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Cerwin-Vega XD5 Desktop Speakers & XD8s Subwoofer

Review by: Jason Buchwald

          QuickTake Review


If you’re a keyboard player like us, you’ve probably been relying on a column stand for years. But as reliable as the popular Apex stands are, you’ve probably run across a few challenges with them that can be quite frustrating: it’s hard to place pedals under them—especially foot controllers, and when you’ve got a pair of keyboards stacked, it’s very difficult to read the display or access the controls on whichever keyboard sits on the lower tier.

Not all of us have the luxury of listening to music and videos on our computers and laptops through premium studio monitors, but just because we occasionally leave the studio and go home doesn’t mean we are willing to sacrifice sound quality when using our computer as a media playback device. There’s got to be a better alternative to the cheap, plastic, desktop speaker crap that computer accessory companies produce, right?

That’s precisely where Cerwin Vega’s desktop series of speakers come in. These are “real” speakers housed in wood cabinets designed for use with your computer, and we recently got a pair of XD5 speakers with a XD8s subwoofer to check out. We were a little skeptical at first, wondering why Cerwin Vega would want us snobby “serious musician” types to check out a set of computer speakers. But after trying them out, we are glad they sent them to us. For listening to your iTunes music library, gaming, or even listening to your final studio mixes for that “real world” listening test, the XD series do a very good job! And as a side treat, they’re powerful enough that if you happen to be a keyboard player, you could even use these for personal monitoring in the studio!

The speaker pair we received were the XD5s, which each sport a five-inch woofer and a one-inch tweeter (smaller sizes are available as well). For those who like specs:

• 50-watt amplifier
• Frequency response: 60Hz—21kHz
• Connections: RCA female and ¼ inch input jacks on back; ¼ and 1/8-inch headphone jacks in front
• Weight: 17.4 pounds
• Other: Vega Bass switch (to boost bass without subwoofer present), magnetically shielded for placement near monitor displays

The left speaker houses all the electronics: a single cable connects the left speaker to right speaker, but all inputs go into the left speaker. An example of how to set things up is illustrated below (note XD4s are in the diagram but it is the same as XD5):

If you have the XD8 subwoofer, then you get a few other goodies and controls. The XD8 subwoofer has an additional connector for a remote control, which allows you to control the overall volume on the whole system, as well a subwoofer on/off button, and an additional 1/8-inch input jack for a mobile device like your iPod, smartphone, etc. Subwoofer specs:

• 80-watt amplifier
• Frequency response: 35Hz- 255Hz
• Adjustable frequency range: 32Hz- 390Hz
• Weight: 18.5 pounds
• Polarity switch
• Volume control
• Crossover control (120hz, 100hz, 80 hz, and Off are your choices)
• RCA and ¼-inch inputs and outputs (note that only the RCA jacks use the crossover filter)

At the end of the day, though, it’s all about sound. And the XDs did a good job, though not without a few caveats. We listened to a few songs by Yes and Seal, which are known to have dynamic, multi-layered production. We also attached them directly to a few synth modules in our studio. We found the bass response to be surprisingly good, even without the subwoofer. Though there are speakers with better specs on paper (i.e., a lower response of 20Hz as opposed to the XD5’s of 35 Hz), we heard a surprisingly good sound from these compact speakers.

On the high frequency end, however, we felt that the system didn’t hit its best-sounding stride until the volume was cranked up a bit. At higher volumes—and yes, you can crank these up to share music with a small room full of company, there was improved high frequency response, with a much fuller sound. But we felt the sound was a little flat at lower volumes. We thought they worked quite well as keyboard monitors, which was an unexpected bonus, and could end up being the primary use for many musicians.

The Cerwin Vega XD5 (MSRP $331.67 pair) sells for $200 street, and the XD8s Subwoofer is priced identically. While not intended to replace your studio monitor speakers, they do provide good sound at low cost, and may easily find a role as a secondary pair of speakers for real-world mix review, general music listening, gaming, or even as a decent personal keyboard monitoring system.

Cerwin Vega





Overall Rating - Product Summary

Category Value Rating
Features 35% 3 Stars
Usability 35% 3 Stars


3 Stars

Documentation & Support 10% 3.5 Stars
Price 20% 3 Stars


3.6 stars or better: Outstanding, WIHO Award
3 stars or better: Worth considering
2 stars or better: Suited to specific needs
1 star or less: Not recommended


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