Product Review (October 2015)
Cerwin Vega XD5 Powered Speakers
and XD8s Powered Subwoofer

By Martin Hamano


Cerwin Vega XD5 Desktop SpeakersCerwin Vega has a long 50+ year history of producing quality speakers and was recently acquired (in late 2011) by Gibson Guitar company. The company is well known for their professional speakers, so we were interested in hearing the new XD Series desktop speakers. The XD Series is available in three sizes - XD3 (3" woofer, 3/4" tweeter), XD4 (4" woofer, 3/4" tweeter), and XD5 (5" woofer, 1" tweeter) along with a companion XD8s subwoofer fitted with an 8-inch driver and 80W of power.

The XD5 speakers are the focus of this review, which feature a 5-inch polypropylene woofer and a 1-inch treated silk-dome tweeter powered by 50 Watts (25W + 25W). The XD5 has solid MDF wood cabinets that measure 10.25" (H) x 7.25" (W) x 9.5" (D) without any cables attached. The larger bass driver in the XD5 provides deeper bass response than the other models and allows the crossover frequency to be set to 80Hz, making the XD8s subwoofer less localized in the room. It is well known that when the crossover frequency increases, bass localization will start becoming an issue, which is not desirable. The XD5 enclosure is a ported design, which helps extend the bass response. The XD5 speakers have a specified frequency response of 60Hz - 21kHz and are magnetically shielded to prevent interference on older displays.

Both the XD5 satellite speakers as well as the XD8s subwoofer are powered, so all you need to do is plug them into an AC outlet and provide a line level audio signal through the subwoofer's in/out jacks where the audio signal frequencies are crossed.


Cerwin Vega XD5 InterfacesFront Interfaces
The volume can be controlled using the front Volume knob on the XD5 or the System Remote Volume Control connected to the XD8s subwoofer. If the latter is used to control the volume, the user must preset the level on the XD5. The red ring around the Volume knob on the XD5 indicates the speakers are on. When no sound is being played for an extended amount of time, the XD5 will go into a sleep mode and turn off the red ring illumination.

The 1/8" (3.5mm) Aux In jack is designed to accept a line level audio signal from a portable device such as an MP3 player or smartphone. A similar looking 1/8" headphone jack is also provided, which will mute the audio being played through the system. However, it should be noted that based on our tests, the subwoofer will not be automatically muted.


Cerwin Vega XD5 Desktop SpeakersXD5 Electronics
The back of the left XD5 speaker has all the main electronics with line level analog inputs including standard unbalanced (RCA) and balanced (1/4") jacks. An interface cable connects to the right speaker for driving the non-powered speaker. The XD5 uses two 50W STMicroelectronics TDA7265 class AB dual (25W + 25W) audio power amplifier chips (one for each speaker) to drive the woofer and tweeter. These amplifier modules are specially designed for high quality sound applications and provide built-in thermal and short circuit protection. The active crossover and independent power amplifiers in the XD5 allow each woofer and tweeter to be driven with its own amplifier for maximum audio performance. The Vega-Bass boost switch further enhances the bass response of the XD5.


Cerwin Vega XD8s SubwooferXD8s Subwoofer
The XD8s Subwoofer is designed to complement the XD Series satellite speakers by extending the low frequency bass performance. The slim cabinet design makes it practical for placement under or next to a desk without taking much space. The cabinet dimensions are 7-inches wide, 17-inches deep and 15-inches high. It is best to have the driver face an open area for the best bass reproduction. The cabinet design includes an efficient high excursion 8-inch subwoofer and uses real wood for a rich and natural sound and has a metal mesh grill to protect the front of the driver. The flared vent on the front of the cabinet extends the bass response and also prevents noise when driven at high volume levels. The rubber feet keep it from moving around when driven hard. The XD8s has a specified frequency response of 35Hz – 255Hz.

