The old Darius’ were a rather large speaker in comparison to these more modestly sized standmounts. The older Darius model came in a frame which was also the stand and was cleverly coupled/decoupled to the speaker enclosure with a floating tweeter design, a high frequency driver mounted slightly forward of a recess in the front baffle via springs in the four corners.
Today’s design is more conventional – thinner front baffle sporting a ribbon tweeter protected with a wire mesh and a 6″ mid/bass driver with a metal cage which protects the driver from knocks, a brushing past the enclosure or projectile toys!
They have a deepish cabinet and are rear ported with bi-wireable binding posts.
The cabinets themselves are weighty and solidly made, they sound extremely well damped with the tapping of the knuckles test.
The Darius S1’s are £4500 including stands and the ones I had for review were in a hard lacquered piano black finish (white is also available).
Unboxing everything was a chore, it took me a good hour and a half to get everything out of the packaging, set up and playing music and I’m not one of these people who puts on the white gloves (which Roksan do supply) and carefully inspects everything and gently peels open the tape and lids of the containers. Although of course I am careful with equipment.
Each component is meticulously packaged and the cut outs of the foam are a complete OCD on package design, absolutely no amount of care was spared when ensuring that the S1’s arrive in the same condition they leave the factory in and this really adds to the initial perception of a quality product and pride of ownership.
What was in the box was an elegantly finished pair of speaker and stands with fantastic attention to detail, quality of finish and those small details such as the companies branding on the top of the speaker that exudes quality.
Assembly was simple and took less time than unpacking.
I set the speakers up on their three point stands which will generally self level by their very nature, however adjustments can be made on the gunmetal coned feet.
With four small balls of blue tack between speaker and stand I felt they were secure enough and positioning the speakers on the floor as whole piece was an easy task.
The finish of the speakers and stands is identical, both in the same piano black finish with Matt black metal outriggers at the rear bottom of the stand and a cable tidying void through the rear of the stand.
Positioning the speakers wasn’t a fiddly affair to ascertain the best sound in my listening space, a foot and a half from the wall and about 7 feet apart was the ticket. In larger rooms a few feet from the wall and a little further apart dependant on listening position would factor in good benefits I’m sure. Toe in made more difference in my room, most speakers I toe in to fire over each shoulder, The Darius I preferred a little less toe in than normal to open them up as much as the room would allow whilst still retaining good depth.
Speaking to Roksan prior to the review I asked how the Darius’ would respond to valve amplification and I was assured that the 40wpc from the Emille would work very well with their 89db sensitivity and fairly easy to drive load and produce very nice results. I also asked for a solid state amplifier from them, to hear the companies electronic/speaker synergy. I have the Clones Audio AP1 and 55pm monos here at the moment also, so a couple good tests for the modern day Darius were on the cards.
After a little warm up time whilst I was finding somewhere to store all the packaging the speakers arrived in, I went straight into ascertaining what the bass response was from these average sized standmounts, a real key decider for me when buying standmounted designs over larger floor standing speakers.
I went straight in for some serious pumping David Guetta dance beats and my oh my, where does that come from? was my first reaction. Bass has a rich weight to it with punch a slap to a kick drum that shocked me – really! There’s a serious tonal quality to the bass, it’s so rich, controlled, rhythmic, dynamic and bouncy. It’s 47hz limitation has a smooth roll off which never allows for the bass to seem as if it’s lacking by having a steeper cut off curve. Of course the very lowest frequencies are not there, but there is a sense of sub bass with the slope they have down low. The integration into mids and the reinforcement bass gives the other frequencies, is superb.
Driver dispersion is vast and wide and the harmonic sense of encapsulation is strong in these speakers. Details are produced very accurately, dynamically but with a controlled robust sense of flavour throughout the range, every note is under-pinned with weight, body and fullness.
Moving into some vocal work and acoustic material the Darius S1’s had a chance to show off their midrange.
Vocals, wow! Vocals were smooth, natural with top to bottom frequency correctness and all the clarity and vibrancy of the best female artist. Deep rich tones of male vocals are conveyed just brilliantly and again it’s the overall integration and coherence of a ‘whole’ that prevails even when focusing on different areas of the sound. I found myself being drawn away from one aspect of the sound so easily and unintentionally listening to the whole again, which is something which doesn’t happen very often at all in my experience and just reinforces my previous comment on their overall coherence.
The midrange as a whole is just so liquid and delicious. Listening to favourite artists such as Chris Jones, Nils Lofgren, The Civil Wars, Loreena McKennit, Norah Jones and many others their vocals have a balance and quality that puts the S1’s down as one of the best standmounts I’ve had the pleasure to listen to, even if they just did ‘this’ type of music right, but there is so much more to them, so before I get too caught up in writing the whole review with the Clones feeding them, I think it’s time for an amp change.
A quick note on the higher frequencies first though, just to be consistent. In one phrase – sparkly, airy and utterly refined yet ready to dance with decays that add such ‘trueness’ to the overall presentation and amalgamates the last portion of the overall picture into one.
