DALI (Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries) was based in 1983 to create “loudspeakers with outstanding performance and natural sound at competitive prices.” Since then, the corporate has upheld that mandate with many wonderful-sounding audio system, together with the recently reviewed Rubicon 6.
Recently, DALI entered the headphone area with its IO-4 and IO-6 fashions. When I attempted on the IO-6 at CES 2020, I used to be impressed with what I heard, so I requested a evaluation pattern. After extra prolonged listening, I’m much more impressed than I used to be in Vegas. (Editor’s notice: In case you discover our font complicated, DALI’s IO branding is eye-oh, not one-zero.)
The IO-4 and IO-6 are each Bluetooth-enabled wi-fi headphones obtainable in two colours: Iron Black and Caramel White. Their over-ear, closed-back design makes use of replaceable memory-foam earpads coated with artificial leather-based, that are fairly comfy and kind an efficient seal across the ears. This offers passive noise isolation at mid and excessive frequencies, however it may well’t do a lot to dam low-frequency ambient noise.
This evaluation is a part of TechHive’s protection of the best headphones, the place you’ll discover opinions of competing merchandise, plus a purchaser’s information to the options it’s best to take into account when procuring.
That’s the place lively noise cancellation (ANC) on the IO-6 is available in. (The IO-4 doesn’t embody ANC.) Like nearly all different headphones with this characteristic, ANC reduces the extent of low-frequency ambient sound utilizing part cancellation, which helps you to hear extra element within the music at decrease volumes. That further little bit of electronics additionally provides 5 grams to the burden (325 vs. 320 grams or 11.5 vs. 11.3 ounces), which continues to be on the sunshine aspect.
The IO-6 additionally provides a Transparency mode that mixes exterior ambient sound into the headphone audio, so that you don’t miss an approaching siren or a flight attendant’s directions. In this mode, low frequencies usually are not part cancelled.
Both fashions make use of a custom-designed, 50mm, free-edge paper-fiber cone driver with a neodymium magnet in a cavity designed like a small speaker cupboard. The frequency response extends from 10Hz to 20kHz with a most sound-pressure degree of 100dBA. For wi-fi communications, they implement Bluetooth 5.0 and help the AAC, aptX, and aptX HD codecs.
Like most wi-fi headphones as of late, the IO fashions also can function the enter and output for telephone calls due to the onboard microphones. A characteristic referred to as CVC (Clear Voice Capture) filters out background noise to make sure the consumer’s voice is heard loud and clear on the different finish of the decision.
The electronics are powered by a high-capacity, 1100mAh lithium-ion battery. It offers as much as 30 hours of use within the IO-6 and an incredible 60 hours within the IO-4. Connections embody a USB-C port on the backside of the best earcup for charging the battery and listening to music through USB in addition to a 3.5mm analog-audio enter on the backside of the left earcup.
Aside from ANC, the one different distinction between the 2 fashions is the included storage. The IO-6 comes with stiff-sided journey case, whereas the IO-4 comes with a drawstring bag. Those two variations add $100 to the price of the IO-6 ($399) in contrast with the IO-4 ($299).
The essential operational controls are touch-sensitive areas on the surface of the best earcup, although these usually are not capacitive; they really transfer barely, offering a little bit of tactile suggestions. Tap the central DALI emblem as soon as to play, pause, and reply or grasp up a telephone name; twice to skip to the following monitor; and 3 times to skip to the earlier monitor. Tapping the higher a part of the outer ring will increase the amount, whereas tapping the decrease half decreases the amount.
In addition, there are two bodily controls situated alongside the underside of the best earcup, and they’re nicely separated, making them simple to search out by really feel. A slider turns the ability on and off and initiates Bluetooth pairing, whereas a pushbutton cycles via the ANC modes (On, Transparent, Off). Two LEDs close to the ability/pairing slider point out Bluetooth and charging standing.
Even higher, the IO-6 offers audible affirmation of many actions. When you flip the ability on, a nice male voice informs you of the battery degree—a novel contact that I actually admire. Likewise, once you energy down, put the headphones into pairing mode, or activate ANC or Transparency mode, the identical voice confirms the motion.
The DALI IO-6 feels very stable and well-built. Also, the earpads are fairly comfy, although they do clamp on my head fairly tightly; I assume that’s to make a superb seal. At first, I assumed the spherical earpads won’t be giant sufficient to embody my ears, however they match simply high quality.
