Cerwin-Vega! XD3 Powered Desktop Speaker Review
Subjective Evaluation and Conclusions
Disclaimer: Reviewing speakers is not easy. To do it right requires a lot more equipment and experience than I have. The best I can hope to do is to relate my personal experience with the XD3 speakers and give you my subjective opinion. Unfortunately what sounds good to one person may not necessarily sound good to another.
After unpacking the XD3 speaker system and checking them out I set them up on my desktop and connected them to my computer using the supplied 1/8" mini-to-RCA patch cable. The speakers are sitting on a book self behind the computers, which place them at about ear level and 6' apart. I like listening to a variety of music while I work. I had Deuter's "East of the Full Moon" CD queued up and when I hit play my first response was WOW – these little speakers sound great!
Over the past several weeks I have used the Cerwin-Vega! XD3 Powered Desktop Speakers almost daily for a variety of listening tasks; music, movies and gaming. I found early on that I really enjoy the XD3s for listening to music while I work. The clean, rich tones produced by the XD3 Powered Desktop Speakers are impressive and pleasing to listen to. The only exception has been for music that includes a lot of really deep bass (like B-Tribe "Spiritual") or a prominent kick-drum that would at times sound thumpy, especially at higher volumes with Vega-Bass engaged. My experience with movies and games was less satisfactory as I missed the tactile low frequency effects that a subwoofer provides (my regular powered desktop speaker system is a Logitech 2.1 system with a sub). On the positive side, dialogue was very clear and easy to understand while listening to the XD3s.
The power output was very impressive from the XD3 Powered Desktop Speakers. You can crank these little speakers up to LOUD without any noticeable distortion. I was able to push them to 85 dBA @ 6' while listening to music, which is no small feat for a self-powered desktop speaker system. However at the higher volume levels the bass becomes very anemic.
The built-in amplifier also sounded very good to my ears when listening to music through a good set of headphones (Ultrasone HFI-700).
OK, now let's be realistic; at this price point ($99.99 USD) choices and compromises have to be made. It appears obvious that Cerwin-Vega concentrated on sound output, clarity and signal purity at the expense of omitting a subwoofer component. Bottom line, the Cerwin-Vega! XD3 Powered Desktop Speakers truly deliver big speaker sound from a small package at an affordable price.
I can strongly recommend the Cerwin-Vega! XD3 Powered Desktop Speakers to music lovers or anyone involved with sound production who wants high-quality sound on their desktop from a small package at this price point. On the other hand if your main interest is movies and/or games and tactile Low Frequency Effects or multi-channel surround sound is important to you, then you may have to spend a little more money and buy a system that includes a subwoofer.
The Cerwin-Vega! XD3 Powered Desktop Speakers are currently available and typically sell for $99.99 USD (Best Buy March 2012).
• Big sound from a small package
• Clear highs and smooth midrange
• Silk dome tweeter
• Plenty of power for desktop speakers
• No noticeable distortion at high volume levels
• Rear line level RCA input jacks and front 1/8" mini stereo Aux in
• Front panel 1/8" mini stereo Headphone jack with speaker mute
• High-quality construction
• 5-Year/2-Year warranty (speaker/electronics)
• Big sound – small price
• Anemic bass at higher volume levels
• Minimal Low Frequency Effects for movies and games
• On-Off switch is located on the back side of the left enclosure
Side Note: One of my hobbies is home theater – I love movies. Over the years I have put together a custom home theater that includes a 7.2 surround system. For the first week I fought the urge to connect the XD3s into my home theater system but my curiosity finally got the best of me. It was relatively easy to do: I placed the XD3s on either side of the flat panel TV beside my existing front tower speakers and fed them from the pre-outs of my Denon AVR-3808ci, which is used as a pre/pro. I turned off the outboard power amps that feed the 7-channel speakers and initially turned off both subs (later I turned one sub on and adjusted the crossover up to 120Hz and lowered its gain). Setting the surround mode to stereo allowed me to listen to any source through the XD3 Powered Desktop Speakers!
While listening to music at lower volume levels in a relatively large multi-media room, the XD3 speakers still sounded good. Adding one sub into the mix helped fill in the lower frequencies a lot. However, while it was an interesting experiment, it just reconfirmed that size and power do make a difference – a very big difference; I quietly disconnected the XD3s and put them back on the desktop where they belonged!