DALI’s New Grand Vokal Center Speaker Boasts High Output, NOT High Price
I recently wrote about an expensive Wilson Audio center-channel speaker, the WASAE Center ($9,500 and up, depending on finish), designed for those with small spaces, but big budgets. Today’s Quick Take is for those with bigger rooms, but thinner wallets. DALI’s new Grand Vokal center speaker ($1,000) was revealed at the 2023 High End show in Munich last spring, but has only just begun shipping. DALI describes the 2-way Grand Vokal as a full-range center speaker for large rooms. Its frequency response may not support the “full-range” claim, but the Grand Vokal will certainly outperform the existing Vokal speaker (normally $600, on sale for $480 as of time of writing) in larger spaces, thanks to the new speaker’s higher power handling and bigger woofers.
The Grand Vokal is part of DALI’s entry-level Oberon series, which the company says is “redefining what's possible in audio quality and design within its price class.” I’ve long been a fan of DALI speakers, and have been pleased to see the brand gain more exposure here in the States since Lenbrook International took over distribution of DALI’s product line in the U.S. back in 2018. The Grand Vokal uses the same 1.1-inch soft-dome tweeter found in other Oberon speakers, along with a pair of 7-inch wood-fiber-cone mid-woofers (the smaller Vokal uses 5.25-inch mid-woofers). The speaker’s cabinet measures 17 inches wide, 6.3 inches tall, and 11.6 inches deep. While the smaller Vokal uses a front-facing slot port, the Grand Vokal has a rear-facing round port. DALI recommends placing the speaker at least 2 inches from the wall behind it, but not more than 20 inches out. Despite the Grand Vokal’s larger size, its frequency response suggests that it won’t play much lower than the smaller Vokal — it’s down by 3dB at around 45Hz, compared to the Vokal’s 47Hz. But the Grand Vokal enjoys a higher sensitivity of 91 dB (2.83V/1 m), up from 89.5 dB on the smaller Vokal. Thanks in part to the larger ferrite magnets used in the 7-inch mid-woofers, the Grand Vokal generates “exceptionally high sound pressure levels,” according to DALI, with a maximum SPL rating of 111 dB. Despite its relatively high sensitivity, the speaker should be used with an AVR with a decently beefy power supply capable of handling the 4-ohm load. DALI recommends up to 200 watts — up from the recommended max of 150 watts for the smaller Vokal. 200 clean watts of amplification will certainly allow the Grand Vokal to hit its 111dB max SPL rating with 3dB of headroom.
DALI designed the Grand Vokal to blend seamlessly with its Oberon 7 and Oberon 9 floorstanding speakers, but the company says it is also timbre-matched for use with the smaller Oberon 5 towers, the Oberon 1 and Oberon 3 bookshelf speakers, and the Oberon On Wall surround speaker. DALI’s head of product management, Krestian Pedersen, says the Grand Vokal can be placed above or below a TV, and that it offers “super wide, panoramic dispersion.” The speaker is said to be capable of huge scale with high power-handling and dynamic output, but also produces the same detailed sound at low volumes, according to DALI. That is partially thanks to a tweeter made of a woven material that is “half the weight of most models on the market.” This minimizes voice-coil motion, thus reducing distortion. Meanwhile, the woofer magnet’s iron pole-piece features DALI’s Soft Magnetic Compound (SMC), which helps to “greatly reduce mechanical distortion for lifelike vocals and precision midrange reproduction.” DALI’s Oberon series is the brand’s first entry-level loudspeaker range to incorporate this patented SMC technology, which reportedly eliminates the modulations of the flux in the magnet gap when current running through the voice coil windings generates new “competing” flux in the magnet gap.
The center-channel speaker is the most important in a home cinema setup. This is where all the dialog happens and the one that connects the sound to the screen. The Oberon Grand Vokal perfectly blends with the Oberon 7 and 9, creating one of the most coherent and integrated front stages available; it’s just seamless.
— Krestian Pedersen, Head of Product Management, DALI
The Grand Vokal is available now in a black or dark walnut vinyl finish.