X3's are here! Unboxing, setup and Initial listening impressions

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Onadifferentnote

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Re: X3's are here! Unboxing and setup
« Reply #20 on: 6 Nov 2021, 04:48 pm »
I have 2 systems, the Super 7's are still kicking butt in my downstairs system.

Well, when you have a little more time with the X-3's and they are fully broken in, will you kindly share your honest feedback on the pro's and cons on these two well respected speakers?
Myself and a whole of folks are very interested in an objective comparison. 

With thanks

Tyson

Re: X3's are here! Unboxing and setup
« Reply #21 on: 6 Nov 2021, 05:04 pm »
Tyson,

Very nice. I stopped by the Spatial audio rum at the Capital Audio Fest and they were using a version of the X5’s without a plate amp. They sounded very nice.

Yes, my experience has been that Spatial always gets really good sound at shows.  But it's because Clayton is cheating.  It's literally 10x easier to get a good OB speaker to sound good in a difficult room than it is a box speaker in that same room.  Ask me how I know that, lol!!

Tyson.  Stop listening to music and tell us some details (LOL).  I'm curious about your positioning, especially distance from the MLP.  Also, your thoughts on the AMT driver.  I love listening to my X3s.  Take a listen to my most recent recommendation.  Available on Qobuz now (24/192).  Search for Honeck Brahms.  Even David Hurwitz at Classics Today loves the performance.

Marcus

Burn In Notes:
Ah, didn't know anyone was waiting on impressions.  I learned that Clayton use the Vcap ODAM caps in the crossover, which are probably the best caps out there outside of maybe some of the Duelund ultra-premium caps.  I should know, I've tried most of them in my DAC or in my 1 solid state amp and 7 different tube amps.  The ODAM caps are just about as close to perfectly neutral as you can get.  And dynamic sounding as hell.  But they take a looooooong time to burn in.  Like 500 hours.  I had Clayton run them in for 7 days at the factory, so they already had 170 hours on them when they arrive.  I've been putting about 20 hours per day on them since they got here 6 days ago.  So that's almost 300 hours. 

Then yesterday I realized I'd made a mistake.  Because the top end had really opened up and started to sound very nice, but the bass was.... uhm.... constipated.  Doh, I had only used pink noise and no deep bass frequency sweeps.  So I ran some 20hz bass tones through them for a few hours last night and this morning.  Ah, that's better!!!  Bass is coming in very nicely now.  One word of caution if you do bass sweeps.  LOOK AT THE DRIVER WHEN IT'S PLAYING.  Do NOT allow it to go past a half inch of movement.  I actually ran it a 1/3rd of an inch movement and that was plenty.  You just want to do enough that it loosens up the spider and surrounds a bit, you do NOT want to hit the excursion limits.  So be careful. 

A little history:
As you may know, I had the hotrodded Klipsch Forte III in here before.  "Hotrodded" is a bit misleading, it was more like "ripped them apart and rebuilt them from the ground up to be a reference level horn/box speaker".  I was actually very happy with them most of the time.  The tonal balance was smooth, beautiful, rich, emotional.  And they were nice and punchy, lively and dynamic (as they should be at 99db efficiency).  So, if I liked my rebuilt Forte's so much, why even consider getting something else?  Oh, one word - the ROOM.  The right side of my room is closed off (a corner) and the other side is open to a different room.  So the right speaker always loaded the room more than the left.  Even with messing with placement and even using pretty sophisticated electric EQ, it was never resolved very well.  In fact it was like Chinese water torture.  Every time those bass notes hit and resonated the whole room it was like "drip, drip, drip".  After 2 years of fighting with it, I just couldn't bear it.  So, time to move to something OB.  Then I heard Mike Galusha's system that had similar mid/tweeter drivers as the X3 and it was very, very good.  A bit later, I heard the X2's at Steven Stones place with a Pass X30 driving it and it was one of the best setup's I'd ever heard from an imaging and soundstaging and resolution standpoint.  Plus, I also have the GR Research Super 7's downstairs in my main system in a dedicated room (along with my projector and HT stuff).  So I had a very high bar that I was hoping the X3's would reach.  But in truth I'd never heard the X3's before I ordered them back in August.  In fact, I'd never heard them until they showed up in their giant boxes this past Monday. 

