Reviewers' ChoiceI feel like I’ve been chasing this speaker around the world.

Back in 2022, I flew to Denmark for a tour of DALI’s headquarters and an in-depth introduction to the company’s new statement Kore loudspeaker. I was surprised to learn that DALI—an acronym for Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries—is the second-largest manufacturer of speakers in the world. I was equally surprised by the depth of DALI’s investment in the infrastructure and technical expertise that went into the Kore project. While the folks at DALI were rather coy on the issue, they did hint that some of the Kore-specific technologies were likely to trickle down to future products . . .

I spent close to a full day listening to the Kore in two wildly different systems, in two completely different rooms. I came away greatly impressed by how effortlessly loud it could play, and how truly great it sounded at all volumes.

But the $120,000-per-pair (all prices in USD) Kore is a massive speaker; one that’s far too large for my modest listening room. I considered asking for a review pair, but the thought of trying to shoehorn those giant cabinets through my basement door and narrow hallway made that idea a nonstarter.

202403 dali 700h back frontgrille

Fast forward to High End 2023 in Munich, Germany. Here at SoundStage!, we received advance notice that DALI would be premiering a smaller version of the Kore. Priced at $60,000 per pair, the Epikore 11 would straddle the gap between the company’s Epicon line and the stratospherically expensive Kore.

DALI formally announced the Epikore 11 at a press conference on May 18 during last year’s High End show. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. After I’d had a chance to listen for a spell, I had a chat with the people at Lenbrook Americas, who distribute DALI in my part of the world. Lenbrook is based in Pickering, just outside my hometown of Toronto, Canada. I explained that we’re all frostbitten Canadian boys up here, so it made sense to ensure that the earliest production pair of Epikore 11s came my way. In due course, the chase ended, and a pair of Epikore 11s landed in my listening room.


Thinking back to that listening session in Munich, the Epikore 11 sounded uncannily similar to the larger sibling on which it was based. And well it should. Despite the mash-up name, there’s far more trickle-down in this speaker from the flagship Kore than take-up from the company’s less-expensive Epicon line. The EVO-K Hybrid tweeter is ported straight from the Kore. It consists of a larger-than-usual 1.4″ dome tweeter that is crossed over at 12.5kHz to a 2.2″ × 0.4″ magnetostatic super-tweeter. Notable here is the absence of ferrofluid in the soft-dome tweeter. DALI believes that the benefit of the cooling conferred by ferrofluid is outweighed by the drag that’s introduced. The dome and ribbon are housed in a cast-aluminum plate, similar to that of the Kore.


Whereas the big-brother Kore’s cabinet is made from multilayered, pressed birch ply, the Epikore 11’s similar profile is formed from MDF. The end result, though, is the same—a slick, aerodynamic-looking cabinet. The Epikore 11 is a ported design, with exhausts to the rear. Each woofer pair is housed in a separate enclosure with a port tuned to 24Hz. The cabinet is heavily braced and damped with bitumen pads.

The Epikore 11 is a 4.5-way speaker. The driver complement comprises four 8″ woofers, a 6.5″ midrange driver, and the EVO-K Hybrid tweeter array. The upper woofer pair is low-pass filtered at 170Hz, while the lower pair crosses over to the midrange driver at 370Hz. The midrange driver, which is housed in its own sealed sub-enclosure, runs up to 3.1kHz, where it hands off to the dome tweeter.

DALI uses paper pulp for its cone diaphragms. The company believes that this material adds stiffness and helps prevent resonant breakup. The midrange driver and woofers incorporate DALI’s proprietary Soft Magnetic Compound (SMC) technology. SMC is a coated granular material that is highly magnetic but almost totally nonconductive. When used for a driver’s top plate and pole piece, SMC results in a dramatic reduction in hysteresis, the tendency of a ferromagnetic material to remain magnetized. Hysteresis in the motor system results in a loss of efficiency and the introduction of distortion.


