DALI Katch One soundbar review: Great sound—under the right circumstances

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DALI Katch One soundbar review: Great sound—under the right circumstances

DALI (Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries) lives up to its name by making superb-sounding speakers, including the recently reviewed Rubicon 6. The company has also dipped its toes into the wireless-headphone pool with the IO-4 and IO-6, which I love for its rich, sumptuous sound.


So, it’s hardly surprising that DALI would venture into the realm of soundbars. The Katch One is based on the company’s Katch Bluetooth speaker, which I will be reviewing soon. Meanwhile, I got to spend some time with the Katch One, and under the right circumstances, it sounds excellent.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best soundbars, where you’ll find reviews of competing products, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping.

Features

Available in three colors to match a variety of décors, the Katch One is a slender but very tall soundbar, requiring much more room than most beneath a TV. Measuring 33.9 x 6.5 x 2.7 inches (WxHxD) and weighing a total of 8.2 pounds, the cabinet and front baffle are molded from fiberglass-reinforced ABS, which forms a highly rigid structure that resists resonances as the drivers vibrate.

dali katch one airflow DALI

The cabinet is designed so sound from both the front- and rear-firing drivers flows toward the listener.

Speaking of the drivers, they include two 0.8-inch soft-textile dome tweeters with neodymium magnets and four 3.5-inch aluminum-cone woofers with a textile cap. In addition, there are four 4.5-inch steel-cone passive radiators in the bass-reflex system. The shallow woofers are said to allow the full excursion of a conventional woofer by using a specially designed chassis, inverted diaphragm, and custom spider suspension.

Two woofers and two radiators face forward with the tweeters, while the other two woofers and radiators face backward. This design is intended to reinforce the low frequencies with the soundbar mounted on or near a wall. The Katch One comes with short leather straps for wall mounting, or you can use the more conventional brackets on the back. Alternatively, the included feet let it stand freely on a surface.

The drivers are powered by four 50W Class D amplifiers with a signal-to-noise ratio of 100dB. A powerful DSP provides an active crossover and operates internally at a resolution of 24 bits/96 kHz, though the unit can accept inputs up to 24/192 (which are downconverted to 24/96). According to DALI, “The surplus of computing power lets the DSP step in before the amplifier or the drivers get over extended, and at the same time giving it the ability to go completely hands-off, allowing the drivers to deliver a coherent and undistorted audio signal.” Altogether, the drivers, amp, and DSP support a frequency response from 46Hz to 25kHz (±3 dB) and a maximum output of 101dB SPL.

In addition, the DSP provides two sound modes: Focus and Wide. Focus mode delivers a focused stereo signal, while Wide mode is said to expand the sound beyond the physical dimensions of the cabinet.

dali katch one back DALI

The back of the DALI Katch houses two 3.5-inch active woofers and two 4.5-inch passive radiators.

Connections include one HDMI input, which normally connects to a TV’s HDMI ARC input while source devices like a streaming box, disc player, and/or game console are connected to the TV’s other HDMI inputs. As you may know, ARC stands for Audio Return Channel, which sends audio from that input back along the cable that normally brings audio and video signals to the TV from something like an AV receiver. In that case, audio from the TV’s built-in apps and over-the-air tuner are sent back to the AVR along the same cable.

With the Katch One, however, the TV’s HDMI ARC input acts like an audio output, sending audio to the soundbar from the other HDMI inputs as well as the TV’s internal apps and tuner. Unfortunately, that means the TV’s ARC input can’t be used for a source device, and in some cases, the ARC input is the TV’s highest-bandwidth HDMI input. Also, it’s possible that some TVs might not route the audio from other HDMI inputs to the ARC output. It’s also worth noting that the Katch One doesn’t support the higher-bandwidth version of ARC—eARC—found on the latest-model smart TVs (click here for a deeper exploration of the two standards).

dali katch one connections Scott Wilkinson / IDG

The connections include (top to bottom) USB-C for power and service, subwoofer output, 3.5mm aux input, optical input, TV optical input, and HDMI input.

If your TV has an ARC input, its audio output must be set to stereo or PCM, since the Katch One doesn’t provide a Dolby Digital or DTS decoder. Also, if the TV offers CEC (Consumer Electronics Control), you can control the basic functions of the Katch One (volume, mute, power on/off) with the TV’s remote.

Other connections include two Toslink optical digital-audio inputs, one labeled TV and the other labeled simply Optical. What’s the difference? The TV optical input automatically powers on the soundbar and selects that input when it receives any light, while the other one powers up and selects the input only when it receives an optical audio signal. Apparently, some CD players and streamers leave the optical carrier on, even when there’s no signal, while TVs only send the carrier when they send a signal.

Rounding out the physical connections is a 3.5mm stereo analog input, a 3.5mm subwoofer output that connects to an optional sub, and a USB-C port that’s mainly used for firmware upgrades. It can also be used to power a Google Chromecast or Amazon Echo device, adding voice control and support for TuneIn and Spotify as well as other streaming services.

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