Originally Posted by classicalguy
"Funny you should mention that because the X-LS is fully competitive with most sub $1000 speakers, especially those with large dealer networks."
I've never heard the AV123 speakers, but their website has some of the features of a cult. It's heavy on marketing hype, while the company has been slow to deliver announced products. Personally, I very much doubt that the X-LS sounds as good as top notch $1,000 speakers. I'm not saying it's impossible, just that you may have been drinking the cool-aid. I'm not doubting that it's a good pair of speakers. But isn't it enough that it's the best speaker in its price class?
I thought the same thing when people were saying that the T-Amp sounds better than multi- thousand dollar amps. Then there were people saying it sounds terrible. Too much hype in both directions. A little sober moderation would be a good thing on these boards.
The X-LS speakers are a little off-topic for this thread, but this is a good comment. I agree with your overall skepticism. The T-Amp, for instance, measures terribly (unless you're content with about half a watt of power if you need any dynamic headrooom) and I consider it not a good value, despite its absurdly low price. And it is true that AV123 is good at viral marketing, though you'll see fanboyism of the same type on forums devoted to any major manfacturer (Outlaw, Bryston, etc.).
However, objectively speaking, the X-LS speakers are not hype. The drivers (6.5 inch Peerless of India, 1 inch Seas TDFC clone) are remarkably expensive for speakers at this price point -- at retail prices, I could barely buy the drivers and crossover components for the cost of the speakers. Of course, driver quality means nothing without proper crossover design, and from the measurements, it's clear that Danny Richie did a good job with them.
The cabinets are also incredible for the price... I've been into speaker building for a while now, and I can tell you that a first time speaker builder would have trouble building just the cabinets (with real maple veneer) for the price of the entire speaker, once you add up veneer, MDF, supplies, and tools, including rabetting router bit. An experienced woodworker could do it cost-effectively, but there is still a decent amount of labor involved, especially to get that level of fit and finish.
The thing is, the X-LS are real, no compromise speakers given the specific drivers chosen. Apart from improving the quality of the crossover components (which is mostly voodoo, at times bunk), you can't push an MT bookshelf speaker that much farther, regardless of how much you pay. The cabinets are as good as most speaker builders get, the finish is high quality, the crossover is clean 2nd order LR, the drivers are quality drivers, etc. Specific people may prefer metal or similarly more rigid drivers (I don't), which would necessitate going up to a 4th order crossover (incidentally, higher orders generally sound worse than low order ones because of the off-axis behavior), but those are design decisions. The X-LS are about as good as it gets for an MT bookshelf with soft drivers, for a fantastic price. They're the real deal.
The reason people compare them to speakers in the $750-$1000 range is because so many commercial speakers in that price range are garbage. Consider, for instance, the Totem Rainmaker ($950/pair). The midwoofer is manufactured by Peerless of India, just like the midwoofer of the X-LS, though the Totem uses a smaller driver with a more limited low end. The tweeter is a Seas metal tweeter, whereas the X-LS uses an Asian Seas clone with a soft dome. The Rainmaker has a poor crossover that doesn't measure well at all. The frequency response of the Totems has a built-in smiley face curve which may seem fun at first listen (and give the impression of more bass) but will drive you nuts on long term listening. What's worse, the Totem Rainmakers have awful cabinets. Despite the marketing press about "borosilicate damping", the reality is they use 1/2 inch or thinner MDF that doesn't pass the knuckle test. Each X-LS speaker weighs almost twice as much as each Totem Rainmaker, which says something very significant about the cabinet construction of the Rainmakers.
I could go on and on about how bad many commercial speakers are for the price charged, but suffice to say that the X-LS are the real thing: competently designed speakers at a very impressive price. Not a lot of low cost speakers are like that; the oft-praised budget Axiom M3ti, for instance, is 50% more expensive than the X-LS, yet has a very poor crossover, low quality drivers, and moderate quality cabinets.