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XTZ Cinema Series 3X12 Subwoofer Listening Session and Use

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The XTZ Sound 3X12 was placed in the front right corner of my basement HT room facing into the wall and plugged into the system with an XLR cable. I left the gain of the amplifier at its maximum and set the amplifier controls to always on, phase at 0 degrees, defeated the internal low pass filter and set the EQ to the “Anechoic” setting which matches with my room better. I allowed Audyssey to run its auto equalization on the system as this is what the average user will probably do and then afterward checked the balance of the XTZ 3X12 against the main speakers as I often find it to be off a bit. The low pass to the 3X12 was set at 100Hz inside of my Onkyo processor.

Music listening

After setting up the 3X12 in my room I casually listporcupine tree.jpgened to some music for a few hours to see if anything jumped out at me. Typically with a big vented sub the low bass frequencies in the 20-35Hz range will be a bit overpowering in my room when compared with the rest of the bass range. With the 3X12 this effect was still there to some extent but seemed to be less of an issue than with other vented subs I’ve used over the years. After a bit of EQ adjustment to pad down the 30Hz range a hair, things fell into place nicely.

I spent a number of days listening to both music and movies while taking notes and generally getting a feel for the 3X12 and how it performed. I ran through a number of favorites I use to test subwoofers out such as the NIN track Discipline which features a huge bloated kick drum and an ascending low frequency sweep towards the end of the song which starts out down near 20hz. The 3X12 had no issues with this even at a vigorous playback level and reproduced the very lowest parts of the sweep which most small subs simply fail to reproduce well. I also threw another two-channel music track at the 3X12 which is known for having a gratuitous low end mix. Flight of the Cosmic Hippo by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. This track has a ridiculous bass guitar mix and features a heavy amount of 25Hz centered bass in parts. Again the 3X12 easily delivered the goods on this even at high volumes and with apparent ease. Another favorite of mine I’ve been using is the Black Sails soundtrack by Bear McCreary. There are a number of tracks here with diverse and excellently recorded percussion sounds including some huge drum builds and weird instrumentation. Again the 3X12 laid down the bass fundamentals with precision and poise, even during some huge drum swells when I had gotten aggressive with the volume knob. Of course I also did a bunch of listening to rock and metal with ultra-compressed thumpy kick drum such as Gojira:L’Enfant Sauvage so I could see how the 3X12 would handle dense fast music and how well it could punch at high volumes. The 3X12 did not disappoint and could produce a solid chest thump if the volume was goosed up to appropriate levels on the right material. I also watched the Anesthetize blu-ray from Porcupine Tree which is pretty much my go to multi-channel live music recording. XTZ’s 3X12 was right at home here and produced clean bass tones up through the crossover region. Pitch definition was spot on and as had already been shown the dynamic reserves were easily up to the challenge of reproducing dynamic parts at high level with little to no compression. Excellent.

Movie listening session

While the 3X12 handled the bass duties I ended up watching a couple of movies that I had not seen before. One was John Wick which turned out to be quite the workout for the 3X12. I hurtx.jpgdon’t think there was any bass that was particularly over the top in this movie but there was plenty of it to go around. There are tons of gun shots, body blows, ominous low frequency rumbles and even the occasional low frequency sweep for the 3X12 to sink its teeth into and with a playback volume of -10 from what would be REF level that is exactly what happened. This is a pretty loud playback level overall and is about as loud as I usually go without getting uncomfortable and fatigued over long periods. The 3X12 angrily dished out the gun shots and thuds when called for and really helped to put me there in the middle of the action. Once scene that stood out to me was where John Wick goes into a club and there is background music throughout most of the action which was already bass heavy to begin with but had all of the typical action bass noises even louder over top of that. Great stuff. Not the best movie ever or the best soundtrack but the 3X12 killed it on that one.

