DALI Fazon Mikro 5.1 review

This sub/sat package may be small but it delivers a decidedly grown-up soundscape

While Danish brand DALI offers a varied speaker range across the worlds of home cinema and hi-fi, its products share design characteristics at all price points. The most obvious is the use of wood fibre drivers – which differ from more conventional paper cones thanks to the employment of longer untreated fibres in their composition to add to the overall strength – in different sizes with varying degrees of sophistication in all DALI lines. These are then partnered with a soft dome tweeter, sometimes augmented by a ribbon unit as well.

In the case of the Fazon Mikro, the drivers are a 4in midbass unit and a 20mm tweeter. It's sold in pairs as a speaker in its own right and, although it is decidedly tiny at 196mm tall, it is very clearly a shrunken two-way standmount rather than a truly titchy satellite speaker.

Instead of a conventional MDF cabinet, the DALI's diminutive speaker is made from aluminium. This enables thinner walls, in turn helping to maximise internal capacity, while providing a strong enclosure that can be made into a gently curved shape that, the brand states, works to reduce standing waves. It also contributes to the system's £1,100 price tag.

This two-piece chassis is relatively regular in appearance but elegant nonetheless, with a neat mixture of gloss black and aluminium trim, and a cute logo plate on the front. The array comprises four of the Mikro speakers with a single Mikro Vokal acting as the centre channel. This is identical in terms of layout and design to the surround speakers but is arranged in landscape rather than portrait, and has a small foot to keep it sat where you want.

Gone in sixty seconds

Setup is about as simple as it gets. All five speakers are sealed cabinet designs with the ability to attach to a wall via a keyhole mount. Alternatively, there are dedicated floorstands available for £120 per pair, which could be handy for siting the Mikros in the optimum position. A single pair of terminals is fitted to the rear, which are the spring-loaded type that make bare wire connection very simple and – unusually – would probably accept a banana plug with good luck and a following wind.

The subwoofer is the all-new E-9 F – so new that it hadn't been added to the company's website at the time of writing. Rather than being specifically designed for the Fazon range, it is one of a group of DALI subs intended to complement a variety of speakers depending on the size of your room and how hard you want your organs rattled. To this end, the E-9 F eschews a name that sounds like a raygun and instead is coded in terms of its size from A- Z (A being smallest), the driver size (9in) and the configuration (forward-firing). Power is delivered from a 170W Class D amplifier and DALI claims a modest low-frequency extension of 35Hz at +/- 3dB.

The build quality of both the woofer and satellite speakers is as good as the asking price suggests. There's a high-calibre paint finish on the Mikros, and I appreciate little touches like the grilles held in place by the curvature of the chassis, and the DALI logo embossed on the subwoofer driver.

Seamless synergy

Connected to my Cambridge Audio receiver, the DALI array shows promise from the outset. The Fazon Mikro is hardly a bass beast, but has a frequency response that dips to 95Hz, which allows for a crossover to be set at the point where the E-9 F just about becomes omnidirectional. This results in a sense of effortlessness cohesion that is often missing when the crossover has to be set higher, and is vital in terms of making the DALI package sound bigger and more spacious than you might think. Subsequently, the cheerfully silly Man of Steel is replayed with impressive confidence and a slice of scale.

Furthermore, the soundstage never feels constrained and even the subwoofer, which again doesn't plumb the absolute depths, has enough power to handle the explosions (of which there are many) in Zack Snyder's reboot. Subsonic rumbles are well-handled, if lacking the gut-shaking extension of larger designs.

The more refined requirements of Apollo 13 are also met with some style. The DALI system is able to generate weight and scale in the lower midrange, an area which can sometimes be lacking in sub/sat packages. I'd argue that it doesn’t go overboard at the frequency extremes to better serve the bit that matters.

The brand's proprietary drivers deliver excellent detail and tonality. Voices, in particular, are handled with an assurance that lends realism and believability to the performance. The Mikros are also able to run at high levels without tipping over into harshness or aggression, although this smoothness can rob them of the excitement compared to some of the metal-domed competition. With identical drivers all round, the handover from speaker to speaker is remarkably slick; the front soundstage forms a very convincing arc of sound. Having said that, the actual dispersion from the Mikros is not as wide as I'd like, but they integrate so well together that it's easy to forgive this niggle.

Away from movie material, and the DALIs also make a convincing stab at music reproduction. The agility of the E-9 F woofer means that, with two-channel material, the effect is of two well-integrated speakers rather than three. The big analogue notes of Hidden Orchestra’s Archipelago are conveyed with a natural flair, and the decision that DALI seems to have taken – to trade off the extension that might be possible from a sub of this size in order to keep it fast-paced and detailed – results is a system that hangs together better than many of its rivals. Pushed to serious levels with more aggressive music and the E-9 F can become more obtrusive, though.

Doing the business 

There's a lot to like here. The £1,100 outlay gets you an impressively assured speaker package that puts in a consistently controlled and immersive performance with movies and music. There are other packages that can generate a more exciting performance, and there are ones that can dig a little deeper, with subwoofers that are the star of the show. Yet the way that this 5.1 set goes about its business, chowing down on pretty much any film or CD/audio file with refinement and clarity is easy to admire.

When you consider the excellent build, handsome appearance and solid installation options, you have a package that is likely to win itself a lot of friends. And those who want a bit of bling in their movie room can get them in gloss white...


DALI Fazon Mikro 5.1
£1,100 Approx

Highs: Powerful, refined and detailed sound; excellent build and flexible placement
Lows: Not a bass monster or the most out-and-out exciting sub/sat package around

Performance: 4/5
Design: 4/5
Features: 4/5
Overall: 4/5


Fazon Mikro

Drive units: 1 x 4in wood fibre midbass driver; 1 x 0.75in soft dome tweeter
Enclosure: Sealed
Frequency response: 95Hz-25kHz
Sensitivity: 84dB
Power handling: 120W
Dimensions: 113(w) x 196(h) x 96(d)mm
Weight: 1.5kg

Fazon Mikro Vokal

Drive units: 1 x 4in wood fibre midbass driver; 1 x 0.75in soft dome tweeter
Enclosure: Sealed
Frequency response: 95Hz-25kHz
Sensitivity: 84dB
Power handling: 120W
Dimensions: 196(w) x 96(h) x 113(d)mm
Weight: 1.5kg

E-9 F  subwoofer

Drive units: 1 x 9in aluminium bass driver
Enclosure: Sealed
Frequency response: 35Hz-190Hz
On board power: 175W
Remote control: No
Dimensions: 287(w) x 307(h) x 310(d)mm
Weight: 11.8kg
Connections: Stereo phono and separate LFE input