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Cerwin-Vega! XD3 Powered Desktop Speaker Review

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Cerwin-Vega

A Detailed Look

The Cerwin-Vega! XD3 Powered Desktop Speakers are a 2.0 speaker system meaning they provide a front left and right speaker for reproducing 2-channel, stereo sound. Note the .0 indicates they do not include a separate subwoofer for LFE.

The wood enclosures are constructed from ½" thick, vinyl-laminated MDF and use a vented design with a bass port on the back of each enclosure to enhance low frequency response. The XD3's are two-way speakers that use a ¾" silk dome tweeter and a 3" woofer. Each enclosure contains an electronic cross-over to route the high frequencies to the tweeter and low frequencies to the woofer.

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The left enclosure contains a 15 watt per channel stereo power amplifier that drives both speakers. There is a power cord connection and master On-Off switch on the back of the left enclosure. The right speaker connects to the left speaker with a short length of 2-conductor speaker wire (included).

Vega-Bass

The Vega-Bass selector switch on the back of the left enclosure allows the end user to tailor the bass response of the XD3 speaker system to his or her personal preference. With the Vega-Bass switch in the "On" position, the XD3 speakers will increase the low frequency gain. With the Vega-Bass switch in the "Off" position, the XD3 speakers will be set to a more natural flat response.

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Moving around to the front of the left speaker brings us to the master volume control and the Aux in and Headphone out jacks. Inserting a 1/8" stereo headphone plug into the Headphone jack will mute the speakers. The white plastic ring around the Volume control lights up red when the power is turned on. Note: there is no On-Off switch function built into the volume control. You have to use the master power switch on the back of the left speaker to turn the XD3 speaker system On and Off.

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Self-adhesive foam pads for vibration isolation came pre-installed on the bottom of each speaker.

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Removing the back panel from the left speaker reveals the internal components (two drivers and acoustic padding) and sturdy construction of the vinyl-laminated MDF enclosure.

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Attached to the inside of the left speaker's back panel is the 15 watt per channel stereo amplifier and crossover. As we will see later, this little amp can generate a lot of clean power to drive the speakers to very impressive volume levels.
 

March 20, 2012 | 10:38 AM - Posted by jsciii

Ryan,

Couldn't you have told us a bit more about the sound quality? Since the Stereo enthusiast mags seem to concentrate on speakers costing hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars, it's up to computer sites to review computer speakers.

CV speakers have always had the reputation as being designed to sound good to inexperienced listeners who are initially impressed with overemphasized treble and base. In fact, you sort of allude to this by saying that the base is "in your face."

Jamie

March 25, 2012 | 05:19 PM - Posted by Lee Garbutt aka...

Jamie - In my opinion the CV HD3's sound quality is very good for a pair of powered desktop speakers at this price point. The highs are clear without being overly bright and the mid-range transitions are smooth. I wouldn't describe them as "muddy or muffled", but as I said in the review what sounds good to one person may not appeal to another. Overall I thought the HD3's had a fairly flat frequency response (with Vega-Boost turned off) but are lacking on the low end. CV advertises the "bass being in your face" but I can't agree; the bass sounds more anemic to me.

March 20, 2012 | 03:51 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

They look like m audio av30. I wondering if they sound close. I love my m audio.

March 25, 2012 | 05:21 PM - Posted by Lee Garbutt aka...

At first glance the HD3's look almost identical to the M-Audio AV30 Mk II speakers (minus the Vega-Boost switch). I suspect they are manufactured by the same OEM but without looking inside to see what drivers and electronics are being used I can't say whether or not they are the same. Unfortunately I don't have a pair of AV30's to conduct a side-by-side listening test.

June 11, 2012 | 11:16 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Este modelo CV XD3 resultó ser bueno para mí, soy un aficionado del sonido. El diseño de caja y apariencia es apropiada para escuchar música de preferéncia, bajo nivel de distorción. El sonido es distribuido y balanceado en sus canales con potencia variable, el botón del vega bass es de mínima potencia. Combiné este sistema con un Bose media companion 3 y el sonido fué más sorprendente. El precio aunque es algo costoso pero en calidad de rendimiento lo merece.

March 22, 2012 | 11:35 AM - Posted by ButtonPuncher (not verified)

@Jamie - The sound quality is not very good. Mediocre at best.

