DALI Mentor 5 Tower Loudspeakers

DALI Mentor 5 Tower Loudspeakers

May 17, in Hi-Fi Systems Reviews

Specifications

  • Frequency Response: +/- 3 dB 42Hz – 34KHz
  • Sensitivity: (2.83v/1m) 88.0 dB Nominal Impedance: 6 ohms
  • Crossover Frequencies: 3KHz / 12KHz Enclosure type: Bass Reflex Connection inputs: Bi-Wire
  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 34.6 x 6.4 x 9.9
  • Weight (each): 29.8 lb
  • Component Retail: $3100.00 / pair (cherry and black)

Since 1983, Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries (DALI) has been crafting high quality loudspeakers for a primarily European audience. Only within the past few years has Dali begun to turn its attention towards American shores. The latest line to enter US waters is the new Mentor series, which positions itself soundly between the Ikon and Helicon lines. Each model from the Mentor series is lovingly hand-built and assembled in Denmark. Combining high quality parts with top notch craftsmanship, the Mentor series was designed to give an uncompromising Dali experience at prices mere mortals can afford.

DALI Mentor 5 review

Dali Mentor 5 Tower Loudspeakers front

Enter the Mentor 5

Standing only 34 inches tall, the smallest tower in the Mentor series is a compact 2 ½ way, armed with two Scan-Speak 5” mid/bass woofers and Dali’s trademark custom hybrid tweeter module. This module, also courtesy of Scan-Speak, ties together a 1” soft dome with a high quality ribbon driver. Like all Dali products, the Mentor 5 builds upon the foundation of a simple crossover and an array of lowenergy-loss drivers to achieve superior speed, integration, and clean dynamic output. This simple, yet efficient design also ensures that listeners will never require big hulking amplifiers to enjoy their music.

First Impressions

From the get go, I was impressed with Dali’s bomb-proof packaging job. After spending a good 15 minutes ripping away the packaging material, I opened the box to find an array of goodies: high quality brass floor spikes, very rigid grills with metal pegs, and a very well-thought-out and illustrated user manual. Everything in the box was authentically Dali. Even the high quality bi-wire plate terminal is an in-house job. The attention to detail and thought that went into the Mentor 5’s presentation reflects the level of commitment Dali has towards offering a truly complete package.

DALI logo

Performance: The Yin

The Mentor 5’s character can easily be summarized as immediate, articulate and dynamic. Upon first glance at this tiny tot of a ‘tower,’ one could easily dismiss it as being incapable of projecting any sort of meaningful amount of acoustic energy. After all, that sort of performance is usually reserved for large boxes. Yet here sits the little Mentor 5, the little engine that can, churning out full bodied performance that gives the illusion of a much larger speaker at play.

Dali Mentor 5 Tower Loudspeakers high

Immediately, I was captivated by the ability of the Mentor 5 to recreate convincing scale and tone. There was a sense of presence that initially caught me off guard. One of my favorite chill-out songs is Ella Fitzgerald’s cover of the classic show tune, “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered.” Even at low volume, the little Mentor 5 did not falter in capturing the delicate grace of Ella’s voice, the spaciousness of the piano accompaniement, and the tone, texture, and weight of the bass chords. I just sat back and melted into my chair.

And so it was from disc to disc and genre to genre. From jazz to hard rock and everything in between, the Mentor 5’s lively presentation constantly drew me into the musical event. Living at the polar opposite from the warm and romantic side of town, the Mentor 5 is super fast and possesses some serious dynamic chops. These days, it’s not uncommon to stumble across a compact loudspeaker that can dig down low. While the Mentor 5 may not be a class leader in terms of bass extension, it sure as hell can outpace most other compact loudspeakers when it comes to dishing out copious levels of clean, articulate, and undistorted acoustic energy.

Dali Mentor 5 Tower Loudspeakers review

Yet to these ears, the Mentor 5’s raison d’être resides in its unique hybrid tweeter module. By allowing each driver to operate within its ideal range, you get an open and spacious sound that finds nearly the perfect balance between detail and air. It’s not completely neutral, though. The Mentor 5’s overall tonal balance errs towards the forward side of neutral, placing emphasis on leading edge transients. This resolving articulation easily allows every nuance within the music to be expressed cleanly and intelligibly.

