XTZ 99.36: A Review: UK First!

AngelEyes

Distinguished Member
Russ dropped the 99.36s off last night and we had a quick play, just plonked down where the 99.25s were, set to 80hz and they sounded great :D. Running Full range the bass wass completely OTT but with corner/alcove placement, exactly as expected.

I still need to spend a day or two sorting out the integration with the sub and with five jumper settings and I think 3 ports to play with, as well as the option to remove the bottom 'speaker' from the action, I think I will be busy.

Surprisingly, running a phantom centre worked remarkably well.

I just love these speakers.

Adam
 

cribeiro

Well-known Member
Surprisingly, running a phantom centre worked remarkably well.
It does not surprise me ;)
Ribbon tweeters are supposed to have a better radiation pattern, which is the reason for their great 3D presentation. Thus, the phantom center must also work very well.
 

AngelEyes

Distinguished Member
It does not surprise me ;)
Ribbon tweeters are supposed to have a better radiation pattern, which is the reason for their great 3D presentation. Thus, the phantom center must also work very well.

Makes sense, I have just never run anything with ribbon tweeters before.

Adam
 

dean999

Active Member
angel and russ.will

are you guys planning on trying the 99.38s? i have been following your reviews on the various xtzs' hence the reason for the question.

cheers
dean
 

AngelEyes

Distinguished Member
angel and russ.will

are you guys planning on trying the 99.38s? i have been following your reviews on the various xtzs' hence the reason for the question.

cheers
dean

AFAIK XTZ aren't planning on selling their entire range in the UK. It makes sense to test the water so to speake, with your most popular ranges.

You can be assured if they do, Russell will be on the case :D

Adam
 

nuttyboyz

Active Member
Those 99.38 look wicked:eek: I found the XTZ speakers responded brilliantly to class D amps, bass tightened up and treble became far smoother, a lovely sound.
 

SBanga

Well-known Member
The 99.38s are now on the powerbuy too....
 

dean999

Active Member
angeleyes

thanks for your reply. look forward to your and russ.wills well constructed,interesting and informative reviews.
 

AngelEyes

Distinguished Member
Who would have thought an amp upgrade could have a negative effect?

My latest purchase was a Cinepro 2K6 Mk III (MKIV Manual here for those who are interested.)

This amp provides amusingly large amounts of power and of course completely eclipses the onboard amps of the Onkyo 875. What this means is that the power greedy 99.36s are now gorging on 90 odd amps of peak power per channel.

Listening to Queen yesterday it sounded fantastic but you could tell the mid bass was too much. I watched the Tropic Thunder BD last night and it really was completely over the top.

This all seems pretty logical when you think about it. Typically the bass driver demands the most power so with the 875 it was just being tickled, now with the Cinepro it can really stretch its legs.

In the past when adding power amps the differences (Rotel RMB 1075 and Arcam FMJ P7) haven't been so great, probably partly to do with the amp itself and partly becuase of the less needy M&Ks I was running previously.

Anyway it looks like I need to spend even more time setting up my kit :suicide: Hopefully the SMS-1 can do something with this overblown Mid bass, if not I may have to risk Audyssey, that traditionally doesn't do a great job in my room... I am really hoping I don't have to change to 99.26s standmounts... :(

Adam
 

cribeiro

Well-known Member
Listening to Queen yesterday
Oh, another fan! Queen is great :thumbsup: Although the sound quality of the recordings is not breathtaking (not even close to it :(), their music is unique.
Anyway it looks like I need to spend even more time setting up my kit :suicide:
Isn't that always great news? :D I am sure it will sound great after some tweaking :smashin: Have fun!
 
S

Sweden

Guest
Im thinking of trying 99.26 or 99.36, what kind of setup should be best for them?
Today i have one poweramp Inter-M R500 Plus, is that enough or should i add another ?

" Inter-M R500 Plus is simple but solid built, leaving the entire 2 x 170 W 8 ohms, Intermat R500 Plus can easily be bridged and leave when the entire 1 x 500 W 8 ohms. For bridged should be nominal impedance of the speaker not less than 8 ohms. "

I dont want any OTT bass!

Thanks Mats
 

Member 96948

Distinguished Member
I think I should clear up this issue with respect to the bass of 99.36. That Adam, or I could position the 99.36s in a position where the speakers were convenient, but possessed of massive bass is not about the speakers, but definitely about our rooms.

I stated, quite clearly, that the bass output of these speakers is deep and powerful. As such, it does not need reinforcement from being placed close to a wall or in a corner and is quite capable of naturally filling medium-large to large room.

Adam's room is not the norm because of the huge (and gorgeous) inglenook fireplace he has, that takes up all bar 5ft of his longest wall. All of his speakers have to sit within this fireplace and due to marital constraints, the speakers are essentially placed in the corners of this restricted volume. A bass boost position if ever there was one.

Frankly, I'm surprised they worked as well as they did on the end of the Onkyo combined with where they have to sit, but the arrival of the 2k6 has clearly unleashed unbridled power reserves at all frequencies and it's showing up the limitations of the placement with the added bass poke it's delivering.

