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THE AUDIOPHILE APARTMENT: My Space

AA - my roomMy day job as publisher at TONEAudio magazine affords me the luxury of two dedicated listening rooms with clean power and an acoustically treated space to evaluate components, some with an MSRP close to my house. It’s a fun job, but when I’m working on articles for The Audiophile Apartment, chances are I’m right here, typing away on the couch or at the kitchen table. And as I now live in a smaller space and need to integrate my hifi system into my home, where it has to coexist with everything else, I face the same challenges you do.

We’d like to showcase your rooms, systems and record collections in this section of the site. So just like in high school speech class, I’ll go first to get the anxiety out of the way. My home system is a combination of new and old pieces. My personal home turntable is a vintage Technics SL-1200, upgraded with a Rega RB600 tonearm and Rega Exact cartridge. This is fed into a Rega Aria phono preamplifier and then into the Simaudio NEO 430HA. It functions as a preamplifier, DAC and headphone amplifier – handy when my wife is asleep and I still want to enjoy music.

The anchor of the system is vintage all the way, featuring an early 80s vintage SAE2200 power amplifier which was lovingly rebuilt by Ken Easley (and he did me a major solid, replacing the factory red LED power indicators with lime green ones!!) and a pair of Acoustat 1+1 speakers that were also rebuilt with new capacitors, wires and jacks. They still sound as good as they did 35 years ago. I know, I had a pair back then! Low bass is reproduced with a REL S/2 subwoofer that tucks in neatly between the couch and chair. Finally the whole thing is cabled together with Frey interconnects, power cords and speaker cables from Nordost, plugged into the wall via an IsoTek power strip. We will be featuring reviews on the current products very soon as we populate this site.

My home system is incredibly musical and with 9 1/2 foot ceilings, the nearly 8 foot tall Acoustats actually blend right in to the modern space. A few discreetly placed 242 acoustic panels from GIK Acoustics break up the rear reflections from the giant panels. It’s been really fun to revisit a pair of speakers that I owned in the 80s that still sound fantastic today.

As someone who just can’t stop playing with their hifi system, you’ll be seeing more reviews from right here…

REVIEW: Dynaudio’s XEO4 wireless speakers…

aa xeo4As the haunting beats of David Bowie’s Blackstar fill the room, my guests are all looking for the speakers, thinking something much larger is at work. Three pairs of floorstanding speaker systems sit by the doorway, awaiting a visit from the UPS man, all silent. Today’s entertainment is being provided by the tiny Dynaudio XEO4 speakers; their black cabinets hiding in the shadows of my apartment.

Dynaudio’s flagship Evidence Platinum speakers have been the benchmark by which everything else that comes through the door is evaluated, for about a year and a half at TONEAudio magazine, and they have had little, if any competition – as they should at $82,000 for the pair. Taller than me, these aren’t necessarily the first choice for the Audiophile Apartment, or anyone else that is challenged for space. Though they are very environmentally friendly, both in their slender shape and ease by which they integrate into the room. Bravo to you should you forgo other luxuries to install a pair in your apartment!

With so many of our readers living in smaller spaces, Dynaudio’s engineers have distilled an amazing amount of the natural tonality, wide dynamic range and low distortion that makes their top speakers so enjoyable down into a pair of tiny speakers that only measure 7” wide, 10” tall, and just over 9.5” deep. Available in either a satin black or white finish, they will easily blend in any décor. I highly suggest the matching Dynaudio stands, as they match the aesthetic and have plenty of mass; providing good bass grip and preventing floor dwelling mammals from tipping them easily.

In case you’re thinking $2,399 is a bit much for a pair of tiny speakers, keep in mind that the XEO4s are not only fully powered, but they also can accept digital source components via TOSLINK, coax or USB via the integral Dynaudio Hub. The Hub also features two analog inputs (one mini jack and a pair of standard RCAs), allowing the connection of an older television/cable box, a line level component or even a turntable! This is a ton of money you’ll save not needing an amp, preamp, receiver or DAC, not to mention the cost and clutter of the associated cables!

For the analog lover in a tight space, we mated the XEO 4s with the new Clearaudio Wood turntable and the ultra compact Lehmann Black Cube phonostage for an outstanding, yet compact analog setup. Each one of the XEO4s have a 50 watt amplifier for the woofer and soft dome tweeter, making this a 200 watt system. It’s easily enough power to get your neighbors pounding on the ceiling.

For the rest of our music loving audience not requiring a turntable, streaming your favorite digital files is a breeze. No matter what you connect to the input of the XEO4s, the hub detects it automatically – which means zero setup hassle. Just plug the powered speakers into the AC line, find a spot nearby for the hub and you’re ready to roll. You can connect to the source wirelessly, or via Ethernet cable as well.

The only real decision you have to make with the XEO4 (besides black or white) is whether you place the speakers near a wall, on a counter or out in the room. A switch on the back of the speakers offers three settings for the internal digital signal processor (DSP) to optimize the XEO4s bass response for where it is placed in the room; just follow the directions.

Going back and forth between the $82,000 Evidence Platinums and the XEO4s is an amazing testament to Dynaudio’s core values and how even these small powered speakers share the core aesthetic and sonic values of their cost no object masterpieces. The Audiophile Apartment is too young to start handing out awards, but these speakers are of that nature.

If you want high quality sound without the associated rack of gear, we suggest the Dynaudio XEO4. Should you have a bigger budget and slightly more space, consider the floorstanding XEO6.

 

The Dynaudio XEO4 powered loudspeakers

 

$2,399/pair

 

www.dynaudio.com