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    Dynaudio Xeo 3 Wireless Loudspeaker System Review

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    thumb.jpegPaging through audio magazines over the years Computer Audiophile readers have likely noticed something not quite right about many advertisements. That something is a look that's far too clean for a functioning audio system. Advertisements rarely show all the cables required to connect components to each other and to loudspeakers. Dynaudio on the other hand doesn't have to show this unsightly necessity when advertising its new Xeo wireless speaker system. The speakers cabinets contain nearly everything required for great sound such as amplification and digital to analog conversion components. A single power cable for each speaker and a wireless transmitter connected to a computer is all that's required to complete a Xeo system. The Xeo 3 speakers wirelessly connected to either my MacBook Pro or CAPS v3 server sounded great. The Dynaudio Xeo 3s aren't the type of ear splitting speaker that can only be tolerated for 30 minutes at a time. Rather the smooth sound and surprisingly deep but controlled bass should enable anyone to listen to a Xeo based system all day long without fatigue. Wether I sent my favorite Podcast or my favorite music streaming across the room to the Xeo 3s the system was stable and the sonic results were predictable. The Xeo 3 loudspeakers work great and sound great.

     

     

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    How It Works - From Source To Destination

     

     

    The Dynaudio Xeo 3 loudspeaker system includes two speaker cabinets and one wireless transmitter. Starting at the source end is the wireless transmitter. Each Xeo Transmitter can accommodate up to three pairs of Xeo speakers and will allow independent sources to be played at independent volumes in each zone. This transmitter can transmit the audio signal up to 100 meters in open space or up to 50 meters from the speakers in a typical home environment with walls and room boundaries. The Xeo transmitter features a 3.5mm mini jack and standard RCA jacks for analog input. Analog audio is converted to digital before streaming wirelessly to the receiver in a Xeo speaker. The transmitter also features a TosLink optical input and USB audio input that can also power the unit from the computer's USB bus power. The transmitter is a simple digital passthrough device when digital sources are used. A separate power supply is included for those not using the USB input. The transmitter connects to receivers inside the Xeo 3 speaker cabinets via a closed 2.4 GHz wireless signal. Many home wireless networks operate on the same 2.4 GHz wireless frequency. Increasing ease of use and stability Dynaudio elected to use its own wireless network for the Xeo systems. Thus, the Xeo 3s don't require an existing wireless network or networking knowledge. Transmission of the audio signal is done in real time without the use of buffers. This enables the Xeo system to pair with a home theater or television without synchronization issues.

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    Inside the very nice looking speaker cabinets is a wireless receiver. This receiver is automatically paired with the transmitter as soon as both have power from an outlet or USB port. The Xeo speakers feature a digital preamp, digital crossover, and digital amplification. The digital amplifier is a pulse width modulation design. PWM designs were originally developed for TacT Audio by Denmark’s Toccata Technology, who later licensed the technology to Texas Instruments. The Xeo digital amplifier re-calculates the received audio and transmits it to the drivers in what Dynaudio calls a virtually analog sine wave. The Xeo also benefits from Dynaudio's DSP experience in professional audio and automobiles from Volkswagen and Bugatti. The Xeo has no passive crossover, rather the digital crossover is a Digital Signal Processor. The Xeo 3's amplifiers are matched perfectly with the speaker's drivers. Active speaker designs like this have a huge sonic advantage over traditional passive designs for example a perfect phase alignment between the Xeo 3 tweeter and woofer is achieved with the active DSP processing in the digital domain. In addition these active designs can save large amounts of space, cabling, and cost. This closed ecosystem enabled Dynaudio to design every component to work perfectly with the other internal components. There wasn't a need to design the speakers to function with many amplifiers. Speaking of loudspeakers, the Xeo 3s feature a 27mm soft dome tweeter and 14.5cm long-throw mid/woofer with Dynaudio’s Magnesium Silicate Polymer cone. Once the audio signal leaves the drivers it's on to the destination. The listener's ears.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    How It Sounds

     

     