In my smaller room and indeed, in Adams if the same positions were used as per the 99.25 v M&K 850 thread, it is quite possible to achieve a deep but controlled bass response.

The key words here are 'room' and 'placement' and whether you have both, or the control over at least one to make these speakers appropriate for your circumstances. This is not a consideration peculiar to these speakers, but one that is common to all full sized floor-standers which these undoubtedly are. If you are in a room of less than 1800cu ft and/or have to place the speakers so there's less than 60cm clearance to a rear wall (never mind corner), then there's a good chance they will deliver more bass than is necessary and you should look for something more appropriate.

Neither of us would remain married long if the optimum positions were where we insisted on putting them. That is why, when you look at my signature, for my room, I chose the 99.25 stand-mounts. In spite of the greater dynamic clout of the 99.36Ss, the 99.25s are a better match for the room.

Russell
 
S

Sweden

Guest
"If you are in a room of less than 1800cu ft and/or have to place the speakers so there's less than 60cm clearance to a rear wall (never mind corner), then there's a good chance they will deliver more bass than is necessary and you should look for something more appropriate."


Russell,
Is it 60cm from backside of the speaker or is it from the front of the speaker to the rear wall?

Thanks Russell!
 

Member 96948

Distinguished Member
"If you are in a room of less than 1800cu ft and/or have to place the speakers so there's less than 60cm clearance to a rear wall (never mind corner), then there's a good chance they will deliver more bass than is necessary and you should look for something more appropriate."


Russell,
Is it 60cm from backside of the speaker or is it from the front of the speaker to the rear wall?

Thanks Russell!
In my room it's a minimum of about 60cm from the rear of the speaker to the wall and a similar amount to the sides, but in your room, it may be something completely different.

Russell
 

Member 96948

Distinguished Member
Okay.

We have just spent an afternoon with the 99.36s hung on the end of £20k+ of Naim system and it was definitely a day of two halves. The first part centered on trying to achieve a bass alignment that suited the room. tony @ suffolk has a very large room. It's not that wide (15ft?) but it is long; at least 40ft+, which is very odd compared to a typical modern house. It can reinforce bass notes in the mid 30Hz range due to it's width, whilst offering practically no reinforcement or room gain below that point, so positioning of the speakers is critical. Like most rooms, it was not designed with hi-fi in mind (no surprise given that it is a 200+ year old cottage), but it does also have a bare oak floor with not a carpet or rug in sight. With leather sofas and a metal wall of Naim occupying 8ft+ :)eek:) of one wall, it's not going to be a forgiving room.

Even in a room that size, it was possible to achieve monstrous, but rather monotonous bass with the 99.36s in their native form. We ended up with the top section of the speakers, plus one port of the bottom section plugged and the speakers about 2m from the rear wall and about 1m from either side wall. This resulted in a tuneful enough bass that was perhaps a bit lighter than I like, but was far preferable to the alternative and you quickly adjust to it. I may be more of a bass head than I thought, because Tony (and friend) thought it about right, but as I say you get used to it.

On to listening and I must confess that the character of the 99.36s was diametrically opposed to what I hear in my own room. Tony's room is a lot larger than mine and even with the speakers as far from the rear wall as they were, the distance to the seating position is probably greater than the entire length of my room full stop. As such, you have to turn the wick up considerably to achieve similar volume levels to those I am used to and I must say that Tony likes to listen LOUD!

Tony immediately remarked that there was a hardness to the treble and I'd make him right in that respect. I know what I'm used to hearing from these speakers in my room, but whether it be due to the lack of carpet, sheer volume levels, weird Naim cables or indeed a remittingly revealing system, things always seemed to be teetering on the edge of uncomfortable.

I was non-plussed, but a superb lunch (thanks to Mrs T :smashin:) called a halt to proceedings.

Suitably saited, we sat down again and to be honest, it might as well have been a different pair of speakers. You can add any number of imponderables to the equation such as full stomachs, extra levels of relaxation due to a couple of glasses of wine, mornings being a less good time for loud music, or the speakers simply achieving a balance with the rooms temperature; Never the less, any number of annoying traits evaporated and the 99.36s finally sang.

During my original write up, I completely ignored the option of turning the tweeter down by 3dB that the links allow and this may have helped either earlier, or later on in proceedings, but the mid band lost its hardness and opened right up, as did the treble to my ears, even if the hi-fi boys might have enjoyed a slightly reduced level, more akin to the fully active Naim system we listened to later on.

Compared to the morning, the afternoon was less a case of looking for excuses for a budget speaker and more a case of being quietly impressed by what they managed within their limits. I think we all agreed that they handled acoustic recordings very well and my beloved female vocals sounded much more like I was used to without being tainted by the 'shouty' edge we'd heard early on. Dynamically, they were right on the money from the off, but in the afternoon, this stood out less as a single strength as a more even balance complimented it. Plucked acoustic guitar sounded particularly full bodied and rounded for instance.

