NHT SuperZero Xu Bookshelf Speakers

5/5 (2 Reviews) MSRP : $138.00

Product Description

Renowned for high performance and affordability, NHT's Super Zero 2-way 4.5" mini monitor and SuperOne 2-way, 6" mini monitor loudspeakers are available in a specially designed Xu Extended Use) configuration. Xu's signature molded cabinets represent more than two years of research and development to perfect the special materials and unique internal ribbing that renders the enclosure sonically inert and identical to NHT's wood cabinets.

Overwhelming acclaim from the audio media has firmly established the legendary sound quality of the Xu speakers. Both models have similar sonic signatures, with the Super One offering the greater bass response. Both models also provide the utmost versatility in placement throughout the the home, owing to soft cabinetry lines, black or white finish options, wall brackets and isolation bases (included).

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Reviews 1 - 2 (2 Reviews Total)

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by music_softy a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: August 21, 2004

Bottom Line:   
Almost 10,000 original SuperZeroes were sold, many on the basis of one glowing 1994 review. But the reviewer modified his setup, as I have done, before he praised it as equal to his megabuck reference system. You probably won't realize how good these speakers can be until you do the same. The successor XU model is, well, 99% as good as the original--I have both. They are uniquely musical.

Most home theater systems have bass management that prevents low frequency energy from going to the satellites. In a stereo sub/sat setup, you really need to do the same: do not send a full frequency signal to these speakers. Corey Greenberg in his Stereophile review homebuilt a passive high pass filter--and it made all the difference. You'll need to be able to split off your preamp signal from your poweramp. Doing so will cut your power requirements dramatically--you won't need, as another reviewer recommended, a big high current amp.

Straight on the XU sounds just like the original. But the stereo image is a little more closed in, and from an angle you can definitely hear the originals are more spacious. My guess: it's because the drivers are just slightly more recessed in the XU.

A low priced great sounding speaker defaults its advantage if you have to spend huge bucks on a subwoofer, and these speakers do present a challenge. I've not successfully matched them to a correspondingly low cost sub. But I did achieve impressive results using TWO low cost subs (Yamaha SW45s--or you could use the newer SW015) each raised to right below the satellite and running separate left/right signals in phase. This completely eliminated the "detached bass" effect. Varying the subwoofers' hi cut filter was helpful to combat resonance in one of my smaller listening rooms.

I completed my system using a vintage early 70's integrated amp that had separable sections. You can get one used and have it serviced to perfection for less than $200. The subs were $200. You might be able to find the speakers for >$200 (I did, new). Truly unbelievable for $600!!

I'm not an audio technician, but I was able to buy the parts to build the filter described in the review for under $30 and it only took about an hour to assemble everything. Once when I was a teenager I built a Heathkit amplifier and that's all the soldering experience I needed. Perhaps the stunning improvement is from making the sub/sat crossover at the line level, using a very simple filter that affects the signal very little.

So how does this sound compared to my $12k (when new) reference system? The tonality is almost exactly identical! The big difference you hear is that the big TDLs use mid and low end transmission line termination to cast complete silence in back of the music to reveal more low level detail. But the NHTs are actually more forgiving on less accomplished recordings and are actually easier to listen to. The TDL bass goes way deeper and is superbly damped (quick), but the little Yamaha's are still extremely satisfying. With 780x2 NAD watts, the big system goes a lot louder before things get fuzzy, but the difference is entirely excessive.

Do note one thing: these NHTs are delicate. Before I popped for the new XUs, I tried 4 times to buy a used paid of Superzeroes on ebay. All but one speaker had some kind of sonic defect--some subtle, some obvious. I had to buy two new woofers to get a perfect sounding pair (no harmonics anywhere on a sinewave sweep). I suspect they had been fed full range signals, and there were good reasons why the former owners may not have been enthusiastic about keeping them. Use bass management or a high pass filter!

Here's my theory on why these sound so uniquely good. All woofers inflict a megaphone effect on sound, and you're not going to avoid it with any more than this 4 1/2 inch woofer. Go to the popular 6 1/2 inch size and you will lose the spacious open sound of these great little speakers. Also, many manufacturers use vented designs in small speakers. This gives them 1/3 octave deeper bass, but lets a lot of backwave noise out the vent in such a small enclosure. If you're going to need a subwoofer anyway, why make this sacrifice?

In a small room these will remain relaxed without the high pass filter, but with it they will stay smooth on even loud climaxes at large room filling levels. And with modest power.

If you have a trained, sensitive ear and not a huge budget, you will not only be pleased with these little miracles, you will be amazed. Maybe even euphoric.

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2003

Price Paid:    $129.00

Purchased At:   online auction

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by walt h a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: July 23, 2003

Bottom Line:   
I posted an earler review under SuperZero category shortly after the purchase. Mine are SuperZero XU. I've grown to appreciate them even more over the past three years. I use in conjunction with an NHT SubOne 250w sunfire subwoofer.

I was a performing musician for 15 years in multiple kinds of musical groupings - so have a good point of reference for real-world sound. These speakers are the closest to reality that I've found in nearly 50 years as an audio system listener. I've auditioned a number of very expensive speakers since I got these hoping to find something even better - but so far, at least, nothing has exceeded these. I did find some that match them(very very expensive)-but they did not exceed. Of course, personal taste enters into such judgements in a large way. The quality of source has great impact as well. The secret of these speakers is in their superb reproduction of the middle part of the audio spectrum. Some do it as well - but I haven't found any that exceed. You'll, of course, need a competent subwoofer. My $1175 investment in these speakers was $375 + $800 for the subwoofer. Driving them with a very high current amplifier which these speakers need as they do present a substantial load and won't sound well with a low current amp. Very very flat response and do vocals (male and female) superbly.

Most reviewers don't acknowledge that the sound of a particular type of musical instrument varies WIDELY. For example, when I was at the music conservatory, there were always raging discussions about the sonic characteristics of various french horns. Cheap violins don't sound as rich and smooth as very expensive ones.

Listen to these tiny acoustic suspension speakers critically with a good subwoofer and you'll be amazed at the depth and breadth of the soundstage and their timbral accuracy. Don't be too quick to judge them either. An oboe may sound thin to you on one track, but - it could be simply that the oboeist was using a bad reed that day! Give 'em a listen.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   1999

Price Paid:    $375.00

Purchased At:   audio video city

Reviews 1 - 2 (2 Reviews Total)

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