Important Specs Overview
Speaker type: passive, 3-way, 2x back ported
Continuous power handling: 150 W*
Peak power handling: 500 W
Impedance: 6/8 ohms compatible
Sensitivity: 95.3 dB/W/m
Frequency response range: 38 – 20k Hz
Driver size: 6.5 in woofer; 2 x 15 in subwoofer
Unit weight: 116 lbs
Cabinet dimensions: 17 x 21 x 50 in (width x depth x height)
Warranty: 5 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
Cerwin-Vega! (yes, intentional “!”) is a lesser known audio company that has been around since 1953, and produces a variety of large, high-powered HiFi speakers, including the XLS 215, reviewed herein, a title which indeed indicates this extra large floorstanding 3-way speaker with two built in full sized 15 inch subwoofers.
Iterations of this tower speaker have actually been around since the 80s, and while that might seemingly indicate an outdated product, fundamental speaker technology hasn’t actually changed all that much in the last few decades. Indeed, some of the best sounding speakers, to some people at least, are often decades old. Cerwin-Vega! does incrementally tweak and improve their speakers, so they say in their product manuals.
The XLS 215 is very powerful, and very loud at 150 W of (approximated) continuous power handling per with a concurrently high efficiency rating of 95, which will give about double the volume per watt than a speaker with an ~85 efficiency rating would since the dB measurement is logarithmic, just to give you an idea.
The only towers that we’ve seen compare to this are some of Klipsch’s newer reference premiere speakers (Klipsch makes some of the loudest speakers out there), but they’re not 3-way and don’t have built in subwoofers like these do.
3-way speakers have a second crossover that dedicates low sound to dedicated subwoofers, which in this case befit the word’s traditional meaning of literally below the woofer. The advantage with this design is you get a true standalone speaker that can fully reproduce the entire range of sound when you otherwise would need a separate subwoofer. The disadvantage is size limitations since most speakers aren’t built big enough to house a full sized subwoofer within it. Well, the XLS 215 simply embraces this by being massive. They’re wide, and heavy, so you’ll have to lug them into place. But once their placed on the ground you’re done. Also nice in this case is two back facing ports so you can pretty much place them on any surface you want, whereas external subwoofers often have bottom firing ports that require a hard surface to function properly.
One other advantage of external subwoofers is that they’re usually powered, which takes the brunt off a receiver. The XLS 215 is fully passive, including the dual subwoofers, so you’ll definitely need a higher end receiver that can sufficiently power a pair, especially if you’re using a lower 6 ohm impedance.
In addition to the 2x cast frame woofers you have an interestingly designed cone woofer and dome tweeter that are both loaded into a horn. That generally results in a sound that’s a little more boomy and far reaching – great for movies and games, and some music, but some people tend not to prefer it.
The speakers look pretty intimidating, for those who like that kind of thing. The red trim on the woofers is kind of jarring and juvenile looking in our opinion, and doesn’t contrast well when opaqued with the cover, but whatever. The cabinet is a pretty boilerplate black washed wood MDF.
Cerwin-Vega! offers a 5 year warranty on its speakers, which is fairly standard for mid to higher end passive speakers. Shipping might be expensive, but we’ve seen free shipping via some online retailers including Amazon – just be cautious when buying indirect that the warranty still applies.
Our Overall Take, As Compared To The Competition
We’re not sure what the price of this speaker has looked like over the decades, but, we’ve seen it available online for a quite competitive price for what you get with this speaker. You might get better value with a pair of 2-ways and 2x external subwoofers, but it’d take some looking.
Keep in mind that these will likely be overkill for some people. If you’re simply after ambient mid-field music listening, for example, there’s no way you need the power or bass that the XLS 215 brings. There are much cheaper floorstanding speakers that have a similar 3-way standalone design that are great in their own right – check out the links below for some such recommendations.