What an excellent review !
40 responses Add your response
My dealer has also fallen head over heels in love with the Dali line of speakers, and he has been a diehard Dynaudio fan for many years. The MS4's sound impressive, but as you noted, they are more in line with the 5.4's as a peer product. The other caveat I would introduce to your comparison with the 3.4's is your 114 hours of use. You described some characteristics in the 3.4 sound I'm well familar with. Those characteristics change dramatically at around 200 hours of use, and become more in line with how your are describing the MS4. The 3.4 has a helluva long break in period, way more so than any Dynaudio speaker I've owned. It would have been interesting to have your comparison a little later in the 3.4 break-in cycle. What's impressive though is that you are hearing qualities in the MS4 that are fresh out of the box. I wonder what improvements will come as they fully break in.
Hi, a small clarification, I've been using the DynS34s in my house for about 5 monthes strait [hundreds and hundreds of hours]. The Dali MS4s are now more around 150+ hours of playing. I'm with you on the Dyn sound and specifically the S34 merits. Unless I had done a side by side A/B between the two; I would not have realized the strengths and weakness of the Dyn at all. My admiration for the Dyn has not changed, but I certainly view it from a different perspective now that I have heard the Dali right next to it. The Dali in summary provides more details and impact than the Dyn. I honestly did not think that it would be sooo different between the models.
What's important to note is that I hear everything that I enjoy and respect about the Dyns, but executed on a new level in the Dali's.
"What's important to note is that I hear everything that I enjoy and respect about the Dyns, but executed on a new level in the Dali's."
I was so afraid you'd say something like that. But I've promised myself to stick with the Dyn's for at least a year. I've gotten into a bad upgrade habit in the past two years, where I don't even get to the peak break-in period with my gear before trading it for a "next level" piece. I do ok with not losing much on the sell, but there's always the MFish type character :) that comes along and tells you where the next step up is, and there you go, selling away the great new gear for the promise of greener pastures on the other side of the upgrade fence ;) Which in this case are probably there in abundence. My dealer who had Dynaudio Temptations in his home system replaced those dream drooling speakers for these MS4's. That still blows me away to think about.
Enjoy your new speakers and amp, I'm sure they'll bring you years...months...enough enjoyment before the next gotta have speaker and amp come out :)
Mfish, based on what you heard with the MS4, can you make a wild guess on how the Dali flagship Grand Couple bookshelf will stack up against the Dyn Special 25. I've got the 1.3SE and although no plan to upgrade at the moment, would be interested on which possible direction to go in the future. Unfortunately, Dali dealers are not as available as Dyn's, especially from where I am.
Nice take on the 9200. I'm enjoying mine immensely. Big step up from my 8200Mk1. Thanks.
I first heard these speakers at the Heathrow London show last year and to my ears produced one of the best sounds in this cluttered environment.
By some good fortune I was able to listen to them at home a month later- being the only pair in the UK at the time.
Despite a smallish room by US standards, they produced a wide and detailed soudstage with tonality on the warm side of neutral and an amazing ability to extract detail in the treble but without any sense of hardness or glare.
I bought a pair in maple finish and have been running them for about a year now with no regrets.
There was a review in Hi Fi Choice some 6 months ago where the reviewer suggested a lean tonal balance in the midrange.
Strange because I bought them for their warmth compared to my Audiophysics.
Despite few being sold in the UK I feel people are missing out on something special her. Don't be put off by these speakers beng part of a possible surround sound range.
They aquit themselves admirably and should be auditioned.
Nice review, I had a chance to hear these when I was States side a few months ago. Very nice and competative for the US retail asked.
I did some digging and these retail for 12,500 CDN up here in Canada. Add you PST and GST and we are up to 14,375 Cdn. Doubt too many Canadians are going to be going this route considering you can get Verity Parsifals up here for a bit more.
Mfish- I have a Plinius question for you if you don't mind. Your email is not available.