Initial Listening Impressions:
Dropped them into place of the Klipsch, dialed up the sub volume to 80%, queued up the first song and I can only think of one word to describe them.  And that word is "holyfuckingshit!"  Haha oh man these are SO MUCH BETTER than my rebuilt Forte's it's not even funny.  Immediately all the bass issues and problems and lumpiness as SOLVED.  Instantly.  No EQ, no messing with position, nothing.  Just plop the speakers down and they immediately crush the box based competition.  Astonishing.  I was literally giggling like a little girl.  I could immediately tell that these were just in a different class than my box speakers were.  Were they similar in level as my Super 7's downstairs?  Hard to say because they needed burn in (and still do), but I could tell immediately that both speakers were both at similar levels of overall performance (ie, world class).  Even though the X3 is a killer sounding speaker right out of the box, it still needs a LOT of burn in.  It never sounded 'bad' during the past week, but there were days they sounded more bright and other days they sounded really muted and veiled.  All part of the burn in process, so just be patient and push through it. 

Current Listening Impressions:
As I said, I'm about 300 hours into these guys now and can say that they've filled in, smoothed out and the bass in particular has opened up and become fulsome, while also being very punchy and tight.  They don't do SUPER deep, maybe around 28hz with full power, but that's plenty for just about anything except pipe organ music.  The other thing I love is just how evenly they load the entire room with sound.  And that sound really is focused in to the room itself.  If I go off to one side (toward my office), then the sound (especially the bass) drops off dramatically.  This is GREAT, because my whole house doesn't resonate and vibrate when listening.  The high intensity part of the music it projected mostly into the living room, which is where I want it. 

Hopefully this is good, I'll do a full review in another week or so, and do much more detailed comparisons between the X3's, the Forte's and the Super 7's.

Onadifferentnote

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Re: X3's are here! Unboxing and setup
« Reply #22 on: 6 Nov 2021, 05:23 pm »



Thank you for your impressions and the upcoming comparisons!

Daryl Zero

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Thanks. Similar to my impressions of the X5s and I didn't have to worry about break in.

As I climbed the ladder with speakers, I would always listen and then fret about something not quite right or something missing. These speakers I just love more and more each time I listen.

Desertpilot

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Re: X3's are here! Unboxing and setup
« Reply #24 on: 6 Nov 2021, 06:57 pm »
Burn In Notes:
Ah, didn't know anyone was waiting on impressions.

Yes!  Waiting.  Thank you Tyson for providing these initial impressions.

Initial Listening Impressions:
... I can only think of one word to describe them.  And that word is "holyfuckingshit!"  ...Astonishing.  I was literally giggling like a little girl.

Well, that about sums up my thoughts exactly.

Hopefully this is good, I'll do a full review in another week or so, and do much more detailed comparisons between the X3's, the Forte's and the Super 7's.

Looking forward to more of your impressions.

Marcus

Early B.

Great news!!!

Here's my best guess at what Tyson's impressions will be: X3's highs are better than the Super 7's (more reserved and definitely more resolving), mids are close (not-so-subtlely different, with a preference for the Super 7's due to his musical tastes), and the bass is better overall on the Super 7's (no surprise there). Then he'll say the perfect speaker would be the Super 7's with the X3 tweeter while extolling the benefits of a horn.   

mkrawcz

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Knowing ODAMs are in the crossover makes me want these even more. Those caps made a dramatic improvement in the tweeter circuit of my NX-Oticas and NX-Studios.

Desertpilot

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Re: X3's are here! Unboxing and setup
« Reply #27 on: 10 Nov 2021, 02:10 pm »

Initial Listening Impressions:
Dropped them into place of the Klipsch, dialed up the sub volume to 80%

I've kept my X3 sub volume at 80% myself for most music.  However, for symphonic music, I dial the subs to 100% so the plucking of the double basses match the rest of the orchestra.  Just a personal preference.

abomwell

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I have my subs at 100% but use room correction to lop off the highest peaks. That brings up the rest of the bass to a naturally elevated concert hall level.

RonP

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Knowing ODAMs are in the crossover makes me want these even more.

+1

Tyson, thanks for the write-up!

franSSS

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Fine job on the feedback Tyson :popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn: :thumb:

Ozspace

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Hello Tyson, Desertpilot and co.

I am partly blaming you guys for being so interested in the X3s. - your postings are too good to be ignored.

The unboxing shows that the speakers appear to be well protected in their packing (which will be needed for a trip to Australia) and your feedback/listening notes etc have only served to make me even more keen (if that was possible) to get a set of these speakers, once I know what I am up for in terms of transport (plus other duties upon arrival in the country).

As soon as I have my ducks in a row.....order completion will be happening.

In the meantime thank you for your thoughts on your new speakers.

Desertpilot

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Ozspace, you are most welcome.  Just as a tease, suddenly today, after owning my X3s for 6 months with a few hundred hours on them, they sound noticeably better than ever.  I'm not kidding.  Generally I do not notice subtle changes.  So, for me to notice a big change (for the better) is saying something.

