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Boston Acoustics E-Series E60 and E50 Speakers with XB6 Subwoofer

Part II

July, 2007

Piero Gabucci

 

E60 Monitor

The heart of this package is the E60 which is a two-way design using a 5 ¼" woofer and the polished 1" VRNO tweeter. The unit stands a bit more than 12" tall, 9" wide, 7 ¼" deep, and weighs 16 pounds. It represents the jump from the E50 unit by upgrading from a standard 1" aluminum tweeter to the proprietary VRH.O.™ tweeter.

The magnetically shielded E60 provides a wide frequency response from 60 Hz -30 kHz and a sensitivity of 90 dB. Recommended are power requirements ranging from 50-250 watts. As with the entire line, these are 8 ohm speakers. Through the heavy front screen is a noticeable front port.

Boston Acoustics refers to their woofer design as incorporating DCD™ (Deep Channel Design) and by their definition, allows for greater excursion. Mounted in front of the tweeter Boston Acoustics touts an AMD™ (Amplitude Modification Device) allowing a smoother response through the audible spectrum, and beyond.

All E-Series units come with solid five-way binding posts and can be bi-wired or bi-amplified. The back is nicely designed for wire management, and in fact it continues into the stands if chosen. If you opt to mount the units on the wall, a bracket is available.

Mounted on the 27" tall EFL aluminum stand, the E60 has a spacey ergonomic look. The lines of the speakers which include no 90 degree edges flow through the stands from top to bottom. It's actually very elegant, as the color flows from the speaker through the stand. The cast base is wide and solid, with carpet spikes (looks like a free-weight laying flat on the ground). The tube is hollow for wires, and the cap is identical to the bottom mounting plate on the speaker.

E50 Center Channel

The E50 is very much the same as the E60, yet its profile is smaller at 6" versus 7 ½" and its length is longer, 18" versus 12 ¾". It accommodates a second DCD woofer although smaller at 4 ½". The 1" tweeter is not the VRH.O.™ but the older VR design.

As a center channel, it comes furnished with a "pillow" – a curved stand allowing the speaker to be cradled and angled to the listening area with a 15% range.

XB6 Powered Subwoofer

This represents a new line of subs from Boston Acoustics with four sizes available. The XB6 is the second largest with a 12" front firing Deep Channel™ driver. The design compliments the E-Series, especially the ebony walnut vinyl veneer. It stands 13 ¾" high, 15 ½" wide, and about 14" deep. The weight is 28 pounds.

It's rated to deliver a substantial 625 watts of dynamic power and 200 watts @ 50 Hz into 4 ohms. It sports a flush volume control right on top for easy and quick adjustments. On the rear you'll find both line and speaker level inputs. Along with an on/off switch, the removable power cord is always welcome.

The XB6 can automatically detect a signal with an auto on/off switch, and if you want more control (than through your processor), a polarity switch and a crossover adjustment from 50 to 150 are provided. A nice touch are the recommendations right on the rear for crossover settings. Second only in size to the larger XB8, the XB6 will dip down to 29 Hz within ± 3 dB.

This subwoofer features BassTrac® from Boston Acoustics. Essentially the circuit tracks the input signal and prevents the internal amplifier from being driven to a point of distortion – thus resulting in an even and clean playback.

The fit and finish are consistent with the high quality I find throughout the E-Series line. Astoundingly the veneer is said to be vinyl, yet I would swear is real wood veneer that matches the side panels on the E60s. The edges are chamfered and rounded for a more elegant look. The unit is also surprisingly quite light for a subwoofer this large at a mere 28 pounds.

Like the other speakers in the E-Series, the XB6 metal grille is fixed, yet a front port is clearly seen along side the driver.

Setup

As I mentioned, I do very much like the look and size of the E60 units on stands, and they are not imposing at all, in fact they seem to feel quite naturally scaled in my living room setting. My modest space is 12 ft wide by 17 ft deep with standard 8 foot ceilings. That places the front speakers about 8 feet apart. Out of necessity, the subwoofer is placed near a corner, about 3 feet from each wall.

I used an Anthem D1 processor and Rotel power amplifier for all movie and music playback. I used a few sources for DVD and music playback including the McCormack UDP-1 universal player. Last but not least the power cables used were by Wireworld and interconnect and speaker cables by Ethereal.

The Sound

From the onset, I will say I have truly enjoyed the sophisticated sound I've experienced from the E-Series. I refer to an envelope created of polished and natural music. The dispersion and non-directional character from the E-Series fills the room rather than identifying the sound path from the speaker to you ears.

As a complete package, I very much thought the E-Series exceeded my expectations from the surround units through the subwoofer. The XB6 easily handled my room and complimented the E60s nicely. In fact, a subwoofer like this can accommodate a larger room without stress.

For example, Snakes on Planes is a bass-intensive movie, and the XB6 sub handled this campy flying horror's crackling and thunder with ease. Bass was tight and explosive, with not even the slightest boom, which means low distortion.

That's not to say it wasn't as tamed with music where I did need to make adjustments on the fly with multi-channel discs. Although my processor allows a modification with a ± dB control, I found it also simple enough to make the slightest adjustments with the volume control on top.

With the Love or hate the Beatles DVD-Audio version of the popular stage show in Las Vegas, I found the tracks refreshing and wonderful in surround. The E-Series handles the first track "Because" with plenty of air around the vocals, spatially and completely holographic.

I found the E60s generally very smooth – treble through the midrange - listening to guitars and violins had believable tonal qualities. Listening in stereo with the XB6 subwoofer active, Hilary Hahn's violin and Natalie Zhu's piano collaboration on Mozart's Violin Sonatas were delightfully rendered. Highs were adequately extended, and the E-Series created enough warmth and texture to do the duet justice.

Conclusions

I find the E-Series an impeccable bit of engineering - outwardly the precision of design, and execution of each piece, each turn of an end cap. I love the fact that with all this high-tech look, that BA "warmed up" the look of the speaker with the high polished cherry veneer or the low-luster black ebony walnut flush-mounted side panel.

I'm quite impressed by the Boston Sound™ - in fact I believe the E-Series sets a precedent in this price range for performance and value. I would gladly make this my everyday theater speaker system.


- Piero Gabucci -

© Copyright 2007 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

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