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.
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
The 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 ). Philip in-turn introduced me to the Norah Jones & Time Ries cover of the Rolling Stone's Wild Horses (listen here ). 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.
The 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.
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.
Director of Marketing
Dynaudio North America
- Product - Dynaudio $2,300
- Optional - Stand 3X $350
- Product Page - Link
- Stand Page - Link
- User Manual - Link (PDF)
- Brochure - Link (PDF)
- Source: 15" MacBook Pro w/ Retina Display, C.A.P.S. v3 Carbon Server
- DAC: EMM Labs DAC2X, Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Series 2
- Digital to Digital Converter: Berkeley Audio Design Alpha USB
- Preamp: Spectral Audio DMC-30SS Series 2
- Amplifier: Spectral Audio DMA-260
- Loudspeakers: TAD Labs CR1 Compact Reference
- Remote Control Software: JRemote, Apple Remote
- Remote Control Hardware: iPhone 5, iPad (3rd Generation)
- Playback Software Windows 7: J River Media Center 18
- Playback Software Mac OS X 10.8.2 : Audirvana Plus
- Cables: MIT Matrix HD 60 Bi-Wire Loudspeaker Cable, MIT Oracle Matrix 50 Analog Interconnects (RCA), ALO Audio AC6 Power Cables, Wire World Silver Starlight USB Cable, AudioQuest Diamond USB Cable
- Network: Cisco SG200-26 Switch, Baaske MI-1005 Ethernet Isolator, Micro Connectors Augmented Cat6A Ethernet Cable, Apple AirPort Extreme, Cisco RVS4000 Router, Cisco DPC3000 Docsis 3.0 cable modem, Comcast Extreme 105 Mbps Internet Service