The DALI Lektor 8 is a lot of speaker for the money, the '8' in the name referring to the two 200mm (8-inch) bass drivers that it uses.

Such a competitive price is simply not compatible with European manufacturing costs, so it's no surprise to find that the Lektors are made in China.

However, the design was created and specified by the Danish engineers and design consultants and features DALI's proprietary wood fibre loaded, coated paper cone diaphragms, originally introduced in the upmarket Euphonias.

Bulky system

The enclosure is hefty and bulky and although there has, at least, been an attempt to introduce the odd styling embellishment to an otherwise rather bland and four-square vinyl woodprint affair (in light walnut or black ash, alongside a black front panel with nicely chamfered edges).

Odd is perhaps the word for the six silver grille mounting lugs, which remain visible whether or not the grille is used. Curious too, but a bit more clever is the way the grille can be fixed so that either the metal faceplate tweeter is exposed at the top (with badge covered), or the badge at the bottom (with tweeter covered).

The sheer bulk and weight, alongside a decent footprint, ensure good physical stability; while the spikes seemed to tighten up pretty well (they're only secured by thumbwheels and have a tendency to work loose).

High quality build

Each of those 200mm bass drivers has a wood fibre loaded paper cone about 150mm in diameter and each is loaded by its own separately ported section of the enclosure. The 130mm midrange unit looks just like a scaled- down version of the bass drivers and has a 100mm diameter cone.

One of the more obvious economies, compared to the successful Ikon models, is that the elaborate and costly hybrid dome/ribbon tweeter of the senior models has been replaced here by a more conventional 28mm soft dome. Some extra decoration is provided by a shiny alloy faceplate.

A single pair of gold-plated terminals are conveniently situated quite close to the floor.

Well-balanced

Although, when its power response is measured under in-room far-field averaged conditions the Lektor 8 looks pretty well balanced in parts, in our room the broad bass below 200Hz was roughly 4dB stronger than the midrange and treble, even when the speaker was sited well clear of walls. Even fans of blockbuster movies should find that a pair of these will deliver sufficiently weighty explosions without the need for additional subwoofery.

The bass region might be rather too strong, but the fact that it's also reasonably even is a plus. There's some lack of output 250-370Hz, but above that point the balance is very well managed, staying within +/-3dB across the rest of the band.

The upper presence zone, 2-5kHz, shows some restraint, which is probably a good thing, though the trace as a whole is not particularly smooth.

Underwhelming bass

Even or not, there's no avoiding the bass excess here and two related factors need to be taken into account.

The first is that the 'zone of excess' reaches well up into the lower midband – 200Hz is, of course, just a gnat's below Middle C (261Hz), so most bass instruments have a rather heavy character and male voices inevitably include some added chestiness.

Secondly, the bass it does deliver isn't all that wonderful, qualitatively speaking. Happily it's not slow, but it does lack grip, tension, drive and poise and there's a woody, thickened quality that may well be down to the enclosure. Although the sides, front and back feel well- braced, quite obvious vibration can be felt through the top surface when playing material with substantial bass content.

The net effect is a little reminiscent of pressing the 'loudness' contour button that regularly used to be fitted to amplifiers in the days when tone controls were de rigueur. This was intended to provide some compensation for the reduced sensitivity of human hearing to low frequencies (and to a lesser extent high frequencies) when a system was played at low volume levels.

As a result the Lektor 8 tends to sound most comfortable when operating at the lower end of its loudness capabilities.

Turn down the volume

Although simple acoustic material is reproduced quite satisfactorily, anything with serious bass content tends to sound overblown.

Mari Boine's magnificent live album Eallin is a particular case in point, as the bass lines are generated by a varity of electronically modified acoustic instruments, each of which should have its own distinct tonal signature. Not only did the Lektor 8 deliver the bass too strongly, but it also made it quite difficult to distinguish the different instruments at work.

Something similar is true of favourite Laurie Anderson albums. Her voice sounded well enough on Strange Angels, but when the bass came in on Monkey's Paw one instinctively reached for the remote to turn the volume down. The same artist's more recent Life on a String is an even heavier recording and was even less acceptable as a result.

Strong timing

Stereo imaging is pretty good, with some depth perspectives apparent, though focus is a little weaker than one finds with small speakers.

Although the excess weight is responsible for the thickening, heavy coloration mentioned above, the upper midband does add a slightly pinched and nasal quality to voices – it's not serious enough to be upsetting, but it is audible. The treble, on the other hand, seems very well judged in level terms and tonally quite sweet with it.

On the whole, timing seemed satisfactory enough, but there was little sense of urgency in its music making because the dynamic tension and expression is weak.

Less power

Frankly, after spending some time with this speaker, it was difficult to avoid the conclusion that one 200mm bass driver – or maybe two 165mm units – would have been enough.

I daresay a generous open-plan Danish ground floor might prove a better match, while here in Britain where smaller rooms are the norm, movie fans are more likely to find it appealing than those primarily interested in music replay.

One might legitimately enquire whether the Lektor 8's bass problem is quantitative or qualitative. This is always a difficult question to answer, as it's not possible to isolate the variables properly. However, one recent experience does provide a possible clue.

Similar system

Recently, we got to review a pair of PMC's enormous and very costly MB2 XBDi speakers and by coincidence the in-room responses and sensitivities of the PMCs and the DALIs were not all that dissimilar.

In fact, the PMC's low bass (with two 250mm bass drivers each) was even more excessive, at around +8dB, though its 'zone of excess' was curtailed above 120Hz.

Otherwise the in-room power response measurements for the two speakers were surprisingly similar. And there's no getting away from the fact that the monster PMCs sounded absolutely magnificent overall, or that its bass excess was only occasionally intrusive.

We're not suggesting the two speakers have anything in common apart from this one measurement similarity – the PMCs cost £17,500/pair after all – but it does rather suggest that getting genuinely high-quality sound from a large loudspeaker with deep bass capabilities perhaps requires rather more substantial engineering content and investment than DALI has applied to the Lektor 8.