MCINTOSH XRT2.1 K

PW24.10.2021

Floorstanding loudspeakers

The XRT2.1K speakers are a beautiful industrial work of art. Each weighing 160kg, each 2.1m tall, each employing not less than 81 (!) drivers, each capable to handle 2000 watts of power. In the room they look like Star Wars monuments, rather than loudspeakers. The inspiration for the speaker configuration is taken from PA systems as well as from cinema installations, and is expected to be played loud.

Funkce a forma

75%
Ergonomie
91%
Zvuk
96%
Zpracování

So, let’s do the inventory check: each 4-way XRT2.1K tower uses 45 dome tweeters (19mm aluminum-magnesium), 28 upper midrange drivers (51mm aluminum-magnesium), 2 lower midrange drivers (165mm long-throw Nomex honeycomb structure), and 6 woofers (200mm long-throw Nomex honeycomb structure). For each individual section a separate set of terminals is available on the speaker’s plinth:

  • Woofers (12Hz -150Hz) connect through “Subwoofer” terminals
  • Lower midrange drivers (150Hz – 450Hz) connect through “Low” terminals
  • Upper midrange drivers (450Hz – 2100Hz) and tweeters (2100Hz – 45000Hz) connect through “Mid/High” terminals

By using the separated connections, the XRT2.1Ks are ready for tri-amping or tri-wiring if you wish so. The plinth also bears the lit McIntosh logo – for make it glow in the dark you need to connect speakers’ POWER CONTROL IN inlet to power amplifier’s POWER CONTROL OUT outlet. Alternatively, the McIntosh’s dedicated MPC1500 power controller can be used. It is important to say that the XRT2.1Ks are not active speakers, none of the sections is powered by an in-built amplifier, which is quite unusual solution for a concept like this.

The piano black bass cabinet sits on aluminum and glass plinth that features 4 adjustable feet. The line array of dome tweeters and upper midrange drivers is suspended from the front of the bass cabinet, with lower midrange drivers firing diagonally away from behind. The hedonistic approach of McIntosh is completed with the fastening elements that imitate McIntosh control knobs. According to the company, the line array provides reduced sensitivity to early reflections, great power handling, lower harmonic distortion, and an even sound dispersion pattern, so “listeners closer to the speaker will not be overwhelmed by extremely loud sound while those further away will notice hardly any drop off in sound level”.

The XRT2.1Ks have average sensitivity of 90dB and are declared 8-ohm speakers. As anything launched by McIntosh these speakers make a statement in the room.

Nízké frekvence

Váha
95
Výbušnost
95
Artikulace
90

A friend of mine noted that the McIntosh speakers looked apocalyptic. And I can add they sounded apocalyptic too. In fact, the XRT2.1 K were designed for all but the best McIntosh home cinema installations and not for a nit-picking audiophile. Which does not mean they cannot play like real high-end speakers, but their specialization is elsewhere. They specialize on power, scale, and apocalypse. It was obvious with tracks like Mechanics of Desolation from Skrika’s Fifth Nature dark ambient opus (Cryo Chamber). The mechanized infrasonic rumble with most of the energy between 15-60Hz and basically no energy above 8kHz was perfect food for the XRT2.1 K and the experience was totally cinematic. I am not saying that the six woofers per column can generate the same seismic pressure as the Wilson Audio’s Thor's Hammer or Legacy Audio’s Goliath XD subwoofers, but who needs it for audio? Most music has hardly any bass content below 40Hz so in high-end applications your hunger for depth will be satisfied (it is important to retrieve ambient information in recordings, especially those recorded in live spaces).

Čistota rozlišení

Detail
94
Vzduch
94
Transparentnost
94

I liked the differentiating insight that the XRT2.1 K speakers had between two editions of Ultravox’s Ingenuity album. I have two CD prints of it: the “New Frontier” reprint that is a part of Ambitions project (Eagle Rock/Membran) from 2005, and the original MCPS/Intercord Ton from 1994 (with the winged astronaut on its front). I love this album and think it is the third best album of Ultravox together with Vienna and Rage in Eden. There are some of the best songs ever recorded by the group, like Ingenuity, Give it All back, or Ideals. Need to say that none of the versions is remastered, and both enjoy close to 14dB dynamics, though the Ambitions version claims it was “high end mastered” at 24bit/96kHz before being downsampled to 16bit/44.1kHz for CD.

There are subtle differences that the McIntosh speakers picked up correctly. The original was smoother and more liquid sounding, with a little bit more comfortable bass that was fuller and rounder, although the difference was very subtle. On the Ambitions version Sam Blue’s vocals as if acquired a sort of grain, and the sounds of synths acquired a hint of shrill on top. Again, the differences were very subtle, yet they were there and the XRT2.1 K speakers did not mask them. At the same time the full McIntosh set-up was differentiating significantly less than my resident Magico/Constellation system and focused on the power and scale that I mentioned earlier, rather than on decomposing the sound into microfilaments.

Tonální věrnost

Témbr
82
Dynamika
92
Časování
92

The XRT2.1 K can play anything but the very nature of them makes them predestined for rock. Thanks to the solid bass, dynamic prowess, and their capability to distribute the sound evenly in a room they exhibited in pieces like Time from PF’s The Dark Side of the Moon (Capitol SACD). The backing vocals had incredible presence in the room and the synths were mighty and enveloping.

Tonally the XRT2.1 K were also quite competent, although not as accomplished as the best speakers that I have heard. Chopin’s Piano Concertos with Benjamin Grosvenor behind the piano (Decca) were a bit mellower in the mids with an accent on the lowest and highest octaves so the piano sounded less relaxed and more muscular.

Prostorovost

Trojrozměrnost
97
Šířka scény
97
Hloubka scény
97

For the best spatiality the room’s help will be needed. That means that first of all the room should rather be large to prevent ovepressurizing it, with the speakers as far as possible from its boundaries, and – at the same time – widely spaced. At least some minimum acoustic treatment will be required too with the respect to the bass depth (or a DSP to make necessary adjustments). The company will happily provide their MEN220 room correction system which is a Lyngdorf OEM device dressed up into the iconic McIntosh case.

Unlike many high-end designs the XRT2.1 K speakers did not discriminate against more than one listener at time.  Left to right there was only one sweet spot in which the sound really gelled and the imaging got better than good, but front to back the speakers could cover several seats with equally balanced sound. That is perhaps because I worked hard with toeing the speakers to reach the pinpoint focus that I was used to hear with my Magicos; in real use it is recommended to go for a more parallel stance which covers a wider area laterally, although with a bit more diffuse yet enveloping sound.

The McIntosh XRT2.1 K’s are a brave design for the price of a small country house. It is tough to rank them for they are in a category of their own. If you love to listen loud and you have an appropriate room it could be an easy decision even for an audiophile – it is not carved in stone that you must use McIntosh amplification, and there are other possibilities open thanks to the speakers’ bi-amp/tri-amp option. I also believe that the XRT2.1 Ks would benefit from their woofer parts being active rather than passive. If I could have a wish, I would like to hear the XRT2.1 K again, in a room and a system optimized for two channel high-end audio.

Cena v době recenze:3 800 000,- Kč

Doporučení prodejci

E.P. Audio s.r.o., Dobřejovice u Prahy, tel. + 420 323 606 877

Připojené komponenty

  • Sources: McIntosh MCD600 SACD, MEN220 DRC system (bypassed), MPC1500 power controller
  • Amplifiers:  McIntosh C1100 preamplifier, McIntosh 1.25kW quad balanced mono power amplifiers
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: Wireworld Gold Eclipse 8
  • Power conditioning: Wireworld Silver Electra 7

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