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EMPtek E56Ci Center and E55Wi Surround Speaker Preview

EMPtek E56Ci Center and E55Wi Surround

EMPtek E56Ci Center and E55Wi Surround


  • Product Name: E56Ci Center and E55Wi Surround
  • Manufacturer: EMPtek
  • Review Date: November 14, 2011 04:35
  • MSRP: $450/each (center) $499/pair (surround)
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!


  • Dual 6-1/2" Polypropylene Woofers
  • Dual 5-1/4" Aluminized Poly-matrix Woofers
  • 1" (25mm) Fabric Dome Tweeter
  • Recommended Power: 50-175 Watts
  • Impedance: 6 Ohms
  • Frequency Response: 40Hz-20kHz ±3dB
  • Crossover Frequency: 600 Hz, 3,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 87dB (2.83V@1m)
  • Dimensions: 31" W x 8½" H x 10½" D  (787mm W x 216mm H x 267mm D)
  • Weight: 28 lbs. (12.70 kg.)
  • Available in High-gloss Red Burl or High-gloss Black Ash

E55Wi Surround

  • Dual 5-1/4" Aluminized Poly-matrix Woofers
  • Dual 1" (25mm) Fabric Dome Tweeter
  • Recommended Power: 50-130 Watts
  • Impedance: 6 Ohms
  • Frequency Response: 65Hz-20kHz ±3dB
  • Crossover Frequency: 3,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 87dB (2.83V@1m)
  • Dimensions: 11-1/2" W x 12" H x 6" D  (299mm W x 301m H x 152mm D)
  • Weight: 12 lbs. (5.44 kg.)
  • Available in High-gloss Red Burl or High-gloss Black Ash

When EMPtek first released their E5Ti tower speakers, we were amazed not only at the price but also the aesthetics. We're used to beautiful, but expensive speakers. We're also inured to ugly speakers with low price tags. Given that, we're not surprised when performance often has no relation to price or looks. Sure, a more expensive speaker should sound better (and often does), but it isn't always the case. EMPtek blew the doors off all our assumptions by giving us a speaker that sounded, looked, and performed much, much better than we could have expected for the price. Not only that, they put out an entire line with piano gloss finishes in Black Ash or Red Burl with top quality components and the sort of sound quality that makes audiophiles swoon (at least those who aren't distracted by all the money they think they should have spent on their speakers) and aesthetics that makes their spouses want to show them off to their friends (OK, we made that last part up - but it could happen!)

And then EMPtek upped the ante.

When they released a E55Ti Tower speaker, they now had a product that had no equal in their line. Not that it blew the rest out of the water, but the rest were designed with the smaller, E5Ti in mind. The most notable problem area would be the center. While the E5Ci center was perfectly fine, it really wasn't up to the task of hanging with the new, larger tower.


This is now a problem of the past. The EMPtek has released the new E56Ci Large Center Channel. Where the E5Ci had two 5.25" aluminized poly-matrix coned midranges and a 1" fabric dome tweeter, the E56Ci adds two additional 6.5" polypropylene cone woofers. This takes the low end of the frequency response from the E5Ci’s specification of 60Hz down to the E56Ci’s specification of 40Hz! That's a huge improvement and will allow a much lower crossover point if needed and a lot more output (which is especially needed in larger rooms.) The placement of the tweeter should reduce off axis lobing errors as well. Of course, the extra drivers required a modified enclosure. Where the E5Ti was 21-3/4" W x 7-1/4" H x 7-3/4" D, the new E56Ti is 31" W x 8-1/2" H x 10-1/2" D. That's nearly 10" in width alone! The weight has also more than doubled, from 11.5 pounds to 28 pounds.


The second thing we had put on our EMPtek wishlist was a dedicated surround speaker. Sure, you can use a bookshelf as a surround, but we much prefer a dedicated on-wall surround. The new E55Wi is a much-needed addition to the EMPtek line. These on-wall speaker measures 11-1/2" W x 12" H x 6" D and weigh in at 12 pounds. While it doesn't have a di-pole option, it is pre-wired for bi-pole performance. The speaker wall-mounts through included keyhole brackets and is rated down to 65Hz. While we would have preferred a switch for di-pole performance and a dedicated mounting solution rather than simple keyhole brackets, the $500 price point per pair sort of negates our complaints. Each speaker is trapezoidal in shape with a tweeter and a 5.25" midrange on each angled face. 


We've had great experiences with the EMPtek line of speakers, as have many of our forum members. This is a line for those that aren't willing to sacrifice looks OR performance but have a limited budget. While the new E55Wi Surround speaker fills the much needed void of a dedicated on-wall surround in the line, the E56Ci introduces a new, more powerful center channel to keep up with the larger E55Ti towers. The new EMPtek offerings look just as good as the previous ones and we suspect they'll be greeted enthusiastically. And before you ask - yes, we are going to get these in for a full-fledged review.

For more information, please visit www.emptek.com.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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