Amp for Dali Hellicon 400 mk2

any suggestions for powering my dali far..have used a nad 218 and an ati 1506..neither of which made them sound overly inspirational...
I use a conrad-johnson CA200 with my 400 mk1s and they sound really nice to me. Your problem could also be something other than your amp, like the room or placement.
Dali speakers shine with tube gear.A friend of mine has the MS4's with Cary SLI80.Any shows that Dali attend they use tube gear.
ahhh..i see..didnt know that..i should have done more research..i now have a dread2 powering them..still..much better than the other amps..but lacks that spine tingling feeling..the irony is i gave my brother the nad and he is running 800 dollar polk audio spkers and a hand in a glove..jaw dropping clarity and body..we were shocked..his rig is running about at like 8!!!..and still..on some levels..his sounds better!!..
The Dalis demand a lot of power to control the bass. I'd be concerned about a tube amp having the desired muscle unless you spend big, big bucks.

I've heard them with about five different amps and the bass didn't really clean up until we got to around 200 watts into 8 ohms. The CJ CA200 mentioned earlier is one of the amps that it sounded pretty good with. It sounded even better with a couple of 500 watt amps (Rowlands). With a 100 wpc Primare the bass was loose and bloated.

Those speakers really need a few hundred hours to break in. The ribbon tweeter can be very unforgiving of less than stellar sources, etc. I'm afraid that when you opted for those speakers you upped the anti on the rest of your system.

ya Dave..thats exactly what i am thinking as a bit perplexed as when i had the ati running them i had it bridged to 400 wpc..and on one of the blew the mid range drivers??..i was shocked..and wasnt playing like crazy loud......because..i have to really turn it up to really feel them....ahhh..its a long road
Damn, I hate stories about blowing drivers. That really surprises me because I was driving them with amps capable of 1000 watts into 4 ohms, with no problemo in a large, well damped room.

When you say "crazy loud" were you sitting there in front of them and actually listening when the driver crapped out?? You shouldn't be turning them way up and listening from another part of the house. You should be able to get 85+dB averages and peaks of say 105 or so without blowing things up. Compressed rock can be played over 90dB averages, generally without harm. Usually a speaker will blow because of a short with power on or underpowered clipping blowing the tweeters. I'm surprised that a speaker of this quality blew at any kind of level that you'd actually listen to.

ya..u summed it up Dave..i was shocked when they blew..and yes..i was in front of them..i have like a family room then the kitchen..all one was about 20 ft away...and excuses from a spker like starting to think that the spker is more hype than i have yet to be really moved by i say..i was at my bros last night..we finnished off the night..after too many beers with some it was mesmorizing..from 800 dollar spkers..and here..mine blew at volumes less than he played his at..he has some great synergy with the nad i guess...we'll seehow this dreadnaught 2 plays out
I've got a Conrad Johnson CA200 that I'm going to put up for sale in the next few days (trying figure out where I left the silly remote). Anyway, that'll work with you DALIs.

Still, I'm wondering about ATI incident. 20 feet away means you've got a large room. If you've got a lot of furniture, thick rugs, then you may be driving them too hard. You may need to consider something way more sensitive or move up a lot closer to the speakers. You might move them to the long wall and not sit so far away. That'll give you a wider image and get rid of side-wall reflections. A large room can suck up a ton of power. You might have had them running over 100dB average at 10-ft. That'll do in many speakers.

