Review: Beyerdynamic Xelento Remote – Anthem

Sound

Both earphones get just as loud at the same volume levels through my iPhone SE. The AKT8iE’s extra 1dB of sensitivity makes no difference to my ears. This means that both earphones hiss mildly through moderate quality sources. Both earphones reveal a small amount of hiss from the iPhone SE, and a lot through the Astell&Kern XB10. When listening to Xelento I keep my iPhone at a volume well below 50%, even when on a train. Isolation is a bit better Grado’s GR10 and GR8e but nowhere near what you’ll get from a custom.

Differences between the two earphones spring up from here on in.

My first impressions were mistaken. While the AKT8iE MKII is warmer than Xelento, it’s not by much, and Xelento’s bass sticks out more. Neither is a basshead earphone. From top to bottom, Xelento sounds cooler. Its bass stereo image pushes wider, a result of which is that its lows feel punchier, crisper, and quicker. Xelento’s bass reaches lower, though, enough to reveal slightly more yawning detail in the opening seconds to Markus Schulz’s Mainstage. Of course, the AKT8iE’s warmth advertises it against Xelento’s composure. In reality, both earphones produce some of the quickest-reacting bass in the dynamic world.

While low-frequency differences between the two are iterative, mid-frequency differences are contrastive. Hardcore fans of the AKT8iE may dismiss Xelento. Quite simply, compared to the AKT8iE’s smooth transition from upper bass to mids, it is mildly disjointed. It’s almost as if the first post-bass steps drop rather than bridge the two frequency bands. It’s not a huge rift; it’s the sort you might hear from certain generation II hybrid earphones.

Against Astell & Kern’s warmth, Beyerdynamic chose impact. Mids run out of stronger, more explosive bass, flat into the highs, coolly unaccented. There are times when I miss the AKT8iE’s warmth, but it’s only really after listening to it for hours. The converse isn’t necessarily true.

I appreciate Xelento’s flat mid range. I appreciate their bell-like clarity and wide berth for female vocals. I appreciate Xelento’s more energetic more Team Beyer highs. I appreciate Xelento’s dry resonance, especially when listening to hard electronic and heavy metal, where accent is the last thing I’m looking for. And yet, when it comes to male vocals, I prefer the AKT8iE MKII’s warmth. The problem with the AKT8iE MKII is that, no matter how feeble, its warmth impacts everything. Xelento’s clear, higher pressure highs are distinct from mids and bass, cutting a truly world-class profile.

Xelento more stringently follows equal loudness curve rules. It is a little brighter. It is not sibilant. Its bass is a little more impactful. But it is not a bass head earphone. Its mids are flatter and cooler, and though slightly, wetter than typical reference headphones. I have a feeling that people unimpressed with the AKT8iE’s mild warmth and central voicing may find Xelento’s width and mild u-curve enticing. Add to that a cool, high pressure low range, and you have a strong-arm take on the typical wide-midrange reference earphone.

Before I forget, Xelento’s stage presence stretches really really wide, pushing against left and right extremes. It arches slightly back: an IMAX cinema from the 5th row if you will. It reaches high. Yet, despite excellent instrument separation, it doesn’t bend away from itself to offer much depth. It is one of the truest, cleanest takes on wall-of-sound I’ve ever had in my ears.

End words

As long as I keep away from reference earphones and headphones, my tryst with warmth is inviolate. Eventually something like the Nuforce HEM4, the Audio Technica CK10, the Etymotic ER4, or the Beyerdynamic DT880 comes along and I’m back in the reference camp, singing the praises of the wide, the flat, the cool. Deciding between Xelento and the AKT8iE is difficult. When my music queue is long on non-rap male vocals, and when my album list is full of live audiences, I prefer the AKT8iE. Despite the mild disconnect between bass and lower mids, Xelento pulls as my reference heart strings. It dredges up a younger, slimmer, and more fit Nathan, teetering on his cyclocross bicycle over icy pathways, CK10 blasting trance and classic at my ear drums. Of course, I vastly prefer Xelento to the CK10. But, even after ticking off every plus and minus box for each, I can’t say for sure which I actually prefer.

Well done.

Review: Beyerdynamic Xelento Remote – Anthem
4.3 (85.25%) 61 vote[s]

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Back before he became the main photographer for bunches of audio magazines and stuff, Nathan was fiddling with pretty cool audio gear all day long at TouchMyApps. He loves Depeche Mode, trance, colonial hip-hop, and raisins. Sometimes, he gets to listening. Sometimes, he gets to shooting. Usually he's got a smile on his face. Always, he's got a whisky in his prehensile grip.