SMC is used in several of DALI’s product lines, but the Kore and Epikore 11 employ SMC Gen-2, which DALI says is 2.5 times less conductive than the first-generation SMC. DALI uses the same material in the Epikore 11’s crossover—another trickle-down from the Kore. While some of the inductors are air-cored, the solid-core inductors benefit from the use of SMC Gen-2 instead of conductive iron.

The Epikore 11 is an imposing speaker that just radiates . . speaker-ness. From the front, it’s all about the drivers—seven of them. So, with grilles off, you’ve got a lot of artillery staring you down. The Epikore 11 is well finished; my sample’s walnut veneer gleamed under multiple coats of flawless lacquer. Still, this is a speaker that will dominate a room, and its purposeful, speaker-like shape won’t have anywhere to hide.

The pair of Danish speakers dominated my room. I’m totally cool with visible drivers, so I only put the grilles on to check them out. They’re magnetic, easy to install and remove, and they do help to minimize the visual profile of the speakers. These tall columns, though, are quite imposing. I’d imagine they’re likely to be relegated to a music-specific room, in contrast to a sculpted speaker such as the Estelon XB Mk II, which might pass muster as a piece of art.

The cabinet itself presents a teardrop profile, so there are no hard corners, and that’s great for edge diffraction as well as aesthetic appeal. It’s more graceful than a rectangular box, and the lack of hard edges on its longest axis makes this large speaker feel more humane. The top panel slopes down toward the front of the speaker, so there are no parallel surfaces inside the cabinet, which undoubtedly helps reduce resonances.


The Epikore 11’s frequency response is given as 29Hz–34kHz, ±3db. Nominal impedance is 4 ohms, and sensitivity is 89dB (2.83V/m). Each speaker weighs 167 pounds, including the grille. As I’ve already said, this is a big-ass speaker, measuring 63″H (my wife’s height) × 16.6″W × 21.8″D.

Each Epikore 11 speaker ships in a corrugated cardboard carton with expanded polyethylene inserts. But my review pair arrived in two coffin-sized flight cases. There were four casters on the bottom of each case, which aided greatly in setup. My neighbor Rob helped me to wheel each case into my listening room and stand it on end. We slid each speaker out with only moderate difficulty—the speaker’s rounded profile made it hard to get a good grip on it. It was like trying to squeeze a watermelon seed. Furthermore, each speaker was wrapped in a cloth shroud that pulled right off. The process would have been easier and safer if the covering had been sewn into a bag that provided some purchase. As it was, I had to reach deep into the flight case to grip the speaker and pull it out. I took off my watch and belt, and the whole process felt a bit too personal; my face was pushing into the upper woofer.

The four binding posts at the rear of the speaker are the same custom jobbies as used on the Kore. They’re large, easy to grip, and very sturdy. The supplied jumpers worked just fine, and easily coordinated with the chunky spades on the Crystal Cable Art Series Monet cables I used for most of the review period.


In place of the Kore’s elephant’s-foot concrete base, the Epikore 11 has a set of four cast-aluminum outrigger feet. Each foot is terminated in a spike that nestles nicely into a supplied magnetic cup for use on hard surfaces.

Kick ass and take names

Those four woofers in each Epikore 11 energized my room like nothing I’ve experienced. Rest assured that there’s far, far more to the Epikore 11 than just bass, but good lord—that bass is something else, so I’m going to go on about it here for a while.

After hearing the Kores in Europe, I spent a fair bit of time pondering the way they presented the lower frequencies. It was truly unique in my experience; or at least it was until I heard the Epikore 11s. These two DALI speakers accelerate instantly and put on the brakes in the same way. There was a speed to the leading edge of bass notes and a complete lack of overhang that I have not previously experienced.

I’ve noticed this bass snap multiple times now—with the Kore at DALI’s factory in Denmark and the company’s demo room at the 2023 Montreal Audiofest. And from the Epikore 11 at Munich High End last May. And now, here in my listening room.


First things first. The Epikore 11s were a tiny bit too large for my room. They loaded up my room in a way that made the low end feel somewhat elevated. I pulled the speakers out from the front wall as far as I could while retaining a good blend through the mids and highs. Still, despite the long hallway and open stairway leading to the next floor up, my 17′ × 14′ room was definitely on the small side for a speaker with this much firepower.

