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Subjective Listening Tests

Higher prices should mean higher sound quality and I'm sorry to report that I heard every FR flaw in spades. In a nutshell, the Xtrusio's had a thin, screechy midrange and a sloppy "high Q" bass. Let me address one at time...

The thin sound arose from the weak midrange driver that was over-engineered to produce frequencies above 10KHz. This fundamentally changes certain sibilant instruments (like the female human voice) into something much smaller and more distorted. Cymbals were reduced to sounding very over emphasized and bright. Even the ubiquitous double barreled shotgun sound from Quake2 took on a tinkly character. The harmonic distortion in the last hearable octave was completely unlistenable on-axis, so they must be turned away from the listener for extended listening periods.

The upper midrange boost accentuated many typical reverb sounds, so the Xtrusio's appeared to have its very own built in reverberator. This was a moderately cool effects for about a minute. Massive reverb wears thin after a few minutes, let alone a few hours.

The sloppiness is directly attributed to the woofer. I spied absolutely no internal damping whatsoever, which can lead to a slight hollow bass feel as well as the awful one note bass syndrome. Yes, the Xtrusio pumped out bass to a phenomenal extent, but it was all quantity with little quality.

I did fiddle briefly with the digital input. I used the digital out from the SBLive! and a classic Rotel RCD-855 stand alone CD player. Both sounded slightly better than the standard analog inputs.

Conclusion

At over the $150 mark, I simply expected better results from a company that produces excellent joysticks and mice. I know that their engineers can do more. While the Xtrusio's are listenable for short periods of time, I couldn't wait to get back to my ACS-48 reference set. With a power supply upgrade, a few tweeters or a redesigned midrange and some damping in the oval sub housing, a much more competitive product could emerge. Possibly even Dolby Pro Logic decoding might pop up. As they stand, however, I cannot recommend the Xtrusio's at this time.

William Yaple
01/12/01

 





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