32 Comments

  • Reply March 1, 2017

    SkyBlue

    Thanks for the review Nathan.

    Was very close in purchasing the original AKT8iE and the MKii, but finding out it had some manufacturing defects (original version), I held back. That’s why I am interested in the Xelento.

    I am a proud owner of FitEar Japan universal IEMs collection (which includes, the ToGo334, Parterre Plus, Fitear and even FitEar 陶音(Tone) ‘a pretty rare piece’), among many other IEMs.

    If you had a chance to listen to any of the above mentioned FitEar IEMs, could you please provide me, your valuable opinion with some high level comparisons?

    Thank you

    • Reply March 8, 2017

      ohm image

      I love the TG334’s mids, but wish the earphone had more upper end bite. Parterre is almost perfect, with the smooth, semi-powerful mods of the 334, but with extension and space in the highs and a flatter low end, but fits like shyte. Shame. It is one of the nicest-souding earphones out there.

      Xelento has no rival for fit. It’s only problem (in my estimation) is the somewhat rocky transition zone from upper bass to lower mids. Otherwise it is excellent.

      • Reply March 9, 2017

        SkyBlue

        Thanks for the response Nathan .Reading your review and response, I really think the Xelento brighter sound signature will nicely complement the Fitear IEMs.

        By the way, agree, the TG334 mids are top class, and the Parterre a very natural sounding with more depth in sound stage.

        To my ears the Fitear fitear falls between the above mentioned, in terms of tuning. While to my surprise, the Fitear 陶音(Tone) is tuned to the brighter side of the spectrum and complements well with the other Fitear IEMs.

        Cheers

  • Reply March 7, 2017

    JD

    Thank you Nathan for the amazing review.

    It’s great to see a Headfonia reviewer being Trancer after all these years 🙂

    I’ve been struggling so long to find the right IEMs that can keep up with the speed and complexity of Trance music without compromising the sound quality of soundstage 🙁

    • Reply March 8, 2017

      ohm image

      I’ve been a trance head since 2001 or so, and off and on a house guy from about 1998. Xelento can keep up. Parterre can keep up. But for absolute width, where either the live show shows its size, or the psychedelic atmosphere grows like a spectre, Xelento is almost in a class of its own.

      • Reply March 8, 2017

        JD

        Thank you Nathan. Time for me to start saving up 😀

  • Reply March 11, 2017

    Orpheus2000

    Thanks for the review, Nathan. Would you be able to comment on Xelento’s capabilities when it comes to classical music, both orchestral and chamber? How does it compare to the T8IE, or other top-tier earphones? Many thanks!

    • Reply March 11, 2017

      Peter Hyatt

      Orpheus2000, see my review below. I believe that these are essentially engineered the same as the AKT8 series and as with such fidelity, are gorgeous for the complexities of classical. Nathan, however, would be a better judge here. I find that the Beyerdynamic T series (which this is based upon) is wonderful for classical, as well as rock, acoustic, and even piano/voice. The T8ie, ii, and Xelento appear to all share the same technology and design.

  • Reply March 11, 2017

    Peter Hyatt

    Terrific review. Balanced, self deprecating, lively pace…fun to read.

    I have the AKT8ie (with the 2nd gen cable) and love it. I’ve never heard anything in ear match the gorgeous beauty of the Beyerdynamic T1. This is it.

    I’ve worn these in lengthy flights and it is so comfortable that I’ve never had to take a break from them.

    The fidelity of the sound handles everything, including classical and piano. Coupled with Chord Mojo (or Hugo), and you have, perhaps, the best sound your ears (and brain) will ever encounter.

    • Reply March 11, 2017

      Orpheus2000

      Thanks, Peter, comments are very useful! I assume you are referring to the Xelento, rather than the AKT8ie when discussing comfort and pairing with the Chord devices, is this correct? Would be great to hear Nathan’s comments too.

  • Reply April 18, 2017

    madmu5icjunky

    How does this compare to the Orolius hybrid?

    • Reply July 22, 2017

      chopstix

      no i think he’s referring to the ak t8ei mkii…he messaged me on his enjoyment of the AK model

  • Reply May 9, 2017

    Chester Tan

    Brilliantly descriptive review. I have had the opportunity to review the Xelento myself and have found similar conclusions. Indeed the most comfortable in-ears and absolutely love the sound staging. It’s the only earphones I have reviewed so far that I feel it might just be worth spending my hard-earned money on.

