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Home World Tech News DALI Katch One soundbar review: Great sound—under the right circumstances

DALI Katch One soundbar review: Great sound—under the right circumstances

DALI (Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries) lives as much as its title by making superb-sounding audio system, together with the not too long ago reviewed Rubicon 6. The firm has additionally dipped its toes into the wireless-headphone pool with the IO-Four and IO-6, which I really like for its wealthy, luxurious sound.

So, it’s hardly stunning that DALI would enterprise into the realm of soundbars. The Katch One relies on the firm’s Katch Bluetooth speaker, which I can be reviewing quickly. Meanwhile, I bought to spend a while with the Katch One, and beneath the right circumstances, it sounds wonderful.

This assessment is a part of TechHive’s protection of the greatest soundbars, the place you’ll discover evaluations of competing merchandise, plus a purchaser’s information to the options you must think about when purchasing.

Features

Available in three colours to match a wide range of décors, the Katch One is a slender however very tall soundbar, requiring far more room than most beneath a TV. Measuring 33.9 x 6.5 x 2.7 inches (WxHxD) and weighing a complete of 8.2 kilos, the cupboard and entrance baffle are molded from fiberglass-reinforced ABS, which types a extremely inflexible construction that resists resonances as the drivers vibrate.

dali katch one airflow DALI

The cupboard is designed so sound from each the front- and rear-firing drivers flows towards the listener.

Speaking of the drivers, they embrace two 0.8-inch soft-textile dome tweeters with neodymium magnets and 4 3.5-inch aluminum-cone woofers with a textile cap. In addition, there are 4 4.5-inch steel-cone passive radiators in the bass-reflex system. The shallow woofers are mentioned to permit the full tour of a standard woofer by utilizing a specifically designed chassis, inverted diaphragm, and customized spider suspension.

Two woofers and two radiators face ahead with the tweeters, whereas the different two woofers and radiators face backward. This design is meant to strengthen the low frequencies with the soundbar mounted on or close to a wall. The Katch One comes with brief leather-based straps for wall mounting, or you should use the extra standard brackets on the again. Alternatively, the included ft let it stand freely on a floor.

The drivers are powered by 4 50W Class D amplifiers with a signal-to-noise ratio of 100dB. A robust DSP offers an energetic crossover and operates internally at a decision of 24 bits/96 kHz, although the unit can settle for inputs as much as 24/192 (that are downconverted to 24/96). According to DALI, “The surplus of computing power lets the DSP step in before the amplifier or the drivers get over extended, and at the same time giving it the ability to go completely hands-off, allowing the drivers to deliver a coherent and undistorted audio signal.” Altogether, the drivers, amp, and DSP assist a frequency response from 46Hz to 25kHz (±Three dB) and a most output of 101dB SPL.

In addition, the DSP offers two sound modes: Focus and Wide. Focus mode delivers a targeted stereo sign, whereas Wide mode is claimed to develop the sound past the bodily dimensions of the cupboard.

dali katch one back DALI

The again of the DALI Katch homes two 3.5-inch energetic woofers and two 4.5-inch passive radiators.

Connections embrace one HDMI enter, which usually connects to a TV’s HDMI ARC enter whereas supply units like a streaming field, disc participant, and/or recreation console are linked to the TV’s different HDMI inputs. As you could know, ARC stands for Audio Return Channel, which sends audio from that enter again alongside the cable that usually brings audio and video indicators to the TV from one thing like an AV receiver. In that case, audio from the TV’s built-in apps and over-the-air tuner are despatched again to the AVR alongside the identical cable.

With the Katch One, nevertheless, the TV’s HDMI ARC enter acts like an audio output, sending audio to the soundbar from the different HDMI inputs in addition to the TV’s inner apps and tuner. Unfortunately, meaning the TV’s ARC enter can’t be used for a supply system, and in some circumstances, the ARC enter is the TV’s highest-bandwidth HDMI enter. Also, it’s potential that some TVs may not route the audio from different HDMI inputs to the ARC output. It’s additionally price noting that the Katch One doesn’t assist the higher-bandwidth model of ARC—eARC—discovered on the latest-model sensible TVs (click on right here for a deeper exploration of the two requirements).

dali katch one connections Scott Wilkinson / IDG

The connections embrace (prime to backside) USB-C for energy and repair, subwoofer output, 3.5mm aux enter, optical enter, TV optical enter, and HDMI enter.

