Given the increased presence in recent years of some of hi-fi’s more traditional big players entering the portable speaker market, it’s certainly not unusual to see respected Danish loudspeaker manufacturer, Dali popping up with their first effort in this popular category. Marrying their technical know-how with tidy and undoubtedly Scandinavian industrial design, Dali’s Katch speaker is aiming to become a big fish in an already huge pond. Will it be the Katch of the day, or does it need throwing back? Read on to find out (no more fishy puns, we promise!)…
Having mentioned the (slightly cliché) Scandinavian design influences that Dali bring to the table, it’s definitely worth noting just how much of a looker the Katch is. Measuring roughly 27cm in width and just under 14cm in height, the Katch is also unusually slim for a portable speaker at just under 5cm. The curved cabinet and honeycomb-style grille that covers its fascia makes for a tidy looking product indeed, and the integrated and retractable carry handle only adds to the effect. Three choices of finish are available, with the very chic-sounding Cloud Gray, Moss Green and Dark Shadow the options to pick from. As we always note at this point, audio products can’t (or certainly shouldn’t!) win prizes for their looks alone, but it’s always nice to see a company make an effort when it comes to such endeavours, and it’s full marks to Dali here from us.
On the more technical side of things, Dali have made sure that the Katch is not left wanting. Bluetooth connectivity is the name of the game with portable speakers, and the Katch is capable of connecting with compatible devices in Bluetooth 4.0 AptX. Easily the biggest progression of the technology since it became widely used, AptX gives greater bandwidth support than earlier versions, meaning there is less loss during playback. All of this adds up to one thing: better sound quality. A 3.5mm input is also an obvious inclusion, with a USB that can accept Google Chromecast’s the only surprise inclusion. This is a handy way to make the Dali a part of your home network, so its inclusion is definitely a plus point. When not in use for this purpose the USB socket can also charge devices such as mobiles and tablets.
Dali being a speaker manufacturer first and foremost have obviously not forgotten to put decent drivers and amplification in the Katch. Two 21mm tweeters are packed in alongside two woofers, ensuring stereo sound and decent separation. A Class-D amplifier pushing out 25 watts per channel helps get these moving. Speaking of moving, Dali have fitted an internal battery capable of up to 24 hours playback from a measly two hour charge – a couple of very impressive figures!
One other feature worthy of a mention before we move on to the listening test is Dali’s ‘Audio Profile’ option, which is accessed via a button on the top of the unit. Effectively a way to equalise the audio from either ‘Cool’, which is the standard setting, or ‘Warm’ which adds extra bass to help the bottom end, this change in modes also allows for more tailored room placement. If the Katch is freestanding (say in the centre of a room on a table) then setting the profile to Warm will help give a more rounded sound. This nod towards flexibility is a nice touch, and one that worked well when we tested it out.
After playing around with the Katch and getting to grips with how it operates, which is very intuitive (albeit with a bit of a browse of the manual first) for a product with so few buttons, we were keen to get to some listening. Music was played back from Tidal and directly from a Samsung Galaxy S6, and was in lossless where possible.
Kicking things off with Noel Gallagher’s last album with the High Flying Birds Chasing Yesterday, the Katch was impressive from the get go. Gallagher Snr. is on fine form for most of the album, with a few highlights that rank amongst his best work. The Right Stuff, one of the few tracks to survive the ill-fated collaboration with psychedelic production duo, Amorphous Androgynous sounded lush through the Dali. The percussive work and acoustic guitar that open the track was full-bodied and offered more weight than seemed possible from such a compact unit. As things progress to a more Noel-like conclusion, the electric guitars sounding more and more like mid-era Oasis, the Dali continues to impress, the dense mix of instruments still easy to follow individually. Plenty of meat hung on the bones of the recording, and it was definitely pleasing to hear the Dali able to keep up so easily with what was happening and maintain a sense of weight.
These traits made themselves known as the listening went on, with the Dali showing itself to be handy with the finer details but keeping rhythm and timing as a priority, too. The additional bass in Warm mode made sure that the Katch sounded more like a traditional hi-fi speaker, making for a really well-rounded listen. Dali’s first attempt at a portable speaker then, is undoubtedly a success. From its eye-catching and robust design, to the sheer quality of its audio playback, the Katch is definitely a keeper!
Author: Chris, Liverpool store