Results 1 to 12 of 12
  1. #1
    Suspended topspeed's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    California
    Posts
    3,717

    Impressions: Onix X-LS

    Well, I've finally spent some time with the new toys (again, big "Thanks!" to JimmyC) and had an opportunity to not only get a handle on their sound, but also compare them to some of the locals.

    You only get one chance to make a first impression, and the X-LS' sure know how to make an entrance. Once unveiled from their cloth socks, my wife probably said it best when she exclaimed, "You can't put those in the garage!" These are great looking little monitors! Beautiful wood veneer, fine craftsmanship, and solid cabinet construction that passed the ubiquitious "knuckle rap" test with flying colors. The grills are solid (although the speakers sound better without them) but the binding posts are a bit odd. Placed at a 45 degree angle very close to the the recessed panel, getting spades hooked up was more challenging than it needed to be.

    OK, on to the sound. First, let me state that these are uniquivocally the best $100 speakers I've ever heard, no contest. They have tremendous bass and a very smooth midrange, albeit with an obvious midband hump. The treble is non-fatiguing and will likely work wonders with poor recordings. That said, it's clear that AV123 saved money with this very tweeter. I immediately noticed a rather hooded sound, as if someone had compressed the treble and was shouting through cupped hands. The combined effect was that instruments were smeared together and in some cases, not resolved at all. On one track of John Mayer's Heavier Things SACD, there is a tamborine played in unison with the high hat. On the X-LS, you simply could not hear the two instruments. You were left with either a high-hat with too much sizzle or a dull tamborine. You had to use your imagination to figure it out because the speaker sure wasn't going to tell you. The mediocre tweeter also dramatically affected the sense of attack. Snare drums were completely devoid of that satisfying "thwack!" Throw in the full, booming bass and things got messy in a hurry.

    Now, if you think I'm being unfair, it's because I am. You see, for giggles I thought I'd compare them to the Von Schweikert VR1's (hey, they were just sitting on the floor next to the stands anyway!). On their own merit, the XL-S' represent one of the best bargains on the market, even at full retail. I've heard a lot worse for the money. The problem is when you play speakers that cost 5 times more right after and suddenly realize, "Oh...that's what you get for all that extra coin!" It isn't subtle: far better resolution, faster bass, extended highs, you name it. The sum result is a far more natural and involving experience, as well it should be for the price.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for finding that killer bottle of $2 buck chuck that can go toe to toe with a Turley Zin. This simply isn't one of those cases. The Onix is a really good speaker, excellent when price is factored in. You won't, however, confuse it with a bottle of Opus One.

  2. #2
    AR Newbie Registered Member Stereo_On_Steroids's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1
    Good, informative review. Thanks!

  3. #3
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Department of Heuristics and Research on Material Applications
    Posts
    9,025
    Ahh but how do they compare to the Frankenspeakers?

  4. #4
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    France
    Posts
    2,523
    Is it kinda like a Dinan Flashed 335i versus a Lamborghini Gallardo?

  5. #5
    Suspended topspeed's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    California
    Posts
    3,717
    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    Ahh but how do they compare to the Frankenspeakers?
    Uh, does the term "two cans and a string" mean anything to you? Truthfully, I never really had the Frankenspeakers dialed in, nor did I try. I just wanted sound, which is what I got. Barely. Whereas the wife tolerated the other speakers, now she's giving me suggestions where to mount them so we can start rockin' out during our summer parties.

  6. #6
    nightflier
    Guest
    It would be interesting to compare them to Hsu's little bookshelves. They are also supposed to punch way beyond their pay-grade.

    I wonder, for $100, you could have bought some decent second-hand speakers, maybe some NHTs, Athenas, or one of those sets that AA is always "clearing out"?

  7. #7
    Forum Regular
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Long Island, New York
    Posts
    494

    Well... I certainly hope my x-ls'...

    ...weren't in the same room with all the disparaging (sp?) remarks made :*)

    O.K., let's compare notes...

    Sure - these are in no way as resolving as a "better" (i.e. more expensive) speaker. BUT - IMO - sins of omission are more preferable, especially in this price range. I'm pretty much done with metal tweeters, especially in less-expensive speakers. You're right, some obscurity, but as you alluded to, much more tolerable than than a bright tweeter.

    You said "midband" bump... did you mean mid-bass? If so, I thought AV123 was very restrained in not adding that illusion of extra bass - many companies do so. For eg, compare to my Paradigm Titans or the Dayton BR-1 kit. BIG bump.

    I agree they sound better with the grills off, not very transparent, just like my Twins.

    Are you a believer of "break-in"? Like I said, not too many hours on them, none too loud. They have been cold for a while. Let 'em run softly for a day while you're at work... see if any better.

    I have tried them with relatively high-power (200 WPC) Rotel separates, as well as my tubed PrimaLuna (40 WPC). I think they respond well to either.

    I'm glad you think they are a good deal, I would like to see better!

