Dali Helicon 800. What components match with it?

An audiophile I met invited me over to hear his system. He recently bought Helicon 800 speakers. He had considered the Helicon 400 that Absolute Sound raved about, but in comparing the two, he said the 800 won, hands down.

I thought they sounded great in every way. Great bass, clarity, imaging, with a natural sound. The combination of a soft dome tweeter crossed high to a ribbon gives an open, airy quality. Plus the woodworking and finish are stunning. If you get a chance to see one in person, do so, as photos don't do them total justice.

He did find though that the Dali's made him hear that his amp was too bright, so he changed amps from an older Parasound to an Audio Research transistor. He also made cabling changes that he said made a tremendous difference.

Anyone had experience with this speaker? Does it require careful matching of associated equipment? How does it compare to the Helicon 400?
On audiogons front page on the bottom you will see their link to the Rocky Mountain AudioFest.When I was looking thru the rooms I noticed that the Dali speaker room was using The New Cary 120s amp and 05 preamp along with their CDP.I do know the 800's need power..and are way above the 400.
It's interesting that they are 90 db efficient, yet seem to thrive on high power. Cary 120 sounds like 120 w. per channel which is not exactly high power, and I heard they were demonstrating the Helicon 400. Or, were they demonstrating several models?
The Dali Helicon 800 are only way better than the 400 in a large room. Otherwise in smaller room the 400s will out perform them.
No way. I've listened to both Helicon 400s and 800s in an average room, and the 800s are superior. The 400s are only two ways, with the two woofers handling both midrange and bass. To my ears the 400s did not provide as much midrange detail and the bass got a bit thick in its upper range. They are both great speakers, though.

I have owned the 400s for over a year and just bought a used pair of 800s on Audiogon this weekend. A couple of things I have noticed in 3 days listening to both. 1) the 800s are clearly better (IMHO) than the 400s. The mids on the 800s are more vivid and pronounced. I also have listened to both in a medium sized room and the 800s do sound more "full" than the 400s. The timber of music (upright bass, snare drums, etc) seems more realistic and hits you in the chest with more feeling (even at low volume). I did notice you have to be at least 10 feet away to let the drivers integrate on the 800s where the 400s come together at about 8 feet. However, the 400s are no slouch and are not miles behind the 800s. They have enough deep bass and such a airy open top end that they are very enjoyable to listen to. Given the opportunity, I would buy the 400s again in a heart beat. 2) I have seen a few comments that the 800s are power hungy speakers. I thought I would have fun and try a couple of low powered tube integrateds with them (Cayin TA30 & Dared VP-845). On both amps the 800s were surprisingly open & VERY dynamic without showing any congestion or signs of stress from the amps. Both the 400s and 800s seem VERY amplifier friendly. Dali's specs even show a relatively high efficiency with flat impedance curves. The 800s actually required noticably less turning of the volume knob to play as dynamic as the 400s. My question is, do the people using beefy amps with these speakers ever have to turn it up past 9:00 on the volume knob? I know more high quality power is usually best but is it over kill with these speakers? Thoughts?


This from Dali when I was looking to power my Euphonia MS5's, close enough, no?; I went from SS to tubes as recommended and consequently just fell in love with what tube amplification did for my speakers. My amp is the McIntosh MC2102 w/ 100 or so watts per ch., and as they say at Bentley "power is sufficient".


The MS 5's perform best with tubes (IMHO). The flat impedance curve of the MS 5's, and virtually zero impedance phase shift, provides an extremely fat, easy curve for the amplifier to drive.

As a result, tubes power the MS 5's effortlessly, and the sonic performance is outstanding.

Best of all, due to the high speed of the DALI low-loss drivers, very little is sacrificed in terms of mid to low-end speed in exchange for the sweet bloom of the tubes.

A perfect match!!

Best wishes,

Ben Gosvig
National Sales Manager
3957 Irongate Road
Bellingham, WA 98226
tel: 360-733-4446
fax: 360-733-0080
website: www.dali-usa.com
email: beg@dali.dk

Thanks for the feeback. "A perfect match" - I could not agree with Ben more! I can see where people would be confused on what to use to drive the 400s and 800s (and MS5s). Of the 2 local dealers selling Dali, one pushes high output Mcintosh SS amps (and says they need lots and lots of power) and the other sells Cary tube amps and demonstrates with 50wpc SET amps (my preference). Both are dynamic and great sounding but the realism of the tubes is for me.


I have always liked the sound of the 800s powered by Macintosh gear. Very good match there, IMO.

Whoops... that should have read "Mcintosh"... not the Mac computers. ;-)




How much power are you driving the Dalis with? Do they seem efficient and easy to drive with SS amps? One local dealer swears by Mcintosh. I have only heard the combo a couple of times but it sounded very good. It's hard to judge the sound in a small show room. Especially the larger Dalis.


For full disclosure I do not own the Helicon 800s. I did hear them at great length in a custom installer's showroom on McIntosh gear and the results were quite impressive. They sounded good in a small to medium sized room, as and even better in a larger room too. I would have to concur with that local dealer that recommends the pairing as there was definitely synergy there IMO.

I own the Helicon 800 as a recent purchase. Mine are not burned in more than 20 hours. I have been told they take at least 100 or 200 hours, during which time there are continual changes, driver to driver.

Thus far, the Helicon 800 does many things well. They have a big sound but are not pumped up sounding or forward. They have a big soundstage that is not exaggerated, but well spread out, airy, and sort out detail superbly and in a natural manner. They are capable of playing quite loudly without stress or overload. The bass so far is very good, but I have heard even better. Voices and piano are very believeable and reproduced very well, without being pushed in your face. So, I would not call the Dali midrange forward.

I do believe that cables have a big effect on sonics in general, especially as you go up to higher end components. Thus far, the Helicon has sounded different with different cables. Some cables will provide a much better bass, a more present or more recessed midrange, and a brighter or less bright treble. Perhaps the ribbons will continue to change as they burn in, but I have a feeling that they give a transparent windowpane to the upper end. If the cables are bright, you'll get brightness. If the recording is bright, you'll hear it. Speakers with tweeters that have less extension and detail will probably be easier on the ear with bright and poor recordings, but they will have less detail and air. It's a matter of how you hear and what musical material you listen to.

Similarly, an amp with a hot high end is not a good match. I am using tube preamps with a Pass amplifier. The reason people really like tube amps with Dali speakers is that tube amps will give a less extended high end that is smoother, and this will be more complimentary to the tweeters. That said, I like my Pass amp on these speakers 90% of the time. Obviously, an overetched or bright digital player will probably not bring good results. There are many good sounding CD players and DACs out there, so I think anyone buying equipment at the level of the Dali will have digital units that have good treble response, not bright, grainy or unnatural. However, there will still be players that have a better synergistic match than others.

Again, keep in mind that I am basing these comments on a speaker that is still in the burn-in process.

I use a Cal Audio Alpha as a source (nice DAC for the money) and a tube amp. I had the same results with cables. For fun I went from Audioquest Bedrock to Gibraltar (both dull top end with boomey bass), a double run of DH Lbs T-14 (clean articulate bass airy highs but a little thin)to DH Labs Q-10 (better at what the T-14 does best but still a tad thin), and stayed with Acoustic Zen Satori (balanced top to bottom, very clear top end). The Satori's brought out another layer in the recordings. I could hear the piano foot pedals being pushed by Diana Krall and the valves moving on saxaphones. Not bright or offensive at all.


I have used several amplifiers with my 800's and would conclude with the folks that state that they are not extremely power hungry. I currently drive them wit a MAC402SS power amp but a tube pre-amp. This combination has given me so far the best overall results but you certainly get a sweeter midrange with an all tube set up. One thing that I have also noticed is that I know need to listen to them slightly louder and a bit farther away then before when I was using all tube amps (ARC). I am currently working on upgrading these to MS5's but get mixed messages about the need to do so. Some people say it is only worth if you also invest in top tier amplification Any opinions on this?
I've had the Halicon 800's for two years. I am running Cardas speaker cables and a Carver Sunfire Signiture amp, 400 watts/channel and bi-amping them. The sunfire has two output modes; with one closer to 'tube' sound' which I have going to the tweeters, and the ss amp output going to the woofers. I have found this combination to be very engaging; detailed; great sound stage, and very enjoyable. I like the balance of the rigid wood pulp drivers and ribbon/dome tweeters, other hi end speakers also use similiar material...don't get worked up in the hpye of berylium, or diamond, or ceramic speaker components. I think for the money; this Dali line is superb. You don't need to run 400 watts pc/ bi-amped like I am; they are very sensitive. Happy listening..
Since the Helicon 800 is 90 db efficient, I would agree that high power is not needed. However, if you want to listen in a big room at concert levels, wattage demands go up, especially if you want bass control.

I certainly don't use anywhere near the 250 w. into 8 ohms my Pass amp produces, but I believe that running amps at an easy riding level produces the best sound. What I mean, is that running a 250 w. amp at a constant 40 w. on loud music, with peaks to 150 w. is probably best accomplished with a 200 w. amplifier, as it is not stressed and the outputs will remain in their most linear area of operation.

There is presently a beautiful pair for $3800 on Audiogon, and since they retailed for $7150, I think that is a steal. I'm rather surprised they didn't sell in a few days. I think Dali is relatively new in the US market, so there are many people who are not familiar with their products.

I am still breaking mine in, and they continue to sound better. I do this slow, as I'm not one to waste preamp tube life and CD player life at burning units in.
I have just brought a pair of Helicon 800's in my home to audition and must say I am very impressed. I was just at the Rocky Mountin Audiofest a few weeks back with a goal to come up with short list of top tier speakers. Dali was on the list. The Dali folks had the new Helicon 400 II's set up. As we know room placement is a factor at these shows. I must admit the demo I experienced there was not the best. The highs were ripping to me and this was with a 120 watt Cary tube amp being run in a vertical bi-wire configuration. (??) Needless to say I had several conversations with respected audiphiles on the topic and kept an open mind. I too only have about 30 hours of break in time. The detail is incredible and the highs are not offensive at all. These are are easy speakers to drive. I am currently using a Bryston 120 watt ST series amp and even at higher volumes there is plenty of head room.
I have heard the summation of the MS-5 vs the 800 put this way. The difference is hearing aaaa compaired to aaawe. The MS-5 is more revealing of the associated electronics. I have not heard the difference myself but would love to. I too would be interested in seeing additional impressions of those who are in the know. If there is a significant WOW factor moving to the MS-5 from the 800 I am inclined to go there. I do find these 800's have alot of WOW as it is.
I'm looking at picking up locally a used pair of the 800s, and it will be the first component in my system. I heard the 400s recently paired with a Mcintosh MA6900 integrated, and I was impressed with the setup (surprising lows, warm mid, not too bright highs).

However, I was wondering if someone has an opinion of paring the 800s with something like the Musical Fidelity A1008 integrated amp (with its tube preamp stage) or with a Butler Audio TDB 2250 plus a tube preamp. Just curious if anyone has heard this combination or has any opinions on it. Thanks.
I have MS5's that I run with the Nuforce 9V2SE's and could not be anymore delighted. Nothing hot or bright here. One incredible soundstage and very 3D. Nuforce V29SE's are the end of the road for me. I run a tubed CD player the Sony 999ES with these from Modwright.

Break in is 200 hours no if ands or buts. I listened to broken in and not broken in Dali's and I could easily tell the difference double blind. Broken in is waaayyy better.
Run them fairly hard "highish" volume 24/7 for 8-9 days.

Double blind I could not tell the difference between the MS4's and the MS5's. Let your room size decide your choice.

