Denon SC-CX303 loudspeaker

The companion loudspeaker to Denon's RCD-CX1 SACD/CD receiver is the SC-CX303 ($1200/pair). The SC-CX303 is a ported two-way with a 1" soft-dome tweeter and a 5" carbon-fiber–cone woofer. Denon claims a sensitivity of 86dB and an impedance of 6 ohms. Instead of a formal frequency response, Denon instead gives an unreferenced figure for frequency extension that, at 35Hz–60kHz, is neither helpful nor credible.

Each SC-CX303 comes with a port plug of open-cell foam; after a certain amount of experimentation, I used these all the time. The cabinet measures 11.6" high by 6.9" wide by 10" deep and weighs 19 lbs. Therefore, with a displacement of 800.4 in3, the SC-CX303 is significantly smaller than both the ATC SCM 11 (1220 in3) and the Aerial Acoustics 5B (1109 in3). Of course, with the SC-CX303's "woofer" being only 5" in diameter, compared to the ATC's 6" and the Aerial's 7.1", it's going to be one league down in bass capability. On the other hand, the Denon costs 30–40% less.

Such things matter more to some than to others, but I think a pair of SC-CX303s look, if not quite like a million bucks, then at least more like $2000 than $1200. There's high-quality woodwork on all surfaces, with a wonderful raised-panel effect on the back. The SC-CX303 makes the black-painted Aerial 5B look industrial. C'mon, Aerial—bring back the veneered 5B!

The SC-CX303 is a great little speaker. I respected the PSB Imagine B, which I wrote about in February 2009, but I just loved the Denon. I'll be very interested in seeing a comparison of the speakers' measurements. My guess is that the Denon will measure a bit fuller and warmer in the midrange, perhaps even the inverse of the "smile EQ" effect. The SC-CX303 had more of an attractive richness of sound than actual deep bass.

I found the Denon RCD-CX1 SACD/CD receiver and SC-CX303 speakers to be an unusually synergistic combination, all the way down to the speaker cables that come free with the SC-CX303s. Using higher-zoot speaker cables such as Kimber's 8TC brought out a bit of glare in the SC-CX303s; the free cables restored a more listenable balance. Compared to more expensive speakers with the far more expensive Luxman electronics, the $2700 Denon combination was, overall, veiled and lacking solidity, and could get a bit blatty when pushed. But compared to some other ways to spend $2700, they were great. Mysterious Mountains, a demanding SACD of the symphonic music of Alan Hovhaness with Gerard Schwarz conducting the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic (Telarc SACD-60604), should have made the SC-CX303s give up, but it didn't. The timpani in Symphony 66, Hymn to Glacier Peak, were impressive both in dynamics and bass extension, and the imaging and soundstaging were overall quite good. Well done.

Wrapping It All Up
I prefer the Denon SC-CX303 to PSB's Imagine B ($1000/pair), but you may not agree. But as far as speakers go, in the lower tier, I love the Denon SC-CX303.

Denon Electronics
Corporate Drive
Mahwah, NJ 07430-2041
(201) 762-6500