Back in March, beyerdynamic Asia launched the Xelento Remote at Canjam Singapore and I was impressed at how good they sound. Beyerdynamic Asia eventually sent us a unit of the Xelento Remote earphones for review, so we spent some quality time with them for this review.
The beyerdynamic Xelento Remote is a pair of exquisitely designed in-ear earphones (or In-Ear Monitors) which featured miniaturised versions of beyerdynamic’s Tesla drivers. These feature significantly stronger magnetic fields compared to normal drivers, allowing the Xelento Remote to produce every nuance of your music in great detail.
Removing the outer sleeve from the box, and opening the magnetically closed inner box reveals the pair of earphones on a black surface, almost like a pair of earrings. The shiny surface of the earphones sparkle in the light just like a piece of jewellery. It’s no wonder that beyerdynamic has positioned them as such—an audiophile piece of jewellery.
Lifting the “platform” which held the earphones reveals a very generous selection of seven(!) differently-sized ear tips that’s bound to fit almost any ear. Beyerdynamic comes after Klipsch and perhaps, Etymotics, offering olive-shaped ear tips out of the box. This may seem to be an odd choice but considering how different everyone’s ear canal’s are, this actually makes plenty sense. Say if you had ever remove Comply tips from your ear, you’ll probably notice how the tips are shaped after being compressed. If you prefer the traditional Comply tips, there are three different sizes available as well. There’s also another set of cables (sans remote), a shirt clip, user guide and a leather carrying case.
There’s a very basic cable management in the form of an elastic band to hold the cable in place when placed in the case, but I find them to be fiddly in use. What I did was to put the earphones into the slots provided, then coil the cables nicely and shut the magnetic lid on them.
Like many audiophile In-Ear Monitors (IEM), the Xelento Remotes are meant to be worn over the ear. For some, this might take a little getting used to. The cables exhibit nearly no microphonic effects, meaning they don’t produce any noise in your ears when you touch or move the cables, unlike some of the cheaper earphones out there.
With In-Ear Monitors, choice of the ear tips are important. Which is why beyerdynamic has given seven to choose from. Unlike regular ear tips, these feature an elliptical mounting holes, which presumably prevents them from rotating while in use. The shape of them is also asymmetric, so they have to be attached to the earphones correctly before use. Choosing the wrong sized ear tips will degrade audio quality, and significantly reduce the level of noise isolation as well.
I tested the Xelento Remote using both my Sony NW-A25 digital audio player as well as my iPhone 6, playing from lossless files as well as from Spotify. It’s a pity that we have returned the Onkyo DP-X1A digital audio player, otherwise that’d make an excellent audio source too. I listen to mostly classical and jazz, and those genres are what I tested them on.
A short period of time was also spent on listening to the Xelento Remote connected to a Chord Mojo DAC Amp streaming from an iPhone 7 Plus and JDS Labs O2 Headphone Amplifier + Schiit Modi Uber DAC combination streaming from a Windows 10 PC. On this 2 combinations, an assorted audition test set comprising of Hi-Res 96Khz FLAC files, 2.8 Mhz DSD files, YouTube music and Spotify Premium music sources. Contrary to earlier test where most of the music were Jazz and Classical, this test set varied wildly across several genres.
This spanned from Faye Wong’s remastered 96Khz FLAC album of “Sky”, pop music from YouTube’s current shuffle of the latest hits and notably highly compressed, “optimized” Spotify music streams. From this test set, one could almost immediately judge the difference between well mastered and engineered tracks and commercial, quick and dirty optimized music. The Xelento Remote plays to a Tee gorgeously on carefully mastered tracks.
Orchestral music are excellent for testing things like sound stage, separation and detail resolution, so I played a recording of Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto played by Argentinian pianist, Martha Argerich. She’s accompanied by the Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, conducted by Riccardo Chailly. This is easily one of the best recordings of the Rachmaninov’s 3rd Piano Concerto, and is my favourite of all time.
Through the Xelento Remote, the sound stage of the orchestra appears to be very accurate with each section being clearly represented. Argerich’s playing is impeccable and full of feeling, which the Xelento Remote never fails to deliver in spades. The piano sounds full and dynamic, with the Xelento Remote having no trouble reproducing either the deep lower registers nor the crisp, high notes, making the piece a joy to listen to.
I wanted to test the bass response of the Xelento Remote, and what better than to turn to the king of musical instruments, the organ? For this, I played Saint-Saëns’s Symphony No. 3, also known as the “Organ Symphony”. The version I tried was recorded by Reference Recordings and played by the Kansas City Symphony conducted by Michael Stern, featuring Jan Kraybill on the organ.
The Xelento Remote reproduces the deep organ notes in the second, and particularly the forth movement with aplomb. These are usually lost when I listen to them on my UE900 earphones but sparkling with presence on the Xelento Remote. As with everything else I’ve thrown at it, the Xelento Remote have no trouble in picking out all the instruments in the accurate and wide soundstage.
I also tried Jazz Variants by the Ozone Percussion Group. This is a piece performed by percussion instruments—xylophones, marimbas, drums, timpanis, etc. and is a good test of dynamics. The Xelento Remote did not disappoint here. It’s able to handle all the big dynamics of the bass drum whacks easily without sounding distorted. There’s a good show of PRaT (Pace, Rhythm and Timing) here.
Generally, the Xelento Remote sounds very well balanced, with deep, tight bass, smooth mids and clear highs without sounding overly bright. This makes it suitable for a wide variety of music. Unlike some of the cheaper earphones which emphasise bass and/or treble to make them more bassy/energetic to appeal to the masses, making them only sound “good” for certain types of music.
These are very comfortable in-ear earphones to wear for long periods of time. The isolation provided is excellent (provided you select the correct ear tips of course), and is a boon for travelling on our rather noisy MRT. Having a high sensitivity also means that they are easy to drive, without having to rely on a portable headphone amplifier on the go.
The S$1599 price tag though, is a bit on the high side. But I’ve seen audiophile earphones and headphones for much higher than that. So, if you are in the market for a pair of great sounding and comfortable In-Ear Monitors, do give the beyerdynamic Xelento Remote a listen!
|Xelento Remote Specs|
|Frequency Response||8-48000 Hz|
|Nominal Sound Pressure Level||110 dB (1 mW / 500 Hz)|
|Remote||Universal 3-button remote|
The Beyerdynamic Xelento Remote is available at authorised beyerdynamic retailers such as Jaben, Lazada.SG, Treoo.com, Headphones.sg and more at a recommended retail price of S$1,599.
Special thanks to beyerdynamic Asia for the review unit.