Dynaudio Xeo 2
Input: analog line in (RCA pair), 3.5mm analog, Toslink, Bluetooth (A2DP, aptX, AAC), USB (firmware update only)
Dimensions (W x H x D mm): 173 x 255 x 154
Weight: 4 kg
Availability: through authorized dealers
"I don't believe in frettin' and grievin'"
When using the Dynaudio Xeo 2s, all one need do to get music from your computer to your ears is connect the hardware with a Toslink cable and plug those suckers in. The Xeo 2s can process up to 24-bit/192kHz PCM data, there are 65W amps for each driver, and the master speaks to the slave wirelessly. Just add music.
The Xeo 2s are a two-way rear-ported bass-reflex speaker sporting a 14 cm Magnesium Silicate Polymer (MSP) woofer and 27 mm soft dome tweeter with a 2-way DSP-based crossover. The company claims they get 40Hz - 24KHz from this configuration. Even though you can send a digital signal to the Xeo2 Master, there's no DAC insde. From the company:
Technically there is no DAC in the Xeo 2; The amplification is PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) - which negates the need for a separate DAC as the digital PCM signal is converted to a PWM signal which is digitally amplified and drives the loudspeaker output stage. So while there is no 24/192 DAC in the system, the Xeo 2 TosLink input is compatible with 24/192 sources and the speakers transmit from Master to Slave at 24/96 for true high resolution streaming. Of course without the need for an outboard DAC. In essence the amps are kind of like power DACs.
All of the inputs are located around back facing downwards, up and under a recessed panel. This makes for some not-so-fun connections especially if you have big fingers, but this is not something that will bother you after you're finished (you can also remove the bottom plate to make this easier). There's a 3-position EQ switch for tailoring output to placement (Neutral, Wall, Corner) and a Left/Right switch on each speaker so they know how to behave. Touch sensitive controls are located up top for power, source select, Bluetooth pairing, and volume control.
The company also includes a remote which allows to you to control volume, source, mute, and on/off. The Xeo 2s automatically go into sleep mode when not in use but music wakes them up (so does using the remote). You can use up to three Xeo 2s for multi-room playback by assigning each pair one of three Zone numbers via a switch around back. Dynaudio also offers their Dynaudio Connect and XEO Hub devices allowing for wireless connection from source to speaker as well as a number of setup scenarios.
The composite molded cabinets come in white or black, colors are on the way, with an extruded aluminum baffle. This baffle houses two status LEDs in the upper left corner. All in all, I find the Xeo 2s to be a very nice looking and well-constructed package, like every Dynaudio speaker I've had in for review. I used the Xeo 2s on my desktop atop the IsoAcoustics stands but the company also offers optional matching desktop stands ($250/pair) as well as an optional wall mount bracket (the Xeo 2 are also VESA 100 compliant for use with Vesa wall mount brackets). Wall mounting is responsible for the location and orientation of those pesky inputs.
"Why mess around with strife'"
I like simple, especially when it comes to my desk: Active speakers being the only way to go (at least for me). The Xeo 2s allow me to further simplify this scenario by removing the need for an external DAC (and associated cables). Of course you can add your own DAC and connect to the Xeo 2s analog input for improved sound quality and DSD playback if you care, but I prefer to use them solo. Simple.
With my iMac running Roon/Tidal and an AudioQuest Cinnamon Toslink cable making the needed connection, the Xeo 2s sang nicely. They are detailed, not too much though, they throw out a solid and separate-from-the-speakers sound image, and overall music has a nice full feel. I found myself listening louder than I normally do with my ADAM A3X/Mytek Stereo192-DSD DAC combo and I'd suggest the reason for that is I prefer the Xeo 2's louder. It's worth noting that the Mytek DAC costs nearly as much as the Xeo 2.
Bluetooth pairing is a snap—just press and hold the +/- buttons on top of either speaker for a second or two and the status LED blinks white meaning ready for pairing. I used my iPhone to connect and was playing music from the Bandcamp app in less than a minute. Sound quality wise, Bluetooth is a bit colored over with a sameness haze but for fun listening with family and friends it'll do just fine. I think of Bluetooth as sonic party mode.
Back to Toslink, I explored tons of Tidal-based music through the Xeo 2s including Golijov's Ainadamar (thanks to reader CarterB's suggestion), Margo Price's Midwest Farmer's Daughter, Laura Gibson's Empire Builder, Moderat III, Kendrick Lamar's untitled unmastered, Rokia Traoré's latest, a bunch of Merle Haggard (RIP), and many more. I also played familiar music from my library like Coltrane's Giant Steps, Sonny Rollins Freedom Suite, Throbbing Gristle 20 Jazz Funk Greats (they're kidding about the title), Aiden Baker, Tom Waits, and more. The Xeo 2s handled everything without breaking a sweat—bass is fit and full, there's a nice meaty sound to the meat of music, and highs are nice and shimmery where called for. No etch, no glare, and no wimpy sound.
I could also see the Xeo's living in-room seated on either side of a TV with Apple TV's Toslink out feeding its Toslink in while something like the Bluesound Vault 2 is connected to the analog inputs (giving you playback from its 2Tb of internal storage, streaming services, and Internet Radio), and let's not forget about Bluetooth party mode playback from friend's and family's phones.
Give Me The Simple Life
While you can get more and better sound from separates, especially if you spend more money than the Xeo 2's, my feeling is these speakers will appeal to people looking for a simple one-stop desktop solution, sans most wires, who also want good sound. If that sounds like you, give 'em a listen.