New wireless headphones from Dali include killer tech found on its high-end speakers

Dali's IO-12 headphones are the world's first with this key hi-fi feature
(Image credit: Dali)

If you think headphones play second fiddle compared to 'proper' hi-fi products, then Dali has news for you. Its IO-12 headphones are the first to feature its patented Soft Magnetic Compound (SMC) technology which aims to reduce distortion. Which should help deliver hi-fi sound on the go.

SMC is usually found in Dali's high-end speakers, including its £70k flagship Kore, and its recently announced Epikore floorstanders. It reduces hysteresis (which can result in unwanted distortion) to help deliver a clearer sound.

You can use IO-12 wirelessly, and benefit from higher bitrates through their aptX Adaptive Bluetooth support, or plug in and listen using the supplied 3.5mm mini-jack and USB-C cables. The latter supports up to 24-bit/96kHz files.

ANC is also onboard, for blocking out external sound, while integrated buttons let you skip tracks, adjust the volume and more without resorting to your phone. Battery life is a healthy 35 hours – longer than the Sony WH-1000XM5, but not as long as the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless (though not many are). There are two listening modes too – Hi-Fi is for a more authentic experience, while Bass emphasises the low end.

Sound comes courtesy of 50mm custom drivers, while the leather headband and oversized earpads promise all-day comfort. The Dali IO-12 will go on sale in August with a price tag of £999 ($1499 / €999), which puts them right up against the Mark Levinson No. 5909, another pair of high-end wireless ANC headphones. We can't wait to take them for a spin!


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Joe Svetlik

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.