Sound quality is paramount when it comes to headphones and that’s a fact – an unavoidable fact that pains me given the sonic mediocrity of some good looking audio products. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could have Sonic and aesthetic shine in headphones?
Meet Beyerdynamic’s new second-generation Xelento, gloriously shiny headphones that wouldn’t look out of place in high-end jewelry stores. Add to that Beyerdynamic’s enviable track record in excellent audiophile headphones (look at our Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless or DT 770 Studio/Pro reviews for reference) and their first Free Byrd wireless headphones (which hit the market in July with a look, I fell in love right away) and you have a good idea of what Beyerdynamic is.
So the new Xelento, which come in ‘remote’ and ‘wireless’ models (aka traditional wired design with built-in remote volume control or Bluetooth wireless cable with neck strap) are headphones that shouldn’t be seen quickly – no, no, we should look at them and read the spec sheet, as well as those pretty driver boxes.
Xelento are advertised as ‘sonic gems… an audible gem’ and it’s easy to see why. They are handcrafted to deliver a high-resolution sound experience, driven by beyerdynamic’s own Tesla technology in its smallest form factor yet. Gold-plated plugs and silver-plated cables are used in the wiring, while the driver case is designed with handcrafted 24-karat gold – to match its inner beauty, of course.
The TESLA.11 driver is the star under the hood, an 11mm dynamic unidirectional driver with new special acoustic filters.
For a supreme fit, you get no less than seven pairs of Beyerdynamic’s newly developed silicone ear tips, plus three different-sized Comply Memory Foam ear tips for maximum sound isolation.
Both new Xelento models come with a 3.5mm jack cable with remote control and hands-free microphone. The remote model also includes a 4.4mm symmetrical Pentaconn cable that allows direct connection to high-quality hi-fi components with balanced outputs – that is. something for your Astell & Kern A&norm SR25 MKII or better high resolution audio player of your choice.
The wireless Xelento, on the other hand, comes with a Bluetooth 5.2 neckband that guarantees up to 14 hours of music entertainment. It includes an AKM specialist digital-to-analog converter and amplifier, to support the latest codecs such as LHDC, Qualcomm aptX HD and aptX for wireless audio quality that I can really support.
Opinion: Classic beauty has timeless appeal in headphones
Prior to today, I in the same sentence scolded headphones for looking ‘boring’ but concluded I would use them even if they only came in slime green and had a big quivering bug eye on each earbud. Because? Because the sound quality of some headphones (in this case, the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless) is unmistakably excellent – and those in the know simply nod wisely and assume I’ve opted for talent over looks.
But that It is physical beauty and sublime sonic capability are possible: just look at the Campfire Audio Trifecta, the Audeze Euclid and the Bowers & Wilkins PX8.
In each case, the product boasted a timeless beauty underpinned by excellent, practical, first-class, cost-effective components. Music is culturally universal and has been around for thousands of years longer than any of us (exactly how many thousands is a debate for another day) and while fads come and go, our love of audio will never die.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve screamed with delight at the jeweled beauty of Genshin Impact headphones and the like, only to be let down by the less-than-exquisite sound. But I can’t imagine that these particular Beyerdynamic headphones would be harmed by this issue. On the one hand they are very expensive and on the other hand it is Beyerdynamic we are talking about.
A new contender for our best wireless headphones guide ahead of Black Friday? I haven’t had a chance to hear from them yet, but based on this evidence, I certainly think so.
The new Beyerdynamic Xelento Remote and Xelento Wireless Headphones are available now for $999 and $1199 respectively (opens in new tab) (which is about £885 or AU$1585 for the remote model and £1064 or AU$1900 for the wireless option) and I can’t wait to get them in my ears…