DALI OBERON 7C Measurements & Conclusion
The DALI OBERON 7C towers were measured in free-air at a height of 4 feet at a 2-meter distance from the microphone, with the microphone raised to a 7.5’ elevation that was level with and aimed at the tweeter center. The measurements were gated at 8-milliseconds. In this time window, some resolution is lost below 400 Hz and accuracy is completely lost below 200 Hz. Measurements have been smoothed at a 1/12 octave resolution.
The above graphs depict the OBERON 7C tower’s direct-axis and horizontal dispersion out to a 90-degree angle in five-degree increments. Information on how to interpret these graphs can be read in our article: Understanding Loudspeaker Review Measurements Part II. The measured response here is very good. The on-axis response keeps to a fairly tight window, deviating slightly with a small peak at around 8kHz which would scarcely be notable. The off-axis response keeps to a respectable correlation to the on-axis response except in upper treble where the tweeter starts to beam above 7kHz. The beaming pattern is very common to dome tweeters with no waveguide. Overall, we have a nice neutral response,and the OBERON 7Cs will deliver a sound that is faithful to the source material.
The above polar map shows the same information in the preceding graphs but depicts it in a way that can offer new insight regarding these speakers’ behavior. Instead of using individual raised lines to illustrate amplitude, polar maps use color to portray amplitude, and this allows the use of a purely angle/frequency axis perspective. The advantage of these graphs is they can let us see broader trends of the speaker’s dispersion behavior more easily. More information about interpreting this graph can be read in our article: Understanding Loudspeaker Review Measurements Part II.
The OBERON 7C speakers hold a fairly consistent dispersion pattern up to 7kHz where the treble dispersion starts to narrow. There is some mild waist-banding centered around 2kHz, but it isn’t severe enough to have a big impact on the sound. The treble beaming doesn’t become very narrow until well above 10kHz where it doesn’t matter very much. If you want to get hit with the full range of treble, it's best to be listening at or close to the on-axis angle. It should be remembered that there isn’t much content above 12-15kHz, and many people, especially older men, no longer hear frequencies that high anyway. Curiously, DALI recommends positioning the speakers to face straight ahead so that they are angled in a parallel direction. That would put the listener in a 20 to 30-degree angle from the on-axis direction where upper treble does see a roll-off. However, the most accurate response occurs around the on-axis angle, and I would recommend listening within a 20-degree angle of that direction. My advice is to have the speakers face the listener directly.
The above graph is a sampling of some of the vertical angle responses at and around the on-axis angle. The OBERON 7C holds the flattest response at the tweeter height, but the response isn’t too badly affected out to a 5-degree angle above or below that point. However, the response does take some pretty substantial deformations outside of that range. This is not unusual for a loudspeaker with this type of driver layout. The takeaway here is that the OBERON 7C is best listened to with the ears pretty close to level with the tweeters, much like many other loudspeakers.
The above graph shows the OBERON 7C’s low-frequency response captured using groundplane measurements (where the speaker and microphone are on the ground at a 2-meter distance in a wide-open area). This response is fairly well-controlled and exhibits a bit more upper bass output than lower bass. The room will inevitably boost lower bass, so this is often done in tower speakers in order to compensate for the room gain-induced bass boost. The port tuning frequency looks to be around 35Hz, and typical pressure vessel gain from domestic spaces should yield usable bass down to 30Hz, a very respectable low-frequency extension for a modestly-sized tower speaker.
Before bringing this review to a close, I will briefly go over the strengths and weaknesses of the product under review, and, as always, I will start with the weaknesses. Taking a broad view of the OBERON 7C and Sound Hub system, I don’t have much to complain about. However, there are a few minor things I things that I think could be improved. Firstly, one nice touch would have been to have the OBERON 7C speakers accommodate analog inputs. That would have made them so much more usable across a wider array of systems. As it is, DALI’s Sound Hub or Sound Hub Compact is required to operate the OBERON 7C speakers, and the speakers only accept a Bluetooth connection from those transmitters as an input signal. If DALI had given the OBERON 7Cs some RCA or XLR inputs, anyone with a DAC could have used these speakers. An added bonus to accepting analog inputs is that if in the future, the Sound Hub breaks or loses functionality, the OBERON speakers would still be useful. But with the way DALI has chosen to design these speakers, if the Sound Hub to the user’s system goes bad and they aren’t able to get another, the entire speaker system is bricked. Analog inputs are a feature on DALI’s step-up series, the RUBICON C series, and it’s a shame that feature didn’t make it to the OBERON series.
One thing I would like to see in future versions of the Sound Hub system is more flexibility in bass management for the subwoofers. The existing bass management system is almost as rudimentary as possible with a fixed 100Hz crossover frequency. That is a bit higher than what is ideal for most setups. I hope in upcoming versions that DALI will provide some adjustability that will enable 60Hz and 80Hz crossover frequency options. One other nit I would pick is that the grille design for the 7Cs is not great from an acoustical perspective. DALI should make the grille frame be much less intrusive on the acoustics of the speaker.