If your TV has an ARC enter, its audio output should be set to stereo or PCM, since the Katch One doesn’t present a Dolby Digital or DTS decoder. Also, if the TV gives CEC (Consumer Electronics Control), you possibly can management the fundamental capabilities of the Katch One (quantity, mute, energy on/off) with the TV’s distant.

Other connections embrace two Toslink optical digital-audio inputs, one labeled TV and the different labeled merely Optical. What’s the distinction? The TV optical enter robotically powers on the soundbar and selects that enter when it receives any mild, whereas the different one powers up and selects the enter solely when it receives an optical audio sign. Apparently, some CD gamers and streamers go away the optical service on, even when there’s no sign, whereas TVs solely ship the service once they ship a sign.

Rounding out the bodily connections is a 3.5mm stereo analog enter, a 3.5mm subwoofer output that connects to an non-compulsory sub, and a USB-C port that’s primarily used for firmware upgrades. It will also be used to energy a Google Chromecast or Amazon Echo system, including voice management and assist for TuneIn and Spotify in addition to different streaming providers.

The Katch One additionally helps Bluetooth 4.Zero utilizing the AAC and aptX codecs. This can be utilized to hook up with a Bluetooth-enabled cell system or TV.

dali katch one controls DALI

The top-mounted controls and indicators present full management, however they will’t be simply seen from a traditional listening place.

User interface

The prime of the Katch One homes all onboard controls and indicators. The central energy on/off button is ringed by 4 quarter-circle LEDs that point out the quantity degree, which is managed with the “+” and “-“ buttons to the right. The subsequent button toggles between the Focus and Wide sound modes, that are indicated with two LEDs. To the left of the energy button are a Bluetooth pairing button and a source-select button that cycles by means of the inputs, every of which has its personal LED indicator.

As I discussed earlier, the Katch One robotically powers on and selects the enter that receives a sign at both of the optical inputs. But it additionally does the identical factor when any of the inputs, together with Bluetooth, receives an energetic sign. You can disable this perform if you want.

The included distant is kind of easy; it has solely 10 buttons. At the prime are energy on/off, mute, and sound-mode choose, under that are quantity up and down. The 5 remaining buttons straight choose any of the inputs. The Bluetooth button serves double responsibility as a transport management, letting you play/pause and skip to the subsequent or earlier observe. The buttons are flush with the casing with no separation or tactile differentiators, making them tough to seek out by really feel.

dali katch one remote DALI

DALI’s distant is tremendous easy, however the buttons are tough to seek out by really feel.

The person interface has one main shortcoming: The solely option to see the standing of the soundbar is on the prime, which is kind of invisible from a typical listening place. Many soundbars have an alphanumeric show that momentarily shows the quantity, enter, and different data by means of the entrance grille, however the Katch One doesn’t have that individual characteristic. I discovered myself wishing for it many instances.

Performance

I began by putting the Katch One on a stand under and in entrance of my bed room TV and connecting the TV’s optical-audio output to the soundbar’s TV optical enter. As promised, after I turned on the TV, the soundbar powered on and switched to that enter.

TV audio sounded pretty clear, open, and vivid, however there wasn’t a lot bass. I think that’s as a result of there was no place to place the Katch One up towards a wall, which is the placement it’s designed for. In my room, it was up towards an tools cupboard with glass doorways, however one among the doorways is lacking, so there was no repeatedly stable floor instantly behind it.

dali katch one straps DALI

One distinctive wall-mounting choice is a pair of included leather-based straps.

For my formal listening, I performed music from the Tidal Master library from my iPhone XS by way of Bluetooth. From its location on the stand in entrance of the TV, the sound was fairly wimpy, so I attempted putting it on prime of the Harman Kardon Enchant 800 soundbar that sits a lot nearer to the TV. That put the Katch One straight in entrance of the TV display screen, which vastly improved its sound high quality. But the soundbar additionally blocked 1 / 4 of the TV display screen, so I couldn’t use it on this place to observe TV.

