POW!! Take that Ray Kimber! SMASH!! Thought you’d get away didn’t you, George Cardas! ZONK!! You’ll be limping for a week Bill Low!
Yes folks, there is quite a brouhaha going down this month on this page (“No, not the face! Not the face!”), and the audio cable designers seem to be getting the worst of it, poor things. What is surprising is who is doing the dishing.
Dynaudio, believe it or not. Being one of the world’s best- known loudspeaker and speaker-component builders, it has depended on these cable guys, and others like them, since gourmet wire was invented. While I suppose somebody somewhere is still hooking up his speakers with lamp cord, most people are turning to some member of the wire cabal for a “proper” set of speaker cables. Yet as necessary as wire is, I’ve noticed that speaker manufacturers tend to play it cool, choosing not to recommend particular cables either by brand or type. If they discuss the subject at all, they tend to point towards the shortest lengths of the largest gauge.
And now Dynaudio with its XEO series (which includes a bookshelf XEO 3 retailing for $2300/pair) has pushed this ambivalence even further. How about no cable? Well, at least no speaker cable, for until someone comes up with a shoe-box- sized power plant that can be installed in a small speaker cabinet, power cables and nearby AC receptacles remain necessities. The XEO line is Dynaudio’s entry into the wireless-loudspeaker market. The $4500 XEO wireless-loudspeaker system comes equipped with everything you need to play music from any source including your hi-fi system, a PC, a personal audio player, and a docking station, to name a few.
But there’s a bit more to the XEO system than the missing speaker cables. Packaged in a black box only a little larger than a deck of cards is the heart of the XEO system—the Transmitter— and it is here where I feel the real advance takes place. Putting it in terms of weight, the five-ounce Transmitter, in conjunction with the source-switching and amplification within the speakers themselves, replaces almost 50 pounds of equipment from my audio shelf. No need for the NAD integrated, since the speakers have built-in amplification and the Transmitter controls source- switching. No need for my Meridian DAC because the Transmitter accepts digital sources up to 48kHz/32-bit, according to my music-player software (although Dynaudio only claims 24-bit), and mates very well with my Rotel CD drive via the supplied Toslink cable. The Hegel USB DAC also took a powder because, you guessed it, the Transmitter accepts datastreams via USB, including, of course, streaming radio (so good-bye Kenwood tuner). As an added bonus, the Transmitter is fully powered by that same USB cable and thus may be positioned at the host computer. Have an analog device? No problem here either, since the Transmitter has two RCA jacks, which also share a switchable channel with a mini-phono jack.
If you’re counting that’s four sources per transmitter, the selection of which is controlled by an exceedingly compact and lightweight remote control. Said remote also is the home of the on/off, volume, mute, and transmitter-selection buttons. Transmitters are available separately ($350), and up to three— which may be individually designated A, B, and C via a switch on the back of each unit—will answer to a single remote. The A, B, and C channels allow you to select the strongest WiFi frequency band. Although you could use separate transmitters for each pair of XEO speakers in a multi-room system, a single transmitter will control up to three pairs of XEO speakers. This flexibility underscores what the XEO system is all about.