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Dali Katch review: Danish tasty

25 Jun 2018
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
329
inc VAT

The Dali Katch is a stunning Bluetooth speaker; not for everyone, but a wonderful-sounding Bluetooth speaker

Pros 
Astonishing detail and clarity
Great battery life
AptX support and selectable audio profiles
Cons 
Lacks deep bass
No Wi-Fi support
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These days it’s pretty easy to find cheap Bluetooth speakers that sound reasonably good, but a great-sounding speaker will still cost you a pretty penny. That’s the category of audio products in which the Dali Katch competes, alongside rivals from Bose, Libratone and KEF. Even Apple has joined the party in recent times with the HomePod, a smart speaker that also happens to sound absolutely stunning.

The Danish-made Dali Katch is possibly the best of the lot, though, at least in terms of the way it sounds.

Dali Katch review: What you need to know

I’ll get on to more details about the sound quality in a moment. For now, let’s concentrate on the essentials and what the Katch offers in terms of its design and features. The first thing to know is that it’s a pure Bluetooth speaker. It supports the aptX codec as well as regular SBC; allows stereo pairing with another Katch, should you have the ready funds to buy two; and also allows analogue input via a 3.5mm jack that resides beneath a rubber flap on the side.

There’s no Wi-Fi support, which means your phone, tablet or laptop has to be in the same room as the speaker. However, the flipside is that this is very portable, measuring 269 x 47 x 138mm and weighing a mere 1.1kg. It has a sizeable 2,600mAh battery inside that delivers “up to 24 hours of untethered playback” and there’s an integrated, extending handbag strap on one end – so you can grab it easily and carry your music anywhere.

The Katch is also an extraordinarily good-looking speaker, its subtly curved grilles perforated with arrays of tessellated triangles and its subtle, metallic paint job set off handsomely by gleaming, chamfered edges. You can buy the speaker in a variety of different colours, but I’d be pretty happy with the dark blue Dali Katch I was sent for this review.

Essentially, that’s it for features. The only other things you need to know about are that there are two sound profiles to choose from, selectable by clicking the audio-profile button on the top panel: “warm” and “clear”, the former adding a little extra bass to bolster bad or brash recordings or to help out in bright, uncarpeted rooms; the latter adding a little sparkle to your music.

The question is – is the Dali Katch any good? The answer? Absolutely, although it’s not without its flaws. For a certain type of listener, it’s simply superb. It’s capable of producing a hugely powerful performance and one that, at one and the same time, is incredibly agile. For vocals, classical, jazz and anything acoustic, it’s sublimely transparent, and the sheer volume it can reach ensures it’s capable of filling most room types and sizes.

And it doesn’t matter where you put it, either. With a trio of drivers beneath the grilles on both sides – one low-profile 3.5in aluminium dome woofer, a 21mm tweeter and a rectangular passive membrane for the bass – this is a speaker that sounds as good from behind as it does from the front.

Indeed, the Dali Katch doesn’t have any significant weaknesses. It perhaps isn’t the bassiest of speakers. Even with its “warm” audio profile engaged, you’ll find the really low bass notes missing from its armoury. This is not the speaker for you if you’re obsessed by thumping bass. However, as I found with the renowned KEF Muo, which had a similarly lean sound profile, it’s very easy to get used to this. The depth and richness of the mids and the sweetness and sheer clarity of treble offset this speaker’s ineffectiveness down low.

Dali Katch review: Price and competition

At £330, the Dali Katch is pretty pricey, but there are plenty of alternatives if you don’t want to spend quite as much. If it’s purely portable Bluetooth speakers you’re looking for, for instance, consider the Bose SoundLink Revolve Plus. It’s cheaper at £280 and, while it may not quite match the Katch for sound purity and agility, it’s bassier, and water-resistant to boot.

The Libratone Zipp (£219) doesn’t compete on outright sound quality either, but is more flexible than the Katch, supporting Apple AirPlay and Spotify Connect over Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth 4 connections with aptX. Then there’s the KEF Muo, which sounds almost as good but can’t match the Katch’s scale and power.

Finally, we have the Apple HomePod which, although limited on the smart side of things (and not strictly a Bluetooth speaker like the Dali), delivers the most rounded, balanced sound I’ve heard from any wireless speaker. It costs £320 but needs an Apple tablet or phone to make the most of its other, smart features.

Dali Katch review: Verdict

In the end, though, the Dali Katch stands alone. It’s the best-sounding, best-looking portable Bluetooth speaker on the market today and deserves all the plaudits it gets, beating my former favourite, the KEF Muo, for sheer audio quality.

Yes, you can spend less money on a speaker that’s almost as competent and, yes, other speakers are more flexible and feature-packed but nothing else quite brings the music alive in the same way as the remarkable Dali Katch.

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