I just reviewed one of the more premium-priced in-ear monitor headphones, retailing at S$1,599 in Singapore. If you think that is eye-popping expensive, actually there are dozens of earphones even pricier than this. And consumers actually buy them.
When I first tried out the Xelento Remote at the Canjam Singapore 2017 in March, I felt great satisfaction experiencing Hi-Res audio files delivered with detail and precision through in-canal earphones. I agreed to an interview with the Beyerdynamic Asia and you can watch that clip below.
I was elated when beyerdynamic reached out to me recently with a review unit that I can further assess and enjoy.
Here are some features that hopefully can justify you to pay for the premium price tag.
- Silver plated Kevlar coated cable. One comes with in-line remote and mic. MMCX plugs are gold-plated.
- Drivers are in-ear version of Tesla technology that is 16 times smaller than the Beyerdynamic T1 over-ear headphones.
- Earphones are crafted by hand at company headquarters in Heilbronn, Germany. Skilled professionals wind the tiny voice coils, rotate drive parts and assemble the components under a microscope with the precision of a watchmaker.
- The hand-assembled drivers are encased in a three-layer shiny metalizing housing
- Ear tips are uniquely shaped anatomically in oval. They feel thin, soft, and fits comfortably in my ears without pressure yet achieves noise isolation better than most normal earphones.
I was initially baffled that the Xelento is worn with cables behind the ears instead of the usual straight-down, since such designs are usually used on sports headsets, and are not the easiest to wear. Fortunately, the cables are soft enough for me to loop around my ears without any difficulty that I often experience with other behind-ear models with moulded cables. Another reason I realise is to ease the pressure on the in-ear canals to hold the Xelento housing. This results in the most comfortable in-ears I have worn. The oval eartips sit in the ear canals, with good isolation, yet without the need for the eartips to press tightly against the skin.
The Xelento Remote is constructed with shiny metal that blings under lighting, giving it the tagline “An Audible Piece of Jewellery”. The silver tone really blends with existing jewellery, and perhaps a little too elegant for men.
How good are the Xelento Remote? It is so good that I can effortlessly hear differences between a premium 32-bit quad-DAC on LG G6 and normal DAC smartphones. It is so apparent that I irked when listening the Xelento with standard sources, but plugging it to the LG G6 gives me the musical enjoyment that the Xelento deserves.
I believe the Tesla drivers is responsible for producing such quality disparity. With a premium audio source, the Xelento translates that signals with minimal signal loss to the drivers, who is sensitive enough to convert the signal into sound energy and deliver to the ears.
Mentioned in a separate post, the LG G6 delivers less boomy bass compared to V20, while the treble is more detailed and spatial. I prefer this tuning because the exact nature of Hi-Res audio is improved fidelity at the high frequencies beyond 22kHz.
As it turns out, the audio does not sound cluttered like most earphones. There is a lot of room for every instrument to sing and breathe, from the attack to the decay. The bass is musical, does not sound unnaturally bloated (though preferred by consumers) or constricted, but reverberates when the tracks call for it. The mids are not too forward, to provides adequate supporting role without muddying the sound. The highs are bright but not exaggerated, no excessive ring or odd sibilance, while retaining the clarity and delivers pure enjoyable tones.
I find that when I listen to Xelento, I was not distracted by any particular frequency. Whichever musical section I want to focus on, I can hear them. There are some consumer headphones that are tuned for certain audio bias with good intentions. Not for Xelento. You hear all the sounds in the aural spaces conjured by the Xelento.
Because of this, the Xelento Remote transforms modern pop songs into master-grade tracks. For most of the time, when I reviewed headphones, I have the Hi-Res files for critique, but I don’t invest for trending pop songs. Yet when I listen to them, I hear more instrumental layers on those highly-compressed consumer-centric mixes.
How do they compared to the big brothers? I looked through my previous review written on the T 51, DT 1770 PRO and T 1 (2nd Gen), and it seems the Xelento is probably closer to T 51, delivering more neutral sound yet clean and detailed. It is pretty impressive because the Xelento is the first earphones by beyerdynamic using Tesla drivers, and since the drivers are closer to our ear drums, the details much more apparent than the headphones. Amazingly, it does not sound congested like other earphones despite its tiny drivers.
Having said that, the drivers are after all limited by its size. It is not fair to expect the Xelento to perform like large-driver premium headphones in terms of absolute dynamics, but if the music tracks are not excessively demanding, the Xelento is easily better than most average over-ear headphones.
My personal preference in headphones is slightly stronger bass but must not overpower the highs which should not sound too brittle, while the mids should sound slightly forward for an overall fuller sound. Although the Xelento bass is not as boomy as I would have preferred, it balances with expansive highs that do not sound overbearing, making them a pair of audio gear that delivers premium silky sound for purposeful musical enjoyment rather than on-the-go audio companion.
If there is one word to describe the beyerdynamic Xelento Remote, it is comfort. They are the most comfortable in-canal earphones I have experienced. It also produces the most comfortable audio with its spacious staging for in-ear headphones. Yet because it is in-ear, every aural details are picked up by the ears. The Xelento offers the advantages of over-ear headphones with the size of in-ears.
This audible piece of jewellery retails at S$1,599 in Singapore, available at premium audio shops including Zeppelin & Co. and online shop Lazada.
- Transducer type: Dynamic, Tesla
- Frequency response: 8 – 48,000 Hz
- Nominal impedance: 16 ohms
- Nominal SPL: 110 dB (1 mW / 500 Hz)
- T.H.D.: < 0.2 %
- Remote & Mic: Universal 3-Button
- Length and type of cable: 1.3m / detachable (MMCX)
- Connection: 3.5 mm plug, 4-pole
- Weight (without cable): 7g per pair
- Accessories: 1.3m cable without remote, 7 pairs of silicone eartips, 3 pairs of Comply eartips, Case, Cable clip, Quick start guide