Premium in-ears such as Beyerdynamic’s Xelento Remotes invariably suffer from poor perceived value. No matter how sophisticated the innards, from the outside there’s usually little to differentiate them from cheaper alternatives.
That’s a shame, as it makes earphones such as these easy to overlook. But we think that if sound quality is a priority for you, and your portable sources are talented enough, these Beyerdynamics make a lot of sense.
The Xelentos make use of the company’s Tesla drive unit technology, which we’ve heard great results from in the award-winning T1 Generation 2 over-ears. There’s a single driver per side to cover a claimed frequency range of 8Hz-48kHz. These in-ears are pretty sensitive, too, at a claimed 110dB (1mW, 500Hz), meaning that almost any compatible portable device should drive them to high levels without issue.
While Beyerdynamic also makes a wireless version, the Xelento Remotes are wired. There are two 1.3m cables provided in the box – one with a three-button universal remote and the other without. Both are terminated with a 3.5mm plug and MMCX connectors at the earbud end, so swapping the leads is easy.
Whoever specified the leads knew what they were doing – they are resistant to tangling and don’t transmit much noise when on the move. It’s surprising how many manufacturers pay little regard to practicalities such as these.
It’s worth noting that while the remote will work with most Android and Apple phones, not all phones will be compatible – you may find some that don’t respond to the remote commands.
We’re pleased to report that Beyerdynamic truly understands the importance of fit when it comes to in-ears. The company supplies no fewer than ten different varieties of eartips, comprising seven pairs of silicon alongside three pairs made of Comply foam. The Xelentos weigh just 7g (without the cable), and that helps comfort too.
It doesn’t take long to realise that these headphones are only justified if you can get a top-quality signal into them. While they will work with phones – those that have physical headphone outputs, that is – for us, these earbuds only excel when we use a source the standard of the Astell & Kern A&norma SR25 portable music player, or even better Chord’s Poly streamer and Mojo DAC combination.
Once you do that, the Xelento Remotes turn in an excellent performance. They aren’t the most enthusiastic sounding in-ears you’ll ever hear – Beyerdynamic products rarely go for short-term thrills – but give them a little time and their honesty and insight comes to the fore.
We listen to the recently released eponymous Alicia Keys album and are impressed by the detail on offer. These earbuds have no problem rendering instrumental textures or capturing the leading edge of notes with precision.
Type Dynamic, moving coil driver
Frequency response 8Hz - 48kHz
Cable 1.3m detachable (MMCX)
Connector 3.5mm jack
Weight 7g (without cable)
Keys’ vocals come through with passion on the track Underdog, with the Xelentos capturing the energy of her performance well. The backing instrumentation is nicely resolved, with each instrumental strand easy to follow. This remains a cohesive sound – one that tracks the ebb and flow of the music well.
We switch to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, and by the standards of its peers the Xelento Remotes deliver a powerful and entertaining performance. They communicate wide-ranging dynamics with conviction while resolving a great deal of information. Their controlled presentation is as easy to listen to as it is informative.
There’s an impressive sense of composure throughout, with these in-ears refusing to sound stressed even when the music becomes demanding.
We’re pleased to report that Beyerdynamic hasn’t followed current fashion by boosting bass frequencies. The Xelentos’ lows are firm, punchy and, most importantly of all, in proportion with the rest of the frequency range.
The overall frequency balance is as neutral as we’ve heard in earbuds at this price. It’s all expertly balanced, with no part of the frequency range sticking out. It helps that the highs combine bite and insight with a good dose of refinement, so that even aggressive recordings fail to provoke harshness.
If you’re looking for capable premium in-ears, the Xelento Remotes should certainly be high on your shortlist. Make sure you shop around, though; you may well find useful savings over the price we’ve quoted, and that would make them an even better buy.
- Sound 5
- Comfort 4
- Build 5
Read our guide to the best in-ear headphones
Looking for a wireless pair? Check out our best wireless headphones guide
Read our Shure Aonic 3 review