I'm surprised with your blowing a driver. I have Helicon 800 Mk 1, and I have played them at quite loud levels with a 400w/ch. transistor amp without a hint of strain whatsoever. I'm very sensitive to how far I can drive a speaker without pushing a driver too hard. I hear when a speaker or driver is reaching the limits of its capacity.
well..the room they are in is actually an all cedar room with carpet and my couches..bay window etc..still..i had 12 yr old paradigm reference spkers b4 these..and they were fine..i upgraded to dali as i was looking for a real 'up'in the emotion evoked by music..and so far..disappointed on a few levels..most of which is the reliability..second of which is soundstage.,.when i upgraded to my paradigms years ago..i was in sonic heaven...i was expecting the same from these...not by decibals...i play it at like -15 to about -7 to really feel them...i have played them at +1..but..i shouldnt have to go that loud to get these babies bros kit is in his like a sure that helps his sound..but still..the addition of the nad did wonders..i should have gone for the paradigm sig series i think.
The other best thing to do and to take some of the guesswork out is to call Dali..I know for a fact that they always have the time to talk tech and to advise you of the best setup and applications for their wil get alot of comments for end-users but like I did I went right to the horses mouth..
They are very informitive and knowledgeable.
It's your amp (someone on Agon told me that once when I was complaining about my speakers and I did not believe them; turns out they were right, though it cost me thousands to learn that lesson!).

I bought a pair of Dali 400s after owning a pair of Paradigm Studio 100 v3s. I like both of them, but they are balanced differently, and by most measures the Dalis really are quite a step up. If you're after maximum slam and a heavy balance in the lower mids, then I suspect you might prefer the Paradigms. But for resolution and soundstage, the Dalis really walk away from the Paradigms.

As mentioned, both speakers reflect the character of the downstream gear, but the Dalis do so more than any other speaker I have owned (cables too), so I suspect your issues with these lies primarily in your amplifier and source. I bet that if you find the right pieces, you will experience the improvement you're after. These are excellent speakers, although surely not to everyone's taste (nothing is).

In other recent threads on these speakers, Dave (Dcstep) expresses his opinion that they worked best for him with gobs of power. My experience has been different, as I prefer them much more with a medium powered tube amp (Rogue Tempest II) than I did with a high power amp (MF A5).

I do agree with Dave, though, that these speakers reproduce well what they are given. If you can audition a high quality amp, I would not be surprised if you change your mind about them.
thanx Dg...did u contact dali america?
Well the DALIs are a lot less sensitive and they DO need to break in a couple of hundred hours. Have you broken them in? Can you take them back?

I really don't like the bass on the DALIs. It really turns into one-note bass below 40hz. I don't know what music you're playing, but IME, they really have problems with a lot of low frequency music. Some people don't notice that, like Michael Fremer for instance, but it's a real problem with the music that I listen to. I didn't want to rain on your parade so I kept quiet, but you may be running into the limitations of these speakers.

hhhmm..good food for thought..thank u very much...alas..that was my initial amp...i read fantastic reviews about the dreadnaught 2..i thought that would do hasnt to the level i want..however..i like the ht preamp is a yamaha rxv 3800
Sad to say, I couldn't find an amp that "fixed" the DALIs.

Dan, system synergy is real, as much as I wish it wasn't. What that means for us is that speakers work better with some amps than with others. So even if someone loves an amp, it may not be the best match for a given set of speakers. For my tastes, the Dalis work best with an amp/pre-amp that I would classify as "smooth" rather than "edgy." Most inexpensive SS amps and pre-amps are edgy.

Similarly, not all speakers appeal to all listeners, like Dave and the Dalis. They are apparently not for him. They are, however, for others. Many others. Viva la difference.

If you can find a few nice amps to try, you'll be able to decide if the Dalis are or are not for you. When I first got the Paradigms, I was convinced that I had made a huge mistake. Out of desperation I tried a different amp (which are much easier to buy and sell and ship than speakers!) and found much relief.

Steidlguitars said:

"Similarly, not all speakers appeal to all listeners, like Dave and the Dalis. They are apparently not for him. They are, however, for others. Many others. Viva la difference."

I went to a lot of troubles to make the DALIs' bottom octave work and never found a solution. I really think that the speakers don't have it. OTOH, they have a lot of things going for them in the mids and highs. They're very seductive in that respect. I can see the attraction, but I also see the limitations. There a large number of less expensive speakers that get the bass better, IMHO.

My last comment on the topic.

Dan, Dave has consistently expressed issues with the Dalis lowest octave, so you should be sure that you are satisfied with their performance there as you sort these out in your own system. In my rig, I am satisfied with their bass performance. I also don't recall any professional reviewers having a similar level of dissatisfaction in that area, but I may have missed something.