I currently have a 2100i, about 5 years old. I have the opportunity to upgrade. I can either go with a 8100mkII, a 8200mkI, both used and at very good prices, or hold off and wait on a 9100. What would you suggest? Are the improvements over the different models significant? BTW - I'm running Dynaudio Countour 1.8's with great success on the Plinius. thanks
NOTE: I changed my username from MFish to Simple. Just for a change, as I grew tired of the old moniker. I have a friend who uses the Dyn 1.8mkIIs powered with the Plinius 8200mkII with wonderful results, and he is very content and happy long-term with the pairing. I've not heard the 9100 so I cannot speak of it. If 'used' is the route: definately go with the 8200mkII as it is a stunning performer and a no-brainer. It shares a great deal with the current 9200 with respect to overall sonic strengths.
NOTE: after long hours with the Dali; I returned to the sound of the Dynaudio [sold the Dali, and again now own the S3.4s and the Special25]. It seems that the Dali; though certainly more resolute was almost 'too-much-of-a-good-thing' i.e. pure resolution vs. naturalness. And, over many monthes I found that I missed the natural voicing and boogie factor of the Dynaudio. Many can argue that the Dali is a more revealing/technically resolute/accurate performer. I would mostly agree. However, depending upon your personal preference either the Dyn or Dali would easiliy fit the bill. It turns out, that I favor Dyn sound long-term.
Simple- thanks for the answer, much appreciated. I've been happy with the 2100i and the 1.8's for quite a while now myself, really only thinking that a few steps up the evolution of the Plinius integrated line could be a good thing. It's just a matter of the 8200/8100 mkII showing up used. There are still relatively recent so not alot of them come up. Also, not running vinyl, and in a 13'x 20' room where the 2100i is more than adequite power, I'm not sure if the 8200 might be overkill.
I agree with you also on the Dynaudios. I've listened to alot of speakers since I got the Dyns maybe 5 years back. Sure, some do things better than the dyns, many worse. But, the dyns have the most overall musical, balanced and "real" sound to my ear. Perhaps this is why they mate so well with Plinius. That seems to be a pretty common pairing.
"An audio friend of mine is getting a pair of Wilson Audio WP7 this week, and I hope to also do an ‘A/B’ comparison shortly; which should prove interesting. The Dali MS4 had taken everything I appreciated in audio gear and the listening experience, and re-presented it to me on an entirely new and deeply satisfying level."
Have you or anyone compared these two speakers yet? Any comments?
Simple, thats why when I audition speakers, I will first
try to forget the change, of the sound, transparency
ussually will blow you away,your ears will trick you
thinking how good is the sound,probably because of the
effortless listening that our ears are receiving.Eighty
percent of the time,when we A/B gear, speakers, cables,
etc.Ussually we will pick the most tansparent, even
though they are not natural or balance,I made this mistakes
over and over again,not anymore.Because I spend time
before I will make my conclusions,MOST OF THE TIME ITS
ONLY A CHANGE, NOT IMPROVEMENT, I HEAR THIS OVER AND
OVER AGAIN.MY 2 cents.
I presume that your PREFERANCE for Dali's - what appears as - detailed presentation is more associated with your preferance of ribbon tweeters sound over Dynaudios soft dome. How about inclusion of acoustic instruments in your listening sessions? Harpsicord, solo violin, classical guitar etc...! We will have one more thing to mention here in your review: fatigue, fatigue...and more fatigue!
yes I did hear the $150k home audio system with the Wilson Audio WP7s. The biggest strength of the WP7's was the height of the soundstage; about 9' up vertically. The resolution was very impressive. The biggest weakness for me, was the lack of deep and articulate bass. I basically didn't hear much at all. The Dali MS4 and Dyn S3.4s seem to perform deeper and have more punch. Perhaps it was due to the fact that the WP7s were being driven by tubes and not solid-state amplification.
yes I agree with you. After much time with the Dali MS4s I found them to be on the 'too much resolution' particularly with the super-tweeter; and not enough on the 'warmth side' of the fence. I just didn't feel like the ever sounded fully broken in; even after monthes of break-in. What's important to note is that it was 'MY' expectation that the Dali MS4s should sound more 'relaxed'. And I found that they were as relaxed as they were going to get, and it was my personal preference/taste's that made me think that they fell short. I gave them many monthes of play and different gear, but no luck. The Dynaudio S3.4 although a wonderful performer ended up being 'too laid back' and sometimes too soft sounding. I would still choose the Dynaudio over the Dali - strictly based on my experience and personal tastes. Also, the Dynaudio S3.4s did sound more pleasant with more poorly produced material, and had a richer sound than the Dali's did.