Tyson - I'm looking at you six months from now.  I can't wait to hear your thoughts (LOL).

Marcus

DBT AUDIO

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Re: X3's are here! Unboxing and setup
« Reply #33 on: 12 Nov 2021, 02:27 am »
I've kept my X3 sub volume at 80% myself for most music.  However, for symphonic music, I dial the subs to 100% so the plucking of the double basses match the rest of the orchestra.  Just a personal preference.
I have the X5s and would love to hear the difference in the bass between the X3 and X5.  I keep my subwoofer set at about 95% at all times and it's ok for the majority of music I listen too, but not as tout as I would like.  If I had to do it all over again, I probably would have purchased the X3s, assuming they have a tad bit more bass?

geerock

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Re: X3's are here! Unboxing and setup
« Reply #34 on: 12 Nov 2021, 04:00 pm »
I have the X5s and would love to hear the difference in the bass between the X3 and X5.  I keep my subwoofer set at about 95% at all times and it's ok for the majority of music I listen too, but not as tout as I would like.  If I had to do it all over again, I probably would have purchased the X3s, assuming they have a tad bit more bass?

Are you saying you keep your X5's at 95% bass or a separate subwoofer?  If you have a separate sub then here is this..........
I've heard both, although in separate systems, and I don't recognize any difference in bass output.  They are both rated to go down to the same 25 hertz and I maybe, MAYBE, hear that the 5's are just a tad quicker.  I suspect that what you are hearing is your sub that is out of whack with your 5's.  I went through this same problem when I had Magnepans.  I was trying every high end large sub I could get my hands on and always had that muddled bass where the tones were still hanging around after the Maggies had moved on.  They were simply too slow and you could hear there was no symmetry between the sub and the main speakers.  Then I was in a local audio shop and an experienced old timer suggested I try a sealed sub with a smaller driver and gave me a couple of recommendations.  The first one I tried was a powered, sealed sub with a powered 10 inch woofer by Martin Logan.  I knew after listening for just a few minutes that the problem had been solved.  You see, Martin Logan builds very fast electrostats for their main speaker line and had developed their subs to integrate well with those speakers.  The sealed enclosure and smaller driver simply damped much faster than the behemoths that I had been trying.  I still use that M&L with my X'5 to this day, although very sparingly as I'm very happy with the sub that comes with the Spatials.  The best part was.....the new in box ML was less than 600 bucks.  I truly don't think you need to go to X3's.  I think you will be hearing the same thing you have now, maybe even a little worse.  Anyway, all the best to you and good luck.

Tyson

Hey, sorry I've been lax in replying here - I had sinus surgery on Tuesday and it kind of kicked my butt.  You guys might not know it but I also got a new DAC (finally found a new DAC that had more tubes than my old DAC, lol).  So it's been burning in, too. It arrived at just about the same time the X3's came & I added some Duelund copper bypass caps to the output about a week ago.  Which means the DAC and they speakers are BOTH burning in. 

Today I'm somewhat feeling back to myself, so time for some updates/replies!

Thanks. Similar to my impressions of the X5s and I didn't have to worry about break in.

As I climbed the ladder with speakers, I would always listen and then fret about something not quite right or something missing. These speakers I just love more and more each time I listen.

Daryl Zero,
Agreed!  Often in the high end audio hobby we change to something new and it's more of a step sideways than a step up.  Which means most upgrades are fun for a while but they don't stick, necessarily.  But sometimes... sometimes we end up with something that's a true step up over what we've used before, and that's certainly true of the X3's for me. 

Great news!!!

Here's my best guess at what Tyson's impressions will be: X3's highs are better than the Super 7's (more reserved and definitely more resolving), mids are close (not-so-subtlely different, with a preference for the Super 7's due to his musical tastes), and the bass is better overall on the Super 7's (no surprise there). Then he'll say the perfect speaker would be the Super 7's with the X3 tweeter while extolling the benefits of a horn.   

Early B,
What, another prediction!  I loved your last prediction (from the Forte III Hotrodding thread).

We'll see how it goes as burn in finishes up over the next few days, but from what I'm hearing so far... well I'll let Jason (Pez) sum it up in his comment when he was over the other day & we listened to both systems.  First, we both agreed that the Super 7's and the X3's were absolutely great speakers, and even shared many design elements (powered bass, planars/ribbons, high efficiency, open baffle).  Jason said "You know, for speakers so similar in design, these 2 speakers sound about as far apart from each other as 2 OB speakers I've ever heard."  I agree.  And I'll also add that it's a GOOD thing.  These 2 sets of speakers have a lot of overlap and they both do everything to an exceptional level (especially when compared to ALL the competition out there), but when compared to each other, they have VERY different strengths, weaknesses and voicings.  And I couldn't be happier about it, I love that.  I'll expand on it more when I do the full review in a bit.

