An Evening With DALI’s Epikore 11 Loudspeaker, Featuring Accuphase, Esoteric, Stable 33.33, André Thériault, Luna Cables

An Evening With DALI’s Epikore 11 Loudspeaker, Featuring Accuphase, Esoteric, Stable 33.33, André Thériault, Luna Cables

Jason Zidle, of Canadian distributor Lenbrook, next to a DALI Epikore 11

Photos by Robert Schryer, except where otherwise indicated

Over a year ago, in return for writing a report about my experience, I was whisked on a junket, along with a clutch of other audio scribes from other publications, to DALI headquarters in Denmark to visit the company’s factory and witness the worldwide launch of its flagship Kore loudspeaker. It was a fun time, and the Kores were impressive to behold and listen to.

However, it’s the Danish company’s 4½-way Epikore 11 loudspeaker, the model below the Kore and which shares many of the Kore’s technologies, that surprised and charmed me most when I heard a pair at 2023’s Toronto Audiofest. Obviously, the room helped. It was conference-room-size—large and spacious, ideal for these over 5′-tall, each weighing 75kg (165lbs) speakers to breathe and fully express themselves, while I heard the Kores in a room that was a bit small to allow them to perform to their full potential, although they did sound very promising. Hearing the Epikores left an impression on me and I wondered if I’d ever get the chance to hear them again.

Jason discusses the finer points of the Epikore 11’s design to a rapt crowd

Turns out I would hear them again, at the only Canadian store to currently have a pair: Audiophile Experts, located in the greater Montreal area. Joining me for the audition were store owners Mathieu and Stacy, along with DALI’s North American representative, Lenbrook’s Jason Zidle, and a couple of dozen visitors and friends. With only a handful of chairs set up to hear the Epikore-fronted system in one of the store’s demo rooms, we took turns listening to both Stacy and Jason describe the Epikore’s design and to a few tracks played through the system.

First off, the Epikore’s appearance, in my opinion, oozes class and distinction. It has a curved cabinet finished in a rich-toned, real wood veneer and a high-gloss finish. All the drivers were designed and made in-house, as was the speaker.

EVO-K hybrid tweeter flanked by woofers

Extending the wood theme are the Epikore’s four woofers per side, tuned to slightly varying frequencies, whose material is made of the company’s paper-and-wood fibre cone technology. The woofers use the company’s proprietary SMC (Soft Magnetic Compound) in place of regular solid magnets, which produce eddy currents that can distort the signal. SMC is also used in the speaker’s crossover inductor cores.

The speaker’s tweeter unit is the same as the Kore’s. Called the EVO-K hybrid tweeter, it combines a soft dome tweeter with a wide-dispersion planar element for greater treble extension. Spec-wise, the Epikore’s bass is said to extend down to 29 Hz, while the speaker’s sensitivity is rated at 89dB into 4 ohms.

The 33.2 Mkll turntable by Stable 33.33, fitted with an André Thériault Black Beauty Mkll tonearm and Accuphase AC-6 m/c cartridge

While it wasn’t physically possible for the Epikores to sound quite as open and expressive as they did in that Toronto showroom, I did get a good dose of the magic I’d heard in Toronto. The Epikores are designed to be positioned facing forward, which, both in Toronto and here, resulted in the projection of a large, transparent soundstage replete with spatial information and fine detail. Some studio effects seemed to pop out of nowhere, vivid and dimensional, landing in unexpected places across the room in a way that sounded completely liberated from the speakers. On material with deep bass, such as John Rutter’s “Requiem: Pie Jesu” streamed via Qobuz, certain frequencies went so low they were inaudible—they rumbled, from the floorboards into my extremities. It was impressive.

Accuphase class-A A-80 amplifier

On a Qobuz stream of Tower of Power’s “Diggin’ on James Brown”, vocals were rich and explicit, dynamics were sharp, percussion was punchingly impactful. Next, we listened to The King James Version, a Direct-to-Disc, Sheffield Lab LP by Harry James & His Big Band. According to the notes I took at the time, the album’s track “Corner Pocket” delivered crazy dynamics, propulsive swing, true-to-life instrumental timbre, and played loud without strain, on either the system or my ears.

Accuphase C-47 phono stage (top) and C-2300 preamplifier

The DALIs, of course, didn’t dance alone. They were well driven, in signal and power, by a team of components of equally high pedigree, each of which I’ve heard in previous configurations to great effect. Among them was a vinyl front-end comprising a Stable 33.33 33.2 Mkll turntable fitted with an André Thériault Black Beauty Mkll tonearm and Accuphase AC-6 m/c cartridge. Doing digital duties were an Esoteric N-05XD network DAC / preamp and Esoteric G-05 master clock generator, while electronics consisted of a 65Wpc, class-A Accuphase A-80 amplifier, an Accuphase C-2300 preamplifier, and an Accuphase C-47 mm / mc phono stage. Tying everything together was a bevy of cables from Luna Cables’ Mauve and Rouge series.

Esoteric N-05XD network DAC / preamp (photo courtesy Audiophile Experts)

It all amounted to spectacular sound and a lot of fun. If you get the chance, I suggest you give the DALI Epikore 11s a listen. I think they’re great speakers. Luckily, I’ll be able to hear pretty much this whole system again at the 35th edition of the Montreal Audiofest, being held March 22 to 24.

Prices (CA$)

  • DALI Epikore 11 loudspeaker ($80,000)
  • Accuphase C-2300 preamplifier ($14,999)
  • Accuphase A-80 amplifier ($27,999)
  • Accuphase C-47 phono stage ($12,999)
  • Accuphase AC-6 m/c cartridge ($7,499)
  • Stable 33.33 33.2 MK2 turntable ($13,900)
  • André Thériault Black Beauty Mkll tonearm ($8,500)
  • Esoteric N-05XD network DAC / preamp ($14,850)
  • Esoteric G-05 master clock generator ($6,750)
  • Luna Cables Mauve et Rouge cables ($various)
Stacy (back of the room, in white) addresses the audio faithful

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