The XTZ 3X12 was also subjected to a battery of sub busting movie demo scenes in order to see how well it coped with extreme demands and whether it is protected well enough to avoid obvious distortion or even damage. I used the same -10 master volume that I playback movies at for all of the subwoofer reviews. These tracks are some of the most demanding tracks available when it comes to identifying weaknesses or causing distress to subwoofers. The fact is that most any subwoofer can do justice with light jazz or pop at room conversation level, provided it is setup right and doesn’t have major design flaws. The subwoofer is often the most heavily taxed and abused component of the speaker system for a couple of reasons. Deep bass is difficult to reproduce loudly, our ears aren’t very sensitive to it and a lot of people seem to enjoy it cranked up a bit. Nothing ruins your enjoyment quite like your sub making obnoxious noises, wheezing, shutting down, or clanking in distress in the middle of your movie because it doesn’t have enough output to do the job your listening habits demand, or it is not protected well enough to hide the fact at the very least. These demo tracks are perfect for finding out if a particular system has what it takes.

The XTZ 3X12 reproduced the loudest bass events I have found in any movie and nailed it.

First on the list is the plane crash scene from Flight of the Phoenix. This is one of the loudest bass events I have found in any movie to this date and the 3X12 nailed it. The bass in this scene is just plain hot and contains a mix of frequencies culminating in a very loud 30Hz drone during the barrel roll of the plane. I didn’t hear any bad noises at all and it definitely provided the visceral effect of being in an airplane as the fuselage rips away around you.batman the dark knight.jpg

The Hurt Locker has a number of sub punishing scenes but the 50-caliber being fired in the desert is my favorite. With this scene the subwoofer is asked to produce huge amounts of bass under 20Hz accompanied by a reduced but still significant level of upper frequency content. Very few bass systems reproduce this content fully. The 3X12 did pretty well here. The 3X12 provided a good sense of impact but did not seem to quite get the full force of the low frequency effect. This is due to a large amount of the content being well below the vent tuning and protective high pass filter of the 3X12. It must be stated for the record that this is an incredibly tough track to reproduce fully for anything less than a multi driver infinite baffle or sealed subwoofer array due to how deep the content is. However the 3X12 did not make any bad noises despite the content of this track and still produced a convincing high caliber blast effect. I’ve caused a bit of trouble with a number of subwoofers using this track so this was a good effort by the 3X12.

Demo scene number 3 is the rail-gun test scene from Batman: The Dark Knight. This scene isn’t particularly deep or taxing on most subwoofers but it has very loud and abrupt bursts of bass that are useful for judging how dynamic the bass system is in the middle and top of its bandwidth. Here the XTZ 3X12 was a powerhouse and produced a sharp and pronounced effect which blended perfectly with the mains. This is the type of scene where your subwoofer system can compress or get into the limiter which will limit the output and you may not even notice it, but if you have a powerful enough system that it can produce the full dynamics of the scene, it is a night and day difference. The 3X12 continually did very well on scenes like this containing very loud, abrupt dynamics.pulse.jpg

Finally was the server room scene from the horror movie Pulse. This particular scene is one of the more demanding that has been released with loud, sustained, warbling bass centered at about 17Hz. To top it off there really isn’t a lot of accompanying noise in the soundtrack to mask the bass either. This scene makes a lot of subs, even very expensive ones, fall on their face, some subs skip this sub 20Hz content almost completely and don’t even try to reproduce it. Some systems will cut out and go into protect mode or get driven into audible distress very easily while trying to reproduce this content. This scene is particularly tough for ported subs since the port tuning is usually near the center frequency of this signal and it can cause the ports to chuff or compress. This is exactly why this piece is useful as it is just about a worst case scenario for many vented sub systems.  The recently reviewed RBH SX-1212P/R was quite impressive with this demanding material and the big XTZ sub also rose to the challenge and produced this scene with an equal amount of guts and deep bass fortitude. There was just a slight hint of port noise during this torture track but again this is pretty much a track designed to make a subs vent huff and puff a bit. This is the only time that I heard vent noise from the 3X12 during the listening sessions, so it is not a major concern unless the 3X12 is really being pushed to its limits. I could actually feel a bit of wobble in my couch frame with this track, which is not easy to accomplish on my basement slab. Overall I was quite impressed with the sound of XTZ’s 3X12 in my room.    

