The review has been updated with the following info:
UPDATE Feb 08 2007:
As Ive been comenting to some members, I decided to update this review after been living with the speakers for a longer time. Why do I need to update it? Because some things have changed and my views on some of the speakers are not the same. Why? I cant honestly say exactly why but I think is a combination of factors. Some of them are: #1 I have better electronics now #2 I have been using a higher end speaker (Strata Mini) thus got used to a higher quality and clean sound. #3 Perhaps not using the HTDs all the time kind of "rinse" my brain from expecting everything to sound like that. #4 The most probable answer is that I have been adding acoustic room treatment that makes is so much easier to find pros and cons in speakers that are normally hidden in a multitude of reflections, bad frequency response and lack of bass control.
All this combined have been able to make me aware of things I couldnt notice before or didnt realize what it was.
With all that said lets talk about the differences:
Before you read, if you have the HTD Level 3 Center or Bookshelf and love their sound then PLEASE stop right here and do not continue reading. Why? Because, I dont want you to start looking for what I am about to describe and then not been able to enjoy your speakers anymore (if the same thing that happened to me happens to you that is).
Due to the design on the HTD center and bookshelf there is a gap between about 5khz and 2khz that creates that laidback sound and thin mids when compared to other neutral speakers. It also seems to introduce some sort of distortion. It is easy to hear when listening to hi hats, cymbals. Instead of getting a clean sound it sounds "raspy".
I have tried the HTD towers and they dont suffer from this problem as much mainly because they use a mid driver that allows HTD not to push the ribbon and woofers to frequencies they are not design to work at.
The ribbon, at least at not too high volume levels do no suffer from much distortion or at least it sounds pleasing. Compared to the clean highs of a Strata Mini, they do sound a bit "dirty". Ive been told that when push a bit harder they get to distort more but I cant really test that until I move to a house (damn apartment living! lol ).
So, to summarize, while in my previous review I gave a slight nod to the HTD center over the Onix X-CS...this time the nod goes to the X-CS. With all the changes in my room and gear, this speaker has become a much better one than when I tried it the first time. Imaging is very good and the mids which I though were a bit better than the HTD center are now much better. It has a more 3d soundstage as well but just not as wide. The sealed design plus better driver integration, imho, helps it to be a much cleaner sounding and precise speaker over the HTD center. It doesnt go as low but then again, both will need a sub anyway.
So how does the X-SLS compares now to the HTD tower? Well, in my first review I made a BIG mistake of not using spikes with the SLS tower as I didnt have any spare ones. When I got my Minis, I started moving them around without spikes (almost 100lbs each) until I found a spot that I liked and then installed the spikes.... the difference was staggering. It made me realize that the slightly muffled sound and boomy bass I noticed (compared to the other speakers that is) was in fact cause by the lack of spikes in my problematic floor.
I took the spikes off the HTD towers and tried them on the X-SLS and they became a different speaker. I am expecting some spikes for the SLS next week in order to have a formal review and comparison between them and the HTD towers. In the mean time, I will not comment on them.
I still like the HTD tower but the Minis are, as anyone should expect, so much better. With the latest room treatment the difference has become even greater. Adding the XCD-99 CDP didnt hurt either plus a SACD/DVD-A (entry level though).
This has been a learning experience for me (still is). Like Kyle will say " Ive learn something today". #1 I learned that you need time to really know what a speaker can and cant do. #2 Good electronics help to identify good and bad points with speakers. #3 Room acoustics are a MUST. You will never know what your speakers really can do or sound like untill you minimize the effect of the room. It makes it so much easier to tell the difference between speakers that I just hate myself for not doing this earlier. #4 Learning to "really listen" and identify what you are hearing takes some time.
Well, next week I should be posting that X-SLS/ HTD tower review comparison update.
great work on the reviews. I have been contemplating both sets for HT. I am looking at pushing them with an outlaw receiver. right now I am looking highly at the X-CS package. I am trying to keep everything under $1800 including the receiver. Should i go with the X-cs package or wait for the X-SLS towers to come out for that package? or maybe a HTD level 3 setup?? Again this is primarily for HT, Gaming, and some music.
Let me get the spikes for the x-sls and I will get back to you on this one. I will try them with the HTD spikes tomorrow and give you a few impressions as well. Basically, I will test if the HTD tower is a better sounding speaker for music than the SLS tower. If the HTD tower is not considered them I will either get the x-cs package or perhaps add the x-sls to the mix.
I have had the HTD level 3 now for a bit over 2 weeks.
Towers and center up front, bookshelf surround, and Acoustec H100 sub.
Fist off, HTD service is outstanding, really topnotch customer service.
I'm no audiophile, nor do I have the fun of comparing different speakers side to side like Luis (thanks Luis), but I very much like the level 3s. I do not have a display yet, so only listening to music, and I think they do a great job, no regrets buying them at all. For $1100 or so without the sub, I think a lot of sound for the money.
I think you got one of the best sets of speakers that you can possibly get for $1100 with full range front towers...the BIC Acoustech H-100 is designed by Dr. Hsu...I have a pair of HSU VTF-3HOs plus Turbos and I can't begin to use their full capacity. Please keep in touch with me.