    For what it’s worth, here’s my take of the Xelento: http://musicphotolife.com/2017/05/beyerdynamic-xelento-remote-review/

  • Reply August 24, 2017

    chopstix

    i got my ak t8ei mkii for a deal (US$545 used, but in mint condition)…sure they’re not as linear as the xelento..but for the price i couldn’t say no….

  • Reply September 3, 2017

    Deniz

    Seriously Nathan, if you want to do eclectic writing, become a poet or a journalist for one of the upscale newspapers. For headphone reviews, a simpler language will benefit more readers, and help everyone concentrate on what actually matters in those reviews. This is the wrong place to show off your writing skills.

    • Reply September 3, 2017

      Deniz

      On second thought, no-one really forces me to read your reviews. Plenty of other reviewers around who write for the common people. So please, just ignore my ranting.

      • Reply September 22, 2017

        ohm image

        Deniz: I replied, but apparently not to your part of the thread. I’m sorry.

  • Reply September 4, 2017

    ohm image

    I’ve now re-read my review twice and fail to see how or where I was ‘showing off my writing skills’. In fact, I’ve been told flat out that I’m a horrible writer; ergo: no skills. I use slang when I can, and do my best to be clear, but there’s no way without a professional editor to really cut things to do any better.

    I try my best to use clear language and not get figurative, but it’s impossible to catch everything. My apologies if you feel otherwise.

  • Reply September 21, 2017

    Syracuse

    I already ordered one and it should arrive very soon. Since we share similar interest in music style and your praise I went in blind with hope. In Belgium it’s hard to hear most full size cans let alone in-ears. Tell me, since you like the Vorzuge’s so much too, and I use a Mojo as dac, does the Xelento have good synergy with the Pure II?

    • Reply September 22, 2017

      ohm image

      I really hope you like them: it’s a tall order to somehow support blind purchase. My fingers are crossed. The Mojo is a very clean-sounding device, and the Xelento Remote’s somewhat thinner mids may or may not complement that clean resolution. That will be up to you. I think that Mojo does very well by Xelento Remote, but it might actually do better with a slow hi-pass filter. Anyway, keep us updated.

  • Reply September 22, 2017

    Syracuse

    I fully understand that I can not expect you to support it. That is not my intention. I know that my blind purchase is a risk but I can always sell them if it’s really not what I hoped. I did that with the last pair. For my personal preference, a mojo is too clean alone, but the dac is excellent. That’s why I use it with a Vorzuge which’ output I like quite a bit better. I was just curious if you ever tried the combo. Thanks.

  • Reply September 27, 2017

    Syracuse

    They are something else. I like them a lot already and I’ve only listened for an hour and a half.
    Your review was spot on since I heard a lot of people describe them as warm while I would describe it as natural. They have incredible dynamics and a good midrange with nice airy vocals. The 8.2 could do more in the mids here with certain genres. But for electronic sounds it’s probably the best I’ve yet heard. Only 98.5 hours of play in time to do. Thanks Nathan.

    • Reply September 28, 2017

      ohm image

      I’m really glad to hear that you like, if not love, them. They are something else. I hope the last 98,5 hours is as good as the first 1,5. Rock on.

  • Reply December 13, 2017

    Xenyth

    Hi. I’m eager to know the differences in terms of sound between Xelento and SE846.
    And I personally use a T90 and iFi Nano iDSD. I like the sound but it’s a little dry. I’m considering iFi Micro iDSD Black Label for my next DAC/Amp. You think it will be a good match for both Xelento and T90?

    • Reply January 8, 2018

      ohm image

      Sorry, I don’t have the SE846, it was a loaner.

  • Reply December 20, 2017

    Willy Vlyminck

    I wonder how the Xelento perform against the P51 on ear, also Tesla technologie out of the own house, but with a far more friendly pricetag?

    • Reply January 8, 2018

      ohm image

      An interesting comparison, to be sure. But application is different.

  • Reply April 14, 2018

    cfc

    How does Xelento compare with the Oriolus-V2?

    • Reply April 15, 2018

      ohm image

      I’m sorry, CFC, but I don’t own the Oriolus-V2.

  • Reply June 28, 2018

    Bradley

    Hi,
    could you tell me how the Xelento compare to the SE846.
    I want a huge upgrade from my current RHA t20 and I don’t know which to get.

    thank you for a reply

    • Reply July 3, 2018

      ohm image

      I’m afraid that I don’t have the SE846. It was a loaner. It is more sensitive and has beefier sound no matter the filters you use. If that sounds good or bad, I hope it is helpful.

  • […] One of my all-time favourite Beyerdynamic headphones is the DT770 PRO 32 but I also love the DT990/600, the DT1990PRO and the Xelento IEM. […]

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