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Buddha
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Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

More elusive than a G-Spot are those "non-Hi Fi" products that surprise the listener with their degree of Hi Hi-ness.

So, I read the reviews by REG and Soundstage and decided that for 800 bucks a pair, it was time to stick my toes into the waters of the speakers of red surrounds and guaranteed loudness and see what the Hell - is this a savant speaker priced as a lease breaker, or a genuine Hi Fi product.

Hooked 'em up. No break-in, screw it, how do they sound?

Alot like my La Scala's, so far. Then, less.

I'm also on a Bruce Cockburn quest at the moment, so only Bruce music, so far.

From "Nothing But a Burning Light"...

Soul of a Man has better bass than the Klipsch...and it is not bloated. Very lean, but deeper, with those twisty sensations you get from bass notes very well rendered.

I expected more bloat, so...so, far, so good.

Back-up/harmony voices draw attention to themselves. More so than with the Klipsch.

The bass has notes - you can sit and imagine some guy (or sexy girl, or whatever you care to imagine) playing and actual instrument.

The treble is not as open as the Klipsch (modded crossovers) less air around the performance....but all I've done is put them 3 1/2 inches in front of the front wall with no toe in.

Moving around the room, I can hear some directionality from the horn mid and tweeter.

Rvance, if you're there, ya wanna go see Bruce Cockburn in Arcata Friday? If you can get us cocktail reception tickets, I'm buying for both of us.

Back to the speakers...nice dynamics, but the woofers don't seem all there yet.

Violins sound sweet.

Excellent layer of depth and information.

Mandolin not that airy.

Images from speaker to speaker with good fill, images more forward, the Klipsch are more laid back imagers - and I admit this is my custom, but this isn't so bad...more like moving up a few rows.

Going out on a limb - the tweeters seem to have metal dome tweeters (or sound like it.) They aren't.

Bass decay is quick - excellent. No overhang.

I was going to opine a guitar sounded more like a dobro, but it's a dobro. Is that a compliment or a criticism?

I flew today, with a longish drive, so I do have some ear fatigue to start the night.

Vocals - my favorite feature is here - absolutely no chestiness.

Woofer to mid integration seems to have some emphasis.

Excellent on vocals - floating within the soundstage. Clearly well done with Bruce's voice.

Now further into the disc, violins improving.

Shockingly, these babies are known for their gargantuan oomph, but the Klipsh did this better. These speakers would make me think the recording was more compressed, but I now better. ("Dream Like Mine" makes me pine for the Klipsch.)

However, some vocals have that indeterminant sound of not knowing where to sound like they are coming from, so I know I will get better results when I move them around.

Guitar and the clanky sticks on "Kit Carson" kill, as does the very harmonic bass being played. Drum rolls and then the kick drum kicker are OK, but the kick drum sounds rounded off.

For this song, the woofers are interferring wth the speed and melody of the song.

Night one, poorly positioned...they are giving me ear fatigue. Instremuents are not quite each uniquely delineated and there's a bass hump at about 80 Hz that does go one note for a small bit and don't like it.

I've been though this with woofers before, they need to stretch - they're still shy.

Brush on drum sounds like brush on drum.

Lots of room for improvement.

First 40 minutes - "OK, but I've got issues to deal with."

Using them with a Crown XLS 802 amp, Superhphon Revelation II preamp, Marantz DV7001 so far.

OK, you were there, from birth and out of position. I'll evolve the reports as I go the next few weeks/months/years.

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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

Aha! Now it all makes sense. Recommend products you want to play with yourself!

Awesome! Simply awesome report. Can't wait till you do this and that to em. You will own them. Patience grasshopper. It's the journey.

Something tells me the tubes will rule...

Buddha
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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215


Quote:
Aha! Now it all makes sense. Recommend products you want to play with yourself!

Awesome! Simply awesome report. Can't wait till you do this and that to em. You will own them. Patience grasshopper. It's the journey.

Something tells me the tubes will rule...

Of great interest to me is trying to see if I break in the speakers or if they break me in, so to speak.

I often wonder if we change to accomodate the sound of new gear, as well.

They are playing Massive Attack's "Mezzanine" all day today at low volume while I'm at work. Only about 65 dB.

(I also enthusiastically endorse the "Stuio Six" SPL meter for iPhones!)

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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

Initial set up has tweeters 11 1/2 feet apart and sitting 16 feet from a line drawn between the two tweeters. (12 feet from the back of my head to the rear wall.)

Tweeters 44-45 inches above floor, same with my ears...

Cheating on Bruce and played Dylan's "Tell Tale Signs."

