- May 16, 2012
- Houston, TX
- Real Name
- Dave Upton
Some of you may recall my review last year of the 99.26 MKII bookshelf speakers from XTZ, a Sweden based audio equipment manufacturer that sells direct to consumers and is starting to make big inroads in North America. Most of XTZ’s products use premium components and are manufactured off-shore in Asia to reduce costs. This enables XTZ to sell products like the Cinema series at prices many of their competitors cannot match. The XTZ Sound Cinema series of speakers consists of the M6 monitor, and S5 dipole surrounds.
M6 LCR Monitor
The M6 is a sealed LCR speaker that features a non-symmetrical design and comes ready to mount directly on the wall. The non-symmetrical trapezoidal cabinet design serves several functions, first enabling some toe-in when wall mounted, and second enhancing sound quality by minimizing standing waves within the cabinet itself. Generally speaking, this is becoming a very common theme within the industry, though generally it is accomplished via a rounded cabinet, which you can see in many of the speakers from Paradigm, PSB and Definitive Technology to name a few examples.
One of the interesting choices made for the cabinets is the use of 27mm HDF instead of the more common MDF which is a higher density version of the same category of wood product. This was a necessary choice to get a cabinet rigid enough to enable a small cabinet volume considering how many transducers are in a single speaker. The cabinet also has internal bars for extra cross-bracing and increased rigidity. Upon final construction, each M6 is lined with dense foam and stuffed with polyfill.
The M6 comes in a flawless matte black finish and includes magnetic grills to protect the MTM driver arrangement. I should note that while I said MTM, it’s really MTTTTM, because there are four dome tweeters in each M6 speaker arranged in a 2x2 array. The Cinema M6 sells direct on XTZ’s website for a retail price of $1000 per speaker.
XTZ refers to the tweeter arrangement in the M6 as a Quattro-Tweeter array. The tweeter array has actually been positioned off-center to avoid edge dispersion and increase uniformity, particularly for off-axis listeners. The tweeters are mounted on a 9mm thick die cast aluminum plate to stabilize the baffle and enhance cooling. The tweeters individually are a soft dome variety with a polymer coated Japanese silk construction. The tweeters feature neodymium magnets and copper shorting rings to increase magnetic field uniformity, and have an interesting frequency handling arrangement. All four tweeters handle the critical and more commonplace 1.2kHz to 3kHz range while above 3kHz only one of the tweeters takes over. This prevents high frequencies from sounding out of phase since there is no crossover network getting in the way above 2kHz.
The irregular raised baffle on the M6 serves a second function of minimizing early reflections from side-walls and better controlling directivity without a narrow sweet spot. Finally, and perhaps most importantly since these are a cinema speaker, the M6 utilized the Quattro-Tweeter array to improve power handling and reduce distortion at high listening levels, where most tweeters usually start to have trouble.
The M6 utilizes a high quality passive crossover with air wound coils and steel core coils with MKP capacitors. The internal cabling is all 99.99% pure copper in a twisted pair configuration to reduce EMI and increase resistance to overheating. The mid-range drivers are a 5.25” hybrid bass/midrange and are arranged in a standard d’Appolito array as described above. XTZ has designed the M6 for high power handling, high SPL output and minimal size. I was astounded that even in my living room these speakers truly could produce excellent sound right down to 80Hz without breaking a sweat.
S5 Hybrid Dipole Surround
The S5 is a hybrid 3-way surround, which can function as either a conventional dipole or a 3X dipole with three directions being driven at once. The midrange/woofer driver on the S5 is a 4 inch model with a woofer constructed of long fiber pulp blend material.
Utilizing the same construction methods as the M6 above, the S5 is also built out of 27mm HDF and features the same type of tweeter in a 1x1 array instead of 2x2. This still enables both tweeters to work from 1.2kHz to 3kHz while only one carries the rest of the frequency range yielding similar benefits to the M6 with slightly reduced output capability.
The same crossover design, internal cabling and overall design is seen in the S5 as in the M6, with the S5 enabling a choice between dipole or dipole 3X based upon how the binding posts are connected.
The Cinema M6 and Cinema S5 surround are a very interesting arrival on the market given their many design choices that seem perfectly suited to the theater being built by consumers today. The entire series of speakers are obviously very highly engineered and are meant to sound great for both film and music.
True to these expectations, I found the sound quality from this system to be nothing short of fantastic. In true XTZ fashion, these are a neutral, balanced speaker without any coloration to their sound. All variety of music sounds fantastic on these, and for several weeks I found myself using them with my PC stereo setup in the office where I do most of my writing and music listening. This system consists of a Schiit Modi 2 Uber USB DAC, and an Emotiva MiniX A-100 stereo amplifer. A pretty humble setup that none the less sounds absolutely fantastic with the Cinema M6 speakers in place. Their relatively high efficiency allowed them to play extremely loud when necessary and to do so cleanly.
Jo Blankenburg’s Elysium is a personal favorite, an album full of stirring orchestral music that is reminiscent of the stuff they usually put in movie trailers. Listening to this album on the M6, I was truly impressed by how natural the sound was, and also the impressive dynamic range these speakers exhibited. Micro-dynamics and rapid changes in both pace and volume are frequent in Blankenburg’s works, and many times I found myself forgetting that I was listening to these and not my more conventional Triangle stereo speakers.
In terms of detail, I varied between several sources, from Spotify on extreme detail mode to my large collection of 96/24 FLAC files. B-Tribe’s Volume 5 was fantastically nuanced with layer upon layer of lush, textured sonic detail. I do not exaggerate when I say that these speakers are more than capable of being the main attraction in a two channel setup when accompanied by an appropriate subwoofer.
Movies & Cinema
The XTZ Cinema series very easily transplanted into my home theater, and a relatively painless 45 minutes of Audyssey later, were up and running. Anchored by my Seaton Sound Submersive HP+, I jumped straight into the Dolby TrueHD demo disc with scenes from The Art of Flight, Star Trek (2009), and The Dark Knight Rises. At reference level and beyond, the XTZ Cinema series speakers showed themselves to be fantastic performers. Displaying nary a trace of distortion or strain, they played clean far louder than my ears could comfortably handle.
Back down at a palatable volume level, I watched my demo loop a few more times while taking notes. The noted included phrases such as “great imaging”, “this center channel sounds huge” and “how much do these cost again?”. Moving on to stand by demo favorites such as Dredd, Brave and the recent release of The Expendables 3, the XTZ Cinema Series had no trouble throwing a highly dimensional and accurate soundstage that had a great deal of depth.
To sum up what is already a verbose review, I will state that these speakers are simply outstanding in the home theater. They are effortless, clean, neutral and capable of fantastic imaging. The S5’s in 3X Dipole mode create a holographic rear sound field that rivals the best surrounds I have ever heard, and even outdoes them.
If you are looking for a reasonably sized and priced setup for your home theater the XTZ Cinema series is a great and innovative example of what this industry is capable of. Without taking up oodles of space, costing thousands per speaker or compromising on aesthetics, XTZ has delivered a home theater product that truly must be heard to be believed. Highly Recommended.