 


Cerwin Vega XD8s SubwooferXD8s Rear Panel
The XD8s rear panel has both balanced (1/4-inch) and unbalanced (RCA) jacks for audio inputs and outputs. A dedicated Volume control is provided to set the subwoofer output level. The XD8s is designed with an internal crossover to properly separate frequencies between the subwoofer and satellite speakers. Users can select 80Hz (XD5), 100Hz (XD4), 120Hz (XD3), or Bypass for the crossover setting. Depending on the location of the subwoofer the user can also select the phase (0 or 180 degrees) of the audio signal going to the subwoofer to help account for phase shifts.

The non-detachable power cord with power switch feeds the built-in switching power supply and STMicroelectronics TDA7294 class AB power amplifier used inside of the XD8s. This amplifier has its power rails set to deliver about 80W into the driver. Like the amplifiers used in the XD5, this amplifier module provides built-in thermal and short circuit protection. The XD8s is also magnetically shielded to prevent display interference. A 9-pin D-Sub connector is used to connect the System Remote Volume Control.


System Remote Volume ControlSystem Remote Volume Control
The wired remote that is connected to the back of the XD8s comes with a long 8-foot cable. The metal remote is well built and has a rubber base to keep it from sliding around.

There are only a couple of controls on the remote making it rather simple to use. The SUB MUTE button (with indicator) gives the user a quick and easy way to mute the subwoofer output when it is not needed. When active, the satellite speakers receive a full range signal (crossover disabled), which basically takes the XD8s out of the system. The Volume control is fully analog and provides fine control of the subwoofer level. The subwoofer also has an Auto‐Standby feature that kicks in after 30 minutes of no audio activity. The light ring around the level control will be ‘AMBER’ during standby and ‘RED’ when in the active state. There is also an AUX INPUT jack that accepts line level audio from a portable audio device or smartphone.


Performance
The performance of the Cerwin Vega XD5/XD8s combo was that of a high output desktop speaker system. There is good reason the company's catch phrase is "The LOUD Speaker Company" as it has no problem delivering on that. The fidelity was good with nice frequency response for a compact system. This combo could also provide great sound for a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) at a very reasonable cost. While most desktop speaker systems are small, the size of the XD5 really borders on a full-up bookshelf speaker. For just under $400, this system delivers great performance.

- Kevin Nakano

 




OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray Player




Review at a glance


Cerwin Vega - XD5 and XD8s Desktop Speakers


XD5 Key Features

  • The perfect companion for your computer
  • Compact size without "compact" sound
  • Appearance matches laptops and LCD monitors
  • Magnetically shielded to prevent interference
  • Rich and natural sound of a real wood enclosure
  • 5" polypropylene woofer / 1"treated silk-dome tweeter
  • 50 watts amplifier (25W + 25W) with built in crossover
  • Vega-Bass boost switch enhances bass response for dynamic audio.
  • Perfect for music, gaming and media production

XD5 Specifications

  • Frequency Response: 60Hz - 21kHz
  • Amplifier Power: 50 W (25W + 25W) RMS
  • Approximate Dimensions: 7.5" (W) x 10" (D) x 10" (H)

XD8s Key Features

  • The perfect companion for your computer's sound system
  • Compact size delivers large Cerwin-Vega sound
  • Includes desktop remote to control the entire system volume
  • Magnetically shielded to prevent interference
  • Rich and natural sound of a real wood enclosure
  • Efficient high excursion 8" subwoofer
  • 80 watts amplifier with adjustable crossover and phase
  • Perfect for music, gaming and media production

XD8s Specifications

  • Frequency Response: 35Hz – 255Hz
  • Amplifier Power: 80 W RMS
  • Approximate Dimensions: 7" (W) x 17" (D) x 15" (H)

Company Information
Gibson Customer Service
Phone: 1-800-4GIBSON (1-800-444-2766)
E-mail: Gibson Customer Service

Source: Manufacture Supplied
Price: $199 (XD5), $199 (XD8s)

URL: www.cerwinvega.com/


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