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Christmas Gift Guide
Speakers

At last: A wireless speaker for the most discerning audiophiles

The Audiophiliac spends quality time with the Dynaudio Xeo 2 speakers.

I've heard Dynaudio's Xeo series wireless speakers many times at audio shows since 2012, but those were brief encounters. I wanted to spend quality listening time with the newest model, the Xeo 2.

It sports a 1-inch (27mm) soft dome tweeter, and a 6-inch (140mm) woofer; each driver is powered by a separate 65 watt amplifier inside the Xeo 2. The speaker measures a trim 6.8 by 10y 6 inches (173x255x154mm) and weighs 8.8 pounds (4 kg). You'll find power on/off, input selector and volume +/- soft-touch buttons on the top of the cabinet, and you also get a full-function remote control. Xeo 2 is available in satin black with black grilles, or satin white with grey grilles.

Dynaudio Xeo 2, in black

​Dynaudio

The cabinet is molded composite, and the front baffle is solid aluminum. The Xeo 2 can be configured to work as a super-simple stereo system with just your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth, or with optical digital or stereo analog RCA inputs with a Blu-ray or CD player, or even a turntable. It can also be used with a multiroom/multizone system. The speaker is made in Denmark.

I auditioned the Xeo 2 at the In Living Stereo store in NYC, and was immediately knocked out by its transparency, far beyond what the Naim Mu-so sound bar ($ 1,499, £895, AU$2,200 each) is capable of. I've also heard the wireless Devialet Phantom ($2,390, £1,390, AU$2,990 each) speaker, and was amazed by its bass power, and it played loud, but the Phantom cannot touch the Xeo 2's clarity. That's what elevates the Xeo 2 ($1,599, £995, AU$1,999 per pair) to the status of a true audiophile speaker. Most wireless speakers are used for background listening, and, sure, you can do that with the Xeo 2, but the sound is better than that. You actually want to listen to the Xeo 2s.

I listened to streaming lossless files from Tidal with my iPhone 6S' via aptX Bluetooth, and alternatively with a wired analog connection from my phone's headphone jack. The wired connection's sound was only slightly better than aptX Bluetooth's; for best sound quality use the optical digital connection where you can play up to 192-kHz/24-bit high-resolution files over the Xeo 2s.

With the "Hamilton" Broadway soundtrack album, the singers' commanding presence and power were unleashed in the store's listening room. The Xeo 2s weren't holding anything back!

Dynaudio Xeo 2, in white


​Dynaudio

Next, Cliff Martinez's terrific "Neon Demon" album amply demonstrated the speakers' deep bass prowess. Not only that, Martinez's synth's palpable textures and crisp dynamics reached far beyond what you'd expect from a speaker this small. The soundstage was sharply focused, big, wide and deep. As I played tune after tune the sound was consistently precise and neutral.

Trumpeter Steven Bernstein's "Brass Bang" album features a jazz brass quartet, and with this kind of music lesser speakers can sound aggressively bright and grating, but the Xeo 2's treble remained pure and clear. The brass instruments' midrange was invitingly warm.

Beyonce's "Lemonade" album sounded pretty good, but when I turned up the volume the limitations of the Xeo 2's size started to show: Yes indeed, it's a small speaker, and not a party speaker. If you have a large room or want to crank your tunes check out Dynaudio's larger Xeo 4 bookshelf speaker, or Xeo 6 tower speakers.

Again and again the Dynaudio Xeo 2 proved itself to be the sort of speaker a seasoned audiophile could love, and I can't say that about any other brand's wireless speakers. Granted, some play louder, and make more bass, but if you crave transparency and an accurate tonal balance the Xeo 2 is tough to beat.