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Energy e:XL-28P Loudspeakers Print E-mail
Tuesday, 01 February 2000
ImageThe e:XL-28P is the flagship three-way tower speaker system of the e:XL series. This system is priced at a very attractive $1,200.00 per pair, including powered side-firing subwoofers.

When I first saw the e:XL-28P, I thought it belonged in a museum, not at a trade show booth. The elegant lines of the enclosure, with its serene Rosewood finish (which is also offered in Black Ash and Northern Light Birch), was a pleasure just to look at. However, we all know appearances can be deceiving. After sitting through a demonstration of the e:XL-28P, it had not only caught eye and ear, it had warmed my heart - a wonderful example of form meeting function. I couldn’t wait to get a pair home to review.

Starting from the inside out, the e:XL-28P offers a three-quarter-inch, magnetically shielded aluminum dome tweeter suspended on cloth for superb transient response and low distortion. The midrange section utilizes a six-and-one-half-inch magnetically shielded, injection-molded polypropylene woofer, which includes a nitril rubber suspension and Spherex™ copolymer basket to eliminate "ringing" and reduce distortion. The bottom end is fat, offering a side-firing 100W MOFSET-amplified eight-inch subwoofer, which is controlled by level and equalization dials located on the front baffle. There are two pairs of gold-plated, bi-amp/bi-wire input terminals, one pair for the tweeter and one for the midrange/bass and subwoofer. In addition, Energy has included a gold-plated bracket so that, if you do not have dedicated outputs for the tweeter and midrange/subwoofer inputs, you can hook up stereo pairs to the midrange/subwoofer input in order to bridge the tweeter signal.

The enclosure is constructed of thick non-resonant MDF (medium density fiberboard), featuring Energy’s exclusive Interloc™ 360-degree bracing system to reduce resonance and improved bass response. There are also rear ports that release energy that would otherwise be trapped within the enclosure.

Initially, my assignment was to evaluate the Energy e:XL-28Ps as a two-channel system. I hooked up these works of art to my Sherwood Newcastle R-775 receiver and slid Vonda Shepard’s The Radical Light (Vesper Records) into my Yamaha DVD-S700. Although this CD is great musically, it previously sounded lacking in the production values category on other loudspeaker systems. I was curious. The e:XL-28Ps towers elevated Vonda to a sonic height that I had not heard before. On the cut Searchin’ My Soul, the tender mandolin and acoustic guitar that gently brushed the intro sounded wonderful through the e:XL-28P tweeter’s Ultrasonic Acoustic Filter. The dispersion of these sweet highs were fruitful and vital with a broad soundstage. Then the kick drum snapped in and the spiraling, soulful vocals cascaded, well-balanced and brilliant. Speaking of sweet highs, but with an edge, the trumpet blast on Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s This Beautiful Life were alive and colorful. You gotta love those horns - for another example, the sax on the Dave Matthews Band’s Listener Supported (BMG/RCA) underpinning the rhythm guitar.
Once I listened to the two-channel audio I had to hear what the home theatre application would deliver. I got on the phone and was able to get hold of the e:XL-C shielded center channel speaker, which houses two five-inch woofers and one three- quarter-inch tweeter (the same component used in the e:XL-28P). I hooked-up my Vantas DPA-P87 for Dolby Digital processing and to power the e:XL-C center channel and Mirage surrounds.

The first DVD that I reviewed was Saving Private Ryan (Paramount). The audio track was incredibly realistic, transparent and accurate. As the audio panned with the sound of nervous preparation as our men approached the beach, I could distinguish every nuance from the water splashing over the bow of the amphibious vehicles to the spray of bullets ricocheting, as well as the fall of the bodies of the soldiers storming the beach. At $200.00, the e:XL-C is the best center channel that I’ve heard to date in its price class, smooth and full. The imaging was as astonishing as the visual exploits portrayed on the screen. I then took a look and listen to Payback (Paramount). As Mel Gibson took a drag from a cigarette, I could lightly hear the tobacco and paper crackle until the butt hit a stream of gasoline leading to "the bad guys" SUV – then whoosh, a massive explosion. The sensitivity of these speakers is great, even at low listening levels.

The Downside
The downsides are few and far between. However, I do wish that the subwoofer level and frequency controls swept past +3dB and - 3dB. At times, the low end was a little heavy and I would like to have been able to roll off a little more bass. Instead, I made the adjustment on my receiver, which isn't quite as sensitive as the controls on the e:XL-28Ps.

Man, I wish I had a pair e:XL-R two-way dipole speakers for surround and perhaps the e:XL-S8 100W, bass reflex subwoofer for my theatre application. I really dug reviewing this system and have been listening to more music thanks to the sonic quality.

The price may seem a bit out of range for some of you who are just entering the marketplace of mid-range two-channel and home theatre systems – and yes, you can get a decent five-channel system for around $800. However, you may want to think twice and dig a little deeper. You might find what you’re really looking for within the Energy e:XL-Series.

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