Cambridge Audio has done great things with wireless speakers of late, so can it deliver the goods with these small bookshelf models?
Focusing on the company’s ‘sound first’ principles, there’s not much style to be found in the SX-50 design.
The straight-edged MDF cabinets feel a little rough and their baffle is mostly occupied with the 25mm silk dome tweeter and 135mm mid/bass driver.
The SX-50s are dressed in a reasonable black or dark walnut veneer though and their compact design means they’re easy to manoeuvre.
If you’re familiar with the SX-60s standmounts – reviewed in September 2013 – the SX-50s are similar but about 12cm shorter, having rear- instead of front-firing bass reflex ports to accompany the single speaker terminals.
Their sparkle may not lie in their looks then, but the SX-50s are packed with sound.
The SX-50s zip their way around music with gusto, revelling in good detail and clarity. Avicii’s Hey Brother is delivered with plenty of spirit, without losing any composure as the bassline kicks in.
The SX-50s well-balanced poise makes every album a joy to listen to. A smooth midrange, sweet treble and a clean, tight bass define their tonal balance.
A disjointed or loose bass is a fairly common downfall at this price range, but the SX-50’s good integration means this is not the case.
Positioning the speakers 30cm or so from a rear wall gives best results; if they are leaning against a wall, their strong vocal clarity and wide soundstage is compromised.
The SX-50s can also feel a little thin and airy if they are positioned further out in the open – the cabinets are 24cm deep, so make sure you have room to accommodate them near a wall.
Tuning into a more downbeat track, The Battle from the Gladiator soundtrack provides enough sentiment to keep it interesting for its 10-minute running time.
The only fault we find with the SX-50s is when we match them with more expensive models.
The Award-winning Q Acoustic 2020is – £35 more than the SX-50s – soar more dynamically in Dream is Collapsing from the Inception soundtrack and find more layers in Nina Simone’s vocals in Feeling Good.
If you can spend the difference, it’s a good proposition for the extra perks the 2020is offer.
Because of this the SX-50s lose a star, however, they are fine speakers for the lower half of the £100-200 bracket.
Not for the last time probably, Cambridge Audio’s SX series get our firm nod of approval.
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