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X-HiFi XDC-1 Desktop Speaker System Print E-mail
Tuesday, 01 July 2003
Article Index
X-HiFi XDC-1 Desktop Speaker System
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The most important performance feature of any desktop speaker system is its ability to resolve detail at very low levels. I have my system on all day, every day, even when I am on the phone, in meetings and beyond. The system has to be set at very, very low levels so as to not annoy coworkers or office neighbors. The XDC-1’s killer imaging for such a small speaker helps greatly in this area. When listening to “Bim Bom” from the Verve Brazilian jazz compilation NovaBossa, you could hear the brief burst of applause lift above the din of the office even at low levels to give you a shot of musical reality, like a tall espresso at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. Joao Gilberto’s smooth strummings sound resolute, yet soft. In comparison to another big-name desktop speaker system we have connected to our “Dude, you’re getting a Dell,” the XDC-1 were clearly superior. While the other speakers have no subwoofer, the XDC-1’s woofer was playing down its role, only adding in an ever so slight bump in the mid to low end. The crossover point for the XDC-1 between sub and satellites is a relatively high 230 Hz.

Later in the evening, after most people have left work from my floor, I got a chance to crank up the XDC-1s to louder levels. On “Soul Man” from the Blues Brothers’ Briefcase Full of Blues (Atlantic), the XDC-1 were able to create a believable soundstage for this familiar live track. When Matt “Guitar” Murphy takes his solo, you can hear the individual strings resonate as he slides from note to note and string to string in his solo. At lower levels, the XDC-1 holds together with a warm but cohesive sound with the horns on the outro of the song.

As the sun went down and the listening sessions got louder and louder, I found myself calling Pink Dot (a delivery service for lazy Los Angelenos) for a few Bic lighters because of “No One Like You” from The Scorpions’ Worldwide Live (Mercury). You could actually hear the lightest essence of schnitzel on Klaus Meine’s voice as he belts out the awkwardly heartfelt stadium metal anthem. This tune ultimately didn’t have the resolution of some of the other tracks, but what it lacked in audio resolution, it made up for with hairspray, German pride and leather pants.

The best the XDC-1 sounded was on “Spookshow Baby (Black Leather Cat Suit Mix)” from Rob Zombie’s American Music To Strip By CD (Geffen). The jacked-up bass on the track absolutely lit up the XDC-1’s woofer, making it hammer out the low end in politically incorrect ways. The techno effects on this remix sound extra cool on the XDC-1 in the desktop environment.

At a recent consumer AV show in San Francisco, I was able to play with the XDC-1 while connected to a number of other sources, including a Microsoft Xbox. I am no expert gamer, but while playing “Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Tides of War,” a shoot ‘em up WWII-themed game from Activision, I nearly laughed myself to the point of tears with the XDC-1 blasting and the Xbox controllers vibrating in my hands. While overtly and insensitively violent, the game was pure escapism from a hectic tradeshow environment.

Also at the show, I watched a number of performances from the G3 (Joe Satriani, Steve Via and Eric Johnson) guitar gurus on DVD-Video on an iMac. Not all older computers have DVD players in them, but almost all new ones do. For dorm room or kid’s bedroom applications, the XDC-1 is a killer solution for punchy sound from a small system at a low price. The resolution on the iMac that xHiFi had at the show was notable and the sound kept up with the performances, which are mind-blowing for anyone who appreciates flamboyant guitar solos.


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