Definitive Technology is an aptly named company that has been producing audiophile-grade home theater speakers since 1990. Their new XTR-50 speakers are part of Definitive's award winning, beautifully designed Mythos series. While the first Mythos on wall speakers were designed to mate with earlier (read thicker) flat panel designs, the XTR-50s carry a very slim form factor with a depth of one and a half inches, designed to be a perfect match for the current crop of ultra-thin flat panel televisions. For this review, Definitive sent three XTR-50s for the front left, right and center channels ($699 each), two Mythos Gems for the surround channels ($279 each) and a SuperCube II subwoofer ($899) for a total price of $3,554.
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The XTR-50's measure 27 inches high by six inches wide by an incredible one and a half inches deep and feature Definitive's XTDD anodized aluminum dome driver. The dome is a catenary design, which as stated on Definitive's web site is "the shape formed when a uniform material is suspended from two fixed points." Basically this makes it incredibly strong and highly resistant to flexing. The end result is an amazingly thin driver, theoretically capable of producing dynamic range on par with much larger drivers. Each XTR-50 features two three and a half inch XTDD dome/mid bass drivers. To provide adequate bass response, each driver is pressure-coupled to four three and a half inch dome low-bass radiators. The tweeter is mounted in the center of the XTR-50 and is the same pure aluminum dome tweeter Definitive uses in their highly touted Mythos ST SuperTower. Frequency response is stated in the manual as (overall on-wall) 92Hz - 30kHz; (plus or minus 3dB on wall) 120Hz - 20kHz and sensitivity is rated at 92dB.
I'm a sucker for well packaged audio gear and in this regard Definitive didn't disappoint. Handling these speakers, with their aircraft-grade aluminum and incredibly slim form factor, makes you truly feel as though you're experimenting with something cutting edge. They passed their first test with flying colors - these speakers are cool. While Definitive provides multiple mounting options, including beautiful smoked glass stands for table mounting, I went ahead and wall mounted them at my editor's behest. This turned out to be refreshingly simple, thanks to straightforward design and the included wall mounting templates. Definitive also includes a mounting bracket, which has a layer of foam for damping vibration. The one hookup wrinkle is a separate connector for the speaker wire; basically you need to use a small screwdriver to loosen a couple of screws, insert the speaker wire, tighten the screws and then push the connector into the speaker itself.
At first glance, it seemed like the connector might be a bit of a hassle, but as long as you have a small screwdriver (one from a sunglass repair kit would be ideal), you're golden. It took about 10 minutes to mount each speaker - it always helps when there's a stud right where you need it. The mounts work beautifully and it took very little effort to place the XTR's securely on the wall. I mounted the Mythos Gems just above and behind ear level and placed the SuperCube II along the front wall of my listening room. While I'm lucky enough to have a number of different sub placement options in my room, I was perfectly happy with the performance and synergy of the sub with the rest of the system and didn't find cause to move it. I connected the speakers to my reference system, which consists of a Cary Cinema 11a processor, a Cary Model 7.125 amplifier, a Sony PS3 for Blu-rays and the occasional videogame and an Oppo DV-980H for SACD and standard CD playback. Regrettably, I was unable to use my reference WireWorld Oasis 6 speaker cables on the XTR-50s as the speaker connector doesn't allow for anything beyond bare wire. Sometimes cutting edge design requires a bit of sacrifice and in this case, it was worth it. Per Definitive's suggestion, I set the crossover frequency to 100 Hz, and then it was time to do some critical listening.
Read about the performance of the XTR-50 speakers on Page 2.