Limitations? Well, the 99.36s would pass for quite a large speaker in most rooms, but they looked almost lost in Tony's. The Naim SL2s that stood behind them have never registered as a particularly large speaker on my radar, but they looked twice the size in comparison. This was an impression reinforced when we re-listened to several tracks throught the Naims later on - Size is everything when it comes to maintaining high SPLs for prolonged periods without any sign of stress. There was always a sense that the Naims could comfortably go louder without loosing composure, even if my ears wanted to actually turn things down slightly.

By comparison, to what is a very expensive top flight system after all, the 99.36s reached a point at which they were comfortable and they let you know it if you asked more. In the light of the complete cost disparity, this is not a criticism, it's simply a fact that the XTZs are a budget speaker and therefore are not boundless in their capabilities. Also, lest we forget, there is never, ever likely to be a circumstance where a £680 speaker would end up on the end of such a ruthlessly wide-band system unless fools like us are doing it for a laugh. You simply don't buy £700 speakers to hang on the end of £20k systems.

Having been relieved of the embarrassment I thought I and my original write up might suffer, the system was re-plumbed back into it's fully active bi-amped status and several tracks were replayed. It should be noted that the SL2s are placed (and designed to be so) against the rear wall and so for every comment about the 99.36s and their volume limitations in that room, the Naims were doing it from a further 6ft away. In most rooms, that would be 50% further - not a small difference.

Excepting the personal preferences of absolute treble level, I was pleased to note that certain tracks I had felt to be a touch sibilant, sounded no different through the Naims. However, their ability to render the subtleties of the way treble heavy instruments like cymbals were struck was very impressive. Where as the the XTZs could tell you how hard a certain cymbal was struck, the SL2s let you know where the drummer was hitting them. A subtle difference, but it's a listen through quality you will pay for if you can afford it.

An area where the XTZ's did stack up (as long as volume was kept on their side) was in spacial placement within the soundstage. They really do render depth, as well as lateral displacement extremely well. They also fare well with the expessive rendering of vocals, conveying all the emotion and inflection that makes a speaker stand out. Add this to their dynamic strengths as mentioned early on.

So, what did we prove?

Well, there's no substitute for budget. That's not news, but if you have it, it can provide effortless reproduction at all volume levels which only leaves your mood to decide where you turn your volume control to. It proved that whilst my friends think I'm a volume nutter, they really have no idea how loud some people like to listen. It proved Mrs T is a saint and bloody good with fish. It proved that metal coned speakers need longer than average to settle down and give of their best and in spite of knowing this, I was really surprised how much difference this makes. Be warned against quick A-B comparisons with such speakers be it these, or the likes of MA/Acoustic Energy stuff for instance. Finally, it proved that the 99.36s are surprisingly good for a £700 speaker.

Sure they have their limits like any other compact (really, they are in the grand scheme of things) budget speaker; but within those limits and given enough room to let that bottom end breathe, they're not embarrassed by considerably more expensive gear and provide a convincing alternative to gear more expensive than their price tag suggests, as long as you don't try and stretch that notion too far.

Russell
 

kbfern

Distinguished Member
Don't you ever sleep Russ:D Nice too see the XTZ's holding up well against some stiff opposition.

It just goes to show you don't have to spend a fortune to get 95% there.

Keith
 

AngelEyes

Distinguished Member
Sounds like you had a nice day Russell. Did you get any photos of Tony's birds nest?

Adam :)
 

tony @ suffolk

Active Member
Just for you Adam - a bit tidier than the first photo you might have seen -

systemwires-march-2008.jpg


Thanks for a splendid write-up Russell. There's very little I can add or contradict, save perhaps to note that the cost of the Naim system we put the 99.36s on the end of was slightly less than double your estimate; a fact best concealed from Mrs T for my continued wellbeing...

With this in mind, the 99.26s put on a highly creditable show and we were all hugely impressed with their abilities and surprised with how different they sounded after a thorough warm-up - a completely different speaker after lunch, and it wasn't just the wine! (and thanks for the excellent bottle of Barbera Russell. It was hot in the house and regrettably it swiftly evaporated)

Despite my attempts to avoid comparison with my Active SL2s, nevertheless for those of us used to active speakers, passives inevitably sound rather slow and less nimble. Although this was also true of the 99.26s they managed to exhibit a lively character, rather bright to my ears, adequate bass but slightly one-note.

We drove them a bit fiercely I suppose, but although the sound hardened up a bit and they started to smell slightly hot they never sounded distressed, even at high sound levels.

My very minor criticisms apart, which need to be viewed in context, these speakers are very good indeed and excellent value for money. They are very well put together, and look nice, so good WAF.

Highly recommended!:smashin:
 

dean999

Active Member
russell- that was a fabulous review( better than the pros).

tony thanks for the photo of your system- can't stop drooling.
 

fondiler

Standard Member
Hi,

Great review I'm very tempted to get a pair of these, I have a Sony STR-DG910 amp at the moment would something like the yamaha RX V1800 or 1900 be decent enough amp to run these?

Cheers
 

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