Better Sound Than You Thought Possible
The Dali Zensor 1AX is an active loudspeaker that combines good sound quality and a surprising amount of flexibility in a small, well-made, good-looking package.
In case you were wondering, they’re not named for Salvador Dali the painter. DALI stands for Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries.
In a world of complicated gadgets, the DALI Zensor looks and acts like a traditional stereo component — only scaled down to fit conveniently on your bookcase or table. From the front, a set of Zensor 1AX’s look like a handsome pair of traditional speakers.
All the smarts in the Zensor live in the left speaker — including the 50 watt per channel stereo Class D amplifier that powers both channels. The rear panel of the left speaker also holds all the input and output connections for the Zensor 1ax, and the few simple controls.
All the connections and controls on the Zensor 1ax are made to the left speaker, except a single speaker wire that connects it to the passive right speaker.
They Look Like Real Speakers — Only Smaller
We love how Zensor speakers don’t look like little plastic boxes. They also push the idea that old-school type controls will be familiar rather than confusing. And I can tell you, a lot of us will consider buttons and switches we recognize to be a positive selling feature.
Dali Zensor 1 AX Colors
Connections and Controls
If you’ve ever owned a stereo system, then you’ll find the connections and controls on the DALI Zensor quite familiar. There’s a receptacle for connecting the power cord. The Zensor doesn’t use an annoying wall wart, so it’s just a simple plug. There’s a set of speaker terminals that you use to connect the two speakers in the pair together. Also, on the rear panel of the left speaker are a set of inputs.
A Toslink optical input for connecting a digital source (like the output on a TV), and an analog input for a music player, or something like an Amazon Echo Dot.
Finally, the DALI Zensor has a Bluetooth input which supports the latest AptX standard (the Bluetooth antenna is hidden inside).
There’s also a really neat feature; a subwoofer output. This lets you connect a subwoofer to your pair of DALI Zensor speakers to get that really deep bass.
Controls are even simpler… A rocker switch turns the Zensor on and off. A pair of buttons along one edge on the back turn the volume up and down, and a single button toggles between the three inputs. An LED on the front changes color to tell you which input is selected.
The Zensor also includes a handy and very complete little IR remote control.
Remember that, when you use the Zensor as a Bluetooth speaker, connected to your smart phone or computer, the phone controls everything. It can be handy to have a smart speaker, with streaming apps and player built in, but a basic Bluetooth speaker like the DALI Zensor can be a lot easier to use.
The Technical Details
The Dali Zensor 1ax is a compact two-way powered speaker. Each speaker sports a relatively traditional wood fiber cone 5-1/4” cone woofer and a 7/8” fabric soft dome tweeter. A stereo Class D amplifier delivers 50 watts of audio power to each channel.
While many other units connect a separate smaller Class D amplifier to each individual driver, which offers some advantages, the Zensor 1ax uses a more traditional design, with a single amplifier powering each speaker, and a passive crossover to send each audio frequency range to the appropriate speaker driver.
One Little Quirk
We did notice one little design quirk. Each Zensor has a mounting keyhole bracket on the back, and DALI suggests that they can be hung on the wall. They provide rubber bumpers to hold the speaker out from the wall.
However, the Zensor 1 AX is a bass reflex design, and each has a port that opens on the rear; mounting them against a wall is going to block the port and alter the sound. Both units also have cables and connectors that stick out on the rear, which makes it seem unlikely that they can be mounted securely against a wall; and hanging each unit from a single screw seems downright optimistic. We suggest that you avoid that option altogether.
