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When DALI released iO-6, a noise-canceling wireless headphone, they also released a headphone without NC iO-4. All characteristics are identical. The headphones differ only in the amplifier chips and the noise-canceling system. Even though the differences are minimal, the company’s engineers tuned both iO-4 and iO-6 to sound similar.
As the first enclosed headset of the Danish brand, DALI iO-6 is a wireless headset with wireless connectivity, built-in noise cancellation system offering up to 30 hours of battery life.
The headset is well-designed and features an excellent sound quality, including active noise cancellation of external noise. The IO-6 from DALI can compete with many premium wireless noise-canceling headphones in sound quality, although they fall slightly short regarding their ability to eliminate noises.
DALI iO-6 Hi-Fi Noise Cancelling Headphones Review
The iO-6 headphone model is available in two colors: Iron Black (black with silver inserts) and Caramel White (beige-brown-silver). The iO-6 comes with a hard storage case, whereas the iO-4 comes with a soft pouch. The headphones are tightly packed and are weighty enough. In addition, the set also includes an airplane adapter and two cables: an analog mini-jack and a standard USB-C.
Design & Ergonomy
The DALI iO-6 headset impresses with its elegant and stylish design and sleek, flowing lines. iO-6 headphones are over-ear with large round cups and a closed-back design. The ear cushions are round, filled with dense memory foam. Inside the large ear cups are installed the 53 mm drivers.
Considering the weight of 325 grams, DALI iO-6 aren’t the lightest headphones, though they are hardly felt on the head. The ear cushions and the underside part of the headband are filled with memory foam. The ear cups can swivel 180 degrees to fit into the travel case and take up less space. Also, thanks to this design, they can hang around the neck without causing any discomfort.
Simultaneously, the mechanism for adjusting the headband is quite tight – it will not move by itself. However, this aspect also poses a positive side: the headband won’t readjust by in time.
The headband can be adjusted to suit your needs, making it very comfortable to wear. The build quality of the iO-6 did not cause any complaints from me. All components move smoothly, quietly, and without squeaks. The construction did not spare dense plastic and aluminum – the headphones feel very reliable.
The plastic is of high quality, and the synthetic leather covering the ear pads and the headband is pleasant to the touch. Furthermore, besides being beautifully crafted and reliable, the earcups are protected against water (IP53 protection).
The audio and function management is carried out via buttons located on the right earcup. There is a power on/off button, Bluetooth pairing, and noise cancellation activation and deactivation. At the bottom is the USB-C connector, used for charging and audio connection with Windows or Mac devices. Additional buttons are found on the center of the earcup: a play and pause button, fast forward and rewind, volume adjustment keys, and phone call management.
Bluetooth & Technology
The DALI iO-6 headphones feature Bluetooth 5.0 standard, including four codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX, and aptX HD. They also have active ANC noise cancellation and a transparent mode.
The lithium-ion battery lasts 30 hours, with noise-canceling turned on. If the headsets run out of power and can’t recharge them, you can plug a cable into the 3.5 mm analog input for a wired connection. DALI iO-6 has a built-in DAC capable of processing a signal in 24/96 (24-bit depth and 96 kHz sample rate) – and when connected through the USB-C cable, they are also charged. For a full charge of the battery, the headset requires around two hours.
Unlike competing headphones with sensors that stop/resume music playback upon removing the headset, DALI iO-6 features an accelerometer to automatically pause music playback when the headset is removed from the head. Also, iO-6 does not have a dedicated app for adjusting the equalizer or noise reduction level; thus, you’re not provided with any type of in-app customizations. The headset does, however, provide hands-free communication with decent call quality. Microphones pick up and transmit your voice, so you can always be heard clearly.
When the headset is turned on, the battery charge level is announced. As far as the equalizer is concerned, we’ve never had any desire to use one – the frequency balance is almost perfect.
DALI iO-6’s approach to noise cancellation is quite weird, as it requires you to play music to work. You cannot use the NC function independently. Therefore, in case you have the habit of using noise reduction without music, iO-6 disappoints. With the music turned on, it is not easy to understand whether the noise reduction works – by itself, though what’s happening outside becomes slightly less distracting.
