(Pocket-lint) - The word Dali will probably see your mind either wander to the 'tache-twiddling famed Spanish artist, or to a certain Danish audio manufacturer known for its great quality speakers. The Dali Katch isn't necessarily a piece of art to be hung in a gallery, but this Bluetooth speaker does deliver audio artistry at a portable scale. Is it a genuine catch given its £330 cover price?
Dali Katch review: Design
There are all manner of Bluetooth speakers on the market, ranging from the ultra budget to pricier models such as this Dali. At over £300 it's fair to say you should be expecting something special.
So when we first pulled the Katch from its box we had mixed emotions: the giant pill-shaped body is fronted by plasticky-looking mesh panels, but matched with a solid aluminium body. The mesh is actually a combination of polycarbonate an ABS (a thermoplastic polymer), but it just looks like plastic - which is all you need to know. The aluminium exudes a greater quality because of its exposed chamfered edge, adding lift to the shadowy blue finish of this review sample (grey and green choices are also available - but all are muted rather than snappy colours).
That brown edging to one side of the pill? It's actually an integrated leather carry strap, which can slide out of its stowed position to form a handle, in a fashion reminiscent of many B&O BeoPlay devices Again, however, the choice of finish doesn't look much like leather; again it initially looks like more plastic - until you pull it away from the body. A different texture would have been better to highlight the material quality.
To one side of the Katch there are an array of buttons: on/off, Bluetooth pairing, volume up and down, and an EQ preset. These days most manufacturers are opting for sparse design minus such old skool buttons, so while these classic buttons are fine by their function, the “hidden away” style of those found in the B&O BeoPlay A1 make for a more refined overall appearance.
So, on balance, the Dali Katch doesn't really look like a more-than-£300 speaker. Not on the outside at least…
Dali Katch review: Sound quality
Switch it on, however, and Dali's audio knowledge comes to light. The Katch sounds solid from the off: a great delivery of bass, with balanced mids and treble. That's perhaps no surprise given the twin aluminium woofers and 21mm tweeters aboard, expertly crafted as you would expect.
That EQ button even functions to toggle between two pre-sets to cater for different environments depending on how close the product is to a wall (one is baser than the other, effectively). However, there's no app to make more of this EQ: we would like more presets, or the ability to tweak these presets accordingly.
The Katch is also really loud. It could be the only speaker that you'll ever need to fill a room. And given its portability, it's no hassle to cart it from one room to another. So while the exterior might leave you wanting more, the audio quality really doesn't.
We've had no issues with Bluetooth connectivity - which even caters for aptX high-quality streams - or you can go old skool and plug in devices via the 3.5mm adapter - which is tucked away behind a panel to one end of the device.
The Katch's on-board battery lasts for an alleged 24-hours of non-stop use. We've been using it non-stop for three office days and it's still not given any hint that it might run out of juice just yet, which is pretty good going by any speaker standard.
Should you run out of juice then two forms of charging are possible: via the exposed mains charger (which comes with an annoyingly over-sized plug socket) or via the full-size USB port, which also means on-the-go charging is possible if you have the right cable (that one's not included). The USB port can also be used to drive a Chromecast Audio dongle for connection to a home network, which is a nifty little feature that brings the Katch into the modern world.
The Dali Katch is a tale of two halves: its exterior aesthetic has some not-so-hot moments, while its audio artistry is second-to none. The battery life is standout for a portable Bluetooth speaker too.
However, at £330 Dali is pushing faith that its premium brand name will drive purchase, because for £130 less you could buy the smaller, better looking and just as decent B&O BeoPlay A1 instead.
As it stands, we find the visual exterior of the Katch has us 'tache-twiddling like a certain other Dali because it's simply surreal that it doesn't look better. The score reflects this rather than the abundant audio quality.