That said, I just loved—loved, I say—the bass that these speakers threw my way. The quickness, the clarity of the Epikore 11s’ low end made the slightly elevated level truly enjoyable. Albums that tend to be a bit bass-shy on most systems now sounded just right; and with those where the level is normally fine, I heard more definition and detail that used to escape me. This review period was a bass holiday at a luxury resort.

Digging deeper, there’s a crème brulée character to the Epikore 11’s bass. There’s no stranger, more decadent dessert, I feel, given how that caramelized crust just snaps aside revealing a creamy layer in which you can lose yourself. So too with the Epikore 11’s low end—instantaneous attack, with extension, richness, and delicacy following along behind like a flanking strike. Take John Zorn’s Alhambra Love Songs (LP, Tzadik TZ 6010), a juicy plum of a record, and pick any song. Let’s choose “Half Moon Bay” because why the heck not. Greg Cohen’s acoustic bass plays low and rich, and it’s easy for the leading edges of the notes to mush together. But the Epikore 11s! Oh my—it felt like I was inside Cohen’s bass, looking out. Plummy and flavorful, with the lower midrange’s string release perfectly blending with the follow-up harmonics.

And pitch articulation! Extension! While the Epikore 11 is only rated to 29Hz—and I’ve had plenty of speakers in my room that can reach down that low—it brought out new details in the low end that absolutely enchanted me. Take “Awake on Foreign Shores,” from Colin Stetson’s New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges (LP, Constellation CST075). I’ve used this track for years now to determine the reach and accuracy of a speaker’s low end.


Within the second-last wave of Stetson’s assault, that one long, foghorn-like note, were a number of low-end harmonics that no other speaker has been able to reproduce in my room. Via the Epikore 11s, I felt layers of overlaid subsonic waves on my skin: a frightening call from a subterranean monster. I played this track back over and over, each time shaking my head in astonishment at what this speaker dredged up out of this simple but terrifying piece of music.

I guess at this point I need to try and unpack why the bass of the Epikore 11s shook me up so. I think there are a couple of reasons. The first and simplest is the presence of four 8″ woofers in two large, ported boxes. That’s a fair bit of displacement, and it’s more woofer area than is usually hosted by my room. Of more consequence than that, though, is the over-under configuration of the woofers: two near the ceiling, two near the floor in each cabinet. It wouldn’t surprise me—although I have no way of confirming it—if this orientation loaded my room up in a more even manner than the usual one-near-the-floor setups that predated the arrival of the Epikore 11s.

But there’s more to it than that. As I said earlier, I’ve noted the whipcrack speed of the bass in the Kore and Epikore in several settings, and I’m going to spitball here that it may well have something to do with the physical design of the drivers themselves. DALI touts SMC’s benefits as reduced distortion and increased efficiency, and I couldn’t help but think that maybe SMC is implicated in the near-instantaneous reaction speed of the Epikore 11’s woofers. At any rate, if you’ve never heard how this speaker reproduces bass, you really need to experience it.

Look, Mommy, there’s an airplane up in the sky

Up through the midrange, the Epikore 11 becomes a bit more conventional, but no less excellent. The Epikore 11s’ images were slightly recessed slightly behind the plane of the speakers. Instruments and voices took on a slight warmth, likely the result of a small amount of extra gravy at the top of the woofers’ range—again, probably due to room interaction.

Here’s the trick though. It had been a while since I last listened to Pink Floyd’s The Wall from start to finish. The last time was through the Klipsch La Scala speakers, and back then I chose my Japanese pressing (LP, Sony 40AP 1750-1). This time I thought I’d give my UK version (LP, Harvest SHDW 411) a chance.