Knowing ODAMs are in the crossover makes me want these even more. Those caps made a dramatic improvement in the tweeter circuit of my NX-Oticas and NX-Studios.

mkwrawz,
Yes Clayton clearly has an excellent ear and a willingness to use the very best parts to get these speakers to the elite level that they are at.

Hello Tyson, Desertpilot and co.

I am partly blaming you guys for being so interested in the X3s. - your postings are too good to be ignored.

The unboxing shows that the speakers appear to be well protected in their packing (which will be needed for a trip to Australia) and your feedback/listening notes etc have only served to make me even more keen (if that was possible) to get a set of these speakers, once I know what I am up for in terms of transport (plus other duties upon arrival in the country).

As soon as I have my ducks in a row.....order completion will be happening.

In the meantime thank you for your thoughts on your new speakers.

Ozspace,
Welcome to the family!  Even with the extra hassle of long range shipping, the X series is still absolutely worth it.  I've actually done a fair bit of DIY speakers in my past and I was going to build something like the X3's on my own, but at a certain point in my research I realized that I might be able to get close to the X3's, but I woudn't be able to surpass it.  Hell I couldn't even build them for much cheaper than what Clayton sells them.  To me, that makes them both world class (in absolute performance) and a stone cold bargain.


Everyone else,
re: the bass, here's my 2c.  I've gone from 80% to about 90% on my settings too.  I talked with Clayton and he said he set it up that way on purpose, that the correct settings for most people will be very the upper end of the volume control.  I've not heard the X5, but looking at the bass driver in it, it looks very similar in design to the woofers used in my Super 7's downstairs.  If that's true, then the 12 inch woofer in the X5 is designed to have a much larger excursion than the woofer in the X3.  But the X3 driver is bigger and has less maximum movement.  The net result is a wash, in terms of total bass output.  The X3 doesn't have to move as much front to back to get the same output as the X5, because a 15 inch driver has more surface are than a 12 inch driver.  The X3 driver is constructed more like a typical pro-style woofer (paper woofer, stiff suspension/spider, stiff accordion-style surround.  Based on hearing a lot of designs of the years, the X3's bass will be a bit more tight and tactile up through the midbass, while the X5 will have more grunt and power in the mid/deep bass.  Again, just me speculating but based on hearing how these different drivers sound in other applications gives a pretty good idea.  Other than the bass though, the X5's and X3's should sound identical.  The X5's might image better though, because they are smaller/narrower and that always helps speakers disappear better. 

Right now I definitely do not feel the need for a sub, the X3s go down strong to 25hz in my room, and as long as they can hit those very low notes with power, that's all I need. 

HOWEVER, if anyone else here IS considering getting a sub, please please please take my strong advice and get the servo OB subs that GR Research offers.  They are the ONLY subs on the market that are in the same (thoroughbred) class as the X series.  There's 4 main ways to design a subwoofer - Infinite Baffle, ported, sealed and OB. I've heard a ton of each.  Infinite Baffle and ported are always terrible matches for great OB speakers like the X series.  Sealed is better, but OB is best.  Especially the servo controlled OB bass that Danny uses. 

Daryl Zero

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I have my bass settings up pretty high as well on my X5s. I'm glad to hear that is the norm. I think it's mainly about making sure you are doing something wrong since when I've set up subwoofers before I'm usually at about 1/2 volume. Thanks for the information about Clayton's direction on it.

Early B.

We'll see how it goes as burn in finishes up over the next few days, but from what I'm hearing so far... well I'll let Jason (Pez) sum it up in his comment when he was over the other day & we listened to both systems. 

Oh, this is cool -- y'all are gonna bring back the old days when you both reviewed the same systems. It will be interesting to hear what both of you have to say.

And don't leave us hanging -- what DAC did you get???

Krpoin

As mentioned by others here, the X3s will sound suddenly magical one day when they’re broken in. I’m amazed at mine every time I listen to music. The bass is spectacular, as is the overall soundstage. Clayton really knows how to produce a superlative speaker.






Tyson

Oh, this is cool -- y'all are gonna bring back the old days when you both reviewed the same systems. It will be interesting to hear what both of you have to say.

And don't leave us hanging -- what DAC did you get???


Went from an iFi iDSD Pro:


To a Musical Paradise MP-D2 mk3, which is ridiculously overbuilt as a DAC but is perfect for my upstairs system since I don't have room for a dedicated preamp upstairs.  Plus, has real tube rectification AND lets me use the superlative 12BH7 output tubes?  Sign me up!   It also measures very well on the bench: