Before I start, forgive me because I’m by no means an audiophile. I have, however, owned a range of premium hi-fi products from the likes of Bowers & Wilkins, Focal, NAD, Rega and Yamaha so when Dynaudio reached out and asked if we’d like to sample their Dynaudio Xeo 2 speakers I thought I’d give an audio review a whirl.
Despite my mind drifting straight to car audio, recalling my school days flicking through Hot Fours magazine at the back of my Commerce class, Dynaudio is a brand synonyms with professional audio. Over the brand’s 40 years of development, their success in the professional sphere has translated into their home audio range, repeatedly redefining the compact loudspeaker for the digital age.
The Dynaudio Xeo 2 is Dynaudio’s smallest hi-end active speakers to date. Active you ask? Speakers with a built-in amplifier, allowing you to plug them directly into the source. Or not plug them in, in the case of the Dynaudio Xeo 2. The Xeo 2 speakers boast Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to stream music wirelessly from any compatible device, which is exciting given the portability and independence of these units. Being powered units, they still need to be plugged into the wall but once on, speak to each other, and devices, wirelessly.
The Xeo 2 speakers are noticeably small, standing only 25.5cm, 17.3cm wide and 15.4cm deep, making them bookshelf and even desktop suitable. A 28cm soft dome tweeter, 14cm bass/midrange unit and a 65W amp are housed in a beautiful satin black cabinet that screams understated Danish design and performs vibration free, benefiting from a composite mould and an aluminium baffle for extreme rigidity. Our review units came with optional stands machined from sturdy black aluminium that were a breeze to install, concealed the power cords and gave the speakers a commanding presence.
I’ve spent the last month listening to the Xeo 2 speakers daily, and they perform without compromise, both via Bluetooth or connected via a 3.5mm minijack (which I had hooked up to my Macbook). There are also RCA stereo inputs which I trialled with my Rega record player and a digital optical port which you can plug directly into the TV for an engaging film experience. For the more pedantic enthusiasts pairing the Xeo 2 with additional Dynaudio components adds wireless hi-res streaming and multi-room functionality.
The Xeo 2 produce incredible sound for such a compact package. The majority of my listening thus far has been Jazz, and House music and the range is extraordinary. Oscar Peterson’s keys are deeply felt and Christian Scott’s muffled trumpet sounds as genuine as the day it was recorded. The speakers are fitted with a state-of-the-art DSP (digital sound processing) that relies on a series of complex algorithms, which can be updated in the future with new firmware. The DSP, together with optimised sound power and Adaptive Bass, enables the Xeo 2 to extend the bass performance, thus sounding much bigger than they are. Switching from Chet Baker to a live Move D mix recorded on vinyl, reveals an even more capable side of the Xeo 2, combining deep bass, crisp snares and clear hoots from the crowd – it’s as if you’re there. Finally, with controls on each speaker to optimise sound for Left or Right position, and proximity to a corner or wall, the Xeo 2 are a seamless addition to any room.
My amateur ears enjoyed every second of sound playing through the Xeo2 speakers, but I did have a couple of qualms. The controls are finicky, to say the least. They look lovely, but touch controls are not user-friendly because you’ve got to watch where your finger is going every time – there’s no feeling for a particular shape or height button, and even when you begin to press it, you’re not even sure you’re adjusting anything. Controlling them in low light or the dark is virtually impossible, and the supplied remote doesn’t make life any easier, constantly confused as to which speaker I was meant to aim the remote at and if it was adjusting levels of one or both because they can work independantly if one is not on. Switching from 3.5mm jack to Bluetooth also confused the speakers occasionally.
Disregarding my minor control concerns (or my possible lack of patience), the Dynaudio Xeo 2 speakers are a formidable piece of kit, able to fill a large room with immense sound. They’re easy to set up, easy to pair, compatible and offer a host of controls to tweak the sound depending on placement. Finally, they’re surprisingly portable, which isn’t necessarily a factor you think when considering a pair of $1999 speakers but one I think is worth mentioning. I packed them back into a box and transported them away for the weekend, and from room to room in my house, and onto the rooftop terrace for drinks with friends. I found that feature incredibly appealing because it allows you to enjoy their rich sound at times when a portable speaker once took their place.
You can read more about the Dynaudio Xeo 2 and check out the full range here.
The product was supplied by distributor BusiSoft for review.