Newish Swedish manufacturer XTZ only sells its subwoofers online in the UK. This practice often means good value, but as you can only audition the kit by paying a deposit for a two-week trial, it has to review well and beat most in its class, irrespective of price.
The XTZ 99 is not too big, but it is almost as clever as the more costly version that comes with a quaint RS232 port for PC control of a DSP system. However, you get the Bang & Olufsen designed ICEpower half-kilowatt amp, plus switches on the back that cater for the sane user through to the bass hooligan.
As well as a serious sweepable phase knob, you also get the regular crossover and gain controls plus ‘EQ1’ and ‘EQ2’ switches. It’d help to have the simple legend ‘+7dB @50Hz’ printed under EQ1 and ‘+7db @25Hz’ under EQ2, though, as these are powerful control choices. These are in addition to the optionally usable paired ports that come with bungs.
The ICEpower amp has a certain effortless amount of pure shove that does pretty much what any normal user might ask of it. It revelled equally in tight musical bass lines and thunderous cinematic LFE, the latter courtesy of Universal’s Robin Hood Blu-ray).
The controls are not intuitively simple, but can be mastered by ear and getting your head around which plug, L/R or both (or none) to use in the ports can take some messing with – as recommended in the excellent manual. But above all, the output is delicious.
The 12in Peerless XXLS driver is very good indeed and its metal cone is pistonic, uncoloured and tight. The huge magnet on its butt grips the cone in an iron fist, and the porting has been cleverly thought out. It’s a straightforward concept: you change the tuning by altering the quantity of the cubic enclosed by the port system and, apart from SVS, I’ve not seen this method of differential tuning of multiple plugs from any other brand. I kind of want to know what the rest of XTZ’s kit is like now...
Highs: Power and air-shifting ability equate to high quality output
Lows: The EQ is a very blunt tool; online seller only
XTZ 99 W12.18 ICE
Drive Unit: 12in Peerless XXLS (eXpanded eXtra Long Stroke) driver with aluminium cone
Enclosure: Dual front-ported, (with foam plugs for optional use)
Frequency Response: Not quoted (but deep!)
Onboard Power: 515W RMS from ICEpower amp
Dimensions: 420(w) x 495(h) x 520(d)mm
Connections: Phono stereo line-in and single balanced three-pin XLR input
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