The Epikore 11s did height in a manner that I can’t recall experiencing before. Just before “The Happiest Day of Our Lives,” there’s the sound of a helicopter that my mind has always visualized in a very specific manner. I’d be standing on the flat roof of a building, say a 15-floor residential apartment block. The helicopter would rise up from below my line of sight, with the cockpit pointing directly at me. The tonal change in the recording is there as it passes the edge, and kick me in the balls if the Epikore 11s didn’t reproduce that effect, for the first time ever, exactly as I’ve always imagined it.

I felt that helicopter rise into my view. It was right there, and the height thing made it real. I noted clear changes in image height on a number of recordings. Often, it was cymbals just a touch higher than the rest of the drum kit. (Just like in real life, right?) Other times, it was vocals rising above the rest of the band.

The Epikore 11s generated some of the best front-to-back soundstaging I’ve yet heard in my room. I recently saved a playlist built by Roon Radio using Marc Ribot’s ethereal Silent Movies as a seed. While Roon was doing its own thing, I suddenly looked up, captivated by “Believing,” from Bang on a Can All-Stars’ album Renegade Heaven (16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC, Cantaloupe Music / Tidal). This is an edgy, frenetic piece, all jangling, bowed strings fighting each other for supremacy, and the Epikore 11s threw each instrument out in a holographic manner, with the midrange meshing into the highs in a seamless, linear fashion.

Central images were rock-solid and totally detached from the speakers, which was quite a feat given the amount of speaker real estate front and center in my room. Again, in the center of the soundstage, the images seemed to form just behind the plane of the speakers. On “Music Must Change,” from The Who’s Who Are You (LP, MCA Records, MCA-3050), the Epikore 11s floated a back-to-front, left-to-right image that made it impossible to do anything but sit there with my mouth open. The Epikores projected Pete Townshend’s crisply picked electric guitar and Keith Moon’s cymbal strikes in my face, and Roger Daltry’s voice just leaning right out so that I could almost smell his breath.


That combination of soft-dome tweeter and magnetostatic super-tweeter was superb—silky beyond belief, no matter the volume level. No matter how loud I played it, the EVO-K Hybrid tweeter refused to harden up. Highs, such as the guitar and cymbals on “Music Must Change,” billowed out with trails like spun sugar, almost effervescent in their extension and rendition of textural detail. Occasionally, I got the feeling that the highs were a touch lower in level in comparison to the rest of the audio range. I’m fairly sure, though, that this was a side effect of the elevated low end I mentioned earlier, as I hadn’t noticed anything like this in my other auditions with either the Kore or Epikore 11 in larger rooms.

I’ve saved the best for last. Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab’s recent reissue of Van Halen’s first album (LP, Mobile Fidelity, UD1S 2-032), part of the label’s Ultradisc One-Step series, was mind-blowing via the Epikore 11s. Side 1, with “Runnin’ with the Devil,” “Eruption,” and “You Really Got Me,” is perfect music, hand-delivered by the Norse gods. Cranked way the hell up, with the DALIs getting thrashed by my Hegel Music Systems H30A amp, this entire LP side was an assault. I played it several times during the review period at higher and higher volumes in an attempt to find the point at which the Epikore 11s would give up. That never happened, and I eventually settled on a level where it just sounded like the band was playing live in front of me. The dynamics were endless and consistent, with no feeling of compression in any part of the audioband.

At concert levels, the bass evened out with the highs. My heart rate jumped; I began to sweat, and felt slightly nauseous. Still, the Epikore 11s kept the images precise, with no bleed-over. Eddie Van Halen’s guitar sizzled, with crisp, hair-raising definition on each phrase. David Roth’s vocals hovered right there, dead center. Michael Anthony’s bass and Alex Van Halen’s drums had the weight that’s always been missing on other pressings, through other speakers. If you get a chance, you have to hear this pressing through these speakers.


At the other end of the volume spectrum, the Epikore 11s played at low levels with equal ease. I’ve been enamored by John Zorn’s Filmworks IX: Trembling before G-d (16/44.1 FLAC, Tzadik Records / Tidal) and its sad, tremulous klezmer rhythms. It’s the perfect music to settle into on a late Friday night, with the lights down and your feet up. The big-bruiser Epikore 11s reproduced this delicate music at low levels in a way you wouldn’t expect, keeping the bass at an appropriate level and seeming to accentuate the dynamics as the volume went further down.

