Releasing a new pair of stand-mounted, active designs bristling with connectivity options, Paul Rigby reviews the Tune 4 speakers
Active speakers are becoming increasingly useful in terms of broadcasting digital content and being able to handle the signals from a range of new and varied music-holding sources. Hence, today’s active designs tend to offer a range of connectivity options.
This new design from the Swedish company offers a 50W amplifier, 25mm dome tweeters plus 120mm mid/bass units. The silk dome tweeter is designed as a waveguide, while the midrange driver is runs as a C-Cone chassis with a very strong magnet.
There is also a free Dirac Audio Processor DSP software available that changes the inherent EQ to offer six different listening modes that can be utilised by Windows, OS X, iOS and Android devices. This can be used in conjunction with the accompanying plugs for the bass reflex tubes at the back of each speaker.
The most noticeable aspect of the speaker design is the inclined baffle to use on a lower positioned shelf or stand. When used at ear level, the Tune 4 can be placed in an upright position with a supplied extra foot.
Connections include Bluetooth (4.0 with aptX) 3.5mm jack or, indeed S/PDIF and optical. Gold plated terminal screws connect to the slave speaker, there’s RCA sockets for a subwoofer plus another USB that serves as a charging port.
An all-aluminium remote control is also provided, a CNC-milled object, created from from a solid block of aluminium.
Available in black or white, the speakers weigh in at 6.6kg for the pair.
To begin, I wanted to test the speakers from a broad, more lifestyle viewpoint which meant Bluetooth and my iPhone 6 playing a basic MP3-based track. Turning on the speakers and then Bluetooth on my phone allowed the XTZs to appear on my Bluetooth phone list. A quick press on the device on my phone screen coupled with the pressing of the Pair button on the speaker’s remote control secured the connection.
Once the Bluetooth connection was complete, who better to listen to in this mode than Kylie Minogue? I played a track from her Abbey Road Sessions called All The Lovers. Before I played the track I selected the Bluetooth connection on the cycling input button on the remote (indicated by a blue light). Set-up and play was very easy while the play back was a pleasant surprise. Yes, this was MP3, with all is attendant problems in terms of restricted dynamics and clipped upper mids but the XTZs did the very best it could with the format. In fact, it went above and beyond the call of duty and created a rich sound (for such a hateful sound format, that is). Acoustic guitar strumming at the start was surprisingly metallic and detailed while bass response had a punch and weight that not only belied the replay format but also the size of the chassis.
I experienced no issues with the Bluetooth stream itself, no drop-outs and no variation in sound quality.
I then turned to my Astell & Kern AK120 and connected this to the Tune 4s via the optical socket. I played Dire Straits’ Money For Nothing at 24bit/96kHz and decided to test these little cabinets to the limit so I pushed the value up hard and hung on. As Sting’s introductory vocal soared and the volume built, the XTZs performed well, then the volume hit a crescendo, the drums exploded and the XTZs ran every step of the way. This test was in a large room which the speakers filled with aplomb. In addition, there was no cone break-up at very high volumes, the speakers successfully tracked the music at all times with no distortion or noise to mar the performance. Remarkable for such small speakers.
At the same resolution, I then turned to Bob Marley’s Jamming to test the bass response which, again, surprise and delighted. For such small cabinets, the XTZs provided relatively deep bass response. They certainly did nothing to disappoint on this bass-heavy track while the upper mids utilised via the secondary percussion where clear and open. OK, the internal amplifier couldn’t produce the finesse and the delicacy of a more expensive separate amplifier but the response was still enjoyable and very musical in that all sonic frequencies felt balanced and in proportion.
I tried the pairing as part of a near field system with my iMac as a SSD-powered source on my office desk so see how the relative position of my ears and a lower volume would affect the character of the XTZs.
In this configuration, what I lost was bass punch but, at this listening distance, I was glad of the fact. What I gained, in return, was an added sense of space and air with a large soundstage expanse that gave the music a quite epic feel. Upper mids were light, quite delicate and fast with it. In transient terms, the music was sprightly and precise but there was plenty of vocal presence to add emotion and meaning to the vocal delivery.
I then moved back to Bluetooth, in this near field format and played Carol Kidd’s A Nightingale Sand in Berkeley Square via a 16bit/44.1kHz WAV file via Audirvana Plus and was happy to hear Kidd’s expressive vocal as it hung in the centre of the stereo image, providing a pleasing 3D image. Her jazz backing group offered plenty of clarity around percussion, guitar and piano with no disturbing blurring around the sonic edges. The guitar solo was detailed with admirable accuracy while the piano offered a pleasantly dynamic performance that added atmosphere and vitality to the song.
Whether you decide to use these speakers as part of a near field system in a bedroom or office environment or as an important part in a main hifi set-up, the XTZs will give you plenty of connectivity options that should satisfy your digital needs. Perfect for the beginner looking to create a neat, low footprint, system, those in a small flat with space problems, the experienced user looking for a second system or for the music fan looking for easy of use and convenience, the Tune 4s offer the perfect choice.
XTZ TUNE 4 ACTIVE SPEAKERS
Tel: +46(0)345 20049
GOOD: feature count, big sound from a small chassis, admirable overall sound quality, ease of use, price
REFERENCE SYSTEM USED
Wilson Benesch Circle turntable
Wilson Benesch ACT 0.5 arm
Benz Glider cartridge
Icon Audio PS3 phonostage
Aesthetix Calypso pre-amp
Icon Audio MB 845 Mk.II monoblocks
Roth OLI POWA5 active speakers
Vertex AQ & Atlas cabling