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The DALI IO-6 hands-on experience - a new approach to wireless ANC headphones
The DALI IO-6 hands-on experience - a new approach to wireless ANC headphones IBTimes / Jeff Li

Who are the DALI IO-6 Wireless Headphones for?

  • For those who are looking for a neutral sound that retains details and natural timbre of the original recording, the DALI IO-6 is engineered deliberately with paper fibre cone diaphragm to give a monitor speaker-like neutrality to its sound
  • If headphones need to look as high-end as they sound to you, the DALI IO-6 is built like luxury car interior with beautiful leather details and metallic highlights
  • For people who needs headphones when on the move, the IO-6 is is equipped with top-tier wireless headphone features like aptX HD connectivity, Active Noise Cancellation and a intuitive tactile control buttons that can be easily used without looking

As a Danish loudspeaker maker that was established in 1983 with its name an acronym of: 'Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries' - DALI is a familiar name for audiophile speaker lovers around the world. And now the Danish company is making a splash among music lovers for a new reason - the release of its first sets of its headphones. So should the first entry to the headphone space by the veteran loudspeaker maker be your next set of cans? Here are my impressions after spending several weeks with the IO-6.


High quality Danish build

Before putting the IO-6 on, you're first hit with DALI's Danish build. The caramel white version I'm reviewing has tanned leather on the headband and the ear cups, together with the off-white body and aluminium arms and side buttons that carry the DALI logo. With its luxury car interior vibe, these headphones are made to be worn by business travelers and still look classy rather than techy.The bottom of the headband is made of sandy colored silicone which is very soft to the touch as well as being durable, together with the soft-touch finish of the plastic that makes up the main case of headphones, it is evident that DALI has put in the work in material selection to ensure that these headphones will last.


Another win in the design of the IO-6 is how its cups can swivel 180 degrees. This enables the headphone to lie nice and flat against the collarbones when slung around the neck, and makes it much more compact when put away, saving precious luggage space when on the move.


Three ways to connect

Connectivity is another area where DALI evidently put in great effort for the IO-6. It can be connected to the music source via not two, but three ways: Bluetooth, auxiliary (audio cable with 3.5 mm jacks) and USB-C.

For Bluetooth, DALI opted for one of the best codecs currently available - aptX-HD, and it's 24bit output will offer listening experiences that rivals wired high-resolution playbacks.

The auxiliary connection comes in handy especially in connecting to in-flight entertainment - and the IO-6 comes with its own double-pin airline headphone adaptor. When the auxiliary line-in is plugged in, the IO-6 can be fully powered off, saving you battery on the flight, as well as offering an unprocessed sound from the headphone's drivers.

Finally my favorite method for connecting with a PC is the IO-6's ability to connect via a USB-C cable. This mode does require you to power on the headphone, but also charges the headphone at the same time, and enables the headphone's onboard volume buttons for convenient controls. Since it's through USB-C, you're getting a cleaner digital wired connection over the auxiliary cable connection.


The DALI sound

The actual sound of the IO-6 is the greatest contribution that it brings to the market. Being a speaker manufacturer, DALI approaches its sound from a different angle from other headphone makers and uses paper fibre cone diaphragm in it's drivers. This results in a classic speaker-like texture in its sound quality that stands out from other headphones.

In its frequency response, the IO-6 has an overall warmer sound. Instead of going for the crowd pleaser sound signature 'U' shaped that boosts the bass and treble, the IO-6 has balanced lows and mids and slightly emphasized highs. These headphones are definitely not for bass heads, but rather if you prefer a warmer and fuller sound for vocals and strings - these will be an excellent choice. That is not to say that the bass is overly absent, in fact the IO-6 articulates all the details in the low range but steps away the 'boominess' to allow more room for the mids.

Comparing the IO-6 with other headphones, the distinction is akin to the difference between listening to vinyl as opposed to CDs. You're getting that classic sounding texture that is almost imperceptible, but is undoubtedly there.


Final remarks

Whether it's being at home surrounded by family members, or being at work sharing the space with colleagues, many of us do not have the luxury of a personal listening space to enjoy a sound system. The DALI has made available a new middle ground where you can get the characters from their speakers in a wireless headphone form factor through the IO-6, and it's safe to say you won't be finding the same experience from anywhere else.

Sam is a production engineer turned tech writer who specializes in seeking out gadgets that enhances productivity while still looking sharp. This is a contribution to an ongoing IBTimes review series on gadgets for Business Travelers.