If you are looking for noise-canceling headphones for audiophiles, you should definitely read on. The Danish sound specialists from Dali brought their first two headphones onto the market with the IO series, the Dali IO-4 without active noise reduction and the Dali IO-6 with active noise canceling (ANC).
Dali iO-6 Review
I was able to test the Dali IO-6 for eight weeks and now do not want to give it away. This review is aimed primarily at those who are looking for high-quality, good-sounding headphones that give off a relatively clear sound. Of course, everyone else is invited to read on too. In my opinion, you should have Dali on your watch list from now on if you have to buy new headphones. You can read in the test how the Dali IO-6 fares in the other disciplines, such as wearing comfort, mobility or noise reduction.
The headphones are delivered in a sturdy blue and white box. Right on the back there is a picture of the entire headphone and its main characteristics, which would be there: good wearing comfort, authentic Dali sound, long 30 hours of battery life and intensive noise canceling. Each of these properties is dealt with in the test, but now it’s just a matter of putting the lid down and getting on the headphones.
I immediately notice two things. The transport case is well processed and stable. Inside the packaging there is a schematic diagram with an overview of all functions of the headphones. I find this form of representation very practical and so far I haven’t seen it on any of the products I have tested. Great!
All necessary Dali iO-6 cables and adapters are included in the scope of delivery. Here is a list:
- High-quality packaging with brief instructions in the lid
- Sturdy case in jeans look with carrying loop
- 3.5 mm jack cable & aircraft adapter
- USB-C to USB-A charging cable
- Detailed operating instructions
Dali iO-6 Quality Materials & Appearance
During the first hands-on, I noticed a certain similarity to the Bang & Olufsen H9, as it also has round ear pads and looks similarly puristic. When it comes to the mix of materials, the two headphones differ. While the H9 uses grained leather as a temple cover, Dali uses a smooth leather-like material for the IO-6. The over-ear headphones can be purchased in the colors “Iron Black” and “Caramel White“. The former is in black and dark gray tones and the latter in a blend of white and cognac. Dali advertises with the statement that the headphones were developed and designed in Denmark.
The brackets of the headphones are infinitely adjustable and hold well in the selected position. At the beginning I anticipated that the Dali IO-6 would be a treat for audiophile listeners. This is also shown by the fact that Dali has given the headphones a 3.5 mm jack connection so that external headphone amplifiers can also be used.
Overall, the over-ear headphones make a stable and durable impression. In my opinion, Dali could have used less plastic on the outside of the ear cups, so that a more valuable appearance is created. I like the compared Bang & Olufsen H9 better on this point, but optics is known to be a matter of taste.
Dali iO-6 Easy to Use
All functions that can be set on the Dali IO-6 can be reached on the right earpiece. The on / off / Bluetooth switch and the button for noise reduction are located on the underside. By pressing this button, the noise canceling is switched on or off or the transparency mode is activated. A finer subdivision is not possible here and, in my opinion, not necessary.
Adjust the volume on the front of the right auricle. The usual commands such as play, pause, next and previous title are also available. It is also possible to accept and hang up calls using the multi-button. Operation just feels like it has been learned from other Bluetooth devices. I like the operating concept a lot, also because the buttons can be distinguished by their shape and operating errors are therefore unlikely.
Dali iO-6: No App
The advantage and point of criticism in one is the fact that Dali does not offer an app for controlling its headphones. Sony, Bose and other manufacturers use such apps to register the devices, but also for firmware updates or equalizer settings. Nothing like that can be found with Dali IO-6. This is a very self-confident statement on the part of Dali and yet a potential weak point, especially with regard to the update capability of the headphones. Currently, the only way to solve any software problems is to press the relatively hidden reset button on the earphones.
Still, I don’t really miss the app, as the headphones sound great even without external settings and always did what they should in my test. What is a no-go for the group of app lovers is another reason to buy for purists.
Dali iO-6 Comfort & Soft Pressure
The ear cushions are filled with memory foam and can be removed via a bayonet lock. They offer good wearing comfort with excellent passive noise reduction. Due to their design, closed over-ear headphones, such as the Dali IO-6, heat up the ears, especially in summer. This pseudo disadvantage becomes an advantage, since the shielding against external noise is already at a very good level without active noise canelling (ANC) switched on.
