Everything you need to mount the soundbar and surrounds any which way you want is included in the boxes. If you want to wall-mount them, as I did with the soundbar, you just screw the included mount into the wall. (The mount adds only 1/8 inch of depth to the speaker.) If you want to place the speakers on a table or stands, as I did with the surrounds, you attach the included foot that lets the speakers stand on their own.
One nice twist I noticed on the XTR-BP20: The Definitive logo is magnetic, so you can place it along the long or short edge of the speaker. Thus the logo can be turned upright if you mount the speaker horizontally instead of vertically.
To keep the speakers slim, Definitive used terminal block connectors for attaching speaker cables to the soundbar and surrounds. They’re easy enough to deal with: Just strip the wires ¼ inch or so, put the wire ends into the blocks, and tighten them down with a small screwdriver.
Because the SuperCube 4000 sub is just a tiny 1-foot cube, it’s easy to place almost anywhere. I connected my Denon receiver’s subwoofer output to the sub’s LFE input. One note of caution: The LFE input does not bypass the sub’s crossover, so if you use it, be sure to set the sub crossover to its maximum frequency of 150 Hz. Based on my prior experience with the XTR-50, I set my receiver for a relatively high 120-Hz crossover point.
When I first fired up this system, my ears braced for the impact of subpar sound. Even after my positive experience with the Mythos XTR-50, I didn’t know what to expect from three speakers crammed into such a tiny volume of space. My experience with inexpensive soundbars and slim speakers led me to expect the worst. But what I got was close to the best.
It’s truly amazing how Definitive’s engineers managed to get such clean, uncolored, and dynamic sound from such a small enclosure. Yes, the XTR-SSA3 has its limits, and you will probably find them in time, but for 95% of typical home theater use, those flaws will never intrude. The best part is that voices sound so natural. The second-best part is that you can play the system loud without distortion.
The Blu-ray of Thor showed the strong and weak points of the whole system. When portraying the characters’ voices, the XTR-SSA3 sounded more like a high-end stereo speaker than a soundbar; there was no bloating, no excessive sibilance, nothing significant to complain about. An imperfect mating between the subwoofer and the soundbar’s little woofers made male voices seem ever-so-slightly thin, but I can’t say they sounded colored. “Less than robust” would be more like it. I was shocked by how loud I could play the action scenes in Thor without distortion. At very high volumes — higher than most people will tolerate for long — the soundbar’s woofers start to compress and the sound thins out, but it never seems harsh. The surrounds kept up just fine, although their output wasn’t particularly enveloping, with the mild angling of the midwoofers doing little to diffuse the sound.
I did reach the Def Tech subwoofer’s limits a couple of times, most notably in the scene where Thor and his compatriots battle a giant robot/demon/whatever sent by his brother Loki. The deep, deep bass in the robot/demon’s footsteps made the SuperCube 4000 distort. I didn’t notice this distortion in most other action movies, however, and to my surprise, the sub handled my “torture test” Blu-rays just fine.
I liked only two of the sub’s EQ modes. EQ2 provides a fairly broad midbass boost, amping up the bass a bit and giving music more groove. I used it often. EQ1, which boosts the extreme low frequencies while limiting dynamic range, sounded awful and made my head hurt. However, I suspect husbands could use EQ1 as a sort of “bass force field” to deter a nagging wife from coming anywhere near the living room. (It may come as little surprise that I no longer have the means to test this capability.)
Perhaps the biggest shock, though, is that the XTR-SSA3 sounds pretty good with stereo music. When I played jazz guitarist Spencer Katzman’s 5 Is the New 3 CD, I was surprised to hear how enveloping his reverb-basted (as opposed to reverb-drenched) Fender Jazzmaster sounded even though the speakers were effectively just 2.5 feet apart. Not surprisingly, the vocals on all my CDs and MP3s sounded especially natural and clear.
Copyright © 2013 Bonnier Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.