Xavian is the most Italian from the non-Italian companies. Founded and led by a true offspring of the Caesars, Roberto Baletta, it uses the lower manufacturing costs Roberto found in the city of Kladno in Czech Republic. He lives there. But this does not mean higher earnings for him, but rather lower price for the end customer. Is it possible to cut the prizes even more? Probably yes, transferring manufacture even further to the east, to China or Taiwan. But there the creator loses the influence on the process of manufacturing of his product to a great extent – this is a classic OEM. With the bigger scale of production in those countries much bigger role is played by the possibilities and conditions set by the subcontractors. It is possible to make a product, loudspeakers, etc, exactly as we like it to be, but this is only true for the biggest scale, when on location, in the factory, there are people sent by the mother company. With small companies like Xavian, the influence on the manufacturing process would be minimal. So Barletta chose the best he could, as he lives exactly where he manufactures the speakers, but he has influence on their manufacture, starting with the smallest screws (nota bene with the company logo on them) and ending with the packaging. He does not need to deal with subcontractors, be surprised when unpacking a shipment (what did they send?), etc. And believe me, this really happens often. It is enough that a price of a component changes by a few cents and the Chinese company immediately compensates for this and we get nominally the same product, but with 5mm thinner enclosure, or worse spikes, cabling, etc. Nothing can be wasted there, everything has to be balanced.
Anyway, Czech Republic is a good place to manufacture high class loudspeakers. You just have to see the Xavian. There are two Italian companies that compete on the field of “Italian” design: Sonus faber and Chario (at least on the Polish market). Both present a similar “school” of design combing wood and leather (probably artificial, but me being a layman cannot distinguish that). Sonus uses that already in the cheapest products, and Chario, as it starts on much lower price levels, in the more expensive ones. Placed against that background Xavian distinguishes itself with the more classic form, that screams ‘Viva Italia’ even in the cheapest products. Small speakers, showing in every detail the philosophy of combining beautiful and good in one product. Natural veneer, classic proportions, good drivers including the splendid Scan-Speaka D2905/9700 tweeter, fantastic wire terminals from WBT, the 0730.12 Platinum Signature, a piece of leather in the role of the name plate and an aluminum bass-reflex tube. And this pressed (or milled – I am not sure) logo on the front baffle… We really know what we buy.
Like in every good company also in Xavian the model exchange does not happen when the market demands it but when the constructor designs something good enough to be put for sale. The model XN 125 is seemingly so good that it is on sale for the last ten years, when it replaced the earlier XN 225 model. Upgrades are of course introduced, but they do not need systemic changes. The model Evoluzione is a second official upgrade of the basic model after the XN 125 II (‘la seconds’) from 2004 and belongs to the same ‘family’ as the tested some time ago XC Series Duetto. It happened, the four years ago, just before the change of the line we tested the first version of the loudspeakers (test XN 125 and XN 185 Mk II HERE; also the model Mia HERE). On first look one can see that the Evoluzione is a big step forward, maybe an evolution, but a quicker one, like in the Ivan Reitman film with the same title. This is a completely different tweeter, different mid-woofer (the previous one had a polypropylene diaphragm)m bass-reflex and – interestingly – single (but better) wire terminals instead of double ones. Also the internal cabling is different. Actually from the original XN 125 only the enclosure remained. Still phase consistency of both drivers is a priority for the constructor – hence the sloped front baffle and 1st order cross-over (6dB/oct). The Stand Classico stands can be purchased separately and screwed to the speakers by two screws.
These are incredibly clean loudspeakers. Xavian always put emphasis on that in the smallest models I tested – Mia and XN 125. The Evoluzione are from another tale, although still keeping the general direction. When on the newest disc from Barb Jungr Just Like a Woman (LINN Records, AKD 309, SACD/HDCD), in the very beginning the snare drum hits, this is an incredibly quick, juicy smack. Slap and stop. Clean and quick. Splendid. On the other hand, when we turn on a disc like Breaking Point Clan of Xymox (Vision Music, CDVM013, CD) then we hear immediately, that those are small speakers and energetic electronic music, based on contrasts, sometimes hidden in the low registers, is not fully that what those speakers should play. It is not that such discs sound bad. Quite the opposite. The disc of Clan of Xymox is a work of the leader of the group with that name and this also means that his older ideas get repeated and that the mastering is also not the best. But many discs are not so well recorded, and I like his voice. Anyway, there is not so many low frequency sounds on the disc. The Xavian showed that like this, but did also not emphasize anything and did not thin the sound. Even more – there was not a trace of brightening or sharpening. It can be also instantaneously heard, even on such kind of discs, that the treble is splendid. But… Regardless of how much we would praise the little speakers for the fidelity, how nice the disc Depeche Mode Abroken Frame (Mute, DMCD2, SACD/CD + DVD-A) sounded, etc, still it cannot be hidden that those are not speakers able to reproduce the energy of that music. I think, that in terms of general satisfaction, excitement coming from playing energetic rock, even loudspeakers like the B&W Bowers&Wilkins 865 will be better. Why? Just after a few discs it is known, that this is a completely different school of sounding. I wrote about the choices a constructor has to make during the test of the M-100 by Nexton http://highfidelity.pl/!ev/artykuly/17_10_2007/nexton1.html . This is the same school of sound: better less and well done.