    DYN_Xeo_3_back_RGB.jpgThe Dynaudio Xeo 3 speaker system is a real treat sonically and very stable. I placed the Xeo transmitter in the same room as the speakers when using my MacBook Pro and I placed the transmitter in an adjacent room when connecting to my CAPS server. Throughout the review I never experienced a dropout or a single issue with communication between the transmitter and receiver. Prior to listening I tested the digital inputs for sample rate and bit depth support. Via USB the Xeo transmitter is only capable of 16 bit playback and both 44.1 and 48 kHz sample rates. The limitation is the adaptive USB receiving chip in the transmitter. Via optical TosLink the transmitter will accept up through 24 bit audio at 44.1 and 48 kHz. I have no way of verifying that all 24 bits are sent to the receivers in the speakers. A couple interesting notes about using the optical TosLink interface; 1) Sample rate conversion must be done by the playback application for rates above 48 kHz or no sound can be heard through the speakers, and 2) Connecting the USB input at the same time as the optical input will power the transmitter without the need for the external power supply. I much prefer using a USB cable to power the transmitter rather than wiring the transmitter to the nearest power outlet in addition to my computer.

     

     

    The Xeo 3 loudspeakers somewhere between speakers that make everything sound good and speakers that reproduce every fine detail no matter how harsh it may sound. This is a great position on the continuum of sound quality for $2,300 wireless speakers not designed to replace a reference audio system but designed for aesthetics, ease of use, and great sound. When considering bookshelf speakers I'm always concerned with bass response and wondering if I'll be disappointed if the speakers don't live up to the published specifications in my listening environment. To that end I put the Xeo 3 system through a little HiFi demonstration with some Marcus Miller electric bass and my favorite Jay-Z & Kanye West track Niggas in Paris. Jay-Z and Kanye won the Best Rap Performance Grammy for this track in 2013. The Xeo 3 system sounded great even at high volumes. The bass response was terrific. Marcus Miller's bass on the track Introduction from his Silver Rain album was clean and crisp yet very deep. The bass on Niggas In Paris was loud luscious or obnoxious depending on one's musical taste. I loved every minute of of the Jay-Z & Kanye track with booming bass and great Will Ferrell sample from Blades of Glory. The Xeo 3s keep up very well with this music, but will never produce the visceral impact of much larger speakers like my TAD CR1s. Fortunately the Xeo 3s cost less than the sales tax for the TADs.

     

     

    The most apparent sonic characteristic of the Xeo 3 system is smoothness. These speakers are not ear busters or dog whistles. Listening to Randi Tytingvåg's Red or Dead, track one was very smooth yet very detailed. The higher frequencies were a bit muted but in a pleasant way. On most highly resolving systems this track can be an ear splitter rather than the delight it was through the Xeo 3 system. Switching to 24/96 material using JRiver Media Center's SRC to 48 kHz I put on Ottmar Leibert's One Guitar. This track was also very smooth. The Xeos reproduced sound that could be listened to all day long without fatigue. Missing was the ultimate in decay and sense of the recording space, but details like this don't come inexpensively. Another great acoustic guitar track that I've brought back into my review rotation is Keb Mo's Every Morning. This track sounded great and just as smooth as the others. The guitar lacked a bit of delineation in certain parts but this is common with all less-than-reference systems. Not a showstopper in my book.

     

     

    Many CA readers know by now the Nat King Cole is one of my all-time favorite artists. I've been using his albums while reviewing components for quite some time. This review is no different. I listened to a slew of the Analogue Productions remasters at 16 bit / 44.1 kHz through the Xeo 3 loudspeakers. Love is the Thing, St. Louis Blues, The Very Thought of You, and the Nat King Cole Story all sounded smooth and very enjoyable. The vast majority of the albums' unique sounds comes through wonderfully. One item that doesn't come through the Xeo system as much as it does in a references system is the whole Capitol Studio's sound on these albums. Sure it's there, but just a bit of the Capitol sound is missing. I recently introduced the DSD version of these Nat King Cole albums to Philip O'Hanlon (link ex.png). Philip in-turn introduced me to the Norah Jones & Time Ries cover of the Rolling Stone's Wild Horses (listen here ex.png). The DSD album can be a tough one to find. Fortunately I grabbed one from a third party seller on Amazon. Norah's vocal on this track is the stuff HiFi dreams are made of. The Redbook CD version of this track (16/44.1) sounded delightful through the Xeo 3 system. The smoothness of the speakers combined with Norah's incredibly smooth voice is simply fantastic.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Conclusion