I started with “What Happened to Our Love?” from nation rocker Margo Price’s new album That’s How Rumors Get Started. As I switched forwards and backwards between Focus and Wide mode, I seen that the soundstage was positively confined to the cupboard in Focus mode, and the sound was considerably skinny with anemic bass, however the vocals have been fairly pronounced. Switching to Wide mode, the sound opened up considerably with extra bass, although the vocals receded a bit. The soundstage was barely wider, however not dramatically so. Still, Wide mode sounded a lot better than Focus, so I used it for the remainder of my listening.

dali katch one lifestyle2 DALI

This soundbar will also be used as a Bluetooth speaker with out a TV.

As a aspect observe, I attempted each modes whereas watching TV, and I may hear no distinction between them in any respect. Perhaps that’s as a result of the soundbar was freestanding and never up towards a wall.

Next up was “Pili Pili” by Polo and Pan from their album Feel Good. This digital world-music instrumental observe sounded good and clear on the Katch One with good imaging and bass in addition to wonderful delineation between sections with little and many reverb. Overall, the sound was a bit vivid.

For some funk and R&B, I cued up “Right Place Wrong Time” as recorded by Maceo Parker for his album Soul Food: Cooking with Maceo. Wide mode was very efficient on this observe, casting a soundstage that was a lot wider than the cupboard. The general sound was clear and vivid with nice imaging, good vocals, and reasonable bass presence.

dali katch one woofer cutaway DALI

The shallow woofer’s design permits the identical tour as a standard woofer.

I really like jazz bassist and composer Misha Mullov-Abbado’s album Dream Circus, so I listened to the observe “Little Vision” for this assessment. The Katch One sounded clear and well-balanced with an important rendition of the acoustic bass, alto sax, and piano. As earlier than, the general sound tended barely towards the vivid aspect.

Moving on to classical, I performed the third motion of Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms as carried out by the San Francisco Symphony beneath the route of Michael Tilson Thomas. As I had come to count on, the Katch One had an open, clear, considerably vivid sound with well-rendered choir and orchestra and good low organ notes.

Comparison with Harman Kardon Enchant 800

As I discussed earlier, I had the Harman Kardon Enchant 800 soundbar readily available (reviewed right here), and I began by utilizing it as a stand for the Katch One. I additionally in contrast the sound of the two soundbars, switching between them by way of Bluetooth from inside Tidal. I couldn’t actually evaluate them for TV sound, since the Katch One was blocking a few of the display screen, and swapping optical cables is fairly clumsy.

In all circumstances, the Enchant 800 sounded considerably darker and a bit closed in, although it was typically smoother as effectively. On a couple of tracks, the bass was barely congested, particularly acoustic bass. Interestingly, the bass was a bit extra ahead on the Stravinsky. But these variations have been comparatively minor general.

Bottom line

There’s rather a lot to love about the DALI Katch One—however solely beneath sure circumstances. It’s a lot taller than most soundbars, so it’s essential to have loads of room under the TV for it. And it should be positioned up towards a wall or different massive, flat floor to sound its greatest; it sounds fairly wimpy when freestanding away from the wall.

With the right placement, its sound is clear, open, and effectively balanced, although it’s a tad on the vivid aspect. By comparability, the Harman Kardon Enchant 800 sounds darker general and barely closed in. On the different hand, the Harman Kardon may be very slender, permitting it to simply match under most TVs, and it has an alphanumeric show behind the entrance grille fabric that momentarily reveals any standing adjustments equivalent to quantity.

dali katch one lifestyle1 DALI

The DALI Katch One’s tall profile may block the backside of your TV’s display screen if it rests in entrance on a chunk of furnishings (except you place your TV on a riser).

Then there’s the price ticket. The Katch One lists for $999, whereas the Enchant 800’s MSRP is just below $700, however as of this writing, it’s on sale for $280 on Amazon and elsewhere. And in fact, there are various good soundbars on the market that value a fraction of $1,000, a few of which even embrace a wi-fi subwoofer (together with the LG SN8YG reviewed right here earlier this week).

If you may have sufficient wall area under your TV and also you take pleasure in elegant Danish design, the DALI Katch One is a wonderful soundbar. It will also be used as a Bluetooth speaker with out a TV. On the different hand, it’s very costly, and there are various such merchandise that carry out very effectively for lots much less. Plus, most of them don’t require a whole lot of area beneath the TV, nor do they must be positioned up towards a wall to sound their greatest. Whether or not the Katch One is right for you is dependent upon your circumstances, so the choice is yours.

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