What this all boils down to is a speaker that can do it all. Slamming rock—check. Small-combo jazz—check. Avant-garde string ensembles—check. High volumes? Got it covered. Low-level intimate introspection? That’s sorted, too.

The tree remembers what the axe forgets

In some ways, it felt to me as if the Epikore 11s were actually performing for me. I know, I know, all speakers do that. A speaker reproduces the performance and, as such, it is the face of the music. But the Epikore 11s went beyond that. They seemed to take the music, polish up the high frequencies, butter up the low notes, and impose their will on the whole. These speakers made the music sound better than it really is on the recording. They were an active part of the performance, and I was always aware that they were doing something magical. Oh yes, they could disappear, throw wonderful images, and rip out a soundstage like there was no tomorrow; but the Epikore 11s also reached out, grabbed me by the collar, and shook me about, all the while telepathically enforcing their will and making sure that I was cool with the show.

I don’t recall ever being quite so impressed by a speaker. Lately, I’ve been going from strength to strength in my review system. With their fantastic sound quality and ethereal looks, the Estelon XB Mk II speakers stole my heart. Then came the YB Acoustics Peaks Ascents, which sounded damn good for one-third the price of the Estelons.


The Epikore 11 is near-as-dammit the same price as the Estelon, but these are wildly different speakers. Both are wonderful in their own way, and visually it’s no contest—the Estelon is a Jaguar E-type while the Epikore 11 is an AMG G-Class wagon. You want to sit and stare at it? The Estelon melts the soul. But if you need to get stuff done, call on the DALI.

I loved the Epikore 11s and was very sad to see them go.

Here’s my hope: Given that DALI has leveraged the Kore’s technologies into a smaller, more affordable package, and given that the Epikore has a suffix of 11, I’m thinking that there may be more Epikore speakers yet to come down the pike. If there’s gonna be, say, an Epikore 7 that has two 8″ woofers per speaker, and employs the same midrange, tweeter, and ancillary infrastructure, I think it would make an honest man of me.

Please, DALI—make an honest man of me. The Epikore 11 is so highly recommended it’s just not funny.

. . . Jason Thorpe

Associated Equipment

  • Analog source: VPI Prime Signature turntable; EAT Jo N°8, DS Audio DS 003, DS Audio W3 cartridges.
  • Digital source: Logitech Squeezebox Touch, Meitner Audio MA3.
  • Phono preamplifiers: Aqvox Phono 2 CI, iFi Audio iPhono 3 Black Label, Hegel Music Systems V10, EMM Labs DS-EQ1, Meitner DS-EQ2.
  • Preamplifiers: Sonic Frontiers SFL-2, Hegel Music Systems P30A.
  • Power amplifier: Hegel Music Systems H30A.
  • Integrated amplifiers: Hegel Music Systems H120, Eico HF-81.
  • Speakers: Estelon XB Mk II, Focus Audio FP60 BE, Estelon YB, Aurelia Cerica XL, Totem Acoustic Sky Towers, YG Acoustics Peaks Ascent.
  • Speaker cables: Audience Au24 SX, Nordost Tyr 2, Crystal Cable Art Series Monet.
  • Interconnects: Audience Au24 SX, Furutech Ag-16, Nordost Tyr 2, Crystal Cable Diamond Series 2.
  • Power cords: Audience FrontRow, Nordost Vishnu.
  • Power conditioner: Quantum QBase QB8 Mk II.
  • Accessories: Little Fwend tonearm lift, VPI Cyclone record-cleaning machine, Furutech Destat III.

DALI Epikore 11 Loudspeaker
Price: $60,000 per pair.
Warranty: Five years, parts and labor.

Dali Allé 1
Nordjylland 9610
Phone: +45 9672 1155


North American distributor:
Lenbrook Americas
633 Granite Court
Pickering, Ontario L1W 3K1
Phone: (905) 831-6555