I have ended up with the Dynaudio Confidence C1 and a write up will be coming shortly. However, I can say at this point: the C1's are clearly doing something that the Dali MS4 and Dyn (S3.4 and Special25s) are not capable of....
Just this weekend, John Beavers and I had the opportunity to hear the Dali Helicon 800 at Speaker Lab in Seattle Washington. The speakers were set up in a room approximately 20 x 20. Parasound monos driving the Dali's.
Our first impressions of the speaker was the highly glossy finish on top of the repeatable veneer finish. Very impressive at first, but perhaps a little blinding after a while.
We asked the salesman why they were not demonstrating the MS4 and he told us the room was too small to develop good bass with the MS4. So we listened to several cuts of music from what he had present. Fifteen minutes into the listening John and I looked at each other and decided we had heard enough. The upper end was searing, the midrange and bass were bloated and just about the worst soundstaging we had ever heard.
I know this is not a glowing report. But, it is what we heard.
Audioquest CV6 DBS double biwires
Audience Au24 interconnects
Sony 333ES Sacd player
Synergy. Holographic. Dynamic. Magical. I can hardly stop listening. I don't want to stop listening.
Plays every type of music. I am addicted!!!
Could I do better, well I am sure I probably could but why.
Alright I was going to do the Modwright 999ES Platinum but put that on hold because a mint vintage pair of speakers are available to me and well I want them.
Have no fear buying the Dali speakers or the Bat integrated, and do try the the Au 24's as they are very interesting in terms of what they do or don't do to the sound. I like them a lot. They replace Van Den Hul the seconds a very fine cable also.
For an ear candy treat buy Jean Michel Jarre in Concert in Houston.
This set up lets me listen to digital with no fatigue!!
There is no, yes no, brightness or digital glare here unless it is on the CD.
I heard the MS4s with all Musical Fidelity gear this week at a local dealer. They are definitely on the analytical side of the spectrum, giving a consistently bright and edgy presentation to a wide variety of music. That said, they do have high resolution and can probably be worked with. This is one of those cases where Cardas Golden Reference cabling and possibly some warmish tube gear would be helpful. They do have one anomaly in the bass department, though, that I think will be hard to deal with. I played some pipe organ music and when the port's output was greater than the driver's output, on the lower notes, it was though the speaker had been put in "turbo" mode. It was very discontinuous and boomy. I think they will have to be placed well out from the walls to ameliorate this effect.
The wrong interconnects or speaker cables would cause the bright edgy sound, as well as not being broken in. They must have 200 hours break in. I have a pair and they are so clean, detailed, and clear that every interconnect I try gives them a different perspective in sound. Silver interconnects with them in my system are simply tizzy. They love my Van Den Hul the seconds. With these they are full and a touch warm. Au 24's work well with them (clear and naturally detailed) but are less full sounding.
Zilla, I think you would like both Cardas Golden Reference and Purist Venustas. Both are higher resolution than the Van Den Huls but still have a warm character. In my system the Venustas produced some of the most realistic piano I've ever heard - overtones that seem to go on forever, but it was a little dark overall. With your speakers I bet it would be just about perfect.
These giant killers are the best speakers I have ever owned, heard, and compared with so called Giants. B&W 800D's, JM Labs Utopia's, and Watt puppy 7's. The Dali did just as good of a job presenting the music and a better of not breaking a sweat. To describe the of the Dali MS4's is easiest put as unbelievably breaktaking. They're just the perfect speaker for ONLY $11,000.00 and will better anything at $30,000.00 and below. I'll put my savings on it.
Thanks for the detective work! It's funny, but before I read your post, I looked up King of Music to see how long he had been a member, etc., since his praise of the speaker was so effusive, and saw that he had only made 1 post (the one above) since 2003.
That is indeed sleazy and dishonest. Good luck selling them now "Your Majesty".