These speakers, like all speakers, are a balanced compromise. That comprise will never please everyone.

Good luck!
Bob said:
"These speakers, like all speakers, are a balanced compromise. That comprise will never please everyone."

Yes, but at this price point the compromise is larger than most of us suspect.

I've tried hard to figure out what was going wrong with these speakers when I listened. (We tried five differrent amps). I've relooked at Stereophile's measurements several times and don't see a culprit there. It must have been room interaction, but other speakers placed right next to the DALIs had no such problems. Others have reported similar problems with the DALIs, so the issue is not limited to room where I auditioned them.

So, maybe they're both amp sensitive and room sensitive.


ok nice..both your inputs are very relevant..i totally agree with the synergy idea..if u see my earlier posts Bob..that nad improved my bros system by about was a magic pill....but Daves point is very valid as well..i mean come on..almost 7k on speakers and they dont kick serious ass..pple sell babies for less than that price point..they should be perfect on many levels...gues i may swap a few more amps...but that is a pain..what about the bel canto evo series?
Dan001, you haven't mentioned a dealer yet. Did you buy the DALIs off A'gon or a dealer? If a dealer, then what amp was he using when you auditioned them? It might have been a smaller room than yours, but it would be a good starting point.

I really doubt that the Bel Canto will do any more for you.

One other thing, how far out are they into the room? They actually like to be relatively close to the rear wall, but away from the corners. You may find them best only one or two feet away from the back wall. You'll run into bass modes there, but if move them out a few inches at a time, listening to a recording with lots of bass AND a female vocal, then you can get that all in balance That close to the wall very small moves make a huge difference.

eh Dave..i bought them on this site..2 months old..i have had them for about 2 100 hours on them..guy i got them from went to the helli 800 mk2 ..he told me these were barely 50 hours on them..too small for his room..i have forgotten what he was driving them with..i will email him....i have them 12 inches from far as the bel..u dont think it will eh..ok..this dreadnaught is a behemoth..takes up as lot of space
Dali's take 200 hours of hard play to break them in. I own MS5's. Soundstage is awesome. Do break them in hard and then try placement. I run mine with Nuforce 9V2's SE amps and the sound is glorious.
Well, I've heard the very best Rowlands driving the DALIs and it didn't "fix" the problem. I'm told that the Bel Cantos have a little less bass, so that makes me doubtful.

The guy jumping to the 800s after only 50-hours seems like a sign to me. I think he heard the same thing that we're hearing.

Dcstep, you seem to have an agenda. Your tiny Vienna Acoustics have better bass than a Dali 400 Mk2? I don't think so. Even the Mark 1 would have left your speakers in the dust. Their bass was quite dynamic, if not the ultimate in tightness, and they played loud, though not to the extent of my 800's.

I listened to several moderate-priced Vienna Acoustics and was not impressed with their bass or dynamics, or their value for the dollar. I might add that they are sold at Best Buy....
heya Zilla..i may look into those amps..they get some stellar reviews...tho..last time i played my Dali's 'hard'..i blew the drivers!!!!..thats what concerns
Perhaps you had a bad driver. Driving speakers hard means loud but not into clipping. Clipping is what generally takes out a driver. I had the MS 4's briefly and moved to the MS5's because of room size. I did a blind test on the two and could not hear a difference but I did need the 5's due to room size (19X60). I needed to move more air.
My Nuforce amp's and the Dali's are end of the road items. The sound is unbelievable. Nuforce 9V2 SE's are fantastic and have a synergy with my Dali's. Tinitus may cause me to end up having me down size my system. But I have found the end of the road with those amps and speakers.
Whoa, Zear my friend, I have no agenda with the DALIs. When this thread started I thought the OP probably hadn't noticed the issue that I have with the 400s and so I didn't talk about the trouble I've seen with them handling deep bass (going into a one-note character). Only when it became apparent that he might be having the same issue as I did I bring up the issue.