Not that Depeche sounded bad – no. But this kind of music needs more bass, even at the cost of coloring, needs excitement. With the Xavian rock and electronics sound very nice, but I would not expect an especially worked out communicativeness. However I mentioned Jungr – this is the music the Czech loudspeakers were created for: acoustic, intimate playing, where a very low level of distortion counts, phenomenal tonal balance and such. A snare drum is not a very interesting instrument on its own, but it points to the unique qualities of the ‘125’. These speakers have the drivers incredibly well sewed together. I was not able to point out, even approximately, the cross-over frequency. To help myself I read in the company materials, that this is 2.6kHz. I do not hear that. The loudspeaker sounds like one driver. This allows for a free manipulation of the timbre, of course in the boundaries of the frequency response, in such different cases like the disc Django The Modern Jazz Quartet (Prestige/JVC, VICJ-41714, K2 CD) and Goodbye Anity Lipnickiej i Johna Portera (Good Music Society/EMI, 5224642, CD). The material for the first disc was recorded between 1953 and 1955 and it is not the best one in terms of technical quality. The second disc is a very recent production, with all advantages and disadvantages of that fact. Both showed big virtual sources, splendid timbre and very good dynamics. Both with their limits. The energy was not lacking here, and what struck me most, was the very well led contrabass from the MJQ disc. No, it does not go far down, but the sound coherence was kept, allowing the microdynamics and low level information to be reproduced freely. And those are responsible for the credibility of the transmission, and knowing that this is a reproduction and not the live event we do not care, as we know it sounds brilliantly.
Those micro-information allows for a certain trick: the loudspeakers present a big, saturated (for such small speakers) sound stage, not only between them, but also around them. This was heard best on purist recordings (but not only on those) like Heartplay Charliego Hadena i Antonio Forcione (Naim, CD098, CD) or Cafe Blue Patricia Barber issued by First Impression Music (Premonition/First Impression Music, PREM-737-2/FIM CD 010, gold-HDCD). This was especially clear in the first case. Those are only two instruments, recorded together, in one room, so there are connections between them that can not be created artificially. The analog recording was done by using the Nagra IV tape recorder, without any compression, what means high noise levels. With the Xavian the situation was really splendid: the sound came from behind the speakers, more precisely from behind each of the loudspeakers, while the noise stayed around them. It was not that the stage is cut somewhere, but rather the loudspeakers disappeared. One speaks often about disappearing in the context of laying sounds not from the speakers but from inside the stage, but rarely this effect is created as good as it was here. And it is not even about the speakers disappearing, but becoming transparent – everything played between them, from the outside edges, from behind them without any gaps and inconsistencies. Because a similar effect can be achieved with my Dobermann http://highfidelity.pl/!ev/artykuly/18_09_2007/harpia1.html , where a first order cross-over was used and the drivers were mechanically phase corrected I think that it does have something in common with time coherence.
Tiny, but without thin sound. The limits are obvious, the laws of physic cannot be circumvented. But within those boundaries much was achieved. The splendid treble integrated without any stitch with the midrange give a clean, thorough sound. The sound is not artificially energized by upped bass; the low frequency range is just even and falls down outside the frequency response range. Such an accurate approach demands for musical knowledge and specified expectations. The Xavian are no replacement for well done floor standers like F38 Celestiona in terms of the bass line. But if we play small ensembles, older jazz, etc, then we will not especially miss that. Everything will have quite significant size, the stage will be awesome, and the recording will be played back ordinarily – although this is not so obvious – truthfully. We have also to remember, that buying the Xavian we buy the splendid body – aesthetic and with simple class. We should also think about cabling: because inside we find Supra maybe it is a good thought to lead the signal also with cables from that company. I also think that pairing the loudspeakers with the solid company stands will also be advantageous.
The loudspeakers XN 125 Evoluzione from the Czech company Xavian Electronics s.r.o. are the third incarnation of the model XN 125 (based on the model XN 225) brought to market in 1998. Those are two way, bass-reflex stand mount speakers. Although they keep almost identical body some important changes are proposed. But first about the enclosure: it is made from MDF (22mm) and has natural veneer. The front edges are strongly cut. This has no influence on the tweeter emitted wave refraction but is rather related to the design. The front baffle is heavily sloped, to make the loudspeaker time coherent. To simulate the point source as good as it can be done the mid-woofer, 140mm Peerless V-line PL14WJ09, is heavily intruding on the front of the soft dome tweeter. The “fourteen” has a diaphragm from moistened paper and a solid cast spider. The tweeter is a splendid Scan-Speak D2905/9700 with a dampening can on the back. It is equipped in a very low distortion drive. The driver has no Ferro-fluid. The inside of the enclosure is completely filled with squeezed polyurethane foam. The cross-over is mounted on a PCB screwed to the back plate. We have a big air coil there for the mid-woofer. There are also an air coil and polypropylene capacitors for the tweeter. Also one electrolytic capacitor can be found. The internal cabling is done with Supra cables, the model Classic 2.5. The cables are soldered. The bass-reflex funnel is made from aluminum. The wire terminals are single – this is the fantastic model 0730.12 Platinum Signature from the German WBT. The loudspeakers are equipped in classic grilles: a material on a rack from MDF that can be plugged to the loudspeaker by means of plastic pins.
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