Recommended Reference ComponentDuring a visit to loudspeaker manufacturer DALI (Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries) in 2022, Jason Thorpe had the opportunity to listen to the brand’s flagship model, the Kore. Deeply impressed with its sound, Jason was tempted to request a pair for review, but scrubbed the idea as a nonstarter at the thought of trying to get this 350-pound behemoth—two of them—into his basement-floor listening room.

Last year, during High End 2023, in Munich, DALI introduced the highly anticipated Epikore 11, a smaller version of the Kore. Jason had a chance to listen to this loudspeaker at the show and was impressed once more by what he heard. Getting the Epikore 11 into his basement was less of a challange, and he arranged for a sample pair to be sent to him. On March 15, Jason’s review of the Epikore 11 was published on SoundStage! Ultra.


Standing 63″ tall, the Epikore 11 has four front-facing 8″ woofers, two set high in the cabinet, two low. In between are a 6.5″ midrange driver and what DALI calls its EVO-K Hybrid Tweeter: a 1.4″ soft-dome tweeter crossed over at 12.5kHz to a 2.2″ × 0.4″ magnetostatic super tweeter. Jason fleshes out the crossover scheme: “the upper woofer pair is low-pass filtered at 170Hz, while the lower pair crosses over to the midrange driver at 370Hz. The midrange driver, which is housed in its own sealed sub-enclosure, runs up to 3.1kHz, where it hands off to the dome tweeter.”

DALI’s cone diaphragms are formed of paper pulp for its stiffness and resonance-damping characteristics. Components of the bass- and midrange-driver magnet system of many of DALI’s loudspeakers, including the Kore and Epikore 11, are formed of the company’s proprietary Soft Magnetic Compound (SMC). Jason elaborates: “SMC is a coated granular material that is highly magnetic but almost totally nonconductive. When used for a driver’s top plate and pole piece, SMC results in a dramatic reduction in hysteresis, the tendency of a ferromagnetic material to remain magnetized. Hysteresis in the motor system results in a loss of efficiency and the introduction of distortion.”


While the Kore’s enclosure is made from birch plywood, the Epikore 11’s is made from layered MDF. But the two models have a similar profile, Jason notes, “a slick, aerodynamic-looking cabinet.” The cabinet is ported to the rear and houses each woofer in a separate ported enclosure (port tuned to 24Hz). It is “heavily braced and damped with bitumen pads.”

The Epikore 11s’ woofers, when driven by Jason’s Hegel Music System H30A amplifier, energized his listening room and provided “a speed to the leading edge of bass notes and a complete lack of overhang” like nothing he’d experienced before. He was smitten, but he conceded that the Epikore 11s were a bit large for his room: “They loaded up my room in a way that made the low end feel somewhat elevated.” To counteract that, he pulled the speakers away from the front wall as far as was possible “while retaining a good blend through the mids and highs.” That somewhat diminished the bass weight but not quite enough. Jason’s 17′ × 14′ listening room was “definitely on the small side for a speaker with this much firepower.” But that didn’t dampen his enthusiasm for the sound: “I just loved—loved, I say—the bass that these speakers threw my way. . . . Albums that tend to be a bit bass-shy on most systems now sounded just right; and with those where the level is normally fine, I heard more definition and detail that used to escape me. This review period was a bass holiday at a luxury resort.”


While Jason spares no superlatives in his assessment of the bass performance of the Epikore 11, he felt that up through the midrange, the Epikore 11 became “a bit more conventional but no less excellent.” The Epikore 11s’ images were slightly recessed behind the plane of the speakers, Jason observed, and instruments and voices were slightly warm.” This he attributes to “a small amount of extra gravy at the top of the woofers’ range . . . probably due to room interaction.” When he played Pink Floyd’s “The Happiest Day of Our Lives,” from a Japanese pressing of The Wall, Jason was most impressed by the vertical expanse of the presentation. The ascending helicopter effect on this track was reproduced with uncanny realism, for the first time sounding exactly as he’d always imagined it should, he writes.

Jason was also impressed by the depth of the soundstage generated by the Epikore 11s, declaring it one of the best he had heard. Listening to “Believing,” from Bang on a Can All-Stars’ album Renegade Heaven, he noticed that “central images were rock-solid and totally detached from the speakers,” appearing, again, just behind the plane of the speakers. Then, playing The Who’s “Music Must Change,” from Who Are You, he was struck by the imaging prowess of the Epikore 11s: “[they] made it impossible to do anything but sit there with my mouth open. The Epikores projected Pete Townshend’s crisply picked electric guitar and Keith Moon’s cymbal strikes in my face, and Roger Daltry’s voice just leaning right out so that I could almost smell his breath.”


DALI’s EVO-K Hybrid Tweeter was superb, Jason writes—“silky beyond belief, no matter the volume level.” This was particularly evident on “Music Must Change,” where the guitar and cymbal “billowed out with trails like spun sugar, almost effervescent in their extension and rendition of textural detail.” The highs appeared to be a touch out of balance, though, not quite at the level of the lower audio range. This imbalance, Jason suspects, was a result of the prodigious low end in his listening room. He hadn’t noticed any such imbalance in previous auditions, in larger rooms.

Last, Jason played Mobile Fidelity’s recent reissue of Van Halen’s eponymous debut album—“perfect music hand-delivered by the Norse gods,” in his words. He listened to this album several times, cranking the volume up higher and higher to see where the speakers would give up—but they never did. Even at an assault-level volume, with the band virtually live in his listening room, the Epikore 11s exhibited consistent, endless dynamics, with no detectable compression in any part of the audioband.


Jason’s lavish praise for the Epikore 11 culminates on a humorous note at the end: “The Epikore 11 is so highly recommended it’s just not funny.” No other DALI speaker has been reviewed quite as enthusiastically as the Epikore 11, which easily earned it our Reviewers’ Choice award. Other DALI speakers have earned this award in the past, but the Epikore 11 is the first to also receive our Recommended Reference Component award.

Manufacturer contact information:

Dali Allé 1
Nordjylland 9610
Phone: +45 9672 1155