STEREO GUIDE verdict
+ finest resolution, outstanding transparency
+ gripping, homogeneous dynamics
+ very good ambience
+ fits perfectly to any ear canal
- Low bass could sometimesshow more contour
- the neckband design is not for everyone
Price / Performance8.7
Sound: tonal balance / transparency9.7
Sound: Bass / Dynamics9.3
Ease-of-use / Connectivity9.3
When flipping through our recent inear reviews, we kind of got the feeling that particularly this market has a certain tendency towards the extremes. We found a lot of pretty expensive pretty audiophile passive gems of more or less famous origin, and quite a wave of true wireless gadgets originating not always from typical hi-fi brands. So here is the deal Beyerdynamic is suggesting: its brand-new Beyerdynamic Xelento Wireless Generation 2 is pretty pricy and boasting with being ´wireless´ already in its name. But it´s not fully wireless but comes with a kind of neckband containing all the circuitry. This one is connected via pretty short wires to the actual earphones being a completely passive model. For traditional audiophiles, there is a separate offer leaving out the wireless part.
Now let´s discuss the pricepoint: a stunning 1200 bucks. Audiophiles might want to buy a pair of traditional passive headphones plus a mobile DAC for that amount instead. So one thing gets crystal clear: The Beyerdynamic Xelento Wireless 2 has to justify its pricetag with a sonic performance superior to what one might expect from such a package.
In the gadget world of convenience, it wouldn´t anyway: a disappointing 9.5 hours of battery life in standard mode (up to 14 in energy-efficient mode) and just IPX4 splash water protection. Brand loyalists might argue that it is handcrafted in-house in Germany using top-grade materials. But that does not sound like a justification.
Passive to active concept
Just open the well-designed packaging which reminded a bit of a box for precious jewelry, you will quickly recognize the modular concept. You actually purchase two individual components. A pair of passive in-ears that could also be connected to a smartphone or headphone amp using a traditional wire. With 16 ohms of nominal impedance, the Xelento might not even be very demanding in terms of output power.
And there is the active electronics unit in the neck adaptor which serves both as a hires converter/headamp and Bluetooth receiver. Beyerdynamic does not make a secret of the fact that they ordered the circuitry from the specialist AKM.
Very pleasing: you actually never notice the weight of 8 grams per side – they feel even lighter and perfectly ergonomical. Which is also due to the fact that it is mandatory to wrap the wire behind your ear from the top/front. The drivers capsuled in high-gloss metal enclosures being as well handmade at the factory in Heilbronn, Germany. Beyerdynamic calls its driver Tesla.11, which should be read as a hint to the particularly strong magnetic flux density. It is a kind of homage to the gifted Croatian physics pioneer Nikola Tesla, not to the electric car from the USA for sure.
10 sizes fit all
One pretty important question when it comes the fitting your newly acquired earbuds has been answered by Beyerdynamic to perfection: no less than 7 (!) rubber adaptors in different sizes are included, one of which is guaranteed to fit even the most unusual ear canal size. You might even want to consider using different sizes in case your ear canal´s diameters are not perfectly the same. In addition, there are three foam pads. These are recommended as an alternative for unusually shaped ear canals or if the user prefers a slightly more comfortable fit.
Bravo, Beyerdynamic! When inserting them, please simply ignore the small cracking noise you might hear resulting from too much pressure.
Wireless or Hi-Res?
Basic fuctions of the Bluetooth receiver remain somewhat…. basic. A small control as part of the wiring allows you to control volume, play/pause and track skipping. There is also a single mic for making phone calls. The electronic unit in the neckband offers another well-hidden button to activate the battery-saving mode or pairing mode. And that’s it.
In terms of audio codecs, we surprisingly found the Xelento Wireless 2 and its Bluetooth 5.2 receiver to be top-of-the-line: In addition to AAC, there are LHDC and carious Apt-X derivates, including Adaptive and HD.
Nevertheless, Bluetooth in general does not have the best reputation among high-end users. So it should be mentioned loud and clear: The Beyerdynamic Xelento Wireless 2 is by far “strictly wireless”, even if the name might suggest exactly that. The electronics come with a USB-C port accepting bitstreams from digital sources such as laptops, tablets or smartphones. And that variant is true Hires: PCM bitstreams are converted up to 96 kHz and 24 bit.