     

     

    cash-logo-black-thumb.jpgThe Dynaudio Xeo 3 is the first wireless loudspeaker system I've heard that I consider truly high end. The Xeo system is simple to use, looks very nice, and sounds great. I had music streaming through the Xeo 3 speakers before the user manual was even out of its plastic bag. The system is so easy even the most un-technical luddite can set it up in minutes. The Xeo 3 system also looks very nice. The only unsightly item visible in this system is the power cable running to each speaker. Fortunately Dynaudio offers a solution to this with its (optional) Stand 3X model. The 3X features cable management that enables the power cable to be run up through the stand column. The sound of the Xeo 3 is much larger than the bookshelf sized speakers would lead many to believe. Silky smooth vocals and tight controlled bass are part of the Xeo's great sonic signature. The Dynaudio Xeo 3 is definitely a music lover's speaker without a fatiguing note in it's repertoire. CASH Listed and highly recommended.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    Manufacturer's Response

     

     

    On behalf of everyone at Dynaudio, I would like to thank Chris Connaker for the in depth review of the Xeo 3. The challenge in the Xeo 3 was not only to create a wireless speaker that would work while also sounding good; our challenge was a bit more ambitious in terms of creating a wireless speaker that would sound like a Dynaudio. There is much gratification in reading the listening impressions in the review, as they ultimately serve as validation that this challenge was indeed met.

     

    With Xeo, Dynaudio aims to open up the high-end to a wider audience. This includes younger music lovers who primarily listen to music via computer, as well as many others for whom the (actual as well as perceived) cost of entry into the high-end is simply too intimidating if not altogether prohibitive. With a price that is less than the sales tax on many high-end systems, the Xeo truly offers exceptional value, especially when considering that no amplifier, preamp, DAC, interconnects or speaker cables are necessary, yet authentic Dynaudio sound quality is delivered.

     

    Again, thank you Chris for recognizing the many merits of the Dynaudio Xeo 3 and for communicating such to your readers.

     

    Sincerely,

     

    Michael Manousselis

    Director of Marketing

    Dynaudio North America

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    Product Information:

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    Associated Equipment:

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    Nice Review Chris.

     

    Now maybe you can get them to send you a pair of DBM50's. I was able to spend some time with these recently and i was beyond impressed for the pricepoint at what they are capable of. Although the Kef LS50's and X300 seem to be the flavor of the month around here, i've heard both and neither come close to what these Dynaudio's are capable of......

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    I bought it last year, I must say it is really good speakers, its sound is very mellow and smooth, I would not feel tired after a long listening.

     

    The only complaint is, the speaker stand 3x is not high standard one, now I am looking for something else to replace it.

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    Given that you still need one cord (the plug), I can't see why the tradeoff of more limited bandwidth (16/48 vs 24/192) in exchange for not needing a speaker cord is really worth it unless you have a very specific setup that allows for close in power but not close in speaker wires. Would you make that tradeoff in your own home?

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    It would be interesting to see how these compare to Focal Birds, which cost about half as much. The Birds also have a wireless transmission system ("Kleer"), which can be operated from the USB port of a computer or from an iPhone or iPad. The Birds have three components vs two for the Dynaudios - an integrated amp/DAC/subwoofer and two satellites, so it has three cords - one power cord to the central unit plus a cable out to each satellite, vs two power cables for the Dynaudios.

    I would love to hear a comparison of sound quality from someone who has had an opportunity to hear both systems.

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    While the Dynaudio speakers are undoubtedly interesting - for a similar cost you could buy Peachtree Decco 65 ($1000), a pair of D5 spekaers ($700 bought with a Peachtree amplifier) and add a AppleTV or Sonos if you are happy with CDRB quality, or a CAPS 3 Topanga for similar cost. Or based on UK costs a Naim UnitiQute 24/96 model is £995 vs £1300 for the Xeo 3 speakers...

     

    My point being is how do these compare sound quality wise as the addition of the Naim UnitiQute to a pair of speakers is hardly unsightly (okay so IMO) when you still have power cables to worry about.

