Cerwin-Vega XLS-6 Bookshelf Speakers Review

Last updated on: 2-13-19
Bottom Line: a renowned bookshelf speaker that’s been around since the 80s, giant red ring and all. Can get loud and forward, but is pretty big and heavy. Not much that distinguishes it from the now available competition. Might be hard to actually find now too, but could be snagged for a deal somewhere if you get lucky.
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comes with a removable still metallic woofer cover

Important Specs Overview

Speaker type: passive, 2-way, double back-ported
Continuous power handling: 40 W*
Peak power handling: 125 W
Impedance: 6/8 ohms compatible
Sensitivity: 85 dB/W/m
Frequency response range: 50 – 20k Hz (+/- 3dB)
Driver size: 6.5
Unit weight: 16 lbs
Cabinet dimensions: 8 x 11.5 x 15 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 is known as the proverbial arena/party speaker, though the company has been around since circa 1950. Their reputation is that they get loud, and maybe not always pleasantly so. We’ve reviewed their long time popular and unabashedly massive XLS 215s (read here), which might be the most powerful (and huge and heavy) non-commercial speakers we’ve ever seen. The XLS 6 is part of the same lineup, and the smallest of the bunch. It’s a fairly standard 2 way bookshelf speaker with a 6.5 inch woofer.

The tweeter is a one inch soft dome loaded in a large and clunky looking waveguide horn. The woofer is a fairly standard looking paper cone with a big dust cap that proudly displays the CV logo. And of course, you can’t forget the bright red rubber surround that simply is Cerwin Vega. Or you could choose to cover the woofers with the included partial grills that are actually stiff metal. The cabinet looks like pretty standard MDF with a mock wood finish, with a separate baffle piece which the basket and horn are loaded into.

So how do they stack up stat wise? The peak power handling is pretty middle of the road, but you might be able to get a little more continuous volume with a beefier receiver that’s capable of driving two 6 ohm loads. The response range is decent for a two way bookshelf speaker, and CV even claims the woofer can get down to 39 Hz if the variance is opened up to 10 dB from the standard 3 dB differential. So, though there will be some drop off, the woofer can dip pretty low despite a high-ish crossover point with a fairly standard ranged tweeter. Two way bookshelf speakers are generally intended to pair with a subwoofer to get full bass, but the XLS 6 is one of the few that might suffice without one.

These speakers are big and heavy, like all CV speakers generally are, and will probably perform best elevated at midrange. They’re almost a foot deep and will need yet more room in the back for the ports to breathe, so they might be cumbersome on a desktop. Also a horn loaded tweeter is probably going to be way too harsh at nearfield/desktop range.

How do they look? Well… they look like Cerwin Vega speakers, clunky, dated, and juvenile with that undeniable bright red surround. And they are rather dated – though the lineup has seen minor incremental improvement, CV has been making these XLS speakers since the 80s.

Our Overall Take, As Compared To The Competition

Back in the day, these speakers might have been the best choice for someone who really wanted to blow the lid off their house, but presently there’s not really much that sets the XLS 6 apart from the various competition, many of which brings better value for the price and frankly looks a lot nicer. But that’s a hard judgement, mainly because the XLS 6 just might not be in stock in many places anymore, and if they are, the price will be all over the place. If you can snag them at an outlet or garage sale for cheap, like how they sound, and don’t mind that they look like they belong in a laser tag arena? Then get them by all means. Just be aware that the standard 5 year warranty might not apply.

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Relevant Links and Resources

The best overall budget bookshelf speakers