DALI, with the help of Lenbrook and Bluesound, has decided to make one of their stellar speakers active by adding built-in amplification and using their DALI Sound HUB, featuring a BluOS module, to anchor the system. The Rubicon 6 was introduced in late 2015 to much fanfare and now is presented in an active version 6C with built-in amplification.
DALI Rubicon 6C Smart Active Loudspeaker System
- Zero-touch control
- High-Resolution BluOs app-controlled
- Wireless technology
- Built-in Amplification
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth access
- Rich bass
- Expressive highs
DALI Rubicon 6C
Frequency range (+/- 3 dB):
Hybrid Full Active 24-bit DSP and passive all analog
Hybrid tweeter Diaphragm(Ribbon):
17 x 45 mm
Hybrid tweeter (soft textile dome):
Low frequency drivers:
2- 6 ½” Wood fiber Cone, bass reflex
Max. Amplifier Output:
250 RMS watt
Discrete Class D(Closed Loop, Self-Oscillating)
Onboard DAC :
Burr Brown PCM1796 (Balanced Output)
Full 24 Bit/96 kHz
Wireless Audio band:
990 high x 200 wide x 380 deep
DALI Sound HUB
24 bit /96 kHz
(AAC, apt-X, and Apt-X HD)
RCA analog input
BluOS module ( two slots available)
Sub-out to 100 Hz
3.5 mm mini jackd
Entire system, MSRP U.S. $9,397.00
Review 2020, Speaker Review 2020, Floor Standing Speakers, Dali, Rubicon 6C Smart Active Loudspeaker System
A “system” put together by the manufacturer, in particular from a sophisticated brand like DALI, would suggest many benefits. A system by this definition would include everything you need to listen to music, source, amplification, and speakers. Toss aside the need for a separate DAC, CD player, controller, and amplifier, and all those cables.
The only component in this system is the DALI Sound HUB, which is not tethered to the speakers, either. The rest is built-in or controlled with software. Imagine the crossovers working with the amplifier(s), never having to worry about burdening your drivers with under or overpowered amplifiers. Imagine, never having to physically turn on any piece of equipment nor handling media like vinyl or CDs.
If that has some interest to you, welcome then the DALI Rubicon smart Active Loudspeaker System.
Firstly, DALI offers this system as either a stand-mounted version in the Rubicon 2C or a tower version in the Rubicon 6C.
Available in several color options, high-gloss black or white, and walnut veneer which I am happy to report is beautiful. The 6C seems to be a perfectly scaled speaker, large enough to fill a room but small enough to keep from dominating the space.
Two things immediately get your attention visually; a completely different pair of high-frequency drivers compliment the dual 6 ½” woofers and the horizontal LED volume display, but more on that later. The speaker cabinet is MDF with the front baffle 25mm thick. DALI internally separates the woofers from the tweeters, with each woofer having a bass reflex port on the rear.
The hybrid tweeter configuration is molded onto a solid aluminum plate securely set with screws. The two drivers that make up this hybrid design combine a ribbon tweeter with a soft dome tweeter.
Conceptually DALI wants to deliver both ultra-high frequencies and wide dispersion with the ribbon while the soft-dome ‘seamlessly” hands-off to the mid-range woofer. DALI boasts that this combination will reach 30KHz.
Each individual speaker is outfitted with a pair of Class D amplifiers that DALI describes as “self-oscillating design”. The tweeters and woofers each have an amplifier said to deliver 30 watts but will deliver a peak of 250 watts for up to 5 seconds for wide dynamics.
As I have also written about the DALI Sound HUB in the past, it is the heart of this system. Fitted with the BluOS module, the HUB can receive Wi-Fi and Bluetooth inputs from the Bluesound BluOS app via the network.
Sources can be from virtually any online service, or from your network stored music.
The HUB also sports a preamp outputs including a subwoofer output. A Wi-Fi dongle is supplied with an extension cord.
With multiple source inputs, the HUB will automatically switch to the source sending the signal. The handy Bluetooth enabled remote will also allow you to select the source and of course raise and lower the volume.
What you will notice, (those that have Bluesound Nodes for example, or in this case the HUB), is the constant updates to the software, all good of course because it is generally less than a minute of updating.
Setting up the Rubicon pair was straightforward, placing them in my typical speaker position about 9 ft apart, slightly toed in and with my listening chair about 10 ft back. Once the speakers are plugged in for power, I set up the Sound HUB and connected the speakers via the “Link and Connect” button on the rear, making sure I set the speaker location, left, or right.
