Energy e:XL 25 Loudspeaker

      Date posted: June 24, 1998

XL 25

Sugg. Retail: $700 pr (CAN)
Size: 33 1/8″H x 6″W x 12 1/4″D
Manufacturer: Audio Products International Corp.,
3641 MicNicoll Ave., Scarborough, Ont M1X 1G5
(416) 321-1800 FAX 321-1500

(Reprinted from the Summer 1998 Audio Ideas Guide)

      I first heard these speakers at the Festival d Son et de L’Image in March after a recommendation from AAM; he’d been very impressed at what he heard from this particular model. Our review samples of the e:XL-25 came in the same attractive Northern Light Birch vinyl that graced the Sound Dynamics RTS-P100, much less of it covering this smaller, less expensive speaker.

      The e:XL-25 uses an aluminum dome tweeter with a cross- suspended circular cap over it called the UAF, for Ultrasonic Acoustic Filter, designed to “optimize dispersion and protect the ultra-light domes”, according to the product literature sheet. The dome has an outer cloth suspension that is said to improve transient response. The 5 1/2″ mid/bass drivers (of which there are 2) have “copolymer baskets to eliminate possible ringing “often heard from cast metal baskets”, and “injection-moulded polypropylene cones with nitril rubber surrounds” to “reduce the distortion caused by non-linear woofer movement.” Crossover is at a quite low 2.2 kHz.

      But the key to this series is not just the drivers, but the whole front baffle design, which is contoured to minimize diffraction and maximize dispersion. There is no grille cover over the tweeter, and those covering the mid/bass drivers are black cloth over a vestigial plastic frame also designed for controlled diffraction. A great deal of acoustic design effort for a speaker in this price range has gone into the e:XL-25, the second from the top of this new Energy range, which also includes centre and dipole rear models using the same drivers and baffle design for home theatre use.

      The measurements of the e:XL-25 show a speaker designed for quite close listening distances in smaller rooms, with some falloff in frequency resonse above 1 kHz, but otherwise generally smooth response. The Pink Noise Sweep XL25 Frequency Response (PNS) and Summed Axial Response (SAR) at top adhere closely to each other, a clear sign of the success in controlling dispersion and reducing diffraction from baffle edges. The on-axis quasi-anechoic curve below shows good linearity, with just a little extra energy just below crossover at about 1200 Hz, and another smaller blip at 6 kHz. These are also seen in the axial curves below at 0, 15, 30, and 60o off axis. The latter curve shows the controlled dispersion, which will limit side wall reflections nicely.

      Bass from this front-ported speaker starts to roll off below 90 Hz, but can be extended with corner placement, but only to about 40 Hz, a steep rolloff beginning at about 50 Hz. This speaker will clearly benefit from the addition of a subwoofer or two.

      In general, the measured curves are very good, even exceptional, for a budget loudspeaker, but they don’t really tell the tale of the real sound quality from this speakers. More on that below.

      Looking at the impedance and electrical phase curves, we see a fairly low value in the mid-bass of about 4.5 ohms, with the highest peaks being related to woofer and port tuning, as well as in the crossover region, hitting about 18 XL Impedence Curve ohms. The phase angle through crossover is about +/-35o or so. These suggest that some current is in order, though these speakers should be a fairly easy load.

      Since both Aaron and I had been already drawn to the the e:XL- 25 by its sound in Montreal, the listening tests, while not an anti-climax, were no huge surprise, either. These speakers provided full bodied, well projected, and well integrated sound, with just a hint of extra midrange energy that could be heard on choral music and in individual voices. Female voice tended to be just a bit forward, while strings were just a tiny bit thin, but never wiry or sibilant. Piano was nicely balanced in timbre, and percussion had lots of snap and speed, with a nice shimmer on cymbals.

      But what was most notable about the e:XL-25 was its exceptional imaging, something that’s quite rare at this price. The Paradigm Monitor 7 is also a very good speaker in this price range; I called it “a superbly balanced budget loudspeaker” in our last issue, but noted its fairly limited soundstage depth. Well, here the balance shifts somewhat, with the Energy having a wide and deep soundstage with lots of ambience and detail, but not quite the bass extension. I bring this up because the measurements of the two speakers are quite similar in most respects, but they are quite different loudspeakers in terms of sonic signature.

Andrew Marshall

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