On the first cut, there are some tape glitches that can make you think your record is mistracking - even though it's a CD.

First is at 15 seconds, then at about 1:13 to 1:16.

Well, they are still there on these babies.

Tweeters seem to have improved in detail today.

You can hear Bob's breathing cycle, if you want to. If not, not.

There is a dryness that is not unattractive, which I wonder about, because when it was an infant, the Crown amp had the same characteristic with my Apogee ribbons. (Will try different amps in the future.)

Bob images big and central on this cut, with the main guitar parts just inside the right speaker. A quieter guitar is center left, and the bass seems placed behin Bob, with it's harmonics above him.

The speakers are pretty far apart, but present a decent soundstage.

Absolutely no chestiness on track one, with some on track two. On the Klipsch, this was more of an "emphasis" than a "trait" on this track. Sort of like the difference between the Heimlich Gesture vs. the Heimlich Maneuver.

OK, back to Cockburn week.

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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

Being Cerwin Vegas, I was expecting "All Your Bass Are Belong To Us," but these are well balanced. No excess attention drawn to the frequencies we hear below the belt.

Good job on male baritone.

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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215


Quote:
Being Cerwin Vegas, I was expecting "All Your Bass Are Belong To Us," but these are well balanced. No excess attention drawn to the frequencies we hear below the belt.

I would have suspected this as well but got the opposite impression from your first report. Now I'm thinking more visceral as break in improves...awesome!

Can't wait to hear some Stevie Ray...

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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

Would you care to characterize the overall sound at this time?

Up Front

In Yo Face

Ect.

Might be interesting to track over time.

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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

Great posting!

Ok, Buddha, question: in keeping with r's note, where are you overall with these babies?

Are you excited by what you're hearing, or is it a task to keep listening?

Or are you holding all such considerations at bay?

And what does radio/streaming sound like?

Again, thank you for the post.

s.

btw - I have onpassed to my son a KingRex amp with DAC and my Insignia RS-B2111 speakers, and he's...learning.

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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

WOW! I had no idea you were pulling a Glenn Beck on us, but now that your sponsor is advertising on the home page don't you think it time you give us an update?

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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215


Quote:
WOW! I had no idea you were pulling a Glenn Beck on us, but now that your sponsor is advertising on the home page don't you think it time you give us an update?

Apologies.

I have been typing here and there and playing, and will get to back to work!

I had a somewhat prolonged house guest experience and this week the wife is in town so not "buddha-time."

Buddha
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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

OK, I was writing down listening notes and stuff, but that started to bog me down.

Moved the suckers well out into the room. About 6 feet from the back wall and about 4 feet from any side walls, so inward aiming of the speaker axis - basically aiming them at the listening 'spot.'

They make me think back to the days of "classical," "jazz," or "rock" speaker discussions...

These babies kill on classical music!

Open and airy and they can convey a terrific sense of large space of performance.

Absolutely no bass boom.

In fact, I think they also, to my liking, sound a bit 'lean.' But, maybe I'm using 'lean' in an unusual way - no bloat, overhang, boxy sound, one note bass....they just get the heck out of the way. They don't do that ear-pressurizing stuff some woofers can do and they really flesh out how bass helps imaging.

I played the DG pressing of Carmen for some people who were mesmerized by how effortless they sounded. The female vocals were placed in an accurate acoustic space, and the instruments were all well delineated.

Then we played a liturgical disc whose name I forget right now, but it did the large church space in spades.

Eyes closed, not only did the side walls disappear, so did the ceiling!

No complaints with classical tunes.

The wife is a sometimes willing, sometimes enthusiastic, sometimes merely tolerant Hi Fi listener, and I asked what she thought they cost.

This woman is a veteran of the shopping and Hi Fi Show circuit and she guessed ten grand.

On jazz....much the same. Acoustic bass is easy to follow and incorporates itself into the over-all sound quite well; and brass instruments can sound hair raisingly good!

On rock/popular, their problems become more readily exposed.

Some rock bass allows the speakers to inform you that the sound is emanating from a large box (which vibrates less than you'd expect.)

I also ended up putting (clean) socks in the bass ports and it tightened up the sound.

________________

With the Crown amps, there was plentiful detail, but it tended toward the etched.

With the McIntosh amp, the sounds were a little 'rounder' sounding.

I preferred the Mac. I also think it was more three dimensional with the imaging.

Over-all, the imaging has some emphasis at the speaker itself, but I'm still fiddling with location.

There's good fill between the speakers, and some to either side, as well - in a natural way.

_____

They also do a cool Hi Fi thing regarding listening "in the next room."

