After some typical lifestyle devices like the Yamaha Relit LSX-170 or mobiles (Cayin N6/Westone W50/Westone UM Pro 50) there is time for another position that could be regarded as another curiosity. Please do not worry – I did not tackle the VW bus driving around vinyl discs, being a kind of turntable replacement, but something much more refined – sound wise. Those, seemingly normal stand-mount speakers, do not stand out from their brethren in terms of design; placed on a bookshelf they will look like hundreds of other models from competing brands, the only difference would be found inside, because there are a few kilograms of electronics hidden there, responsible for the amplification as well as wireless transmission. Now I think, I should officially introduce the tested speakers – the Dynaudio Xeo 4.
The shape and size of the 4 suggest clearly, that they are closely related to the Excite X14, and they really cannot deny common ancestry with the active (X14A). In short we deal here with a typical bookshelf/stand-mount speaker in the quality we are used to receive from this Danish manufacturer. Only this time, instead of natural veneer, the speakers are available in two colors – black and white – both in satin. This move seems quite logical, because you can be almost sure, that such product will be appealing for people who care for modern, minimalistic design, what automatically excludes having something … old-fashioned in their vicinity. For testing I received the black version, as you can see on the pictures. The company made drivers are exactly the same as in the X14A (MSP mid-woofer and a soft dome tweeter). The internal amplifier should also be the same, so taking into account the minimal differences in price and size, if we do not want to resign from the analog interfaces, then we have a viable alternative.
On the back plate we can find a smoothly ended bass-reflex outlet but no standard connection. There are none – if we do not account for the small “8” type power supply socket. But there are some switches that allow us to easily change the zone (Red, Green or Blue), channel (Left or Right) and … correct the room response using a simple DSP, that has three settings – Neutral, Wall and Corner. This last functionality should be nice for owners of acoustically difficult rooms and … the Ladies, for whom the distance of 20 cm between the back of our speakers and the wall is 20 cm lost. I am exaggerating, of course, but such thing might come handy anyway. On top of each speaker there is a small receiver with a row of LEDs indicating the level of amplification and three round buttons, allowing us to put the unit in standby or awaken it and to control volume.
There are of course grilles for the speakers, which can be mounted magnetically, but besides finding them in the packaging, I had no reason to put them on.
Together with the speakers came the dedicated transmitter Xeo Hub and elegant, high gloss stands Stand3x. Although the stands offer a nice way to hide the cables inside the leg, the transmitter and its remote are much more interesting. It is powered by a dedicated power supply, or an USB port if powerful enough, the transmitter is very compact and handy, because it is covered by a rubber-like coating. On the back panel it has a mini-jack and a standard RCA line input and a full complement of digital inputs in the form of an optical, coaxial and USB one. There is also an Ethernet port (used for firmware updates), transmission frequency selector (2.4 GHz, 5.2 GHz and 5.8 GHz) and an USB port used for power supply. But enough of the theory and external looks. It is time to talk about the sound.
For such small enclosures the bass has quite a kick and a nice volume. Due to that we do not have a feeling, that there is nothing behind the impact of the double bass-drum pedal. Not at all. The 4 sound fleshy and they do not try to emulate anything, which would not be present in the recording. There is no artificial pumping-up of the sound, what often happens with other manufacturers. Instead of that we have nice sound stage and virtual sources, which are a bit re-scaled, but still adequately to the abilities of the Dynaudio and within the laws of physics.
On the “Popular Problems” from Leonard Cohen the sound was fleshy yet silky, what can be regarded as the trademark of the Danish loudspeakers, yet far away from any mudding or slowdown; things that their opponents usually use as accuses. The voice of the singer, who seems to constantly live through his golden age, did not lose anything from its coarseness, and all the tasty items, like natural sibilants, noises related to breathing, etc, were perfectly readable. Due to this we get a very nice insight into the recording, as long as the sound engineer did not cover things with a thick carpet, so we should hear every nuance. What is important, we move within the realm of evident musicality, and we do not need to fear any emotionless, sterile, laboratory vivisection. The spectacle is always on the first place, the whole of the composition a tad deeper, but anytime we want, we can reach out for the mentioned “plankton” creating the climate of the recording and providing us information about the acoustical environment of the recording.
Even the much more offensive, full of harsh riffs and sometimes nicely shouted vocal parts in the form of the albums “Heroes” or “The Art of War” Sabaton could not move the fours out of their ease. Classical digressions, the choir in the background, and the strong, suggestively brought closer Joakim Broden in “Hearts of Iron” were so convincing, that this piece was an often recurring item of the playlists created for this test. You could feel the swing and joy of spontaneous music making, without even the smallest trace of self protection.
In quiet, romantic climates, to which the “Wallflower” of Diana Krall surely can be included, the velvety smooth midrange fluently transitioned into the treble, gold sparkling with the setting sun light rays, and found support in the fleshy, slowly pulsating lower octaves. The sound became thick and sweet – like caramel, but due to the slightly matte voice of the singer, you could never say, that it was overly sweet. This was a completely different level of aesthetics and culture of playing. It is worth to have this in mind, because even if a computer serves as the sound source it will be very difficult to find any shadow of “digitalness” in the sound of the Xeo.
The Dynaudio Xeo 4 seem to be a very interesting proposition for people wanting to enter the magical world of Hi-Fi and experience the full extent of the available technical solutions in the form of files placed on network drives or in streaming services, which gain popularity with the day. For most of them, the tested Dynaudio set and … a Tidal (or similar) account will cover 99.99% of their requirements. No need for ripping discs, buying albums – we just start an app and we can listen to what we want at that given point in time. I do not mention the need to have a computer, because the world is moving forward, and we can use a smartphone or a tablet as a sound source. In short – it is hard to imagine a more simple way to have a complete and at the same time well sounding, classy Hi-Fi system, which requires only unpacking and connecting to be able to enjoy your music within a few minutes.
Dynaudio Xeo 4: 6 990 PLN / pair
Dynaudio Xeo Hub: 990 PLN
Dynaudio Stand3x: 990 PLN / pair
Frequency Response (± 3 dB): 45 Hz - 23 Hz
Power consumption: 5-38 W
Power consumption standby: 0,34 W (network active)
Power rating Woofer: 50 W, Tweeter: 50 W
Dimensions (W x H x D): 170 x 282 x 246 mm
Weight: 6,4 kg
Power supply: 100 - 240 V, 50/60 Hz