The ear cushions fit well even with large ears and the stepless adjustment of the headband allows you to quickly find the optimal placement on small or large heads. The headphones can be worn for long periods of time without any annoying pressure on the head. Even when the ANC is switched on, there is hardly any noise audible.
Dali iO-6 Unique on its Classes
Now we come to the supreme discipline for the Dali IO-6. As soon as I put it on and immersed myself in the world of sound, it was clear to me that these over-ear headphones stand out from their competitors in terms of sound.
In addition to Bluetooth 5.0, the IO-6 also supports the high-resolution codecs aptX, aptX HD and AAC. Many other manufacturers are now saving the license fees for the codecs listed, but they look very good on headphones for audiophiles. I mainly listened to aptX via Macbook and found the transmission to be very stable and crystal clear. Fortunately, I couldn’t find any difference between playback with cable or via Bluetooth. Unfortunately, I don’t own a headphone amplifier, so I couldn’t test this potential.
The bass range, regardless of whether it was deep passages or kicking bass, sounded extremely pleasant to me. A lot of texture and finely tuned tone was noticeable here. No comparison to some of the ever-booming specimens, such as various JBL or Beats headphones.
The mids are super balanced. Countless details and enough warmth adorn the tone so that it does not sound too thin. Right now I’m listening to Josh Groban “Over the Rainbow” and I’m getting goosebumps after the other. Great guitar, crystal clear voice and strings create the warm atmosphere described at the beginning. Do you also get tears in your eyes when a song touches you and it hits your ears with such high quality?
Something happens all time. The highs are not as neutral as the bass and mids. In my eyes a tad too bright but who am I that I would judge the sound for it. It is and remains whining at a high level. I fell in love with the sound of the Dali IO-6.
So much sound has to come from somewhere. With the IO-6, 50 millimeters of cardboard cones drum in the direction of the ears. Most competitors offer 40 millimeter drivers in this class. Size and membrane material are not necessarily a guarantee for good sound, but in my ears Dali is the leader in this category.
Dali iO-6 Noise Canceling
For home office, no travel, no public transport and not good prerequisites for a good test of active noise canceling (ANC). Nevertheless, and in accordance with other test reports, the ANC is not the great strength of the Dali IO-6. High frequencies are not eliminated very well. Sony and Bose can do that much better.
The transparency mode, on the other hand, works very well. Here, the outside noises are consciously conveyed to the ears so that one is less shielded. This is helpful, for example, when walking in traffic as a pedestrian. If you can do without the ANC function, you should consider the cheaper Dali IO-4.
Dali iO-6 Battery
The Dali IO-6 is not an absolute lightweight, but the comparatively low additional weight benefits the battery life. Dali states 30 hours here and I can confirm this value in my test, even though I did not measure it with the stopwatch. A full 60 hours of running time should be possible without activated noise canceling. The over-ear headphones are charged after about two hours. A short intermediate loading of only 15 minutes brings another three hours of music enjoyment.
Thanks to the firm and stable transport case, the Dali IO-6 is always well protected against impacts and other physical influences. Such a case cannot be taken for granted, as many manufacturers only include a bag here. The IO-6 is, apart from its not outstanding noise-canceling function, a good and robust companion.
Dali iO-6 Conclusion: Wonderful Good
The Dali IO-6 costs just under 400 euros. That doesn’t sound like a bargain at first. However, if you consider the great sound you get for it, this price is put into perspective in my eyes. The idea of doing without active noise canceling in general and thus saving around 100 euros on the purchase price should also be considered. The Dali IO-4 therefore costs just under 300 euros and is otherwise identical to the IO-6.
The Dali IO-6 has been the best-sounding headphone in my tests so far and because this is the decisive core property, I recommend it almost unreservedly to all music fans. It is almost an insider tip, as most people do not immediately have the Dali brand in mind when looking for headphones.
Dali iO-6 Pros:
- Hi-Fi sound & ANC in one
- Jack connection & Bluetooth
- Up to 60 hours of battery life
- Good workmanship
- Robust case
Dali iO-6 Cons:
- ANC is not very good
- Too much plastic in the material mix