Dy­nau­dio Xeo 2

FOR Taut, con­trolled low-end; tim­ing; in­te­grated de­sign AGAINST Ap­pear­ance is barely in keep­ing with price

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

If Dy­nau­dio ran a TV com­mer­cial for the Xeo 2s, we imagine ‘more than just speak­ers’ would be some­where in the tagline. And un­like the car and sham­poo prod­ucts that ride the pop­u­lar slo­gan, there’d be some truth be­hind the mar­ket­ing hy­per­bole. With dig­i­tal am­pli­fiers, DACS and Blue­tooth re­ceivers built-in, these two-way ac­tive stand­mounts should be seen as more of a sys­tem; as four (pos­si­bly five) hi-fi boxes in two. When you look at it that way, £995 doesn’t seem as much for these dinky things now, does it?

The idea’s sim­ple: just plug both speak­ers into the mains and add a source – whether that’s a smart­phone or lap­top con­nected via Blue­tooth, or a TV or hi-fi com­po­nent plugged into one of the Xeo 2s’ 3.5mm, RCA or op­ti­cal in­puts.

Ripe for res­o­lu­tion

The lat­ter sup­ports files up to 24-bit/192khz, so hi-res and net­work play­back from a con­nected streamer is possible. Al­ter­na­tively, the op­tional £295 Dy­nau­dio Con­nect can bring wi-fi on­board the Xeo 2s for DLNA and Spo­tify Con­nect com­pat­i­bil­ity, as well as USB (with sup­port up to 96khz) and coax­ial (to 192khz) in­puts.

Neat, huh? That’s what we thought in 2014 when award­ing their big broth­ers, the Xeo 4s (£1775), five stars for their ver­sa­til­ity and so-good-we-can’t-be­lieve-it’s-wire­less per­for­mance. Dy­nau­dio set out to de­sign the Xeo 2s as more af­ford­able, smaller ver­sions but, al­though they suc­ceed in ful­fill­ing the same prom­ise in a smaller pack­age, a few changes had to be made along the way.

Fresh in­gre­di­ents

An all-new 28mm soft-dome tweeter and 14cm Mag­ne­sium Sil­i­cate Poly­mer cone driver are each driven by 65W of dig­i­tal Class D am­pli­fi­ca­tion – up from the Xeo 4’s 50W. While in the­ory that sounds like more power from a smaller foot­print, the greater wattage is ac­tu­ally to bal­ance out the much smaller cab­i­net vol­ume.

How small? 25cm tall and no deeper than the width of the av­er­age out­stretched hand, each box can be car­ried com­fort­ably un­der an arm. That means they don’t re­quire a par­tic­u­larly large desk when spread in a stereo set-up – or even one at all if you buy the ded­i­cated foot­stand or wall bracket.

The choice of colour is still be­tween black and sil­ver, but with­out the pre­mium look or feel of the Xeo 4’s lac­quer coat­ing it’s rea­son­able to at first feel a lit­tle short-changed when it comes to de­sign. Still, the satin fin­ish and alu­minium baf­fle are, if not par­tic­u­larly head-turn­ing, smart and im­mac­u­lately ap­plied.

We like the con­trol in­te­gra­tion too: flush touch but­tons on the top, with the baf­fle sport­ing two small LED in­di­ca­tors. Press­ing ‘O’ switches on the speak­ers, and hold­ing down the plus and mi­nus vol­ume but­tons ei­ther side ini­ti­ates Blue­tooth pair­ing. It re­ally couldn’t be sim­pler.

Dur­ing wired con­nec­tiv­ity, the Xeo 2s au­to­mat­i­cally scan the in­puts for a sig­nal, though there is also an in­tu­itive, well­marked re­mote the size of a Milky bar for man­ual se­lec­tion too.

At home in space

You can tweak the EQ set­tings to suit the speak­ers’ po­si­tion in the room, but even with ‘wall‘ ac­ti­vated, we found they hit the best bal­ance with at least 10cm of space be­hind them. There, tonal­ity oc­cu­pies neu­tral ter­ri­tory and de­tail spreads evenly in a sound­stage you’d think would be­long to boxes twice the size. Like the short­est player on a bas­ket­ball court, the mod­est boxes go

“The pre­ci­sion and rhyth­mic em­brace is sus­tained as ju­bi­lant synth lines twist around one another and lace over the top of the im­pas­sioned vo­cals“

out with some­thing to prove, af­ford­ing mu­sic scale and au­thor­ity in abun­dance.

Is wire­less sound a com­pro­mise? Usu­ally yes, al­though the Xeo 2s sound any­thing but com­pro­mised. Their Blue­tooth pre­sen­ta­tion en­joys a clar­ity and so­phis­ti­ca­tion that masks their wire­less­ness. One ad­van­tage of ac­tive speak­ers is that en­gi­neers can tune the var­i­ous el­e­ments to work in har­mony – and it pays off here, as the fre­quen­cies are well in­te­grated.

Bass power and depth also be­lie phys­i­cal pro­por­tions, and praise of the low-end can be ex­tended to agility too. The drub­bing drums in­tro­duc­ing Anohni’s Cri­sis are full (never tubby) and con­trolled, bounc­ing along in step with the scyth­ing synths.

That pre­ci­sion and rhyth­mic agility is sus­tained as ju­bi­lant synth lines twist around one another and lace over the top of her vo­cals, which sound as cav­ernous and im­pas­sioned as the lyri­cal theme im­plies.

Those ex­pres­sive mids hold the cen­tre of the sound­stage with fo­cus and so­lid­ity aplenty, and meet an ar­tic­u­late tre­ble where the dul­cet tones of the twin­kling elec­tron­ica chime sweetly in the open head­room. There’s a level of trans­parency you’d be hard-pressed to find from a sim­i­larly priced sys­tem of hi-fi sep­a­rates.

Jump to the beat

Tempo changes in the track play into the hands of the punc­tual, feisty Xeos – they don’t stut­ter as a squall of dense elec­tron­ics breaks out from starker, more me­an­der­ing in­stru­men­tals.

Time­li­ness and mu­si­cal­ity both seem to come nat­u­rally to the Dy­nau­dios, and noth­ing feels like hard labour for them – even the oft-de­mand­ing task of han­dling a lo-res Spo­tify stream with aplomb.

Thanks to the Xeo’s for­giv­ing na­ture, they still sound en­joy­able com­pared with Cd-qual­ity WAVS, with space, de­tail and pre­ci­sion in de­cent sup­ply.

Sound qual­ity com­pro­mised for the sake of con­ve­nience? Not here. Ver­sa­tile, easy to house and pack­ing a hugely ac­com­plished sound wor­thy of their ask­ing price, the Dy­nau­dio Xeo 2s are a near-com­plete sys­tem in speak­ers' cloth­ing – and a great one at that, what­ever your source.

Though mod­est in size, the Xeo 2s in­clude dig­i­tal amps, DACS and Blue­tooth re­ceivers. Just plug them in and at­tach your choice of source

VER­DICT An im­pres­sive pair of do-it-all speak­ers in which com­pact dimensions and great sound hap­pily co-ex­ist

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