When it comes to wireless speakers, sound quality is often traded for convenience. Dynaudio is one of the few manufacturers to buck that trend, achieving great wireless sound in 2012 when it introduced its wireless hi-fi speaker range, Xeo.
Now the Xeo has been updated, and the stand-mounted Xeo 4s are the first to be tested.
So how do they work? The Xeo 4 active speakers have built-in amplifiers – one driving the tweeter and another the mid/bass driver. The supplied Xeo Hub wireless transmitter connects directly to the source and sends a wireless signal to the speakers to achieve playback. All you need to build a complete system is a pair of Xeo speakers and a source. That’s the beauty of it.
The Xeo 4s have plenty more in their arsenal than just convenience and versatility, though. Like their predecessors, they sound fantastic. Effortlessly musical, these are hugely revealing and rhythmically adept speakers. We hook the transmitter up to our Naim network player, and are up and running in seconds thanks to the speakers’ automatic signal-detection.
Jump straight in with a 24-bit/96kHz WAV file of Paul Simon’s Dazzling Blue and the medley of instruments is delivered with precision and insight, each well imaged across a spacious soundstage. The rhythmic pattering of talking drums is spot-on, and well sustained as Simon’s vocals step in.
Tonal balance holds the middle ground nicely, and there’s no shortage of punch to make upbeat tracks like Drake’s Take Care exciting. The song’s thumping bassline has attack and tautness, while pounding piano attack has ample force behind it. The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra’s The Fellowship from The Lord Of The Rings OST brings our test to a sweet end, only confirming the speakers’ stunning detail and dynamics.
Woodwinds have a nice breathy texture and soar in the climatic moments. Dynamically agile, they move freely up and down the composition and don’t get flustered during quick tempo changes. It’s this fusion that gives the track a sense of seamless flow.
It may be a wireless set-up but, as usual, wires aren’t out of the equation. Both speakers require external power (and thus two power-points within range). Source and Xeo Hub also require a wired connection.
The odd-looking attachment atop each cabinet has a basic dot-light display and tiny buttons to control power and volume. Ultimately, we’d like better integration. This is a versatile system – almost any source can be hooked up to it, with as many as four able to connect at once.
It has optical, coaxial and USB inputs, all of which support high-res audio files up to 24-bit/ 96kHz, plus stereo RCA and 3.5mm inputs.
Splash out on a few pairs of Xeo 4s and you have a multi-room marvel. Whether they’re placed in one room or several, multiple pairs of speakers can play from the same source simultaneously, or be individually controlled by ‘zones’ (Red, Blue and Green).
It’s easy to attribute speakers to certain zones: simply flick the switch at the back of the cabinets to the correct colour. It’s certainly an expensive multi-room option, but it’s a price worth paying if you’re after a high-end system throughout the house.
The Xeo 4 largely borrows from the aesthetics of the company’s Excite speaker range, with a smooth, satin-lacquer finish (available in black or white), magnetic grilles and – perhaps a slight blemish in appearance - rather obvious screws bordering the drivers.
The 28cm-tall, 25cm-deep cabinets are conveniently compact, solidly-built and will sit pretty on a good pair of speaker stands like the Q Acoustics Concept 20s (£200). We like the speaker’s bold, polished presentation, though whether it reflects their price is questionable.
The odd-looking attachment atop each cabinet, which acts as a basic dot-light display and features tiny buttons to control power and volume, does nothing for its aesthetic appeal and looks tacked on. The supplied remote control is slim and nice to use – it’s surprisingly uncluttered, with a thoughtful button arrangement.
As for the Xeo Hub, it’s black, roughly passport-size and easy to tuck out of the way. Placement shouldn’t be much of a bother: it can sit up to 50m from the speakers – though the addition of a Xeo Extender (£135) will boost that wireless range. The Xeo Link (also £135) is another handy accessory, and can add extra components like a subwoofer or headphone amp to the set-up.
It’s safe to say that Dynaudio’s Xeo range continues to wow with this next-gen model. These speakers certainly aren’t cheap, but they offer hassle-free set-up plus insightful and musical sound from almost any source.