  8. #8
    Suspended topspeed's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    California
    Posts
    3,717
    I was wondering if these were broken in. I didn't know how many hours were on them and likened the congested sound to that of a speaker that hadn't bloomed yet. I figured (incorrectly) that you had played these for a good while, upgraded, and relegated the Onix's to the attic. I'll have to see if they open up as we put some time in.

    I'm not a believer that alloy dome tweeters are inherently harsh while fabric dome tweeters are smoother. I've heard sibilant soft domes (Mission) and laid back alloys (Focal). There are too many variables, not the least of which is the design parameters for the transducer itself. Choice of material is secondary to the choice of the speaker designer and the sound they are trying to achieve. That said, I agree that a laid back tweeter is far easier to live with than a bright, fatiguing one.

    As for the midband bump, I was not alluding to the midbass hump demonstrated by the companies (and many others) you mentioned. Perhaps due to the lack of extension from the tweeter, the midrange was fairly overpowering in presentation, almost "shouty." If the tweeter starts to break-in, this could change dramatically as the drivers integrate better.

    I've actually paired the speakers with three different rigs now; the 50wpc Cambridge Audio system in my office, the 30wpc vintage Marantz 2230 in the BR, and of course the 150wpc PSA HCA2 in the main system. They didn't really seem to care what was driving them one way or another and their voicing remained consistent.

    BTW, I've always wanted to hear JMR's. They are practically non-existent on the west coast.

    I want to be clear; I'm happier than a tornado in a trailer park with these speakers. If they improve with play, I might need to change my shorts. As mentioned, for the price it would be challenging to find better. BUT, if you spend more, you will get more.

  9. #9
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Department of Heuristics and Research on Material Applications
    Posts
    9,025
    Quote Originally Posted by topspeed

    I'm not a believer that alloy dome tweeters are inherently harsh while fabric dome tweeters are smoother. I've heard sibilant soft domes (Mission) and laid back alloys (Focal). There are too many variables, not the least of which is the design parameters for the transducer itself. Choice of material is secondary to the choice of the speaker designer and the sound they are trying to achieve. That said, I agree that a laid back tweeter is far easier to live with than a bright, fatiguing one.
    You're bang on in your beliefs on tweeters. I've got some inexpensive some domes that are as bad as any inexpensive aluminum/titanium tweet. Seas and Dayton have some terrific metal-domes and Scan-speak uses metal in their ring-radiators - incredible. Of course they're also $400 a piece

    Speedy, try some different toe-in and placement configurations. My Axiom M3Ti's were dreadfully bright at first and way too boom n' sizzle, even for me (and I'm a guy that hates the word "warmth" as it relates to audio). I heard the dreaded mid-bass hump. Worse, the imaging and and soundstage were sub par even for a (then) $230 speaker. They weren't bad, but I was certainly not of the opinion they were worth the hype and praise they got.

    I put them away for a year and regretted buying them. I pulled them out and tried placing them a bit closer to wall (ie, home theater close, not stereo close) in a converted bedroom/office room and used zero toe-in. It was like 2 different speakers. This was the first time a speaker ever changed so much to my ears by virtue of placement and toe-in, before it was always more subtle tweaking. I now feel they are fairly priced and competitive. Certainly no less capable the old Mini Monitor v.3's I had before the Studio 40's. Not the end all be all but certainly squeezing a lot out for their modest price.

    Who knows, could be the same here if the metal dome dispersion/distortion characteristics are at all similar? Worth playing around with.

  10. #10
    Suspended topspeed's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    California
    Posts
    3,717
    Hey Kex,

    As always, thanks for the helpful advice. However, don't forget where these are going, brother; in the garage. There's no listening chair, there's no sweet spot. Where would I park my toys? I know these speakers are complete overkill for this application, but the fact of the matter is they are going to be placed wherever I can find the room to mount them.

  11. #11
    Forum Regular
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Long Island, New York
    Posts
    494

    Now you have to go...

    Quote Originally Posted by topspeed
    Hey Kex,

    As always, thanks for the helpful advice. However, don't forget where these are going, brother; in the garage. There's no listening chair, there's no sweet spot. Where would I park my toys? I know these speakers are complete overkill for this application, but the fact of the matter is they are going to be placed wherever I can find the room to mount them.
    ...and spend $1500 on garage/room treatments! I still have not completed my garage (just having my bro-in-law do some sheetrock, some throw rugs, and shelving) - it can be a bit of a hangout (which probably means never use it as such), or just put on some music while cleaning the cars (that I do). I'm now using the Insignias with a sorry-sounding (but mint condition) 'ole Kenwood receiver.

    One of these days...

    BTW, thanks, went to the post office...

  12. #12
    Suspended topspeed's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    California
    Posts
    3,717
    No prob, I was going to pm you to make sure you got it. I'm going to set them up this weekend with a Denon receiver I "inherited" when I upgraded my dad's system a few years back. I considered moving the avr into the br and switching the Marantz to the garage (a remote would come in handy while in bed), but truth be told, the much newer Denon doesn't sound nearly as good as that nearly 40 year old receiver.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •