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Dali Kubik One review: Stylish but expensive

Christopher Minasians
30 Oct 2018
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
799
inc VAT

The Kubik One delivers excellent tonality, but with no surround sound and an £800 price tag, it’s hard to recommend

Pros 
Excellent treble reproduction
Punchy mid-bass
Cons 
Missing surround sound
Expensive
No HDMI ports
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There are plenty of soundbars that try to combine both excellent sound and style. Not many succeed, but that’s something Dali (Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries) is hoping to change with the Kubik One – the company's flagship all-in-one soundbar has a stylish flair to it, but at £800 it isn't cheap. Here's how it stacks up against its competitors.

Dali Kubik One review: What you need to know

The Dali Kubik One is a rather tall soundbar, comes in a range of colours and has a stylish design that helps it stand out from the crowd. Despite the high price, it doesn’t feature a single HDMI port, produce surround sound or come with a dedicated subwoofer. So, it’s got a lot of ground to make up – especially when compared with the top soundbars.

READ NEXT: LG SJ9 review: Atmos without the atmos

Dali Kubik One review: Price and competition

The Kubik One costs £800 and isn’t short of competition. Its closest rival, Samsung’s HW-MS750 soundbar, costs just £460, features two upward-firing speakers and has a total of 11 drivers, compared to the Kubik One’s four stereo speakers.

If you’re looking for a bit of oomph, there’s also the £700 Samsung HW-N650, which has virtual surround sound and a dedicated subwoofer. Or how about the Dolby Atmos-enabled LG SJ9 at £500, which has upward-firing drivers, great codec support and a dedicated subwoofer?

If you could stretch your budget an extra £200, you should also consider the Samsung HW-N850, which I’d say is the best soundbar on the market.

Dali Kubik One review: Design, features and connectivity

With a wide range of bright, funky colours to choose from, Dali’s Kubik One soundbar is one of the most stylish I’ve seen.

It’s a sizeable piece of kit, though, weighing a hefty 9.6kg and measuring 126 x 980 x 102mm. You may have trouble fitting it in front of your TV, especially if your TV stand is quite low to the ground, so wall mounting looks like the most sensible option.

This may not suit everyone’s home cinema setup, but at least you won’t have to find room for an external subwoofer, as the Kubik One doesn’t have one. Instead, it houses four 25W stereo amplifiers inside its aluminium chassis, giving it a total RMS output of 100W. These are split into two 133mm (5.25in) wood fibre cone woofers and two 25mm (0.98in) soft dome tweeters. The latter use ferrite magnets, which Dali says helps reduce power compression and reproduce higher frequencies to give a more detailed, accurate sound. We’ll go into the sound in more depth below.

All the controls are on top of the soundbar. You don’t get very many, though, as they only extend to volume, an input selector and a power button that doubles up as a mute switch. The Kubik One also comes with a small, flat remote, but this only duplicates what's already available on the soundbar itself, and I suspect its tiny size means it will have a tendency to get lost down the back of the sofa. In my tests, it struggled to reach the soundbar from 2m away.

Thankfully, you can pair the Kubik One with an existing remote instead, such as your TV remote. This was very easy to do with my Samsung TV control and should hopefully cut down on the number of remotes you'll need to tame your system. Just be wary that, if you do decide to use your TV remote, you’ll need to be careful where you point it so you don’t accidentally turn the soundbar off or switch sources when you're meant to be aiming at the TV.

The Kubik One is quite limited in the connectivity department. With no ARC-compatible HDMI port, you'll have to make do with two optical S/PDIF inputs, stereo phono jacks and micro-USB port for your PC or Mac. It supports Bluetooth 3.0 aptX, though, so you'll still be able to stream music from your phone, tablet and laptop at CD quality (if your device supports the advanced Bluetooth codec). There's a subwoofer output as well if you want to connect one externally, and you’ll find a headphone jack at the front.

Unlike other soundbars I’ve tested, the Kubik One only has one sound mode. With no additional menu controls or sound profiles, it's a lot less versatile than some rivals, and I’m disappointed that there wasn't a night mode to help cut down booming explosions and roaring car chases when the neighbours are asleep next door.

