Best known for its dedicated hi-fi and home cinema loudspeaker systems, Dali here turns its hand to the soundbar market - and the results deliver all the design charm and expansive sound quality Dali is renowned for.
Dali’s hi-fi heritage feeds into a design which, while exceptionally attractive, was clearly conceived with sound quality at its heart. Remarkably, it manages to fit in four 9cm aluminium mid/bass drivers and the same number of 11.5cm steel passive radiators, while still finding room for a pair of 21mm soft dome tweeters. Powering all these drivers, meanwhile, are no less than four 50W class D amps.
As you’d expect, this arrangement adds up to a really big sound by soundbar standards. The dynamic range between the lowest bass and brightest treble sounds is particularly startling, as levels of low-end rumble you’d normally need an external subwoofer to hear underpin bags of clean, clear detail without any distortion or imbalance.
There’s no Dolby Atmos or DTS:X decoding here, but that doesn’t stop the Katch One from projecting a sound stage that spreads far and wide. It uses its scale of sound superbly, too, for placing audio effects accurately – albeit only in a relatively horizontal soundscape – and delivering convincing sound transitions as noisy objects move around a movie world.
Also remarkable is how responsive the Katch One is, happily leaping from near silence to massive sound mix violence without missing a beat, making it an alarmingly good partner for jump-scare movies. It’s definitely not just keen on the extremities of film soundtrack life, though. On the contrary, when a deft touch is required with subtle effects and gentle ambience the Katch One remains on point – no matter how dense or layered a movie mix might get.
Voices are presented with outstanding clarity and nuance without ever sounding detached from the rest of the action.
Not surprisingly given Dali’s heritage, the Katch One also sounds lovely with music. Bass integrates well into an extremely open, pleasingly warm mid-range, vocals are staged with total conviction, detailing is high but not artificially so, and the drivers cope equally well with everything from sparse, stripped back mood tracks to dense orchestral classics and the thrashiest, grungiest rock.
Just occasionally a particularly high sound can hit the ear a little thinly, and even more rarely the Katch One can slightly miscalculate the relative weight of a particular sound effect or voice during a lively film soundtrack, giving it a little too much weight. For the vast majority of the time, though, the Katch One sounds like an imaginatively designed chip off the excellent old Dali block.
The Katch One is one of the prettiest soundbars we’ve ever seen. Unlike most soundbars it presents vertically, standing tall 17cm tall with a slender rear, in order to accommodate all those big drive units mentioned earlier. This upright look is elegant in itself, but becomes flat-out lovely by the time you’ve factored in the fetching finish (available in Iron Black, Ivory White and Mountain white colour variations) of its glass fibre-reinforced ABS cabinet.
You can rest the speaker directly on its bottom edge, or sit it on a pair of seriously lovely wooden feet. For many households, though, the Katch One’s standing height will be too tall for it to sit on a piece of furniture directly underneath a TV. The design is much better suited to wall mounting under a wall-mounted TV – especially as it can be hung on the wall using a pair of seriously handsome leather straps.
Connectivity is pretty good, including two optical inputs, a 3.5mm auxiliary input, a USB port that can support Google Chromecast Audio via dongle, and an HDMI that supports ARC for receiving sound from your TV. There’s Bluetooth 4.0 support with aptX playback, too.
The Katch One is easy to use via either nicely integrated buttons on its top edge or a small remote control – though it’s a slight shame there’s no display on the front edge.
Provided your set up can accommodate the Dali Katch One’s unusually upright design, it’s a great sounding, great value and great looking soundbar for anyone who fancies adding some Scandinavian flair to their living room.
Hans Zimmer Live In Prague, Blu-ray
The Gladiator Elysium Now We Are Free section of Hans Zimmer’s legendary concert is handled superbly by the Katch One. Lisa Gerrard’s vocals soar with just the right combination of earthiness and ethereality, while the strings ebb and flow beautifully and the small percussive elements are introduced with just the right balance and presence.
The Invisible Man, 4K Blu-ray
Even though the Katch One doesn’t support Dolby Atmos playback and so can’t give you all the creepy surround sound thrills the film’s Atmos soundtrack contains, it still does a fantastic job of staging the film’s tense build ups and delivers the jump scares and frequent hard impact sounds with gut-punching aplomb.
La La Land, 4K Blu-ray
If you want to appreciate just how well the Katch One can switch between musical and movie soundtrack duties, watch a musical! La La Land’s adorable mix of jazz, piano, pop and classic musical songs and grubby LA realism are a match made in heaven for the Katch One’s impressive dexterity.
The Dali Katch One is a gorgeous Scandinavian design, complete with different colour options, plays host to a remarkably impactful, well rounded sound by single bar standards. It’s unusual thin, vertical design also makes it a particularly great option for people who’ve hung their TVs on their wall.