My VAs are not "tiny" in comparison to the DALI H400s. Side-by-side they had much better bass extension and bass tonal character than the H400s. You'll never be able to buy great speakers if you keep shopping at Best Buy and purchase based on size instead of sound quality.

I believe the point was that Vienna Acoustics are sold at Best Buy.

The bottom line is that no speaker is for everyone. Because one person could not match components with a speaker it should not be taken as fact. Its one persons opinion. And most everyone is biased.
Best Buy does NOT carry a full range of VA speakers. If you shop there you'll not be listening to their best.

well guys, thanx for all your opinions and insights, after some very critical listening...from the date this thread began, i turned up the volume on the dalis and the dreadnaught really started to shine...i think i was a bit gun shy as i blew the previous driver which cost me 600 bux..not good. My importer assured me that the new drivers were covered under warranty for 5 turned it up!!and lately, man i am in sonic heaven..even popped in some old billy joel other day..literally it was as if he was playing that piano in my room....bocelli...forget about it!!watched band of brothers dvds last night...the surround sound was stunning....i have the dali center as well..and a martin logan dpeth i sub.....though i am curiuos about the nuforce amps...i see that there is definately a good relationship with the dread and the dalis..tho this dread is huge!!..and u can cook on the thing when its in amp has certainly made a difference..this sytem is exuding a warmth and detail that i enjoy..and it can kick some when u want it too....i will see where it goes from here..glad, as i was literallly an inch from putting the dalis on the sale block..anyway, thanx for your insights..Dan
Are you sure it was not the break in that made a huge difference? I can tell you that I know for a fact that they need 200 hours of break in to sound great, and they do sound great. My Modwright CD player needed 200 hours also to sound glorious.
well...could be..but..there was only probably 10 hours or so diffc from when i switched amps..the previous 2 amps did not get this sound from them...even my uhm..burnt backup cds have some life now....also..the new drivers only have about 40-50 hours on even close to 200..anyway Zilla..i pm'ed you about the nuforce amps..i have learned that pro reviews are a like talking to owners....many pple say they are cold and 'dead'..others love them..may look for them later bit farther down the road..just dont want to give up my ht set up right now..u really like them eh
I am amazed again at the comments about the Helicon's base. As I have said elsewhere, I owned both the 400 and 800, with different amps, and have listened to them on many front end combinations. I would describe the deep base as tuneful, harmonic, and warm, even slightly rich. The 800 is of course better, but the 400 still provides excellent base. I must say I enjoy the Helicon range on solid state, and power certainly helps. Distance from the rear wall makes a difference to the quality of the base, so they need to be placed well.
base = bass, of course :-)
Mike60, which SS amp are you using?

I'll go by the Dali suite at RMAF to give them one more try. Maybe there was something about the room I heard them in. (That room works with lots of other speakers, but...)

Hi Dcstep, I am currently using a Gamut DI150 with Helicon 800 mk2, but have heard the Helicon 400 bass sing deeply on other amps like Gryphon, Ayre, MF KW, and even NAD M3, amongst others. They didnt seem as fussy to me as other speakers (i know some ppl disagree), but obviously clean power helps a lot. I owned them for maybe 18 months and I enjoyed them best at around 350mm from the rear wall. Choose a cable that doesnt clip or mush the bass -- that seems to be important. The bass isnt razor tight/sharp like some speakers, but I still found it to be nicely defined and richly musical, which creates some real magic when combined with the ultra transparent mid and airy top. They must be run in properly. Rgds
I tried them with Rowland, Primare and Conrad Johnson with either Cardas Golden Reference or Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Oval 8, so I don't think there was any problem there. I heard depth but no character. I don't understand how them room did this with the Dali, but not other speakers, but I'll try again. If Dali can't show them at their best, no one can.