Once set up for better imaging, you can hear the difference from the next room. Sounds more cohesive from a room away!

I've noticed that with many systems, but this reminded me to mention it.

Once the speakers hit a sweeter spot for imaging, the image quality remained quite intact as I moved fore and aft with my listening chair, so once they are in the right position relative to each other, it makes seating choice much more 'liberal.'

______

All in all, so far, there are cuts where I can more readily tell there's a couple of big boxes in the room, but for 850 bucks a pair....I can't see them being topped.

If I were a reviewer, I

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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

Buddha

Ive been following along, ive been intrigued by the CV's for a long time. I have a lot of exposure to pro audio and of course have had numerous threads debating the merits of paying 10 times the value of something for a nice box.

I have Dynaudio Focus speakers at the moment which i love but they just do not sound big enough for me, i see that you say the CV's work well on classical music, would you recommend an audition against the traditional hifi speakers like my dynaudios would be worthwhile ?

Alan

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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

Final positioning screams LARGE room required or do I have that wrong.

How close were you able to sit?

I would have never guessed they would leave you wanting on rock!

Nor would I

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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215


Quote:
I have a lot of exposure to pro audio and of course have had numerous threads debating the merits of paying 10 times the value of something for a nice box.

"Debating"?

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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215


Quote:
Buddha

Ive been following along, ive been intrigued by the CV's for a long time. I have a lot of exposure to pro audio and of course have had numerous threads debating the merits of paying 10 times the value of something for a nice box.

I have Dynaudio Focus speakers at the moment which i love but they just do not sound big enough for me, i see that you say the CV's work well on classical music, would you recommend an audition against the traditional hifi speakers like my dynaudios would be worthwhile ?

Alan

Trying to ponder the question.

From past exposures, I bet the Dynaudios would give the impressioin of better 'bass control' and better bass detail.

I wonder if the CV's gave such a good impression of 'imaging via bass' because they are a little underdamped and a little bit of that contributes to a 'false?' sense of bass openness.

Apropos of nothing: The woofers on the CV's almost sound like open baffle speakers sometimes.

My experience with Dynaudios would lead me to venture that, in a quick change A/B listening test, the CV's would then more readily exhibit their bass overhang issues.

I would definitely try to demo them if a local store stocks them, though. I'm trying to overstate any quibbles.

The CV's lean toward that 'errors of mission' thing, so I don't think they'd be openly objectionable so much as perhaps losing some low level detail.

I also can't seperate their cost from how I feel about them. For the price I am profoundly impressed.

REG, of Absolute Sound, and Soundstage have also reviewed the speakers; so you may get a better general idea by checking out that info, as well!

Cheers!

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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215


Quote:
Final positioning screams LARGE room required or do I have that wrong.

How close were you able to sit?

I would have never guessed they would leave you wanting on rock!

Nor would I

Welshsox
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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

Buddha

Im not a big fan of chasing the level of detail, i look for the emotion of music. Its the macrodynamics and for lack of a better description the feel of the music i strive for. I definetly prefer albums to CD, i prefer live recordings of an artist to studio recordings.

Im not impressed at all with a lot of high end hifi, it just sounds to dry and lifeless it might well be incredibly accurate but it does not do anything for me.

My biggest problem is that i dont know how to analyze and quantify the sound im looking for, things i thought i would like ive hated and vice versa i cant seem to make any sense out of it and it is often contradictory ie

I love maggie,s but could only live with them with a good sub.

I love the sound of great small bookshelf spekeakers or even better the sound of a samll single driver speaker, but yet although i love the sound i dont like the scale and size of the sound.

The bass atributes you describe might make the CV's to flabby and loose in my room, its a difficult thing, how do you get more sound on a sensible budget without losing that cohesiveness that single drivers or maggies give u

Alan

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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

Great description of the speakers, Buddha.

Buddha
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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

Currently...

Right speaker:

Back of the speaker....outside corner 60" from rear wall. Inner corner 56".

Back corner is 52" from side wall. front corner is 56".

Left speaker with same rear dimensions, but 41" from curtain at saide wall for rear corner and 45" at fron corner.

Tweeters are 65" apart.

Now, here's a personal bias....130" to listening zone, and 154" behing to the rear wall.

The speakers image with good depth. Nice three-dimensionality.

The imaging reminds me of looking at a transparent sphere...

At the edges of the sphere, one perceives a greater visual density because light passing through has to pass through more material.

Same with how these speakers sound...good three dimensionality but increased density at the edges....which the speakers occupy.

Excellent center fill, and the illusion of imaging is in the range of 'palpable.'

