Overall and Final Verdict
So it’s important to remember that today we are taking a look at two different products even though both were tested together. When I started my testing I set out to find out if moving to the X7 with a pair of bookshelf speakers would be a major improvement over some of the high end PC audio solutions. The short answer to that is a resounding yes, the X7 and XM7’s performed great and the difference between them and past PC speaker setups was night and day. I did find that the pair was lacking a little on the low end when compared to the two 2.1 setups that I had used previously but adding a powered sub would help in that department. Beyond we proved that the PC speaker setups on the market are lacking and that to go high end like our PCs going with an X7 and something designed for studio use is a much better option.
The XM7’s performed well but really it was the X7 that stood out to me during all of my testing. For the most part I think I could replace the XM7’s with a lot of different speaker setups, some that cost a lot less even, but I don’t think there is anything else like the X7 on the market. There are DACs and amps that will get you a similar audio experience but the X7 stands out because of its connection options. Not only can you hook it up to a PC via USB like I did for testing, but it has everything needed to integrate other audio components, to use it in a home theatre, or even hooking up your game consoles. I would love to see a future model have HDMI pass-through to pick up audio easier in those setups but beyond that you can’t ask for much more. Add to all of that the mobile connection options though and the X7 is on its own. You can use NFC and connect via bluetooth or if you prefer a hard wired approach you can use your device as a USB host for the best possible audio quality.
The X7 works well at my desktop audio solution but I think for people using a laptop who like to come home and have the best possible audio experience the X7 is really going to work for you. If you are lazy you can just have your laptop sync via bluetooth but you will lose audio quality, but with both Mac and PC support hooking up via USB is going to give you a proper audio upgrade on a laptop, something that you can’t exactly just pop a new sound card into.
Beyond the performance when using speakers, the X7 has the built in headphone stand and full support for high impedance headphones for audiophiles who need power to push their high end headphones. Really I only had a few issues with the X7. For starters I would love to see a volume indicator for the volume control, it’s okay when using the X7 with a PC because it shows the windows volume setting but when using it with other devices there is no indication of how far it is turned up. I would also like to see larger rubber feet on the bottom, when trying to mute the volume by pushing the volume knob in I would just slide the X7 across my desk. I also think that an input indicator and way to select them on the device would make it a better all-around device. The software is nice, but having to go into it to flip between devices isn’t always the best option.
The E-MU XM7’s individually are a good pair of speakers. In testing they had especially clean mids and highs. Being a bookshelf speaker they are very versatile and can be used as office speakers as I used them or to fill out sound anywhere around your house. Multiple times in my coverage today I have mentioned that they lacked a little on the low end but let me be clear, this is only in comparison to 2.1 setups that have a powered subwoofer. Individually they still sound great and they do have enough bass to rattle things around when pushed, but there is only so much that can be done in a bookshelf form factor with five inch woofers. The other issue I had with them was in their price point, there are a few good budget bookshelf speakers that could fill the same role as the XM7’s. For example, the Pioneer SP-BS22-LR’s or bookshelf speakers from Dayton Audio. That said what helps the E-MU XM7’s in this situation is the work they put in making sure the X7 and the XM7’s work perfectly together. In fact if you are looking to pick up the pair you can save $140 right off the top by buying the X7 and XM7’s together, that’s enough to change the price discussion completely.
So would I recommend going with the X7? Well let’s be clear, this is an expensive option and I think most people are looking at PC speakers that cost a lot less than what the combination of the X7 and XM7 cost together. But if you are looking for a versatile setup that is going to go with your new triple Titan X build this is a great option. I know I plan on keeping the X7 and XM7 for a long time. I plan on adding a powered subwoofer to add a little immersion when watching movies and playing some games and if I had my pick I would be running the X7 Limited Edition to have even more power when pushing the XM7’s. But until then you will find me jamming away while working.
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