I listened to numerous tracks from the Tidal Masters library on the IO-6, beginning with “You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught” from James Taylor’s album American Standard. It was beautiful! The guitars, viola, and James’ voice all sounded wealthy, heat, clear, and pure. It was so good, I stored listening to the following monitor, “God Bless the Child,” which additionally sounded implausible.
Next up was Pat Metheny’s “America Undefined” from his album From This Place. All devices within the giant ensemble had been clearly delineated with a wealthy, pure sound, and Metheny’s guitar was a pleasure to behold. During this monitor, I listened to the IO-6 with ANC on and off. The tonal stability was a lot the identical in each circumstances, although the extent was a bit increased with ANC off.
I’m a giant classical-music fan, so I listened to the opening of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, “Symphony of a Thousand,” as recorded throughout a dwell efficiency by the Munich Philharmonic beneath the path of Valery Gergiev. As the title suggests, this piece requires a really giant orchestra and refrain. It additionally contains an organ half, which is featured within the opening together with some large brass, all of which sounded spectacular—clean, wealthy, and really clear, with super-deep bass from the organ.
Deep bass was additionally on faucet within the Olympic Fanfare and Theme as carried out by the Los Angeles Philharmonic beneath Gustavo Dudamel in a dwell efficiency recorded at Walt Disney Hall for the album Celebrating John Williams. I’ve heard many concert events in that corridor, and this recording is a wonderful illustration of that have. On the IO-6, it sounded wealthy, clean, and sonorous with distinctive bass from the tuba and organ.
For a little bit of nation, I cued up “Crazy Love” from Lady Antebellum’s Ocean. The vocals had been fantastically rendered with glowing guitars, clear drums, and wealthy fiddle. Listening with ANC on and off, the tonal stability was a lot the identical both means, however the degree was barely decrease with ANC on.
Turning to a extra digital monitor, I checked out “Chemical” from Beck’s album Hyperspace. The expansive sonic washes had been adroitly rendered with out overpowering the guitar and vocals, and the deep bass was fairly spectacular.
Finally, I listened to “when the party’s over” from Billie Eilish’s album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? I’m not a giant fan of Eilish’s voice; particularly, her breath help is weak, however her pitch and vary are superb, and I discover her musical concepts fairly fascinating. Listening to this monitor on the IO-6, her voice was up entrance with wonderful intelligibility (not like her dwell performances I’ve seen on TV), and the deep synth bass, piano, and background vocals all sounded nice.
As typical with ANC headphones, I took the IO-6 for a spin in my automotive across the neighborhood to check its noise cancellation. ANC labored extraordinarily nicely, significantly lowering highway noise and the sound of rain on the roof whereas the music sounded nearly as good because it did in my house.
Comparison with the PSB M4U 8
Of the ANC headphones I’ve reviewed for TechHive, the PSB M4U 8 is essentially the most applicable to check with the DALI IO-6. They each have the identical listing value and related performance, together with the power for use as wired headphones if the ability is off.
Each monitor sounded very good on each headphones. Overall, the DALI sounded barely extra laid again and hotter, whereas the PSB had a bit brighter and sharper tonality with a tad extra immediacy. As I famous in my evaluation of the M4U 8, it sounded a bit bloated within the bass with ANC on, whereas the IO-6 had a nearly equivalent tonal stability with ANC on or off, although the extent was barely decrease with ANC on.
One extra level of distinction: The M4U 8 was a bit tougher to seat nicely on my head. The ovoid form of its earcups is much less forgiving of placement than the IO-6’s spherical earcups. Granted, the PSB has loads of room contained in the earcups as soon as they’re positioned appropriately, nevertheless it took a little bit of fiddling to get them in the best place.
Which one you’ll want comes down to non-public style. If you favor a hotter, rounder sound, I like to recommend the IO-6. But should you lean towards a brighter, extra ahead tonality, the M4U 8 fills that invoice.
The DALI IO-6 is an distinctive wi-fi ANC headphone. It’s nicely made, comfy to put on, and simple to function. Most importantly, it sounds very good on all kinds of music. Its tonal stability is on the nice and cozy, wealthy, luxurious aspect—which I really like—and activating ANC doesn’t change the tonality a lot in any respect.
Speaking of ANC, it’s extremely efficient within the IO-6. My solely want right here could be the power to have interaction ANC with out turning on Bluetooth, which might lengthen the battery life. But it’s isn’t any large deal on this case, because the battery lasts as much as 30 hours, which is longer than most.
At $399, the DALI IO-6 is fairly costly, nevertheless it’s nicely value each penny. If you may deal with the premium value, you may’t go fallacious with this premium headphone.