Valves – Emille KI40-L
The Darius are recommended to be driven by amplifiers rated between 40-200 watts per channel at 4 ohms, the Emille is rated at 40wpc.
With Emilly heading the system, notes marched into space which seemed to have been freed up at her command, overall resolution and retrieval was a fair step ahead of the Clones which produced a soundstage of such satisfactory proportions I almost didn’t plug her in on the same day, as I was enjoying the performance so much.
Vocals gained added texture and a sense of greater umpixalated control. Guitar strings rasped and the wooden body resonated so naturally. Precision was really at the forefront of this coherent window into the music. Decay which had been so well conveyed took on an almost luxurious roll and a grace of beauty was presented right through the S1’s frequency range.
There’s a definite synergy at work here that has me questioning my Ayons somewhat, their speed and attack is fantastic, however sometimes I wish that they would slow down just a little. The Darius seem to have more ease with various genres and partnering equipment, so far even though the two amps used have different characters and different levels of obtainable performance the S1’s haven’t seemed to change their core flavour proving to be incredibly well voiced. The Ayons can sometimes show up little nasties in the top end with some amplifiers, whereas the Roksans almost say ‘I’ll take what detail you can offer me and just let me do my thing’.
Soundstage depth was better with the more capable Emille and centre focus was solidly portrayed with a nice bit of layering leaving a good void for the vocal to present itself with solid stature.
Smaller transient nuances, reverb and inner details seemed to emerge more strongly now and acoustical space was more apparent on live recordings. The S1’s really have the ability to convey micro details and subtle shifts of texture within the performance and the soundstage never became over saturated or muddy in any way and what people relate to as a valve distortion or I’d say quality, gave an embodiment to the sound which was fantastically musical and harmoniously flavoured.
Bass did gain another level of texture and layering, a more organic embodiment of the representative sound… a typical characterisation of valves of course. I am dreaming of a good hybrid to cover all music types with an even better potential, maybe a valve pre and class A power? That would make for an interesting listen indeed.
At this point I can not fault the sound of the Darius one bit, really. It does give me fond memories of what I liked about the MK1 Caspian. I always enjoyed it with whatever gear I partnered it with at the time, I always have referred to it as a completely non-offensive amplifier, but in truth that doesn’t do it justice, it was a lot more than that and always punched above its weight in terms of refinement and musicality.
Pairing with Roksan’s Caspian M2 Integrated
Which nicely brigs me onto the latest M2 version of the Caspian. I’ve wanted to hear the new model for a while and being offered the Darius was a great opportunity to make the most of the opportunity to hear how the newer version compared to the MK1 (the M1 for me was not as special as the earlier amp) and also try the companies speakers with one of their own amps.
Candy Dulfers ‘Nikki’s Dream’ Live In Amsterdam sounded magical on the Caspian, generous amounts of controlled bass coupled her Sax as it tore through the air with textural vibrancy, emanating from deep in the soundstage, which was accurately portrayed with Ulco Bes’s electric guitar just to the right of her and layered with applause from the crowd. The sense of liquidity remained strong through the Darius right through Roger Happel’s vocal.
In Lauryn Hill’s MTV Unplugged performance of ‘Adam Lives In Theory’ she refers to the context of the lyrics being about all mankind without exception and one phrase she uses is;
“Fantasy is what people want but reality is what they need”
This is a fantastic quote which for me relates to how the Darius S1 performs. Audiophiles talk about resolution, dynamics, big bass slam and huge sound staging, often being initially fooled by a piece of equipment or a pair of speakers when auditioning them by their initial, what we refer to as ‘wow factor’. Yet find when the equipment is in their own homes for a prolonged period of time it becomes tiresome. The Roksans simply don’t, they just continue to grow on the listener as he/she explores their music library further and in more depth – the S1’s are “reality”.
The overall flavour of the Roksan combination was great, soundstage was completely solid and realistic. Detail retrieval was strong and the integration of frequencies was harmonious and didn’t lack anything at both ends of the musical spectrum.
During my time with the Darius S1 standmounts I can confess I fell in love with them. With their cohesive well tempered rhythms, their detailed and engaging approach, with the ability to handle delicacies and beats with ease, the S1’s offer a tonal completeness which will put an immediate smile on your face.
Depth was a notably exceptional attribute to point out from a soundstage which conveyed natural timbres and transients, without an artificially over emphasised edge, unless it was demanded of the speakers when listening to heavy electronic dance music.
They may not be the absolute pinnacle of resolution but any hifi product which boasts these claims in my experience tends to be lacking in musicality and generally has a hard edge, swapping it for a wow factor which very quickly become unlistenable. Roksan have spent some serious time listening and fine tuning these to reproduce a sound which lacks nothing musically and conveys an awful lot more.
These are simply one of the best standmounts I have heard.
Style, fit and finish as well as attention to detail, right down to the efficient use of and complex nature of the packaging adds to that pride of ownership and compliments their high end sound.