- Frequency response: 53 Hz to 26.5 kHz +/- 3 dB
- Crossover: 2-way passive crossover at 2.9 kHz
- High frequency driver: 7/8” textile soft dome
- Low frequency driver: 5-1/4” wood fiber cone
- Enclosure: bass reflex
- Amplification: 2 x 50 watts; Class D
- Cabinet Dimensions: 11” high x 6-1/2” wide x 9-1/2” deep
- Weight: 10.2 pounds (each)
- Black Ash
- Light Walnut
- White Vinyl
Dali Zensor 1 AX Colors
- Digital inputs: Toslink (supports sample rates up to 24/96k); AptX Bluetooth
- Analog inputs: Stereo 3.5 mm
- Analog subwoofer output: Yes
- Power Consumption
- Mains voltage: Universal; 100 – 240 VAC; 50/60 Hz
- Standby power consumption: < 0.5 watts
- Maximum power consumption: 160 watts
Dali Zensor 1 Review [Video]
Included In The Box
- Mains Cable
- Remote Control
- Speaker Wire (For Right Speaker)
- Wall Bracket
- Rubber Bumpers
- Rubber Feet
Dali Zensor The Upside
We think there’s a lot to recommend the DALI Zensor 1AX:
- Sound is clear, non-distorted and quite accurate. Even though they can’t make as much bass as some larger models, they have a very flat frequency response, and sound clean and clear.
- They look like a high quality stereo component. We like the fact that the Zensor actually look like speakers… and come in a variety of nice quality traditional speaker finishes.
- Efficient design. The Zensor doesn’t have a lot of inputs, or a lot of redundant controls, but it has the inputs and controls you really need. This makes it simple to hook up and simple to use. We especially liked the Toslink digital input.
- The subwoofer output. If you like lots of bass, you can connect a separate subwoofer to the Zensor. This may not seem like a big deal, but it adds a lot of flexibility, and it’s not always an easy feature to find on wireless desktop speakers.
If there’s any real downside to the DALI Zensor, it’s the price. They’re very good but also very expensive for a pair of smallish Bluetooth speakers.
Some people might see the fact that they’re not smart speakers, and don’t have fancy apps or controls, as a downside. We don’t see it that way…. Although it might well mean that they simply aren’t what you’re looking for.
Good Things Run In The Family
While you’re looking at the affordable DALI Zensor 1AX, you should check out DALI’s two new high-res wireless multi-room smart speaker system that will be out shortly.
If price is not a concern, the Callisto systems might be for you. The DALI Callisto are expected to cost $20,000 or so and encompasses three separate devices. The DALI Callisto 2 and the larger DALI Callisto 6. Both self-powered loudspeakers.
DALI describes the Callisto 2 as “stand mounted” and the Callisto 6 as “floor standing”, and the DALI Sound Hub. The speakers share a newly designed 6-1/2” wood fiber woofer, a 1” dome tweeter, a new ribbon tweeter, and a powerful Class D digital audio amplifier.
The Callisto 6 sports a pair of woofers, while the smaller Callisto 2 sports a single woofer.
However, the really innovative component is the futuristic DALI Sound Hub. The speakers themselves are wireless; all connections and controls are made through the Sound Hub. However, the sound hub is more than a simple switch box and control center.
External audio sources are connected to the Sound Hub via Bluetooth, Toslink optical, USB, or coaxial digital audio connections, or one of its pair of analog audio inputs. The Sound Hub also boasts its own copy of the Bluesound BluOS operating system, and supports the full set of Bluesound’s multi-room features.
The Sound Hub connects to the speakers wirelessly, delivering audio directly to each speaker over a 24/96k digital wireless connection, and is controlled by a cool Bluetooth remote control. There are also rumors that Roon support may be added to the DALI Callisto system soon, and they’ve hinted that they’re also considering adding support for MQA.
We’ll be keeping our eye out for more details on the new DALI Callisto, and you should too...
Dali Zensor 1 AX sound test [Video]
The Bottom Line
We think that the DALI Zensor is an exceptional sound quality for this size Bluetooth speaker. They’re beautifully designed and nicely made, well-thought-out, have a good choice of features, finishes, and connectivity options. Therefore, we give them top ratings in their class.
However, they may not be the ideal product for you: They’re NOT a smart speaker; so, if you’re looking for built-in streaming apps and fancy controls, forget it. Also, for a Bluetooth speaker they are quite expensive.
That said, Dali we think Dali could be on to something, because the Zensor 1AX works so well with Smart devices. If you carry your music with you, the Zensor’s may be one of the easiest ways to play your music when you get home.
So, if you want a real stereo system that works with the smartphone in your pocket or speakers that sit on either side of your flat screen that sound amazing you’ll be hard-pressed to find much better than the Dali Zensor 1AX.