Important Specs Overview
Speaker type: passive, 2-way, front ported
Continuous power handling: 30 W*
Peak power handling: 100 W
Impedance: 8 ohms
Sensitivity: 87 dB/W/m
Frequency response range: 40 – 20k
Driver size: 6.5 in
Unit weight: 37 lbs
Cabinet dimensions: 9.5 x 13.5 x 39 in (width x depth x height)
Warranty: 2 years
*When nominal/RMS power isn’t specified by manufacturer, we use an approximation of ~30% of the specified peak/dynamic power for comparison purposes.
Review And Discussion
The SX speaker series is Cambridge Audio’s so called “entry level” lineup, and it includes a single pair of tower speakers reviewed herein: the SX-80s.
These floorstanding tower speakers are clearly intended to be the main satellite speakers in a home theater system, but the power specs are just frankly lacking for that purpose. A 30W speaker with an 87 sensitivity rating is something that will sound good at near/mid-field range, but will it get loud enough in a full sized home theater setting? Probably not.
The quoted response floor of 40 Hz is quite good, as it is for the bookshelf speakers in the same lineup. But, the problem is a 2-way speaker without a dedicated subwoofer just can’t produce truly full bass. You can’t serve two masters with a single midrange driver/crossover: if you try and force its range to go lower, the midrange will suffer, and a smaller driver won’t ever be able to compete with a full sized 12+ inch subwoofer. Since Cambridge doesn’t specify a variance in the frequency response range (less than 3 dB is the common standard), the volume will almost certainly drop off above 40 Hz.
One of the advantage of tower speakers is that they can be big enough to fit a second crossover and a dedicated subwoofer so you don’t have to buy and add one separately. This is called a 3-way design, and there are many such great alternative tower speakers on the market.
The tweeter and drivers are a silk and paper blend respectively, which, if well built, has the potential to sound really rich and warm, especially at closer range and lower volume. The drawback is that they’re more prone to wear and tear, and this is especially a concern with the SX-80s since Cambridge has a pretty bare minimum two year warranty.
How do they look? Decent, but pretty basic. About on par with any standard entry level speaker.
Our Overall Take, As Compared To The Competition
If you feel the tone of this review is mostly critical then you are indeed right: it’s hard to recommend these for the current price-tier their in when they just don’t seem to bring anything to the table to justify it, even if they did sound outstandingly amazing with a listening test. The SX speakers are a bit older, and while they may have been more competitive at the time of their release, there have since come about many other competitors in the same price range that have much better specs, design, and warranty coverage. The SX tower speakers also now have limited availability anyhow.