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Four-speaker Stereo

Small and large enclosures combine in?the new gershman x2 with x-cube
by Ernie Fisher

Gershman Acoustics is a relatively small Canadian company headed by Eli and Ofra Gershman. I made their acquaintance when they showed up at my house/studio in 1994 with their first model the GAP. Since then, I have watched the company grow. Nowadays, Gershman has seven models in their line and none is your average loudspeaker. The way I see it, as the company grew, so did Eli's awareness of sound and his ambition to produce high-resolution loudspeakers for those who appreciate better audio. Their top model, the Cdn $35,000 Black Swan, was introduced last year and reviewed in Vol. 17, No.1. However, the Opera Sauvage, introduced about four years ago (reviewed in Vol. 13, No. 2), is still in the present line-up, which also includes lower-priced models, starting at about Cdn $3,000. I have evaluated every model they have introduced to the market and, over the years, I have found that Gershman has developed a signature sound which is maintained throughout the line-up. The model under review is the second generation X2 which is quite similar to the earlier X1 model (reviewed in Vol. 12, No. 2). I still use them and the matching sub in my home theatre set-up.


The X2's top and midrange enclosure can be used alone as a stand-mounted speaker.

A pair of X2s are made up of four enclosures; each has a triangular enclosure for top and midrange, stacked on top of a subwoofer the X-Cube. The top sections can be used as stand-alone bookshelf or surround sound speakers. They come with cones, rather than spikes to elevate and couple them to the floor. Available in rich red mahogany, black oak and (optional) lacquer with a choice of colours, they make a handsome addition to any listening room.

The Sound
As I had three amplifiers in-house, I used them all to investigate synergy, determine the best sound and compare the X2's performance to that of the earlier X1 model.

I began with the Simaudio W8 amp and P-8 preamp (reviewed in this issue) driving the X2s. The source component was the Simaudio Andromeda CD player and all wiring was done with JPS Labs Aluminata cables (both reviewed in this issue). This system combination sounded great. The amp drove the X2s admirably in the high frequency range, smoothly in the midrange and quickly and resolutely in the bass department. Though the highs were completed right up to the speakers specified limit of 20kHz, I thought that the energy level was slightly less in the upper and lower midrange. Nonetheless, the X2s tonal balance didn't seem to be disarranged, rather it sounded just short of perfect. I considered the entire midrange area, from about 160Hz all the way to 5kHz, to be among the most pleasant sounding I have heard, effortless, sweet, resolute and utterly musical. Male and female vocals inhabit this region and the X2/Simaudio combination rendered these flawlessly. Bass, though quick and resolute down to about 30Hz, didn't quite reach deep enough to please me entirely (I'm difficult to please).

Changing the power amp to the Bryston 28B-SST monoblocks (reviewed in this issue) with the P-8 preamp and Andromeda CD player still in the system, the overall sound didn't change dramatically, but there were a few subtle improvements, beginning with the high frequency area. These 1000 w/ch monoblocks introduced a kinetic vigour to the highs, allowing them to reach a natural and proper conclusion. The upper midrange segment sounded very much the same as with the Simaudio amp, while the lower midrange contained richer harmonics. Most impressive however, was the bass. It now reached into the pedal-note regions, sounding warm enough to render melodious upper harmonics above the bass fundamentals and adequately resolute to about 28Hz.

For another test, I used the powerful and very musical sounding Musical Fidelity KW500 integrated amplifier (reviewed in Vol. 17, No. 2). This 510 w/ch amp features a tube output stage and a MOSFET power section. The speakers liked this amplifier and responded to it with remarkable musical vitality. Highs, midrange and bass were effortlessly transferred into the listening room and, though not strictly precise, the sound was sincere and real. Bass resolution was very good, though a little less honed than with the Bryston amps and midrange was smooth, effortless and revealing. This amp did the best job in the high frequency area which was smooth, sweet and well extended into the dog-whistle range.

All the amps used for this evaluation revealed the X2's imaging proficiency, another outstanding trait, likely because the business end of the loudspeaker (the small top enclosure) is separated from the sub.

If you want to go all out with X2 system, you can add on Gershman's CC-x center channel.

The Comparison
Whereas the older model, X1, is a touch hard in the midrange area actually a trait I like in home theatre application in the new model, the midrange and top frequencies are smoother and perhaps not as aggressive. While, I dare say that the X2s reproduce better, more authentic two-channel audio than the older model, they should also be considered as part of an upscale multi-channel or home theatre system used to play back music in a dual-function environment. Gershman also offers a matching centre channel speaker, the CC-X, which I find to be one of the most articulate full-range speakers around. There is also an X1-R, specifically made as a surround speaker, which can be wall-mounted.

Model X2 with X-Cube sub Gershman Acoustics

Gershman Acoustics
$5,000.00 US  
43 (h) 11 (w) 13 (d) (stacked) 98 lbs (combined)
red mahogany, black oak, lacquer over optional colours  

Based on the design topology first developed for the models Avant-Garde, GAP-828 and the top-of-the-line Black Swan, the X2 has evolved to work with modern amplifiers.

The sensitivity has been increased and the bass response has been lowered to 20Hz (the earlier model's bass energy rolled off at 40Hz). Gershman has improved the time alignment, cabinet bracing and driver complement, while retaining the external housing of the X1 enclosures.

The top portion of the loudspeaker contains the high and midrange drivers, a one-inch soft-dome Vifa unit, and a proprietary Canadian-made six-inch midrange. The bass enclosure holds a 10-inch fibreglass low frequency driver ported on the rear with Gershman's unique triangular port. The passive subwoofer unit has been designed to integrate perfectly with the top and mid frequency sections. Precise time alignment allows low-level ambient cues to integrate perfectly with primary soundstaging. The two enclosures are connected externally with supplied cables which can be replaced with cables of you choice.
The system is crossed at 1800Hz (upper section) and 90Hz (lower section/X-Cube); sensitivity is rated at 88dB; nominal impedance is 8 ohms; frequency response is quoted from 20Hz to 20kHz. Eli Gershman has given a lot of consideration to the enclosure design. As in all his speakers, Eli has avoided parallel surfaces thereby canceling standing waves.

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