Product: Bookshelf speakers
Manufacturer: Xavian Prague - The Czech Republic
Recommended Retail Price: 3000€
Reviewer: Piero Canova - TNT Italy
Reviewed: June, 2023
Several years ago when "stereo" or "Hi-Fi" systems were present in every home, the majority of the speakers used were of small to medium size, the type we call today bookshelf. Few wealthy people had floor-standing speakers with huge woofers, but the vast majority of the systems had speakers that were resting on a shelf in their living room. Bookshelf speakers have several interesting points to offer like being smaller, lighter, and easier to integrate in a room where listening to music isn't the only purpose. They are mostly two-way systems which means less complicated crossover electronics and, being small, they approximate better a point source of sound. They are also less hungry for power which means that also low output tube systems or small class D amplifiers can be used with excellent results.
It was quite some time since I had a bookshelf in my system so when this review was offered to me I thought it was an excellent way to refresh my knowledge on this type of speaker.
Xavian is, for me, the prototype of a modern European company: they were born in Italy almost 20 years ago and recently they have moved their headquarter and manufacturing in the Czech Republic. The model Aria is the newest of their range which includes two more bookshelf speakers and two floor_standing towers. Technically they have some quite interesting characteristics:
Technically they are two boxes 220mm wide x 445mm high x 300mm deep with a weight of 12Kg each. The drivers used are both from Scan Speak: one 181mm mid-woofer with a Kevlar membrane and a 26mm hand-impregnated silk dome speaker; both speakers are custom-made according to Xavian specs. The enclosure is made in MDF with a high-quality wood veneer in the sample I have received.
The box is well reinforced inside and has a thick coating made with 4mm thick bitumen and other two complementary materials to minimize the resonance of the enclosure. Frequency response is 50-30,000 Hz (-3dB) and impedance is 8 Ohm. The connections are in the rear through two massive gold-plated binding posts. The sensitivity is 89dB and the power rating is 10-150W.
A nice pair of front grilles are supplied and they stay in place through hidden magnets leaving the front face clean from holes or fixing devices when you don't use the grilles.
In short, they are two very nice-looking boxes, quite heavy and giving the impression, at first glance, of quality. If you knock on the enclosure the return you get is very muffled and dampened.
They don't need a lot of power to sound well, they are friendly to drive for your amplifier and, if you need it, they can produce some loud listening levels without deteriorating the quality of the sound produced.
After removing them from the box used for transportation, I installed them on two pedestals of 80cm height and I started the usual positioning process. The first very welcome thing was that it is much easier to find the right position for a bookshelf than for a large tower. Ok, I have, in my room, some basic position references where I know speakers will work, but with just a bit of turning and moving back and forth I could find a position where they simply disappeared. Now, I went through the same process with my Thiel loudspeakers, but it took me days to achieve the same result as I acheved with the Xavians in less than one hour.
One quite interesting thing about positioning is that they like some support from the rear wall to increase the bass response, so in the end I had them some 80cm from the side walls and just 30cm from the back wall. The speakers were toed in with the crossing point some 50cm in front of the listening position. The burn-in takes some time (minimum 50 hours) so, before listening, I left them in another room with a CD on repeat. The first impression is that everything is correct: the music comes from the room as if the speakers were off. The stage width and depth are perfect and, as I said before, this result was achieved really in a short while.
Harmonic contents are those that I know so well as the colors of the original music: neither too bright nor too dark. The only difference I found compared to my own speakers is in the punch of the lower octaves and the capacity to reproduce some very low frequencies, but let's be realistic: you can't expect such performance from a speaker that is one-fourth of the size and one-fifth of the price.
In the past I had some bad experiences with bass reflex ports where you could hear the air flowing through it; the Aria is dead silent in this respect. With the NuPrimes as power amplifiers I had to be careful about how much power I was giving them, but I did reach levels of sound pressure far higher than what you would normally expect.
I was curious to see their performances with an amplifier with a much smaller power so I did use a Nobsound F900S I have available (the burn-in amplifier) with an output of 30W on an 8 Ohm load. Again, the result was excellent and the sound pressure was more than adequate for a 30m2 room. After several hours of listening one thing becomes evident: the Aria are serious speakers that demand a serious amplification and a good quality source. In this, they are ruthless: they are transparent as a monitor but without the defect of a monitor where everything is too much in front and the stage depth disappears.
The Aria is, in my view, what a modern speaker should be: nice looking, easy to install and hide, and sounding excellent in the typical midsize room of today's apartments. They aren't cheap, but in many situations, they can be a definitive solution or eventually a staging point to perhaps some larger Xavian speakers.
© Copyright 2023 Piero Canova - email@example.com - www.tnt-audio.com