The build quality of the speakers is incredible but the sound is muddy and muffled. They get loud and sound better than a 20 year old pair of Labtec speakers but that's about it. If you want sound quality, don't buy these.

For the technical people... I'm guessing that if you RTA'd these that the frequency response would look like the golden arches. The lows roll off below 125HZ, the highs at 15kHz, and there is a gap in the middle. I know that small speakers like this won't have much bass but my Tivoli Model Two only has two 2.5" full-range drives (no tweeter) and they blow the Cerwin Vegas out of the water. I'm guessing that Cerwin Vega didn't spend much selecting the drivers for these and they threw whatever in them.

The boost switch on the back just makes them boomy. I tried plugging the ports with some wash cloths and that made them sound a little better.

I'm returning mine.

March 28, 2012 | 09:05 AM - Posted by Scott (not verified)

Ok I'm someone who has been doing custom audio enclosures for over 25 years. I decided see how they sounded and see if they would be better than my current computer setup. The music used to listen to the XD3's was Judas Priest for vocal range, Gorillaz (Double Bass, and Client Eastwood). I did listen to classical music too, but the vocals and lows was my main concentration. Without any EQ adjustment I would say the sound was not awww inspiring. With EQ adjustment the speakers did have a better improvement in vocals, and highs. The lows were really lack luster. If you are listening to anything but hip hop these speakers will be good for you. If you want deep base I would look at something with a 2.1 setup. The sound sounds better from a distance than used as computer speakers. There is a gap in the middle range that need correction with an EQ to make the vocals sound better. The high were not tinny but smooth, and that should be expected from silk dome tweeters. The speakers compared to other computer speakers in the price range for $100 this would be your best bet, but if you have $50 more you will be more happy with the Klipsch Pro 2.1 computer speakers. I picked up these speakers from Best Buy over in the musical instrument section. I first went to computer speakers and didn't find them, then looked in home audio. Of course the help at Best Buy was horrible. The people in home audio goes we don't sell these and kept mentioning they don't have them. I said that the computer system online said you had them. It took me three time to ask to just look in the system see if the store had them. It said it did, and after 30 mins they finally looked at the planagram to see where they were located at and we found them on the bottom self. I will be returning these today to my Best Buy because personally I'm not that impressed with them personally.

April 24, 2012 | 12:41 PM - Posted by cvtechsupport

Hello All,

We are glad you have taken the time to comment about the speakers. The best way to hear them is to experience them with sound but if you only have online reviews to go by then please take into consideration that everyone's setup is different, from different sound sources, listening rooms and application uses. We believe that as far as desktop speakers go this is one of the best options around. Thank you all for helping people find the best solution online.
Thanks Again-
CV Tech Support

May 22, 2012 | 12:15 AM - Posted by wes2day (not verified)

I went to Best Buy looking to spend 50 or 60 bucks for some decent PC speakers. I even considered spending a little more for the trusted Bose brand. After listening to the Bose 2 speakers I wasn't as impressed as I thought I might be. Maybe I was expecting too much for what I wanted to spend. Then again, maybe I wasn't. I saw that they had the Cerwin Vega desk top speakers for only $99.00. I was familiar with the brand and knew that they've been making high quality speakers for a long time. My only issue was that I hadn't done my typical research on these. What the heck, I trusted what I knew and spent more than I had planned. This is easily the best 100 bucks that I've spent in a long time. I absolutely love these speakers. Perfect for what I needed and they look marvelous next to my black Dell. It's unlikely that there's another set of speakers better that these at this price. If you just need some nice quality PC speakers for a good price, don't look any further. I've already done the research for you!!!

May 19, 2014 | 10:09 PM - Posted by Omar (not verified)

I've had this speakers for over a year, and tho they do sound good, these are as far from being flat as a curve from being straight. They lack considerably of mid range. They work great as PC speakers but never as nearfield monitors. At medium to 3/4 volume they sound their very best, a little over that they will start to distort. The bass is a little shy and the Vega bass doesn't fix much. It mostly muffles it.

Regarding someone's question for a comparison between this and the AV30s they both sound similar, perhaps the AV30s are a little more detailed, but as for frequency response none of them covers the whole spectrum at similar levels. One thing the XD3s have way better than the AV30s is that they will last much longer

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