Dali’s new wireless headphones deliver stunning high-resolution sound with one missing feature

The annual prestigious German hi-fi show, Munich’s High End, is the stage Dali has chosen to launch his new “state of the art headphones delivering true hi-fi sound”, the IO-12, which impresses with its looks – easily as great as most the best on-ear headphones available today.

They too come from a strong herd; while TechRadar reviews of Dali’s gear excel at the brand’s more traditional speakers, my tenure in our sister publication What Hi-Fi? helped me flip through the 2019 edition They gave iO-6, They gave iO-4, the Danish audio specialist’s first foray into the world of wireless on-ear headphones. Why mention it? Because for an inaugural effort, these cans were nothing short of perfect detail, finesse, and form, spoiled only by a slightly over-cautious delivery that lacked an extra ounce of punch for the price.

Travel to May 2023 and step into (with some fanfare) Dali’s new IO-12 wireless over-ear headphones featuring custom 50mm drivers, active noise cancellation, aptX adaptive support and to top it all off, USB-C (read: wired) 24-bit/96 kHz high-resolution audio.

The color of the “chocolate brown” is really stunning, and the photos do not fully reflect it (Image credit: future)

They are also the world’s first headphones to feature Dali’s patented Soft Magnetic Compound (SMC) magnet system. Let’s delve into it, because although it uses the same material as in Dali’s high-end speakers, you need to know about “hysteresis” to understand it. When conventional magnets are used in loudspeaker construction, said magnets may introduce unintentional resistance to the voice coil, which may lead to undesirable distortion of the audio signal, or hysteresis. This is not an unusual phenomenon at all.

Dali’s SMC technology combined with proprietary paper fiber cones promises to significantly reduce hysteresis and drastically lower uneven harmonic distortion. The goal, of course, is crystal clear sound with very low distortion and better depth and musicality.

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