Amazingly enough, the two little 5” woofers employed on the Mentor 5 have zero problems keeping up with the blistering speed of its hybrid tweeter. The midrange keeps true to the open, quick, and detailed persona of the treble. Integrating seamlessly into the entire spectrum is an articulate, tuneful, and fast bass. Here, Dali makes no attempt to artificially boost bass performance to compensate for a small cabinet. Instead, the engineers allow the Mentor 5 to be as linear as possible, in order to maintain the agility and robustness necessary to complement the Mentor 5’s entire presentation.

Throw in the kind of superb imaging that one would expect from a super-narrow profile, and you’ve got a tremendous loudspeaker that proudly asserts itself in a heavily contested range of products.

Performance: The Yang

Alas, not all is perfect with the Mentor 5. For starters, the Mentor 5 can be pretty sensitive to the components it’s matched to and the recordings it’s fed. In certain circumstances, I found the treble to possess just a tad too much bite. To some, this may be a sign of transparency. To these ears, it’s simply part of the speakers’ forward nature.

I also detect a bit of a dip in the mid-band section, particularly when matched with linear sounding solid state gear. Most of the time, I could not help but feel that the midrange could benefit from just a bit more bloom. Thankfully, this slight recession can be eliminated entirely by throwing warmer sounding components into the mix.

Finally, we’ve got the bass. Really and truly, what the engineering team at Dali has managed to squeeze out of such a small cabinet is very commendable. In this regard, the only compromise is the obvious one: this is a small loudspeaker. Although it retains the ability to deliver impressive output from its slim cabinet, it won’t have the visceral impact of a larger speaker like, say, the Mentor 6. But then again, the Mentor 5 wasn’t built to rumble door handles and knock glassware off the kitchen table. It was built to deliver balanced top to bottom sound that could integrate well into any listening space. With that in mind, I feel that the Mentor 5’s sins are those of omission.

Dali Mentor 5 Tower Loudspeakers

Recommendations

I found that the Mentor 5’s best suitors are components that retain a touch of euphonic spice. Inserting the overachieving Vista Audio i84 tube integrated into the equation brought on remarkable results. 15 watts be damned, that little amp pushed the speakers effortlessly into ear bleeding territory. With the Vista being the yin to the Mentor 5’s yang, each component’s character danced in harmony with one another, allowing for wonderful and engaging music. If you buy a pair of Mentor 5s, I highly encourage you to also invest in a high quality tube amplifier.

In general, the best way to begin attaining the most from your Mentor 5 is to read the user manual included with your purchase. Here, you will find well-documented positioning and set-up tips that are specific to your loudspeaker. The only piece of useful advice I can muster is to experiment with toe-in. This is an easy and cheap tweak that is worth the minimal required time and effort. In my situation, the Mentor 5s snapped right into focus once a slight bit of toe-in was applied.

The Final Word

The Mentor 5 is for anyone who thirsts for a loudspeaker with a small footprint that can place the artist in the listening room. In addition to retaining outstanding musical chops, the Mentor 5 is also able to integrate well into nearly any casual listening space. Combine these attributes with the Mentor 5’s uncommon tapestry of authentic craftsmanship and raw musical prowess and you’ve got the thing true value is made of. For the money, the Mentor 5 is a wonderful accomplishment that makes true high end performance accessible to anyone who survives on a working man’s budget. Highly recommended!

Associated equipment:

  • Source: Lector 0.9 MK III
  • Integrated Amp: Vista Audio i84 ; Vista Audio i34 ; Blue Circle DAR ; Karan Acoustics Ki-180
  • Cables: Totem Acoustic Sinew interconnect ; Totem Acoustic Tres speaker cable; Room Treatments: GIK Acoustics 242 Panels

external link: DALI Mentor 5 website

from affordableaudio, By Sean Fowler

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