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The original meaning of hi-fi, or high fidelity is to reproduce an audio signal in a way that is as close as possible to the original recording. Comparing the performance of audio equipment to real sounds like the voice of a singer, an acoustic guitar or a live concert is the best way to determine how precisely the equipment can reproduce these sounds. The goal is to create a sound that is as natural as possible, as reality is the only benchmark that should be used to compare and evaluate the quality of audio equipment. Thus, XTZ’s sound philosophy is to reproduce audio signals in exactly the same way they were recorded and produced. All products from XTZ follow this philosophy which then enables our customers to mix for example, speakers from different series since their basic tonality is the same. This philosophy not only refers to a neutral and linear frequency response but also to an impulse response that is as close as we can get to perfection in our goal of accurate reproduction with all its dynamics and fine details.
What you as an individual listener experiences is something very personal and subjective. Independent tests show that most people prefer neutral sound reproduction, and the more experienced the listener is, the more he or she appreciates a neutral and non-coloured sound character. The reason for this is that a neutral character provides different instruments and frequencies with equal space in the sound stage, increasing the level of detail. This sound is not likely to cause listening fatigue. The opposite would be a coloured sound, elevating some frequencies and suppressing others. This is very likely to cause listening fatigue. Appreciating a neutral sound can be compared to tasting fine wines, exquisite food or enjoying art. Experience and comparison allow one to fully appreciate a good wine or a great painting. Listening to sound reproduced on a highly accurate sound system yields similar pleasure.
Except experience and references there are also big variations when it comes to what types of sound characteristics different people prefer. For the midrange and treble regions, the differences tend to be small and most experienced listeners tend to prefer a neutral sound with a flat frequency response. Occasionally, some individuals prefer an elevated treble level which might give the impression of an increased amount of detail. For the bass region, however there are big differences:
A subwoofer that offers a neutral and accurate sound will be adequate for both music and home cinema use. Many people tend to divide subwoofers into two kinds: music subwoofers and cinema subwoofers. This is wrong because a good subwoofer will be able to deliver the most pleasurable experience for both music reproduction and cinema as both require great precision and accuracy. As explained in our sound philosophy, it´s our belief that sound can only be compared with reality, and this applies to both music and cinema. We think the best solution is to construct the subwoofer in a way that makes it possible to allow the subwoofer to alter its playback character in as many ways as possible. Then the subwoofer can be adapted to suit personal taste and the room’s acoustic characteristics. All our models offer this opportunity with our room tuning concept.
The effects of room acoustics on sound reproduction should never be underestimated. There are different factors that have a huge impact on the sound. On the one hand, there are the characteristics of the whole room itself which are mainly determined by the existing furnishings, the wall and floor surfaces and of course, the size of the room. For example, a small room with lots of curtains, carpet on the floor and a fabric couch might sound less lively and more direct than a large room with lots of bare walls, minimalistic furniture and tiles. The second room will probably provide a diffuse sound with an imprecise soundstage but sound more lively due to its numerous acoustical reflections. A mixture of these extremes with an inclination towards the first example usually provides the best result for sound reproduction.
Besides the room’s basic characteristics, there are also other factors that can be changed to achieve optimum sound. The positioning of the speakers and subwoofers in your room is the most important of these factors. By making sure that the speakers are not placed extremely close to walls (one exception: on- or in-wall speakers), one can improve the precision and degree of detail in the sound. The optimum placement of the subwoofer is not as easy. It can usually be determined by placing the subwoofer in the listening position and then listening to bass sweeps played back through the subwoofer from each of the locations where the subwoofer could theoretically be placed. The location having the smoothest sound is likely the better location for the subwoofer.
Since it is usually difficult to apply lots of changes to the prevailing room acoustics, XTZ products provide different possibilities to adjust the sound to your personal taste to optimize it even in difficult surroundings. These so-called sound tuning possibilities are unique in the market and differ for speakers and subwoofers. XTZ’s subwoofers can be changed in their basic characteristics by using the provided plugs to close or open the bass reflex ports and then finetuned by adjusting the equalizer knob on the back of the subwoofer. For the speakers, the bass reflex ports can be closed to achieve an even more detailed sound. Furthermore, on some models there are jumpers or switches on the back that can be used to adjust the level of the drivers (e.g. the tweeter level) in order to adjust the speaker’s tonality in your room. More detailed information can be found in the respective product’s set-up instructions.
Crossovers in speakers are very important. Even if you handpick the finest of drivers, the drivers’ abilities to enable the speaker to reproduce good sound will be constrained unless the crossover is correctly implemented.