Admittedly, there is a switch on the back to adjust the bass level depending on your room size, but this isn't particularly useful if you've already mounted it on the wall. There's also a power mode switch here that lets you turn off the soundbar manually (or automatically after a period of inactivity), and a gain adjust control for evening things out if there happens to be a difference between the levels of your analogue and digital inputs. You'll need a flathead screwdriver to work this, which again doesn't make it easy to change after the initial setup.

Dali Kubik One review: Sound quality

The Kubik One sounds superb, particularly in the mid-range frequencies. Vocals are forward-sounding with no apparent dip in either the lower- or upper-mids, while dialogue in The Revenant was life-like and engaging. I’m not often impressed by the mids reproduction, but the Kubik One left me pleasantly surprised.

With the bass switch set to Enhance, the mid-bass slam is impressive. Bass reproduction is precise, clean and controlled. When listening to The Weeknd’s I Feel It Coming at high volumes, the mid-bass shunt can really be felt. That’s lost when you dial down the bass level to Neutral, a mode in which the sound seems to lose all its life, while Bass Boost creates an overwhelming quantity of mid-bass that detracts from the excellent mid-range frequencies.

Unfortunately, I can’t praise its sub-bass extension. Due to a missing subwoofer, the Kubik One only gets down to 48Hz, so it cuts off that much-needed low-end rumble. Here, I’m left wanting when watching action scenes in Transformers: Age of Extinction, or when I’m listening to old school R’n’B tracks. Moving onto the high frequencies, I was yet again left wanting a bit more from the soundbar, which rolls off at the top end.

As for the soundstage, the Kubik One is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, it does a decent job of separating individual instruments but, on the other, it somewhat congests the sound, lacking the wide or deep soundstage produced some of its competitors. Watching action scenes in Star Trek Beyond left me feeling uninspired and disengaged with the film. Gunfire should be coming from all sides of the room, but instead, it was just coming from the front.

There are a few reasons I can think of for its shortcoming, the most obvious being the lack of drivers to deliver that expansive sound. With only four drivers running in stereo, the Kubik One simply can’t compete with double-figure soundbar configurations that also support Dolby Atmos and DTS:X codecs.

As it only has front-firing stereo drivers, the Kubik One doesn’t do surround sound. Period. So, you’ll have to make sure your TV is set to stereo or if you’re plugged in via optical, PCM. I got this wrong at first, resulting in weird alien noises coming out of the Kubik One, which wasn’t decoding the surround sound signal.

READ NEXT: Samsung HW-N850 review – an excellent high-end soundbar that turns your living room into a home cinema

Dali Kubik One review: Verdict

The Dali Kubik One is far from a bad soundbar. On the contrary, it’s an impressive piece of kit that delivers exceptional mid-range frequencies with style. However, at £800, I expect a lot more from it: a few HDMI ports, more drivers to deliver a true surround sound experience, and a dedicated subwoofer that could really nail that low-end rumble.

At this price, I’d save a bit of money and instead opt for the impressive subwoofer-less Samsung HW-MS750 soundbar, or the bass pounding Samsung HW-N650. Not only do these soundbars deliver better all-round audio performance, they’ll also fit in front of your TV without obstructing the view.

Hardware
Speakers4
RMS power output100W
Subwoofer optionNot included
Rear speaker optionN/A
Dimensions162x980x102mm
Weight9.6kg
Ports
Audio inputs2x Optical S/PDIF, stereo phono
Audio outputsSubwoofer output, 3.5mm headphone jack
Video inputsN/A
Video outputsN/A
Dock connectorN/A
USB portMicro USB
NetworkingBluetooth 3.0 Apt-X
NFCNo
Features
Video playback formatsN/A
Image viewing formatsN/A
Audio playback formatsN/A
Smart TV appsN/A
Buying information
Price including VAT£799
WarrantyTwo-years RTB
Detailswww.dalikubik.com
Part codeN/A

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