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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

Something I had been reminding myself to bring up in the past...

When a pair of speakers is locked into a good location, the "live in the next room" phenomenon pops up more: even in an adjoining room, the sound seems to be coming from one source in a more realistic/coherent way.

Not that that matters, but with the speakers in better locations, they sound better in the listening room and the adjacent areas and even into the kitchen.

Has anyone else ever noticed this sort of thing?

Buddha
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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

Well, warm up should be done, so tonight was "For Duke" on the Drive Archive CD.

Set the volume so the SPL meter on 'slow mode' stayed near 100 dB, very loud, for me.

These babies are certainly dynamic.

Cons:

There seems to be slight hardness at the mid to tweeter transition.

Some bass notes seem to make the cabinate start adding to the festivities. (I can feel the cabinet vibrate, but at what frequency?)

Piano sounds a bit bright. Some hardness to the notes hear and there.

Pros:

Very freaking fast attack on brass instruments.

They play as low as the bass player can take his insturment.

Loads of detail. If you wanna hear the guys quickly changing pages in the note book, you will. You will be able to hear hands on instruments and sticks getting the way of sticks.

I'm surprised by the level of detail.

When the whole band is wailing on "I Let a Song get Out of My heart" you can follow the piano only, if ya wanna.

When it gets quiet, really quite, you still get the feeling of humanity in the room before a cut begins...chairs moving slightly, human motion......good low level info retreival.

The kick drum would make me worry about the health of my Lowthers...

Here, it says, "Dude, theres more where that came from."

Maybe way down low I start getting a bit of the 'one note' bass feeling. But only when the kick drum is trying to interact with other bass notes - each instrument alone seems fine, so maybe a little 'bass congestion.'

I'm starting to think more break in time will be needed - as we get louder, the treble hardens up somewhat.(I've been too easy on them.)

One more plus - the piano decay on the end of some tunes is almost worthy of being compared to Neil Young's guitar decay at the end of his love shows.

I forget with recording he released where the decay went on for a minute or more.

One last pro for this disc - when the sax wants to go on up tp 11, it'll go to eleven.

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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215


Quote:

Quote:
Final positioning screams LARGE room required or do I have that wrong.

How close were you able to sit?

I would have never guessed they would leave you wanting on rock!

Nor would I

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

Due you think that this is more a problem with a poor crossover design than room placement? We're talking about phasing issues, correct?

I remember reading about what AR used to do with wiring one of the drivers in reverse of the others for some reason. Could it be the same thing here?

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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

Some manufacturers have connected the tweeters in opposite phase from the woofers, correct. That is to face a time problem as I see it (About absolute phase in the listening position), and is mostly done with 18dB/octave crossovers IIRC. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

I have often wondered about this issue with "affordable" speakers. I have often thought that I would be well served if I replaced the crossovers in my old Large Advents with a totally new crossover/components.

Most of the time I think they still sound fine, but at 63, you begin to even doubt yourself at times. The reality is that the crossovers in the Wilson Sophias are probably worth more than all my audio gear. lol It must matter for something.

Man, more homework!

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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

The crosssovers in my new speakers are as simple as can be. One coil. Makes for the great sound.

Replacing capacitors etc. in older crossovers may make for a large difference too.

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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

Some more listening impressions:

At low volume, the dynamic range is a bit depressed. I'm talking 40-50 dB sounding kind of closed in, but once you hit the 60 dB and up range, things actually blossom nicely and these babies can certainly play loud.

I think 80-90 dB is loud, and have taken the speakers to about 115 dB and to me, it seems like my ears might start to compress before the speakers do. Maybe I get a hint of the speakers starting to congest as we hit 'fuckin' loud'......yeah, I bet it's there.

Playing around: The Strokes first album "Is This It?" comes across as sounding like it sounds how it sounds on purpose, which I mean as a compliment to the speaker.

There are moments with loads of incidental detail, and the Cerwin Vegas makes the mic differences they used on different songs on this disc really stand out - the vocal differences seem to pop, but the murky mix is still murky. Although, Nicolai Fratieri's bass playing is there in tuneful goodness. He's quite a melodic player. No "one note" bass for these speakers, but I'm beconing convinced the two 15 inch woofers could actually mate well with a subwoofer - - - - there doesn't seem to be much happening below 30-35 Hz.

On some of the songs, the mic'ing on Julian Casablancas sounds eerily good - like he's live behind the mike that's being heard live through the speakers!

His mic is kept overloaded alot.

Some songs break out of the murk and there lies a wide open brief piece of music and guitar/bass interplay that blinks out at you like a seperate event, then the murk recaptures it.

