Danish hi-fi manufacturer Dali makes its debut in the field of headphones with its new IO-6 and IO-4, high-quality over-ear headphones with Bluetooth 5 wireless and a long battery life.
The entire design of the IO-6 that we tested was as high in quality as it was stylish. These headphones are light in weight and are available in black or light brown/white. The adjustable headband and the 180-degree rotating ear cups are padded with memory foam. The covering is made of high-quality imitation leather, which is pleasantly breathable. As a result, they are consistently comfortable to wear. The earpads can be replaced if necessary.
The built-in dynamic 50 mm drivers in closed ear cups are a patented proprietary development. The electronics are based on Bluetooth 5 wireless with a decent range and support for audio codecs SBC, aptX, AAC and also the HiRes-capable aptX HD.
The Scandinavian manufacturer has clearly focused on good sound quality; Dali’s drivers are a highly appreciated feature. However, certain comfort and business functions have been left out. On the right ear cup there is an on/off switch, which also initiates pairing. There is also a button to switch between noise-cancelling modes and a USB port that can be used for playback from a computer with class-compliant drivers. On the other earcup, there is a connector for either active or passive cable operation. Dali classify this passive mode as a fallback option, but the drivers are powerful with convincing sound which underpins the well thought out basic design.
The manufacturer is confident enough with this product to dispense with the need for an app. Instead, all the usual control options are directly implemented on the headphones. The outside of the right ear cup does not rely on touch but on tactile functions. Pressing the central company logo starts and stops the playback and multiple clicks jump between titles. This button is also used to answer telephone calls. The top and bottom of the ear cup conceal buttons for volume control. These are very elegant and reliable to use; in my opinion that gives them a clear advantage over smaller buttons and the often somewhat unpredictable touch functions of headphones from competing brands.
With 2.5 hours charging time the battery life has a useful maximum of 30 hours (depending on levels and the use of the noise reduction). However, due to the integrated noise-cancelling electronics, this model doesn’t match the lengths of the playing time of the smaller IO-4 model.
A simple button on the right ear cup switches the noise-cancelling mode on and off, as well as operating the transparency mode, which sends ambient noise to the speakers for improved perception of the outside world when the headphones are being worn. Automatic pause of music playback allows for easy communication. Personally, I would have preferred to be able to switch between transparency mode and noise-cancelling separately. Instead, after deactivating the communication option, you have to switch back to the mode without noise-cancelling first.
Noise cancelling headphones in this price range must compete with such manufacturers as Sony, Bose and Sennheiser and the passive noise cancelling of the IO-6 was convincing. As far as the electronics are concerned, the device we tested works more gently and less intensively in comparison to the Sony WH-1000XM3. Here, mainly low frequency and static noise are filtered out. This works quite well with appealing results, even if the noise of the circuitry somewhat clouds the impression when music playback is switched off. However, Dali does not quite match the flexibility, configurability and intensity of the top brands in this field and I would have liked to be able to switch between levels of noise suppression.
In practice, the IO-6 convinces most with its sound. Indeed, you are rewarded with detailed, balanced and transparent reproduction, which is further improved in mobile operation by noise-cancelling due to an improved signal-to-noise ratio.
The sound tuning is neutral so that you needn’t fear heavy bass adventures or highly embellished loudness curves. The bass is nevertheless reproduced honestly and right down into the depths. The IO-6 provides the necessary details in terms of contour, tonality and dynamics without ever sounding superficial. These fine nuances can be enjoyed particularly in quiet listening environments. For example, both the scale and nuance of the music of a classical orchestra are credibly conveyed. The same applies to the dynamic reproduction found in good jazz recordings (in this case Esbjörn Svensson Trio). The various intensive drum and piano accents are brought out in the best possible way without the sound image losing its cohesion. In the midrange, the drivers provide high realism and tangible clarity in vocals and acoustic instruments, while rock music and distorted guitars in particular are imparted with the necessary midrange impact.
In combination with the similarly finely resolved trebles, this results in wonderful presence in the form of a remarkably fast and open sound image, which is by no means typical with closed systems. Great transient reproduction also contributes to a clear location of the sound elements in the stereo panorama, but also to an excellent spatial image for a closed headphone. The limits of harshness are represented clearly. The drivers themselves do not produce this kind of harshness.
The IO-6 can handle modern sound aesthetics just as well. In Yello’s “Pan Blue”, the electronic sounds move impressively across the entire frequency spectrum, with the layers of the various instruments being clearly delineated and the panning effects whirling precisely around your ears.
With the IO-6, Dali combines a well-balanced design and high-quality workmanship with high sound quality and effective noise cancelling. The focus is on honest sound reproduction, behind which functionality consciously takes a back seat. With this approach, the target market for these headphones is clear: the music lover who wants a high-quality set of headphones for travelling.
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)10 - 20.000 Hz
- Impedance25 ohms
- Weight without cable325 g
What's in the box
- Audio cable
- USB charging cable
- Airplane adapter
- Travel case
- BT codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD
- BT version: 5.0
- BT profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP
- Loading time: approx. 2.5 hrs.