If looks could kill, the IE800 is small pox, mowing down hundreds of millions throughout history. If sound could kill, the AKT8iE MKII would be the Black Plague, riding ahead of the Mongol horde, rending lives across Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. The Black Plague was bad – almost as bad as it gets. But there are things worse than the Black Plague. And, there are earphones that impact me even more than the AKT8iE MKII.
The Beyerdynamic Xelento is one. In person it looks way better than the low-budget 3D render Beyerdynamic went for. Its tiny, semi-chocolate faceplate is yummy. Its silver finish is refreshingly bright. Engraved branding: ‘MADE IN GERMANY’, and so on, are taunting flair. “I dare you to try the same!” challenges that flair. And it’s right to make such a challenge; objectively, Xelento is more precisely made than the AKT8iE MKII. Is it prettier? I prefer the AKT8iE MKII’s milkier/chocolatey-er hues. I also miss its ‘A’ logo. But it is obvious into which more crafting effort went.
Xelento and the AKT8iE MKII sound different, too. Those differences are as small as are cosmetic changes between the two. And the house sound is firmly shared. But on Xelento is built a taller roof: more high-end sound pressure; and instead of a semi-bassy brick fascia, Xelento is wood all the way to the concrete: its bass ling flatter against the midrange.
High-end sound experience
With its intense and intoxicating sound, the Xelento remote impresses even the most discerning audiophiles. And the reason is beyerdynamic’s unique Tesla technology, which covers the complete acoustic range in a neutral and precise manner. Its excellent efficiency together with outstanding impulse fidelity makes it ideal for use on smartphones or high-resolution audio players. The in-ear version of the Tesla driver has been fully redeveloped. Ring magnets – 16 times smaller than in the reference T 1 headphones – and an air gap in the micrometre range redefine the limits of what is technically feasible.
Such progress can no longer be perceived with the naked eye but it can scarcely be hidden from the ear. A specially extended frequency response makes details audible which are simply lost with other in-ear models. The powerful, ultra-precise bass rounds off the sound at the lower end, without pushing itself into the limelight. The Xelento remote thus emphasises the voices and instruments especially vividly and effortlessly. The acoustic experts in Heilbronn have tuned it perfectly – for a high-end sound that goes straight to the ear.
The universal remote control in the cable gives the Xelento remote the second part of its name. It controls the volume and music playback of the player by means of the 3.5 mm jack connector and allows calls to be made and received on the smartphone at the press of a button. The integrated microphone transforms the headphones into an audiophile headset. And for those who don’t require a microphone and prefer to control playback on the player, a pure audio cable can be used instead. The cables are detachable, which means they can be replaced quickly.
Silver-plated cables provide as little resistance as possible to the sound flowing through their cores. They are coated with Kevlar and tested in 40,000 bending cycles. Gold-plated MMCX plugs ensure good contact and fast and easy replacement. The headphones can thus withstand years of outdoor use under the harshest conditions. And the in-ear housing itself is just as robust. Its three-layer metallising not only looks stylish but also makes the surface insensitive to abrasion, solvents, and perspiration. A watertight diaphragm over the bass reflex openings protects the interior from getting wet.
High-end wearing comfort
beyerdynamic has expended more energy into perfecting the fit of the headphones than ever before. Countless silicone casts were made, heads measured and computer data evaluated so that the Xelento remote nestles perfectly into the wearer’s ear. This has resulted in anatomically shaped eartips in no less than seven sizes – from XS to 3XL. No other manufacturer offers so much customising. Thanks to their oval cut, they fit like a glove in the auditory canal – without the usual sensation of pressure that comes from wearing in-ears. The popular Comply™ moulded foam eartips are also available in three sizes for fans of classic attachments.