Dave, I can comment on a few things: I would say Primare needs a completely different sort of speaker. I once tried it with Dynaudio and it was terribly flat and lifeless. I do know someone who couldnt make the Primare work well with Helicons, and is using Martin Logans. I do believe Primare make great amps, but perhaps they have a strong character that suits certain speakers. I also think Cardas is a complete mismatch with Helicons from personal experience. I tried their speaker wire when I owned the Helicon 400, and found it took the life away from the speaker, and also made the bass sound sluggish. Havent heard Rowland, Conrad Johnson, or Analysis Plus with Helicons. I am nurturing a theory that Helicons would sound a little better with solid state rather than tube vs the Euphonia for e.g. because of their warmth, but I might be completely wrong.
Mike, you're absolutely right about the Primare, at least the 100 wpc unit that I heard. With the Primare the bass was flabby and bloated. The amp clearly couldn't damp the mid and bass drivers.

The Rowland Continuum 500 and the C-J CA200 did a fine job of controlling the bass, but didn't bring out any richness in the bass. As you say, the bass was lifeless. What cable are you using?

One thing is clear, the 400 needs at least 200 watts and a high effective damping capacity. Many tube units are unlikely to provide the damping and control needed.

My guess is that Dali will have these kinks worked out in their RMAF suite. We shall see...

the helicon mk2 400 need alot of clean power to control the bass. i am using them with mcintosh 501. ss does work better then tube with the helicon unless you are in the upper price range of a tube amp. I also noticed that the helicon are a very fussy speaker, you need to place them just right, and yes they do need alot of break in. i chose to sell mine and went a diffent rout with totem winds. the helicons will reviel a poor amp and or interconnects.
Dave, I am using Chord epic super twin speaker cables currently. You dont hear much about it in this forum, but I think its a great cable for the Helicon. It also needs a long burn in.
I have tried many cables with many speakers over the years and mostly just get more confused the more listening I do, but the Chord works very well for me so far. Cables remain a huge mystery to me, and I find myself unable to always clearly define what I am hearing with many of them, and it often changes when I listen again. Components are a breeze by comparison, to me.
I'll try to remember to ask the Dali guys what they're using.

Dave, I read a review of the Jeff Rowland amp which you tried with the Helicons, and based on the review, I am wondering if it really would be a great match with Helicons. Seems like a potential mismatch.
Perhaps this was the issue with the Rowland/Dali combination you tried.
Your thoughts?
Can you cut and paste the part that signals to you that it's a mismatch for the Dali? I don't see that there.

Keep in mind, he was using the MBL speakers. I think that's the last set of speakers that you use as a reference for testing amps. The C-500 will be best with dynamic drivers that can use the power and present a nominal load from around 3 ohms to 10 ohms. The Dalis fit that general description.

I tried the Dalis with the Primare and the Conrad Johnson CA200 and had the same problems. The cabling was Cardas and Analysis Plus.

Tomorrow or Saturday I'll be listening to the Dalis in Dali's suite at RMAF. That'll likely clear up a few things. For some reason, they may be sensitive to amps and cables, so we'll get to listen through equipment that should be carefully matched (famous last words).

I'll report back soon.

Well, Dali didn't have a separate suite. I did listen again in the Soundings second room and noted the same bass problem I've heard before, using Rowland to drive.

Hi Dave,
In the end we will have to disagree about the Helicon 400. I have lots of experience listening to them with different amps, cables etc. I also owned them for some time with different amplifiers. I think they are outstanding speakers with very few flaws. Deep bass tonality would not be one of them from my experience. The amplifier review tends to indicate a lack of warmth or emotional substance from the amp, and I suppose my thoughts were that it may indicate some weakness in the deeper notes, as you have experienced with that amp/speaker combination. I made that connection because of the mismatch between your impressions of the speakers, and mine. Its one theory, and may well be wrong.
Your opinion was confirmed at the show, so clearly you are convinced, and you should consider different speakers for your system.
Sorry Mike. I really thought there'd be a Dali suite, with these things running to perfection. Instead, Dali was referring to Soundings' second suite. They were running it with a REL sub, which was turned off for my listen. I would have like my opinion to be "confirmed" with other associated equipment, selected by Dali, but such was not to be.