I can certainly hear Julian's breathing between notes, so the speakers seem to be able to go down into the mix.

I think, though, these speakers were made for just this type of recording.

Onward.....

Buddha
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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

I was at a friend of a friend's house who had the PSB Image T6 speakers hooked up to a GIANT stinking Denon HT (I didn't get the model number, but it was a leviathan!) receiver, and can play some straight up two channel for CD listening.

The PSB's are very well composed, and seemed more accomodating of varying listening height. They sounded more better at those quiet listening levels - and didn't change as much as we went up in volume, but they started sounding like they had a headache pretty early in the volume category. Perhaps even a hint of that high volume pinching that came along much earlier than expected after hearing the Cerwin Vegas.

I think the PSB's imaged better for spacial specificity at low levels, then tied at mid levels - but the Cerwin Vegas give more air and sense of ambience at levels 70 dB and above. (Listening at the proper height, of course.)

For capturing the gris gris of the same cuts...

The PSB's were girls from Smith who could quote Sylvia Plath and would drink a Chablis if it had the right terroir, and the Cerwin Vegas were a chick from Cal who could go from her violin recital and then to go check her project in Chem Lab and then move on to the football game and go to an after party dance club and drink "whatever."

The PSB's order tea, the Cerwin Vegas make the waitress say, "WHAT?"

I think the PSB started to stiffen up in the midrange pretty quikly, compared to the Cerwin Vegas.

The PSB's had a less noticeable box sound on some cuts.

The PSB's are more polite, yes, and the smaller cabinet is a plus.

But then, the SACD of KOB....knockout Cerwin Vega.

I think that damn speaker may been voiced for this LP!

I'll try to post the nitty gritty Wednesday night, but the Cerwin Vegas owned KOB.

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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

Buddha, I enjoyed your report very much. I want to date the Cerwin Vegas.

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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

There you go. You fill in the blanks, toe-in etc.

A = inner speaker corner: 56" Outer speaker corner: 60"

B left = 41" from side wall
B right = 52" to the side wall, and 4 inches toe in as mentioned above.

134" to the Love Sac.

60" wide chair

82" to back wall.

Keld! Can you draw those proportions?

_______________________
_______________________

First, the bad news, later will come KOB.

Went home last weekend and listened to the home references.

Yup, the CW's can't image like the planars I like, and I think there is some height/treble spread. 43 inches above the floor, the treble is incisive and insightful. Too low and the sparkle sparkles less. Ribbons and Electrostats have a distinct speed advantage. D'uh!

The CW's do mush some detail together, mostly a mid/upper bass kind of thing, but not sinfully...well...venial sin, not a mortal sin.

You can hear the bass is coming out of a box, still. But, I'd use this criticism on 99% of all high end boxes, anyway.

The more I play them, the more laid back they sound....kind of a California approach to something vs. the downtown Tokyo buller train croed.

Still doing great with vocals.

A KOB write up is coming, I promise - I just want to be able to list waht times certain things occur for your reference.

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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

Keld! Can you draw those proportions?

Please no

Buddha
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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

No prob, I meant it as though I were Captain Pickard.

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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

More weaknesses....

Yup, the bass just doesn't go that low...especially considering there are 4 15-inch woofers involved. I think this is a big part of why they can play so "loud." They underachieve a little for their size. Kind of like Sam Bowie, for you Trailblazers fans.

They also start to sound compressed as they go up in volume. True of any speaker, but I'm in critical mode today and have been noticing this. It's interesting that even though they can play hella loud, they seem to bring the quiet parts up with them as they ascend in volume. (Below 100dB on my iPhone meter, this is not an issue.)

They are mean to digital glare on some recordings - there can be a high mid/low treble harshness.

Welshsox
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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

Buddha

Reading this it seems as if your not really that impressed.

The CW's are superficially impressive but i dont see that much real musical excitement in your reports.

Am i understanding correctly ?

Alan

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Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215


Quote:
Buddha

Reading this it seems as if your not really that impressed.

The CW's are superficially impressive but i don

Welshsox
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Last seen: 2 years 11 months ago
Joined: Dec 13 2006 - 7:27pm
Re: Cerwin Vega... XLS 215

Thanks

I would totally agree about the mark ups but thats a different story.

I cant help my intrigue in these speakers, i think the thing that i still cannot detect in your posts is you actually just sitting back and enjoying the music they make. All your posts seem very clinical and while i can appreciate the need for that accuracy in reporting youve never really expressed emotion about the speaker. Is that purely down to your style or is it because teh speaker does not evoke emotion in its musicality ?

Alan

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