Bookshelf Speakers

Crystal Acoustics TX-B1 Bookshelf Speakers

ARTICLE INDEX

Introduction

Crystal Acoustics is an on-line company that manufactures speakers, media players, and other accessories. Their top-of-the-line speaker is priced at $33,000/pair, which is very unusual in the on-line speaker business. Fortunately, for the majority of us, they also make very affordable speakers, some of which we have reviewed. The current review examines the TX-B1, which is a bookshelf speaker that has the woofer in the main enclosure, and a completely separate (but attached) enclosure for the tweeter. It has a very high quality sound, is well constructed, and sells for only $349/pair.

Specifications

  • Design: Two-Way, Ported (Woofer Enclosure); Sealed (Tweeter Enclosure)
  • Drivers: One 1" Silk Dome Tweeter in Aluminum Enclosure, One 7" Crystal Fiber Woofer in Separate Enclosure
  • MFR: 45 Hz - 22 kHz ± 1.5 dB
  • Sensitivity: 89 dB/2.83 Volts/Meter
  • Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
  • Amplifier Power Range: 100-200 Watts
  • Dimensions: 13" H x 7.6" W x 9.1" D
  • Weight: 12.1 Pounds/each
  • 10 Year Warranty
  • Finish: Piano Gloss Black on Top; Black Wood Grain Vinyl on Sides
  • MSRP: $349/pair USA
  • Crystal Acoustics

The Design

In the current economy, we are all being careful about what we buy, and what we have to pay for it. Our audio systems, including home theater, are not excluded from this. Fortunately, there are many companies that sell home theater products in on-line stores, reducing the price by eliminating the brick and mortar retailer. When this first started happening, perhaps a decade ago, with an influx of speakers manufactured overseas, the quality was a gamble. You didn't really know what you would end up with since you could not audition the speakers before purchasing them. Of course, there was always, and still is, a money back guarantee, but it's a hassle to pack them up and return them, not to mention then having to choose something else.

That has changed now, because the products coming from Asian manufacturers are much better quality than they used to be. The serendipity is that the quality has gone up, but the price has not, at least not as much as the quality. So, there are plenty of good, inexpensive speakers to choose from, and Crystal Acoustics is one of them.

The TX-B1 is one of Crystal's bookshelf speaker line. It has a 1" silk dome tweeter mounted in its own enclosure, attached (but rotatable) to the top of the main enclosure, which houses a 7" woofer. The main enclosure is slightly bow-shaped, which not only helps to reduce standing waves inside the enclosure, but adds elegance to their appearance.

It is nominally rated at 8 ohms, with a frequency response down to 45 Hz. The tweeter can rotate on its axis, so if you need to, you can place the speaker on a shelf that is not directed at your listening position, and turn the tweeter so that it faces you.

With a sensitivity of 89 dB, the TX-B1 is suited for mass market receivers, either as mains and surrounds, or as surrounds, with one of Crystal's floor-standing models serving as the mains.


In Use

I tested the TX-B1 with an OPPO BDP-95 universal player, BAT VK-5i preamplifier, and Emotiva XPA-1 monoblock power amplifiers. Cables were Marc Audio.

It really is amazing what $349/pair gets you with these speakers. They sounded very neutral, and that silk dome tweeter maintained detail without excessive sibilance. Really deep bass was not there, but the TX-B1's are designed to be used with a subwoofer if you are using them in a home theater. Nevertheless, even by themselves, there was sufficient bass with most of the music I listened to.

A jazz trio without percussion (drums) is tough to pull off, but Ray Brown on bass, Monte Alexander on piano, and Russell Malone on guitar manage to do it, and the TX-B1 reproduced the sound with clean, clear detail. The string bass had a few notes here and there that would have benefited from a subwoofer, but for the most part, the speakers held their own.

crystal-acoustics-tx-b1-speakers-music-ray-brown

I used this disc to test the transients occurring at the leading edge of Rory Block's steel stringed guitar, while she sang the blues. Sometimes a silk-dome tweeter can be a bit soft in this regard, but that was not the case with the TX-B1's.

crystal-acoustics-tx-b1-speakers-music-rory-block

Tierney Sutton is a good test for female voices, because she has a tremendous range. Sometimes she sounds like Barbra Streisand, and other times, Bette Midler. Smooth as silk, she was, literally.

crystal-acoustics-tx-b1-speakers-music-sutton

Overall, The TX-B1's had a very pleasing sound. I consider them a bargain at $349/pair.


On the Bench

At 50 Hz I could get 95 dB out of the speakers, but distortion was 27%. If you use these in your home theater, I would suggest a crossover frequency of 80 Hz.

crystal-acoustics-tx-b1-speaker-50-Hz

At 1 kHz, the story is much different, with distortion at only 0.8%>

crystal-acoustics-tx-b1-speaker-1-khz

And, at 10 kHz, the speaker produced less than 0.2% THD+N, almost entirely 2nd order.

crystal-acoustics-tx-b1-speaker-10-khz

The THD+N vs. Frequency graph shows a reasonably flat spectrum across the audible band, staying below 1% distortion.

crystal-acoustics-tx-b1-speaker-thd-plus-n-vs-fr-1-khz-set-to-90-db

The quasi-anechoic frequency response was pretty flat from 63 Hz to 20 kHz. (Click on the graphic to enlarge it. Click on it again to return it to the smaller size.)

Although the nominal impedance is 8 ohms, it does dip down to 4 ohms. The spectrum suggests that this will be a relatively easy speaker for receivers to drive.

crystal-acoustics-tx-b1-speaker-impedance-phase


Conclusions

With a smooth sound, handsome looks, and a price of less than $175/each, the TX-B1 is a no-brainer for those on a tight budget. Crystal does have the money back guarantee, but I don't think you will be returning them.