DALI IO-6 Wireless Hi-Fi headphone: Wonderful, warm sound awaits buyers
Macworld|November 2020
Exceptional sound quality and noise reduction combine with solid construction and enviable comfort in this top-notch headphone.
SCOTT WILKINSON

DALI (Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries) was founded in 1983 to create “loudspeakers with outstanding performance and natural sound at competitive prices.” Since then, the company has upheld that mandate with many wonderful-sounding speakers, including the recently reviewed Rubicon 6 (go.macworld.com/rbc6).

Now, DALI has entered the headphone arena with its IO-4 (go.macworld.com/dli4) and IO-6 models. When I tried on the IO-6 at CES 2020, I was impressed with what I heard, so I requested a review sample. After more extended listening, I’m even more impressed than I was in Vegas. (Editor’s note: In case you find our font confusing, DALI’s IO branding is “eye-oh,” not “one-zero.”)

FEATURES

The IO-4 and IO-6 are both Bluetooth-enabled wireless headphones available in two colors: Iron Black and Caramel White. Their over-ear, closed-back design uses replaceable memory-foam earpads covered with synthetic leather, which are quite comfortable and form an effective seal around the ears. This provides passive noise isolation at mid and high frequencies, but it can’t do much to block low-frequency ambient noise.

That’s where active noise cancellation (ANC) on the IO-6 comes in. (The IO-4 does not include ANC.) Like virtually all other headphones with this feature, ANC reduces the level of low frequency ambient sound using phase cancellation, which lets you hear more detail in the music at lower volumes. That extra bit of electronics also adds five grams to the weight (325 vs. 320 grams or 11.5 vs. 11.3 ounces), which is still on the light side.

The IO-6 also offers a Transparency mode that mixes external ambient sound into the headphone audio, so you don’t miss an approaching siren or a flight attendant’s instructions. In this mode, low frequencies are not phase cancelled.

Both models employ a custom-designed, 50mm, free-edge paper-fiber cone driver with a neodymium magnet in a cavity designed like a small speaker cabinet. The frequency response extends from 10Hz to 20kHz with a maximum sound-pressure level of 100dBA. For wireless communications, they implement Bluetooth 5.0 and support the AAC, aptX, and aptX HD codecs.

Like most wireless headphones these days, the IO models can also serve as the input and output for phone calls thanks to the onboard microphones. A feature called CVC (Clear Voice Capture) filters out background noise to ensure the user’s voice is heard loud and clear at the other end of the call.

The electronics are powered by a high-capacity, 1100mAh lithium-ion battery. It provides up to 30 hours of use in the IO-6 and an amazing 60 hours in the IO-4. Connections include a USB-C port at the bottom of the right earcup for charging the battery and listening to music via USB as well as a 3.5mm analog-audio input at the bottom of the left earcup.

Aside from ANC, the only other difference between the two models is the included storage. The IO-6 comes with a stiff-sided travel case, while the IO-4 comes with a drawstring bag. Those two differences add $100 to the cost of the IO-6 ($499) compared with the IO-4 ($399).

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