 

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Recent Forum Posts:

KEW posts on May 30, 2018 00:50
Danzilla31, post: 1250877, member: 85700
Hey Kew every time I try to submit my email they say I deleted my Webform and give me really weird instructions on how to resend it they have a contact # I'm gonna try to call it tommorow. ….. Weird.
Yeah, I noticed some weirdness on their website as well when I was wanting to look at products! The “U.S. Store” section was more reliable.
Danzilla31 posts on May 30, 2018 00:45
KEW, post: 1250856, member: 41838
They only list 3X12 Demo! So, apparently this is the price for demo units and they say none are in stock!
They say:


It is interesting that they do not list the 3X12 at regular (non-demo) price! I can think of two scenarios to explain it:
1) This model has been discontinued, so the only ones they might sell are used “demo” units.
2) They are having a difficult time gaining a presence in the US market so decided to discount the price and attempt to build a name here. So they don't piss off European customers, they call them demo units.

Hopefully ShadyJ can get the real story or if you email them, please share what you find out!
Hey Kew every time I try to submit my email they say I deleted my Webform and give me really weird instructions on how to resend it they have a contact # I'm gonna try to call it tommorow. ….. Weird.
Danzilla31 posts on May 29, 2018 21:02
KEW, post: 1250856, member: 41838
They only list 3X12 Demo! So, apparently this is the price for demo units and they say none are in stock!
They say:


It is interesting that they do not list the 3X12 at regular (non-demo) price! I can think of two scenarios to explain it:
1) This model has been discontinued, so the only ones they might sell are used “demo” units.
2) They are having a difficult time gaining a presence in the US market so decided to discount the price and attempt to build a name here. So they don't piss off European customers, they call them demo units.

Hopefully ShadyJ can get the real story or if you email them, please share what you find out!
Hey appreciate the heads up KEW I'm gonna for sure email them and try to get back at ya guys as soon as I can with anything I find out.
KEW posts on May 29, 2018 20:23
Danzilla31, post: 1250853, member: 85700
Hey Shady J I was browsing this article and was curious about they're products so I just checked out they're XTZ U.S. store website. This sub looks like it is on sale they're now for $1500. Did I just work too hard at work today or something? If that's the price now that's one serious subwoofer for that kind off money. I'm gonna contact them myself just to clarify but can you possibly let me know if I'm right? or do I need time off from work Lol Thnx!
They only list 3X12 Demo! So, apparently this is the price for demo units and they say none are in stock!
They say:
Currently out of stock, please E-Mail us for status.

It is interesting that they do not list the 3X12 at regular (non-demo) price! I can think of two scenarios to explain it:
1) This model has been discontinued, so the only ones they might sell are used “demo” units.
2) They are having a difficult time gaining a presence in the US market so decided to discount the price and attempt to build a name here. So they don't piss off European customers, they call them demo units.

Hopefully ShadyJ can get the real story or if you email them, please share what you find out!
Danzilla31 posts on May 29, 2018 18:59
shadyJ, post: 1105625, member: 20472
I would guess the Golden Ear sub is unlikely to have the output, low distortion or overall performance of the 3X12. I would be interested in seeing tests of the Golden Ear sub though, an interesting design though for squeezing a lot of output from a small box. One serious advantage that the Golden Ear sub has is it does not weight 170 lbs.
Hey Shady J I was browsing this article and was curious about they're products so I just checked out they're XTZ U.S. store website. This sub looks like it is on sale they're now for $1500. Did I just work too hard at work today or something? If that's the price now that's one serious subwoofer for that kind off money. I'm gonna contact them myself just to clarify but can you possibly let me know if I'm right? or do I need time off from work Lol Thnx!
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