The Pianos were set up and run-in for about 30 hours before critical listening was done, but interestingly enough, sounded pretty good out of the box. Watching Star Trek: Nemesis, I was actually stunned how easily the system pressurized the relatively large (16 foot x 10 foot) theater room. The center channel does a wonderful job of anchoring this system, as it is easily the clearest small center channel I have ever heard. The midrange is smooth and clear, and the highs are slightly rolled off, but not muffled. This attribute is desirable with movies, as many soundtracks are mixed with very bright highs. Being used to the incredibly clear and good center channels of my KEF Reference system (and prior B&W Nautilus center), the very fact that I was enjoying this relatively tiny lifestyle center was nothing short of astounding. Dali could teach a number of speaker makers how to make a clear sounding, small center channel.
The Nobles share similar sonic characteristics in a soft, smooth midrange and a slightly rolled off top end. They simply do not make much bass on their own. With this system a subwoofer is absolutely necessary, in my opinion. Imaging was fairly good overall, but most impressive was the aforementioned ability to play loudly and fill a room with the soundtrack of a movie. Star Trek: Nemesis has a soundtrack that varies significantly in loudness of its different scenes, and the Piano system handled this admirably. The Simaudio amp is actually quite good and has excellent reserves of power, yet the Pianos were able to keep up with this beast of an amp without being overwhelmed.
The Ambients do an admirable job of filling in the rear information without drawing attention to themselves, which is what a good effects speaker does. They are probably not as good for critical multi-channel music listening, but will do a passable job in that arena.
The Fort� subwoofer was especially surprising, as it is a very good match for the Piano system and a fairly good subwoofer on its own. Its relatively slim profile, covered almost completely in aluminum except for the black face with controls, is actually quite attractive and fits in a corner diagonally quite well. It is fairly fast and manages to put out a good amount of bass that seems to blend very nicely indeed with the rest of the system. It does not have the capability of going very deep, but it does do a fairly convincing job of shaking the floor in a movie while being fast enough to keep up with musical passages. It certainly is the best lifestyle subwoofer I have heard to date
The Pianos' real fort� (no pun intended) is home theater use, where it shines. Two channel music sounded good with the Nobles and the Fort�, with reasonable imaging, but some lack of depth of soundstage. It is doubtful that many owners of these speakers would use them for such listening. Music would probably be listened to in a multi-channel mode like Dolby Pro Logic II, with which the Piano system creates a more convincing, deeper soundstage. Multi-channel music again sounds good enough with this system that an audiophile would not walk out of the room in disgust, and will actually sound quite good to the average person. If this last passage sounds like I am damning the Pianos with faint praise in regards to music listening, that is not so at all. The very fact that they sound as listenable as they do with the small, lifestyle profile that they have is nothing short of remarkable. Dali's engineers should be commended for staying true to their audio roots while designing this speaker system.
Overall, this system achieves its goal of looking good, cutting a very small profile, and sounding good remarkably well. The center channel is a marvel. It and the Forte simply excel at anchoring this system. I would be able to recommend this system to anyone looking for the lifestyle look and not feel guilty at all. I could even go over to said person's house and listen to it without taking any pain pills. The very fact that this system works together as well as it does speaks volumes about Dali's pedigree as a speaker manufacturer, and I look forward to hearing more of their products.
Design Principle: active (built-in amplifier and crossover), sealed enclosure
Unit: 10", air-dried pulp cone,
ventilated magnet system
Amplifier: 120 watt RMS
Inputs: fully balanced stereo speaker level,
Input Impedance: 1.0 kohm
Outputs: stereo line level RCA phono,
Input Impedance: 15 kohm
Controls: automatic summation of all inputs
Frequency Response: 29 - 150 Hz
Max. SPL: 109 dB
Power Consumption: 230 VAC 50 - 60 Hz
Dimensions: 56.6cm H x 57.2cm W x 21.2cm D
Weight: 42 lbs.
Frequency Response (+/- 3dB): 41 Hz - 24 kHz
Crossover Frequency: 2.8 kHz
Sensitivity (2.83V/1 m.): 89.5 dB
Nominal Impedance: 4 ohm
Maximum SPL: 109 dB
Rec. Amplifier Power (ohm): 40 - 160 watts
High Frequency Driver: 1" soft dome
Low Frequency Driver: (2) 5"
Enclosure Type: Reflex, 45.5 Hz Tuning
Dimensions: 45.7"H x 7.6"W x 9.1"D
Weight: 24.9 lbs.
Piano Vocal / Ambient
Frequency Response (+/- 3dB): 78Hz - 24kHz; 65 Hz - 24 kHz
Crossover Frequency: 2.8 kHz; 2.3 kHz
Sensitivity (2.83V/1 m.): 89 dB; 87 dB
Nominal Impedance: 4 ohm; 4 ohm
Maximum SPL: 109 dB; 105dB
Rec. Amplifier Power (ohm):
40 - 150 watts; 40 - 80 watts
High Frequency Driver: 1" soft dome; 1"soft dome
Low Frequency Driver: (2) 4.5"; (1) 4"
Enclosure Type: sealed; sealed
Dimensions: 5.4"H x 16"W x 7"D;
11.3"H x 5"W x 7.3"D
Weight: 10.1 lbs.; 6.4 lbs.
MSRP: Vocal: $555; Ambient: $850/pair