The art of compromising is essential when it comes to crossovers. The challenge lies in getting several important parameters to act in tandem.
The parameters are:
To make this a bit more pedagogic we’ll try to show you two extremes:
The design of the crossover is the one thing that makes the largest difference in speaker design, and it is here the crossover engineer’s experience plays a very big role on the outcome with respect to cabinet volume, cabinet design and drivers.
Bass reflex cabinets have come to dominate the market. They deliver a relatively more powerful bass compared to a sealed cabinet. The drawback is that the lowest frequencies may lack some precision. To gain the advantage of both approaches, all our subwoofers and speakers provide the option of closing the bass reflex port to allow the speaker to play as a sealed box. Furthermore, most of our products offer the option of not only choosing between bass reflex and sealed but several other different configuration options that can be selected to perfectly adjust for the room’s characteristics and the user’s personal taste.
What does the sensitivity tell us about the quality of the speaker?
The sensitivity of a speaker is the measure of the speaker’s sound pressure level at a specified distance per unit of power supplied in the signal to the speaker. The sensitivity is measured in dB/1 Watt.
The sensitivity is mainly dependent on the sensitivity of the drivers in the speaker, but crossover design and cabinet design also affect it.
Sensitivity is a very good example of how speaker design is all about compromise.
If the sensitivity is very low it will require a very powerful amplifier to produce the desired sound pressure level, but there are also physical limitations as to how high the sensitivity can get.
Looking at a single driver, it’s all about getting the highest possible sensitivity without compromising other parameters.
We need to find a balance between factors like:
And of course, the cost must also be a part of the equation.
You can raise the sensitivity by constructing a lighter membrane and a stronger and more powerful magnet, but if you use the same material you must make the membrane thinner and that introduces a less stable membrane resulting in a higher level of distortion.
On the other hand, if you want to lower the distortion level by making a more stable membrane, the weight will increase and in turn the sensitivity will get lower.
Again; everything is about compromising and optimizing material and combinations of materials to achieve the optimal balance between the parameters stated above for the product’s target price range.
A lot of products are marked with wrong or deceiving data when it comes to sensitivity. Some state the sensitivity as a top measurement where there’s a peak in the frequency representation. The fair marketing of a product is using the average sensitivity over a wide frequency range for the speaker.
The size of the driver also affects sensitivity. To put it simply: the bigger the membrane, the easier it is to achieve high sensitivity.
To sum it all up:
To make another comparison:
The suspension of a car, if soft it will be a very nice car to ride in when travelling at low speeds, but it will become unstable at high speeds. On the other hand, a stiff suspension will be very good at high speeds, but will feel bumpy and hard at low speeds.
Our speakers show a very amplifier friendly impedance. For example, the impedance never dips below the specified 4 ohms (something that is very common with lots of other speakers on the market). This enables you to use any amplifier you wish if it is rated for 4 ohm loads. To achieve this, we have put lots of effort into developing the crossover filters and parameters.
Another question is how do you define a good reference? An objective reference is what most people can understand being important to evaluate products.
Without a good recording, any comparison between equipment becomes very hard or even misleading as even a good recording can be colored in some direction, so when experiencing some products as "not neutral" it might actually be the recording causing the problem. Some people who always use the same record when testing products are in danger of making the wrong assumptions. If you want to use the same record all the time, make sure you have listened to it in a transparent and neutral system in a good room. Preferably, use several good recordings to "spread" the types of sound used for evaluation.
2. Good rooms
The room must be as neutral as possible, and the system setup should also be as neutral as possible to avoid room’s influence in coloring the sound. Measuring the room’s properties prior to testing other equipment is a good way of taking the room into account.
When it´s time to buy new equipment, many people usually run around to different stores, listening to lots of products to find the "right" sound. Here are some general hints and tips to keep in mind:
We offer Buy & Try, giving you a 30 day "test time". This way, you can evaluate your speakers in your own home. Buy & Try is the best way to ensure you will be fully satisfied with your purchase. Read more >
We have chosen to make our speakers flexible and equip them with several tuning options to allow for adjustment of the sound according to the room’s acoustic characteristics and your personal preference. This is achieved partly by mechanically changing the boundary frequency to better suit the specific room’s acoustic properties. For example, on several of our models you can adjust the tweeter and the bass level, and open or close the bass reflex ports. This makes it possible to vary the speaker’s character to suit your preference and of course to better suit the listening room which is a vital part of your system.