With those complaints out of the way, let’s now take a look at the benefits of the OBERON 7C and Sound Hub system. The main benefit of the system as a whole is that it takes away much of the complexity of a traditional system composed of an AVR and passive speakers yet still provides a legitimately high-fidelity sound. Most of the simple sound systems people are going for these days are soundbars. Soundbars are easy to set up and avoid the wire clutter of AVRs. The problem is that they seldom sound good, at least in comparison to a serious sound system. They are essentially monoaural systems with a pitiful dynamic range and often severe response problems. If that sounds like a snooty thing to say, well, it very likely is, but go compare an expensive high-end soundbar against a middle-of-the-road traditional hi-fi setup for yourself. Anyone who has done that comparison will tell you, there is no comparison, a traditional full-range speaker pair with a halfway decent receiver will be far superior.
The problem is that the set up of a normal system can be daunting for most people since they have never done it before. While the set up of these systems is simple for enthusiasts, all the inputs and outputs and menu options of a modern AVR are a lot to take in for the uninitiated. I have received numerous comments from average people who find the whole process intimidating, and I am frequently asked for help just for basic set up procedures. These days, there are many more people who understand Bluetooth connectivity than traditional hi-fi system connectivity, and DALI’s Sound Hub system banks off of that fact.
For those who want a clean living space, the Sound Hub is a clean-looking unit that is not nearly as large as a normal receiver. It can also be hidden in a cupboard or cabinet because it doesn’t need as much ventilation as a unit with a built-in amplifier would; the enclosed surfaces should not block the Bluetooth signal, and the unit can be controlled by the remote. What’s more, it’s light on wire clutter; with the optional NPM BluOS module, the only wires required are the power cables. Those who want a wire-free hi-fi system can have it with the OBERON 7C speakers and Sound hub.
The sound of the OBERON 7C speakers is quite good as well. DALI has used onboard signal processing to their advantage in order to shape the response for a nice neutral tonality. The OBERON 7Cs are a fairly accurate loudspeaker that has a pleasing sound on everything that I listened to. The sound was balanced with no excesses or deficits anywhere. It might be a Bluetooth speaker system, but it is a very good one that is comparable to a traditional hi-fi system. In fact, the active crossover likely gives it an edge over the regular passive version of the OBERON. The bass had sufficient low-frequency extension such that I doubt most people would feel the need to add a subwoofer, and both the dynamic range and SPL capability were more than sufficient for normal people (although I wouldn’t recommend using them to power loud house parties). They wouldn’t be my first choice in a dedicated home theater room, but no one intending to put together a dedicated home theater is going to be looking at wireless speakers anyway.
Setup was simple, and the system worked without a hitch despite all the technology that it employed. As was said before, it does pay to use the online manual to get it going, since the quick start guide wasn’t very clear.
The OBERON 7C speakers and Sound Hub are not an inexpensive sound system but not unaffordable either. Together, they form an entire sound system for $3,400. The equivalent-performing traditional hi-fi system probably would not cost as much, but it wouldn’t have the technology to do away with the need for wires or large electronics. If you are willing to do away with some of the connectivity, you can substitute the Sound Hub with the Sound Hub Compact, which costs half as much, thereby bringing the total system cost to under $3k.
By now, most readers would know whether the OBERON 7C and Sound Hub are something they would be interested in. Die-hard enthusiasts would probably just stick with traditional passive speakers plus receiver or pre-pro/amplifier, and DALI has some very nice passive loudspeakers toward that end. But even if you are a hardcore traditionalist with respect to the hi-fi hobby, you have to respect what DALI is doing here; they are trying to provide a seriously high-fidelity option for those who would otherwise might just default to a soundbar for a simple hi-fi or home theater sound system. DALI has delivered a simple and elegant solution for those who want great sound but without all the complexity that comes with a traditional system.
The Score Card
The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:
Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating
Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.
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Recent Forum Posts:
It would be cool if they could make a hub that connects to an avrs preouts and you could use these speakers wirelessly without wires with a traditional AVR or your own Dac the first company that does that with an affordable speaker line is going to hit it big I would think
The issue I have with wireless mains is, are you getting a better amp/speaker combo per $ spent than with separates? Also, finding three (one for each speaker plus the hub) more outlets around your main system (HT) is as much work as running some wire from an amp. Upgrading can be more expensive. Moreover, what about if one of the amps goes out? I can survive a while if one surround goes out.
Edit: looks to be about $500 a pop for each expansion module. :oops:
I agree that as cool as these may be, the fact the hub is a requirement is a major turnoff. They shouldnt even offer the Speakers on their own but rather have the pricing options include the hub of choice by the purchaser.
In my eyes, they may have limited the value of this system too much and made it a niche product.
While I see the potential in their choices, I see greater potential in your comments about expanding connectivity at the Speaker rather than banking on the whole sale including one of their hubs.