You can’t tell precisely if noise cancellation works without the music being played. Fortunately, when you activate the noise reduction function, a male voice announces, “Noise Canceling: On.” Immediately afterward, you can distinguish that the bass becomes more eminent, while the treble is slightly attenuated. The difference is noticeable, and the sound signature generally remains the same.
The ANC system’s performance is quite mediocre. In combination with good passive protection, the noise attenuation becomes more acceptable. The car engine’s hum in the city becomes more subtle, while trains’ sound does not pierce the ears so intensely, although people’s voices are still well heard. It doesn’t works very well in the low-frequency range and there’s a lot of room for improvement.
Unfortunately, you can hear the TV playing in the next room as it broadcasts a talk show. Besides, you won’t be able to achieve absolute silence in the subway. However, there is something else that the developers have succeeded in doing: The ANC hardly affected the nature of the sound. Of course, there is a difference, but it is minimal.
With the ” Transparency ” option in the settings, you can enjoy your favorite music without putting yourself at risk, as you can pause the music and amplify external sounds.
DALI’s proprietary 50mm drivers with paper fiber cones hide in the earcups of iO-6 to provide natural and realistic sound. The frequency response of these headphones varies from 10 to 20 kHz. The general sound signature of DALI iO-6 is pleasant, with sufficient dynamics, beautiful tonality, and a three-dimensional representation.
The headphones have enough control and vitality in the sound. The vocals are favored, and mid-range instruments sound very spacious, sometimes careless, and versatile. Seldom, due to the earcups’ improper seal on the ears, the bass feels a bit insignificant and weak.
The lower frequencies are not excessive but rich, clean, and carefully reproduced. Light, flowing jazz, and classical music are played very precisely. The bass notes are well integrated as part of the frequency range, consistently rhythmic in nature and not dominant.
The midrange carries a lot of detail, while the voices are awe-inspiring, having the right tone and timing. The high frequencies are sharp yet never too loud or rough. Detail and intelligibility are at their best – symphonic soundtracks, it seems, can be separated bit by bit, listen to each individual instrument, isolate it from a large and voluminous mix and understand what contribution it makes.
IO-6 supports aptX HD and AAC codecs, which is great for Android and iOS users. With these codecs, we have no doubt regarding sound quality via Bluetooth. Music is played with excellent dynamics and well-defined detail. With a 3.5 mm cable, the headphones sound very natural and clean – and when connected to a DAC, the Bluetooth headphones sound even more balanced, although they do not show their full potential.
Thanks to good wireless sound rendering, as DALI iO-6 sounds so good when paired via cable, the headphones’ character is not jeopardized with different connection options. When connected with a USB cable, the sound is darker and most detailed.
DALI iO-6 provides support for high-level codecs AAC, aptX, aptX HD, protection against dust and moisture according to the IP53 standard, active noise reduction mode, “transparent” mode to hear ambient sounds, and DALI’s proprietary 50 millimeters drivers, thanks to which you can enjoy the full development of the entire audio spectrum.
The acoustic performance of DALI headphones is appreciated because of the brand’s sound signature and acoustic qualities. They are comfortable and beautiful – one can recognize their premium quality right away. In addition, the headphones enjoy a high autonomy – making them usable all day long without worrying about recharging. Noise suppression, sadly, could have been improved. NFC connection and mobile applications don’t appear in the scenery, and neither LDAC codec. Still, iO-6 is equipped with Qualcomm’s aptX HD and a built-in DAC, ensuring quality sound reproduction.
DALI iO-6 wireless headsets may be a bit expensive, but this is due to the built-in noise suppression technology. The DALI iO-4 offers similar sound quality at a much lower price, which also works twice as long, up to 60 hours, on a single charge. Both headsets are a fantastic choice regarding sound performance, but for those who travel a lot, it would be a good idea to get the iO-6. Consequently, the iO-4 is up to the task.