The BluOS app is, of course, critical to the operation and I had already set up the app on my phone and tablet. The app recognizes the new device in the HUB, and I was on my way. Had I not had the BluOS module, the HUB is still very usable with the digital and analog inputs. For the fun of it, I did run some analog signals from my Marantz turntable and Parasound phono stage into the HUB. Additionally, I did run an OPPO CD player through as well. Using the remote control, I was able to select the inputs and set the volume.
With all the technology, innovation, and convenience the proof is, however, in the listening.
I had just ended my review of the Marten Oscar Trio when I received the DALI Rubicon 6C system. I enjoyed the Marten speakers, a palpable sound, organic and rich, but I felt it lacked a bit of bottom end. Not so with the DALI Rubicon which had an immediate and obvious amount of bass punch. Can I attribute the depth and force of the bass response to the Class D amplifiers? I have certainly heard full-range speakers with woofer drivers this size before, so what makes the bass so exceptional in this active Rubicon 6C?
I played MQA files of Bach organ music from Marie-Claire Atain, Complete Organ Works / 2018, and was eyebrow-raising impressed by the depth and richness of the pieces through the DALI Rubicon. There happen to be 379 in this collection and I’ve yet to hear them all.
Techno music is just not my thing but came across a track called Confession by Alesso Mix Tape Progresso Volume 1, and the depth of the percussion is mesmerizing from the Rubicon. Spatial and thunderous, the club-style music packs punch. Similarly, Mac Miller’s album Circles and a track called Good News also boasts tremendous bass which compliments this rapper’s softer voice, attributable to the hybrid tweeter design.
Beautiful are the choir voices from the music of Voces8, a British vocal ensemble. Their album called Winter is meditative but also brilliant. The DALI Rubicon 6C has a solid grasp of the range of voices. I did need to make some slight adjustments to the toe-in listening to the group. Going back through my notes, I realized DALI does not recommend toeing. I started with them straight-firing but slowly shifted until I got to the sound I was expecting in the mid-range. I ended slightly less towed-in than where I started.
Someone introduced me to British singer/composer Jamie Woon and his 2011 release Mirrorwriting which I took to appreciate the surreal and spatial recordings. Several tracks showed how the tweeters and bass drivers reached in both musical directions, highs are vibrant and lows full-bodied. The DALI Rubicon 6C is perfectly suited here. The track called Gravity is very well engineered, taking the space between the speakers and filling the void with floating instruments that balance the bass thumps with the delicate strings of the guitars.
Ironically, it is the dual high-efficiency hybrid tweeter design that I would have considered to be the star performance coming from the DALI Rubicon, that aspect hardly disappointed me.
I will never tire of hearing Stevie Ray Vaughan’s soulful guitar work – Drop the lights, listen to Tin Pan Alley for the umpteenth time. Listen to the DALI speakers run the baseline with the delicate plucking of his guitar. Listen to it dance across the speaker pair and how the hybrid tweeter design finds all the nuances of this track. Just an FYI, this was the winner for me to genuinely appreciate the DALI system.
Similarly, Ronnie Earl’s Maxwell Street album and his track, Blues for David Maxwell are rendered so nicely on the Rubicon, and especially from the tweeters. The piano is warm and proud playing the lower tones of the spectrum that make the extended highs of the guitar strings sound even more delicate.
Likewise, for male voices, I have been enjoying Gregory Porter lately. His 2012 Be Good album is a beautiful piece of music because his baritone voice is complimented by some great jazz playing. The piano sounds lively and warm on the first track Painted on Canvas through the DALI speakers. But it is the last track, God Bless The Child where the Rubicon belts out his a cappella rendition. This is where the music crosses from a recording to a soulful experience, find it enjoy it.
In the early days, a Hifi system included an integrated amplifier, (which typically included a tuner) and a turntable. That is one set of RCA cables from the turntable to the amplifier and one set of cables to the speakers. That was it. Easy. Now, modern systems include separated pre-amplifiers and amplifiers, DACs, Digital components, CD players, phono stages, and then some. To some, this may be daunting and intimidating.
Audiophiles may never give up their need to tinker, to customize, to spend years getting the right amplifier/speaker combination. Those of us who want to listen to music, however, conveniently, at higher resolutions, welcome reputable companies like DALI to give us audiophile quality playback from the beginning. Save the long-term stress of tinkering a system.
Getting the Rubicon speakers positioned exactly right in your space is vital to the final sound you get, but that is hardly a criticism. Listen to any genre in your music library, the DALI will not disappoint you.