With the rise of on-wall and in-wall speaker sales, traditional loudspeakers, mainly floor-standing models, had to do something to try and steal back a bit of market share in today's lifestyle-oriented world. While most notable manufacturers simply painted their speakers silver or offered an extra, more exotic wood finish, Bowers & Wilkins introduced a whole new speaker line, the XT series. Now, Bowers & Wilkins has never been criticized for making an ugly speaker, far from it. In fact, I would argue their speakers have been more lifestyle-friendly over the years than those of most other manufacturers. That being said, the XT series, specifically the XT4 reviewed here, represents a fresh look at an old tradition, Bowers & Wilkins style.
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The XT4 retails for $2,500 a pair and is a sleek, narrow, aluminum-encased three-way loudspeaker. Though made from ridged aluminum, the XT4 comes in either its natural silver finish or gloss black. The XT4 features Bowers & Wilkins' trademark Nautilus tube-loaded tweeter that rests above the mid/bass drivers and protrudes from the top of the speaker itself. The XT4 has a single five-inch woven Kevlar midrange driver mated to dual five-inch paper/Kevlar bass drivers. With four total drivers at its disposal, the XT4 has a reported frequency response of 40Hz to 22kHz, so you're going to want a sub for that last bit of bass oomph. The XT4 is not quite as efficient as some other speakers in its class, with a rating of 86dB into an eight-ohm load. While Bowers & Wilkins says the XT4s can work their magic with as little as 50 total watts, take my word for it, you're going to want to bring at least 75-100 to an XT party, so make sure your receiver and/or separates are up to task.
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