     

    Eloise

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    Elioise,

    While you may have a point that the Naim unit opens HD possibilities...

    The Dynaudio creates a very interesting case of a truly active speaker (amps driving directly each driver) and thus avoiding the lost of energy and information on traditional cross-overs. Usually this creates a very articulate and rhythmically capable performance...but the proof will be in the listening...

     

    I hope to listen to them one day...

    Then, a shootout against a passive design like your suggestion would be great, to see if the pros of the Dynaudio design would (or not) outcome it's cons...

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    There's also advantages to an active crossover over passive comments and one being phase coherence where it's much easier to accomplish in the active realm, requiring more components passively to accomplish the same goal. Impedance is often more stable as well and no use for Inductors, a neccessary evil in passive networks.

     

    ......this is NOT to say that passive crossovers are the devil incarnate, just more of an artform with more room for error. In a budget offering speaker of the $1-2k range, the active solution makes more sense financially if implemented properly.

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    Hi Chris,

     

    Thanks for the review...I have been curious as to the sound quality from the Xeo 3.

     

    I have to ask though, do you think $3,000 spent on separates could get better or equal sound quality? -minus the convenience of course.

     

    Admittedly I can think of a couple of places where the Xeo 3's would be a perfect fit in the home.

     

    Regards,

    -J

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    Being an owner of these speakers, allow me to say something,

     

    You would not find how good it is (i mean the SQ) until you listen to it.

     

    I have more than 3 friends, they were also curious before, they came to my office room (less than 80 sq. foot), they were so surprised after listening to it, and finally end up to buy one for them.

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    Given that you still need one cord (the plug), I can't see why the tradeoff of more limited bandwidth (16/48 vs 24/192) in exchange for not needing a speaker cord is really worth it unless you have a very specific setup that allows for close in power but not close in speaker wires. Would you make that tradeoff in your own home?

     

    Hi sdolezalek - The Xeo system is much more than a set of speakers as you know. This system allows the user to remove the preamp, amp, DAC, and all the associated cabling. It's not for everybody, but I think it's for a lot of people looking for the combination of a certain aesthetic, ease of use, and sound quality. I would make the trade off in my home. The Xeo won't replace my reference system but I would love to add the system to my daughter's room and my Wife's office. If I had a separate office of my own, outside my listening room the Xeo would be a strong contender for everyday listening.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Hi Chris,

     

    Thanks for the review...I have been curious as to the sound quality from the Xeo 3.

     

    I have to ask though, do you think $3,000 spent on separates could get better or equal sound quality? -minus the convenience of course.

     

    Admittedly I can think of a couple of places where the Xeo 3's would be a perfect fit in the home.

     

    Regards,

    -J

     

    Hi BattleScarze - That's a tough question because it's undoubtedly comparing apples to oranges. A system of separates is vastly different form this complete wireless system. The terms better and equal are of course subjective. If one is going for sound quality only and has a large library of high resolution content the Xeo may be challenged by a separates system of equal cost.

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    Hi Chris,

     

    Thanks for the review...I have been curious as to the sound quality from the Xeo 3.

     

    I have to ask though, do you think $3,000 spent on separates could get better or equal sound quality? -minus the convenience of course.

     

    Admittedly I can think of a couple of places where the Xeo 3's would be a perfect fit in the home.

     

    Regards,

    -J

    I replaced a big rack of gear in my bedroom with the xeo 3s. That system was probably 15k plus and I don't hardly miss it. I had Grover Huffman make me some power cords for my xeos and it made a nice improvement adding a little sparkle to the top end which is welcome as these speakers have a mellow sound. I think Chris is right that these speakers are not going to be the end all be all in detail and resolution but for a bedroom or a room where you don't want to really mess with a whole system but just want good convenient sound they can't be beat. I am constantly amazed at just how much comes from such a small box and simple system.

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    Hi Chris,

     

    Just a quick question regarding the associated equipment you list in your Xeo 3 review. What cable(s) do you prefer to connect your BADA USB to your BADA DAC Series 2? I'm asking because I have the former and hope to get the latter.