MIY-Fidelity: Y the App?
To make things a bit smarter you might want to take advantage of the Beyerdynamic MIY app. Fortunately, this works without personally logging in and opening your own data secrets to the manufacturer.
The most important in-app features might probably be the activation of a voice assistant and the setup of a custom EQ curve. In addition to manual adjustment, the app offers a kind of self-hearing threshold test. In its course, it is necessary to react by pressing and holding a button on the screen as SPL is increasing and becoming audible. The results are a base for calculating your individual correction curve. You then might want to activate or bypass your individual cureve – we found it to bring a subtle but noticeable improvement in terms of sound quality.
We are the champion: Beyerdynamic Xelento Wireless 2
Still we had not been fully convinced of the wireless headband concept when getting to the listening test. But it turned out to be a victory for the Beyerdynamic Xelento Wireless 2. For one thing, we really found it relieving to review earphones that immediately offer the maximum of sound quality from the scratch without fooling around with complicated adaptor selection and fitting procedures. The foam adaptors in particular proved to be very comfortable, showing quite some tolerance to different ear canals and are ´plug & play´. Same is true to the Bluetooth connection, which sounded pleasingly high-quality and hardly fell behind the hires-capable wired connection which true audiophiles might prefer.
On the other hand, it is our prediction that the Beyerdynamic Xelento Wireless 2 will get especially appraised by the audiophile community. They offer outstandingly fine resolution going hand in hand with finest transparency we came across and were never showing and hint of annoyance. In addition, it is pure fun to listen to this energy, dynamics and gripping performance through all audible frequencies.
If you are familiar with the typical degustation language of high end audio reviews: forget it about it, these Beyerdynamics make all attempts to describe their sound characteristics futile by simply playing music perfectly. Yes, they reach low, yes they are free from distortion, feel dynamic and tonally balanced. But that’s a standard others might achieve as well. When it came to the freestyle part of the performance we were stunned. From thrash metal to baroque choirs: The Xelento 2 really seemed to bring every track to life, respecting the spirit of its composer. There is no other way to describe it, because from the thrilling directness of hardrock to the wide open ambience of a cathedral, everything was exactly as music lovers want it to be.
The perfect in-ear?
So is the Beyerdynamic the perfect in-ear headphone and we did not spot a single weak point? Yes, it is the case. Almost: For one thing, it’s not the silkiest on earth when it comes to treble, but shows its dynamics in any way. If you use Hi-Res wired connection instead of Bluetooth, it gets a bit more refined but is nevertheless slightly on the studiomonitor-like side.
Furthermore, its low bass is mighty deep and substantial, though not as nimble and kicking as we know from the best of the best. With music seeming to be dominated by its low bass – such as hip-hop or techno – it might be a bit too much of a good thing. Pretty much sounds like a subwoofer being a bit too loud in your system.
Beyerdynamic’s own MIY app might help to find a way out easily thanks to its EQ. With classical, pop, rock, jazz and the like, on the other hand, the little more of a bass fits perfectly without adjustment, and we never once thought that we needed an equalizer at all. Take it as the highest appraisal imaginable for the Xelento Wireless 2.
Conclusion and alternatives
Hand on heart: If you want True Wireless earbuds for traveling, you might find the higher pricepoint and its wired headband to be an obstacle. That’s a shame, because you miss out on what we consider to be the best active in-ear currently on the market.
Soundquality-wise, it reaches the level of the very best audiophile passive in-ears, such as the Sennheiser IE900 and the Final B-3. Mind you, each of these exemples combined with a high-quality DAC, might quickly exceed the Beyerdynamic’s budget. And it offers the golden mean in terms of tonal balance voicing: Between the Sennheiser, which puts a hint of emphasize on treble and low bass, and the somewhat decently reserved, true audiophile Final. That´s an achievement you would not get elsewhere. Thumbs up!
Specifications Beyerdynamic Xelento Wireless 2
- Retail Price: 1200 dollars/pounds/euros
- Type: In-Ear
- Transducer: Dynamic
- Weight: 8 g (w/o wire), total with neckband 38 g
- Features: either digital-active, Bluetooth or passive (16 ohms) mode, IPX4 water resistant, app control
- More at: www.beyerdynamic.com
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