Review: Emotiva X-Ref Speakers Page 3

Bottom Line

Those looking for a no-nonsense, well-engineered, dynamic, and affordable home theater speaker system will be thrilled with the performance and price of the XRC-6.2 and the X-Ref 12. Depending on the role it plays in the system, the XRC-6.2 sounds somewhere between real good (in horizontal placement) and insanely great (in vertical placement). The X-Ref 12 combines the colossal advantage of parametric EQ with a robust driver, a powerful amp, and a compact form factor.

If the other speakers in the X-Ref line perform like these (and there’s no reason to believe they won’t, since they all follow the same design concepts and use similar or identical drivers), these speakers should be a big hit with the home theater cognoscenti.

Test Bench

Frequency response

• LCR (horizontal) 61Hz to 20 kHz ±6.1 dB

• LCR (vertical) 61Hz to 20 kHz ±7.2 dB

• subwoofer 35 to 135 Hz ±3 dB

Sensitivity (SPL at 1 meter/1 watt)

• LCR 86.1 dB

Impedance (minimum/nominal)

• LCR 3.5/7 ohms

Bass limits
• LCR 31.5 Hz at 83 dB

Bass output, subwoofer (CEA-2010 standard)

• Ultra-low bass (20-31.5 Hz) average: 99.4 dB

20 Hz 95.8 dB
25 Hz 96.7 dB
31.5 Hz 105.8 dB

• Low bass (40-63 Hz) average: 116.4 dB

40 Hz 116.3 dB
50 Hz 116.9 dB (L)
63 Hz 116.0 dB (L)

To measure the frequency response of the XRC-6.2 LCR, I placed it on a 2-meter stand and set the microphone at a distance of 2 meters, enough to incorporate the contributions of all the drivers plus diffraction from the cabinet edges. Measurements above 220 Hz were made quasi-anechoically using a Clio FW analyzer in MLS mode, with the speaker positioned first vertically then horizontally. I measured without the grille, then later added the grille to see what difference it would make. Measurements below 220 Hz were made with the Clio FW in log chirp mode; woofers and ports were close-miked, and their responses scaled and summed, then spliced to the quasi-anechoic curve. The curve you see here is the average of responses at 0°, ±10°, ±20°, and ±30°, smoothed to 1/12th octave. (You may note that the frequency response chart was generated with a LinearX LMS system; due to a system crash, I had to do post-processing of the Clio’s curves using my LMS, but the results will be the same either way.)

The horizontal and vertical frequency response measurements are quite similar, which is an impressive accomplishment for a woofer-tweeter-woofer LCR speaker. With the speaker placed vertically, there’s a little less midrange energy between 1 kHz and 3.2 kHz, but otherwise the results are very close. But for that narrow dip at 480 Hz (which is so narrow it’s unlikely you could detect it by ear), the measurements would be better, more like ±4 dB horizontally and ±5.5 dB vertically up to 18 kHz.

Dispersion is pretty good no matter which way you position the speaker. Horizontally, when measured at angles between 30° and 60°, a single response dip measuring -9 to -15 dB appears (it’s at different places between 600 Hz and 3 kHz, depending on the angle of measure). That’s milder than with most woofer-tweeter-woofer center speakers, which often show off-axis response dips in the range of -20 dB or more. Vertically, dispersion is practically perfect, with just a mild treble rolloff and no major anomalies even when measured all the way out at 60° off-axis. The grille causes a dip of -4.9 dB at 3.1 kHz and a peak of +4.1 dB at 4.1 kHz, but has no other appreciable effects.

Sensitivity (average response from 300 Hz to 10 kHz, measured quasi-anechoically at 1 meter) is typical at 86.1 dB. Measured impedance averages about 7 ohms and hits a minimum of 3.5 ohms at 125 Hz with a phase angle of -17°. Thus, this speaker won’t be hard to drive with even a fairly inexpensive receiver or amp.

I measured the frequency response of the X-Ref 12 subwoofer with the Clio set for log chirp mode and close-miking the woofer. Response is fairly typical for a sealed-box subwoofer of this size. The Movie mode changes the shape of the frequency response curve a bit, but it mostly just boosts output by about 3.5 dB through most of the bass range. High-pass function with the crossover set for 80 Hz is -25 dB/octave.

I made CEA-2010 output measurements at 2 meters in the Music EQ mode with no parametric EQ active, then scaled up +6 dB per CEA-2010 requirements; an L appears next to those measurements in which maximum output was dictated by the unit’s internal limiter. Delivering an average of 116.4 dB in the low bass octave (40-63 Hz), the X-Ref 12 puts out a powerful kick for action movies, but its 99.4 dB ultra-low bass (20-31.5 Hz) average is nothing special. If you want a couch-shaker, you’ll need something bigger and/or beefier. — Brent Butterworth