     

    Thanks,

     

    Phil C

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    I was at the store that had these powered speakers and regular speakers on display. The separates are better option as far as sound. If you wish to go with separates synergy matching becomes critical. This requires time and research on your part. The XEOs are a simpler and quicker solution but you do comprise on sound quality. Moreover, you can always upgrade your components with separates. I was able to replace the stock tubes with better tubes and the sound quality was at a different level with the tweaks. FYI....this was for my second system.

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    Thanks for the great review. Could you comment on how well the speakers perform close to a wall? One of the reasons I'm interested in them is I'm trying to keep everything off my floor for space reasons but I'm worried that if I put the speakers on a shelf it'll compromise the sound quality. Any experience of that?

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    Chris, did you use the remote control to control the volume? I've read in a Scandinavian review that you really have to aim it precisely, and that, even then, the Xeo's respond very sluggishly ...

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    did you use the remote control to control the volume? I've read in a Scandinavian review that you really have to aim it precisely, and that, even then, the Xeo's respond very sluggishly ... Yes, but quite acceptable ....

     

    Could you comment on how well the speakers perform close to a wall? - the distance between the wall and the speaker back is just six inches, the sound quality is quite ok, no boom at all

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    Chris, did you use the remote control to control the volume? I've read in a Scandinavian review that you really have to aim it precisely, and that, even then, the Xeo's respond very sluggishly ...

     

    Yes it works but leaves something to be desired.

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    I would buy these in a heart beat if it was possible to connect them to my AV at the time, but I cannot, and thats a huge design flaw, as I'd like these and nothing else in front of my TV...

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    I would buy these in a heart beat if it was possible to connect them to my AV at the time, but I cannot, and thats a huge design flaw, as I'd like these and nothing else in front of my TV...

     

    What connection do you need for your AV?

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    What connection do you need for your AV?

     

    Well, what I'd like to do is have my transmitter upstairs, next to my computer, with all my music on it, and then transmit to the Xeo downstairs (which is possible, I understand), but at the same time I want to connect my TV and Blu Ray Player etc into the Xeo downstairs. My understanding is that there are no connections in the speakers to actually do this, as you always have to route through the transmitter?

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    Well, what I'd like to do is have my transmitter upstairs, next to my computer, with all my music on it, and then transmit to the Xeo downstairs (which is possible, I understand), but at the same time I want to connect my TV and Blu Ray Player etc into the Xeo downstairs. My understanding is that there are no connections in the speakers to actually do this, as you always have to route through the transmitter?

     

    I just chatted with Dynaudio about this. Dyn said people accomplish what you want to do in a few ways.

     

    One way to do this would be to simply move the transmitter downstairs when listening to the TV or BluRay.

     

    Another way is to buy a second transmitter and have one upstairs on the computer set to one channel, then have a second set downstairs at the TV set to a separate channel.

     

     

    Yet another way is to use something like an airport express from the computer to the downstairs location and then run optical from the AE to the Xeo Transmitter that would be downstairs.

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    I just chatted with Dynaudio about this. Dyn said people accomplish what you want to do in a few ways.

     

    One way to do this would be to simply move the transmitter downstairs when listening to the TV or BluRay.

     

    Another way is to buy a second transmitter and have one upstairs on the computer set to one channel, then have a second set downstairs at the TV set to a separate channel.

     

     

    Yet another way is to use something like an airport express from the computer to the downstairs location and then run optical from the AE to the Xeo Transmitter that would be downstairs.

     

    Thank you so much! I might put a formal email into them now to discuss the options in greater detail. I really appreciate the effort you have gone to. I like the idea of another transmitter, that makes a lot of sense, plus it can obviously be used for another set of speakers presumably one day?

     

    This is probably a stupid question, but do I still need to go through an AV unit to get the TV and blu play sound? I dont care about surround and stuff, just want the 2 speakers. I assume AV is not necessary if I want a seperate sub?

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    The only other remark I have is that lets not forget that these are essentially just Focus Excite arent they? Thats not a top end speaker. Then they added a £500 all in DAC, Amp and Pre Amp.

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    The only other remark I have is that lets not forget that these are essentially just Focus Excite arent they? Thats not a top end speaker. Then they added a £500 all in DAC, Amp and Pre Amp.

    Far from it. The DSP and all the advantages of powered speakers with active crossover can make a mid level passive speaker a top end performer.

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