Aug 19, 2019 00:20

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Desirable Diversion

Danish Royals

In typical Dynaudio driver/enclosure design, the sound it produced belies its compact dimension

Photos by Juanito Vinluan

Bluetooth wireless connectivity has been the game-changing development in audio ever since its inception a few years ago. First releases were catered towards portable audio where the sound quality is compromised over portability. Much like any technology driven development, the improvements have gone unnoticed in a relatively short time. So when I was told to review the Xeo range of Bluetooth capable Dynaudio speakers at a higher price point, I was curious what Dynaudio had to offer. For the longest time, I haven’t heard a single Dynaudio that disappointed me. Now more than ever, they have demonstrated time and time again that they are at the forefront of speaker development. The Xeo is intriguing for being marketed with built-in amplifiers, wireless connectivity with multi-room option via Dynaudio Connect yet it is still relatively portable. This range is clearly targeted more for serious listeners. Can wireless audio be accepted by the mainstream listening enthusiast? We will hence find out!

The range consists of two bookshelf speakers, the Xeo2 and Xeo4, and a floor-stander, the Xeo6. The Xeo will change the way we listen to music. The practicality of high-quality sound without wires is compelling. With its built-in amplification, the ease in which one can move the speakers around the house or even bring it to a holiday home is enticing. What about a multi-room setup without preamps, amps, and cables? Its compact dimension won’t clutter any living room, big or small. Its practical applications and functionality can be the game changer. If we remove all of the components out of the equation, it leaves us with one thing — ease of access to music anywhere and anytime!

XEO2

I started my audition with the most compact of the trio, the Xeo2. With its built in Bluetooth receiver, wireless pairing was a breeze, I was enjoying music within seconds. Since the majority of their targeted customers will be using this pair wirelessly, I did my audition exclusively via Bluetooth. First and foremost, I have to give it to Dynaudio for releasing such a great product. Like many speakers from Dynaudio, the dimension is compact yet the sound it produced sounded big for its size. The design cohesion of the overall package is exemplary. Even when the volume is put to the maximum on both speaker and source, there is no sign of distortion whatsoever. The woofer/tweeter and amplification coherence played reassuringly. This is only possible by having a good internal crossover topology. The Dynaudio “house” sound is still evident with the Xeo2, which is a good thing. To describe the “house” sound, it has a prominent midrange coupled with a precise high frequency. Low frequencies are produced with thump and gusto, while the overall demeanor is natural. It is fascinating that a speaker this size can attain very high decibels. Unless you are used to complex speaker systems, you will not feel short-changed by the way this pair of speakers covers the frequency especially in small to medium size rooms. The Xeo2 certainly sounds far better than many wired speakers/separate amplifier combo in its class. The 2x65watt amplification is well-matched for its price point. While the three modes of EQ labeled “wall,” “corner,” and “neutral” give it the bass boost a listener may need depending on the speaker placement. Fabelagtig!

XEO4

The award winning Xeo4 is equally impressive with more of everything relative to the Xeo2. It offers a more defined bass and a more open sounding midrange. This is definitely a step up over the already good sounding Xeo2. Wireless connection with the Xeo4 requires Dynaudio-Connect. Unfortunately, this is sold separately but adds multi-room connectivity for up to 3 pairs of Dynaudio-Connect compatible speakers. Connecting to the Dynaudio Connect is child’s play and the added functionality of high sampling rates of up to 24bits/96kHz between source and speaker is supported. Music streamed to the Xeo4 via Spotify sounded very impressive. It produced scale and weight like any good speaker would but wirelessly. I would see this speaker marketed to people living with limited spaces yet are serious with the sound quality. The Xeo4 is more than willing to give you a glimpse of high end sound without the size and cost associated with great sound. Its superb capability is partly due to the more powerful 100w of digital amplification per side. Like the Xeo2, there is also EQ switching that allows one to optimize the bass performance with a simple switch. The Xeo4 may be the pick of the range in terms of sound quality per price ratio.

The floor stander of the range is the Xeo6. Listening to the Xeo6 changed my appreciation for wireless music. Coupled with Dynaudio Connect, it simply covers the full frequency spectrum except for the lowest of sub bass registers (50hz and below). The Xeo6 is equipped with 150w per channel or 50w for each driver. It is still fairly compact by floor stander dimension but the fullness and clarity it produced definitely impressed. I auditioned this speaker in a fairly large room yet I never felt it inadequate. The Xeo6 comes equipped with a remote control for long listening habits; multitudes of functions can be remotely toggled from the confines of your favorite couch. The Xeo6 is an audiophile sounding speaker but makes clutter and accessories rolling a thing of the past. Both imaging and depth of soundstage is present without the need for external preamps and amplifiers. Unlike many audiophile quality speakers, the Xeo6 doesn’t attract attention to itself, yet produces great music across different genres. I tried jazz vocals to heavy metal and the Xeo6 breezed through the lot. I never had this much enjoyment listening to Spotify nor did I expect it to be this satisfying.  The Xeo6 isn’t what you call a bargain by any means, but the sum of its parts more than make up for its price tag. As soon as you deduct the price of a high power amplifier, a preamplifier, a mid-priced speaker cable, and interconnects, the $4000 suggested price will surely make a lot more sense.

Give it more time, the technology of Bluetooth will make listening to music minus wires the new norm. We are experiencing a glimpse of the future now. It has set a new bar for wireless audio without the penalties of an underwhelming sound quality. Don’t get me wrong, the technology will continue to improve, though great as it is, there’s still room for improvement. When higher resolution audio can be exchanged between sources over time, I will go on to say that cables will be a thing of the past even for 2-channel high-end audio. Right now, the trio of Xeo speakers is as good as it gets. The floor standing Xeo6 made me listen longest and made me forget about critical listening. It is what great speakers do! I can live with the Xeo6 and a smart phone as a source, which says a lot about the sound quality. The Xeo’s are the Teslas in the world of audio. It may not be the game changer now, but it will be very soon. If you have limited space or just want a simple setup without compromising sound quality, look no further!