I would get the latest Modwright Player as an upgrade (just because) if my 999ES had sold here when advertised. It is just fine and I have no complaints or quibbles with my system.

I do not find cables in my current setup make as much difference as in standard solid state amps. I credit this to the Nuforce amps. I find no need to clean the power supply with these amps like I did with other amps of conventional design.

Dali and Nuforce amps to me are a match made in heaven.
I have the Helicon 800 Mk2, but had the Helicon 400 before that, so I can really make a comment on the comparison of these two mentioned by some.
I believe they are both superb. The reviews are correct!
The 800 Mk2 is definitely superior in a few ways. Voices sound better and more detailed, bass is deeper, and suprisingly, the depth of the sounstage improved. I thought this might get worse with the larger speaker.
I also found that the 800 Mk2 had improved on the 400's slightly enthusiastic high frequency treble, without compromising the excitement.
Again, both are excellent, and I tried a huge number of speaker brands and types before I went with Helicons.
Just to add to my earlier comments, I am now running the 800 mk2 on a Gamut Di150 amp, and I find it highly impressive. Try this combination if you get the chance. I am looking to upgrade the speaker cables, and would be interested in any advice. I have noted Buda's Acoustic Zen Satori comment. Any others?
After reading this thread, I realize it was 10 months ago I posted my comments. Certainly the lovely sound continued to improve on my Helicon 800 as they burned in more.

Here are some further thoughts.

It is correct that the impedance curve on this design is quite easy to drive; that is why they perform well with tubes or solid state.

It is also true that different cables will give you different results. I feel this is a key to getting the best sonics that suit your ears the best.

The Helicon 800 has a nice body to its sound and is just slightly warm. The treble is where its revealing nature and uniquely airy quality can provide a new world to your ears, but it can also give you the true nature of some of your bright, tinny recordings. If you want the air and resolution, you don't get a masking of the ugliness on the top end of some recordings. Solution? Throw in a really warm interconnect when listening to these types of recordings. I've been told that Cardas Golden Cross or Cross would be possibilities.

With the small amount of discussion on these speakers, I think only a small number of people have discovered these quite outstanding speakers.
Zear, I couldnt agree with you more. I have spent a lot of time, since getting my Helicon 800 speakers, listening to upgrades at up to 3 times the price driven by very expensive front ends, but none so far have matched the way these Dali's can sound. They have this special way of combining a warm spacious sound with this airy and sparkling treble. They sound unrestricted, open and transparent compared to other speakers, which can often sound quite constipated by comparison. Heaps of fine detail and fantastic 3D imaging.
I settled on Chord Epic super twin speaker cables and Nordost Heimdal interconnect, and you just want to keep on listening in awe at how great music can really sound.
Mike, I'm not familiar with Chord speaker cable. Is this made by the company that makes Chord electronics?

Glad you're enjoying your 800s. Yes, it's nice to find a speaker that has some body and warmth without going too far in that direction, and yet have the revealing, open and airy treble. I agree that they do not have a constricted sound, and there are enough speakers that do, and yet praise is heaped upon them.

I'm not implying that Dali is the best speaker money can buy, but it has qualities not easy to find. Musicality and coherency are two of the most important ones. Without those, I cannot live with a speaker for long.
Zear, its a different company to Chord electronics, as far as I know. I have tried a few of their products with quite some success. They are a little more understated than the other brands.

I have a friend who works as an audio engineer with some EU manufacturers (speakers, suppliers, and electronics) and is very knowledgeable. In one of his companies they dealt with the high end speaker manufacturers and he views Dali as a "high end bargain". I agree with him fully. They are strong in EU, and I think when Dali get their act together in the USA, they are going to really do very well. It was was one of the few speakers that I found thrilling to listen to, without leaving my ears ringing. A few of the competing speakers with have much advertised tweeter technology are harsh, and you need to tame them through a soft front end, and then of course the detail is lost and ....well, i dont want to preach, but thats my experience anyway :-)

The Chord site for you: