the second is intended to make the sound image a little wider, more powerful and dynamic. This setting is therefore suitable for movies and music. But that was it. And that’s good!

Connection options…

First and foremost, of course, the Dali KATCH one also has an HDMI connection, which ensures a direct connection to the television. An ARC, an audio return channel, transmits the sound from the TV to the soundbar. In addition, HDMI CEC ensures that the volume is controlled directly with the TV remote control. Furthermore, two optical S/PDIF interfaces (TOS-Link) are available and a 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack connector as an analogue option is also available. A USB port is also available here, but this is only used to charge any devices such as Google Chromecast or Amazon Echo.

If you want to bring a subwoofer into the game, although – let’s face it – it is not necessary, you can do this via a cinch connection.

Of course, an integrated Bluetooth module should not be missing, whereby it is Bluetooth 4.0, and besides AAC also aptX is supported. This ensures that both smartphones with Google Android and Apple iOS offer signal transmission with “CD quality” when used as a source.

Operating concept…

In most cases you will probably control the Dali KATCH one quite simply with the remote control of the TV, we have already mentioned this. However, the Dali KATCH one is also supplied with a remote control which can also be used to control the volume, but also allows you to select the input and call up the two sound presets.

In addition, five buttons are available directly on the top of the Dali KATCH one, one of which acts as a standby button, the others being used to control input selection, volume and the aforementioned sound presets. These buttons are all discreetly backlit in white, with a ring of lights around the standby button even visualising the volume.

For the sake of completeness, it should be mentioned that Dali Speaker A/S does not offer a special app for its Dali KATCH one, which seems to be indispensable these days. What for?

From the practice

Let us begin with the installation of Dali KATCH one. As described, there are three variants available here, whereby we personally particularly like the assembly via the leather loops. No other manufacturer offers this, and it is indeed an absolutely ingenious eye-catcher. But also the installation directly on a lowboard or sideboard by means of the wooden feet is – with respect – ingenious. No manufacturer has yet come up with this clever idea, but it is precisely these details that make a solution something extraordinary.

So however you integrate Dali KATCH one into your living environment, you will probably initially be pleased with its compact dimensions, because this way it can be integrated particularly harmoniously and is not perceived as a disturbing factor due to its extremely elegant appearance. Especially since there are three design variants available: Ivory White, where the entire soundbar, including the loudspeaker grill, is in brilliant white, Mountain White, where the housing is in white but the loudspeaker grill is in grey, and Iron Black, where everything is in matt black.

The setup is of course particularly simple, as all you need to do is connect an HDMI cable between the Dali KATCH one and the TV set, and the power cable. The system is thus ready for operation after only a few moments.

It is precisely because the Dali KATCH one blends so discreetly into the room, taking up very little space, that it is all the more astonishing what sound can unfold here as soon as the first notes are heard.

And that brings us to the decisive point. Once again Dali Speaker A/S remains true to itself with the Dali KATCH one. The Dali KATCH one is a soundbar which does not have any gimmickry, but actually does exactly what it is supposed to do, namely to provide good sound for television, as accurately and naturally as possible. Voices are presented credibly, not, as in many other soundbars, with exaggerated depth, as if every newscaster would be blessed with deepest bass and perform in an amphitheatre. Films are depicted just as credibly, ambient sounds are depicted broadly, and voices are still clearly staged and clearly understandable. Music is allowed to perform when it is supposed to, and if there is real action, then it will be depicted credibly without, however, immediately causing the walls to shake. Dali KATCH one cannot do this on its own, and we dare to say that it should not do so. But Dali Speaker A/S has other calibres to offer, namely proven multi-channel home cinema systems which, in combination with a powerful AV receiver, can meet these demands completely.

The Dali KATCH one is, in our humble opinion, exactly what it should be, a soundbar that can be integrated as simply and easily as possible into any living environment, leaves a very elegant impression, guarantees easy operation and delivers impeccable TV sound, no more, no less. Dali Speaker A/S itself does not promise anything else, does not talk about a home cinema solution, does not lure with anything bombastically exaggerated, but simply presents what the Dali KATCH one can actually deliver, TV sound, but in such a way that it sounds very appealing and flawless.

It is this honesty, which is unfortunately emphasised far too seldom, that we believe Dali KATCH one is able to do. It is and remains a soundbar, but it is one of the finest on the market!

Getting to the point

Best possible sound when watching TV, this is the task that the developers at Dali Speaker A/S have set themselves at Dali KATCH one, which, as the Danish speaker specialist himself states, is the company’s first “dedicated TV soundbar”. And this task has been fulfilled with flying colours. As a proven loudspeaker specialist, they understand exactly what is required to create the best possible sound from a solution with the slimmest possible form factor and the smallest possible space requirement. But they also know exactly where the limits of what is possible lie. So there is no talk of home cinema here, but only impeccable sound when watching television, no more, no less. But this claim is fully met and a soundbar is delivered on an impressive level and with an extremely elegant design. A soundbar like no other, this must be summed up in a nutshell and the Dali KATCH one must be given a clear recommendation!

HiFiBLOG Award Outstanding

The Dali KATCH one is, in our humble opinion, exactly what it should be, a soundbar that can be integrated as simply and easily as possible into any living environment, leaves a very elegant impression here, guarantees easy operation, and delivers impeccable TV sound, no more, no less. Dali Speaker A/S itself does not promise anything else, does not talk about a home cinema solution, does not lure with anything bombastically exaggerated, but simply presents what the Dali KATCH one can actually deliver, TV sound, but in such a way that it sounds very appealing and flawless.

Manufacturer:Dali Speaker A/S
Distribution:Audiophil GbR
Germany:Dali Deutschland GmbH
Price:€ 750,-
The Good– Outstanding
– natural sound
– excellent language skills
– comparatively broad radiation
– three possibilities of installation or placement with clever details
– outstanding design
– highly compact
– simple operation
– competitive price
The Bad– No disadvantage apparent

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