It has been a very long time since I have heard a speaker of this calibre able to reproduce music in such a sensational way, I really cannot convey the joy of my experience enough. Well done Roksan, well done!
Build quality: 9/10
Sound Quality: 9/10
Value For Money: 9/10 – in today’s market these will give many higher priced speakers a real run for their money.
Overall – 9/10
Highly Recommended – For simply being a truly outstanding conveyer of music (full stop)
Author – Danny Worth
Having achieved an overall score in excess of 8.5 the Darius S1 loudspeakers from Roksan was sent for second review to Stuart Smith to see if it would score 8.5 again and get the Hifi Pig Outstanding Product Award
This is going to be a relatively short second review as I think Danny has conveyed pretty accurately what I’ve heard with the Darius S1s from Roksan.
The packaging is indeed outstanding and the fit and finish is exceptional on the speakers. The gloss piano finish is really lovely. They have good weight to them and the stands match them perfectly – if they were staying I’d be tempted to fill them with lead shot or similar. Bolting the speakers to the stands is a relatively painless task, but tolerances are very tight – which is a good sign that there has been a good deal of care taken over the construction. They are made in England!
Speakers were set up 1m from the back wall and 1.5m from side walls with a small degree of toe in towards the listening position. We tried them nearer the back wall but found a little into the room opened the staging up nicely for us.
The Tellurium Q Iridium amp with its 9W into 4 Ohms produced a really lovely tone overall with the speakers, but it’s clear that the Darius demands a bit more power to really get them singing. So with no further ado I plugged in the excellent Soul Note SA 730 we have in for review which delivers a healthy 115W into 4 Ohms.
Doug MacLeod’s terrific album “There’s a Time” comes alive with the guitar being portrayed in as real a fashion as I’ve heard in the house. There’s a real feeling of “being there” and the stage is wide and deep. There’s a bass drum kick on his Black Night tune that’s very dry sounding and the Darius portray this perfectly…as well as the little touches on the hats. Bass guitar sounds deeper than the specs would have you think and this was one area I thought I’d find these loudspeakers to be lacking – I needn’t have worried – it is tight and accurate! There’s texture to the vocal and you hear all the little inflections and intonations in MacLeod’s voice which brings you emotionally closer to the feeling of the blues style of this record. Danny is right in that it’s easy to appreciate the tonal coherence of these speakers across the whole frequency range, though you can’t ignore that the open and airy top end is really rather special in these speakers and this is down to the ribbon tweeter! The way the tweeter integrates with the woofer is really wonderful and the crossover design and implementation is clearly very clever which is not something that can be said of some.
Our bass test track is Hardfloor’s “Once Again Back” and this can leave a lot of speakers all a fluster with the extremes of bass and electronic hats. With the Darius you get that the bass is pretty much all there other than the very lowest frequencies, though you do get a sense of them being there…if that makes sense – I’ve just read Danny’s review back and he says pretty much exactly the same here. To me a speaker needs to be able to reproduce bass with realism and be fast (no overhang or unreal decay) and the Darius’ do this brilliantly which is surprising given they only have a six inch driver!
These are very much like a very high quality monitor speaker in that they don’t accentuate or push forward any one frequency in the mix and I like this a lot! They also sound a lot bigger than their relatively small size would suggest. You do find yourself turning up the volume to quite high levels, but at no point do the Darius’ become tiring or too much as some speakers can – they just keep their composure and just go …well, louder! Our room is relatively large, but not once did I feel the Darius were out of their depth!
Kathryn William’s wonderful album “Crown Electric” is again brought alive when played with this set up and I really loved it! The vocal is represented accurately and there’s a real silkiness to her voice. Likewise the vocal on Melphi’s “Through the Looking Glass” album – the Darius’ just never get flustered at all and the music and vocal sound correct.
Soundstaging is really great (deep and wide) but not over done on all the tunes we listened to and this gives you a very non-hifi sound. You can listen to these off axis and away from the hot seat, but sit in the sweet spot and what you are given is a very realistic portrayal of the stereo image.
I’ve listened to the Darius non-stop for the last week or so and they are very good indeed. My personal preference is for large floorstanding speakers, but I would be more than happy to live with these had I a more powerful reference amplifier – my current speakers would be up for sale if I had a suitable amplifier and I’d love to try them with an American muscle amp or Roksan’s own Oxygene amp we reviewed a while ago.
They are a great loudspeaker for a reviewer as they are just so accurate, but at the same time not clinical or fatiguing so you do find yourself listening for hours on end.
With the Darius’ you are given more of the subtleties of the recording, which is particularly notable on vocals, though the steel stringed guitar on the Doug MacLeod album I mentioned is absolutely believable and somewhat stunning!
I like these speakers a lot!
Build Quality – 9
Sound Quality – 9
Value For Money – 9
Overall – 9
Highly recommended for anyone looking for a speaker that delivers an accurate representation of the recording without being clinical or fatiguing and they fully deserve their Outstanding Product award and despite their asking price I do think they offer great value for money in comparison to the competition!
Price with stands is £5200