Krix LX-7 Linear LCR Passive ‘Soundbar’ Review
It may be the most daring design yet from this Australian speaker specialist, but does this soundbar-style product deliver big thrills from a compact box?
LX-7 Linear LCR Speaker
AUD $4,995 per unit (75/85/100inch)
South Australian cinema powerhouse Krix has released its newest loudspeaker, undoubtedly the company's most unexpected design yet. The LX-7 hit the market at the recent StereoNET Hi-Fi & AV Show in Melbourne and stems from Krix identifying a gap in the market for those running either a solid screen or a TV, who may want a compact soundbar-like design but without the compromise in performance.
Keeping within the Series SX, MX and X range, the 'L' in LX-7 refers to Krix's own description for this design, 'Linear X', which is indeed exactly what it delivers. Offered in three standard lengths – 75”, 85” or 100” – it wouldn't be fair to call this a soundbar. It's more a structural sound-beam, as each unit shares a consistent 220mm height and 142mm depth, but length and weight start at 1,670mm and 25kg for the 75”, 1,892mm and 27kg for the 85” or a whopping 2,180mm and 30kg for the 100” model. The LX-7 is also available in custom lengths between the 75 and 100” sizing where necessary, for an additional 10% surcharge.
Each of the three channels is given a 165mm paper cone low-frequency driver, with a 50mm voice coil, paired with a 26mm fabric dome tweeter, housed within the proprietary Krix 90x90 short-throw waveguide. This two-way design has an in-room response of 60Hz-20kHz, and recommended input power is between 50 and 250 watts RMS. The claimed sensitivity of 92dB means that you can operate these confidently through a receiver or a dedicated power amp. Observant readers may recognise these specifications as being similar to the recently reviewed Krix Hyperphonix45 speakers – and with good reason. The LX-7 is essentially three Hyperphonix housed within one structural package. Occam's razor principle favours the simplest outcome as the best, and it doesn't get any simpler than this.
The passive approach means that Krix gets to focus on what the company does best, which is, of course, loudspeaker design, while the end user or installer gets to combine this with their chosen processor and amplifier. Versatility is the name of the game, and you could run the LX-7 with as little as a slim 5.1 channel receiver, or package it with a Trinnov Altitude/Amplitude combo, as the end-user specification dictates.
While your choice of surround speakers may be optional, with a 60Hz floor on the low-frequency drivers, you will need to pair this with a subwoofer to maximise the 20Hz to 100Hz zone. The beauty of a passive setup is that, just like any home theatre system, you have your pick of sub choice. Should you be in an apartment or small room, consider something compact like the Krix Seismix 1 or 3. If you're in a larger space, you might choose a Krix Volcanix. To be fair, nothing stops you from pairing the LX-7 with an Ascendo 50” infrasonic subwoofer, although some may call that overkill!
Aesthetically, the unit is a combination of tried-and-true cinema black, with a removable fabric grill in keeping with the range of Krix dedicated home cinema speakers. It doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it's a sterling effort to take such a calibre of dynamic drivers and package them into something that could be missed at a quick glance.
While the idea might be simple, there are some quality-of-life considerations that Krix has implemented to ensure the LX-7 is user-friendly. Most obvious is the bracket design. Forgoing a heavy one-piece steel design like the original Hyperphonix, the LX-7 uses a combination timber/steel bracket, which facilitates simple levelling and positioning, as well as possessing a handy cutout in the position of the input terminals for running in-wall cabling to the exact sweet spot. The brackets attach to the ends of the main unit frame, and fabric vanity caps then cover the hardware for a smooth and stealthy installation. There is the benefit of up to 15 degrees of tilt in both directions to allow placement flexibility below or above the screen.
My favourite mechanical feature is the magnetic terminal cover. Krix has placed a rectangular port through the entire depth of the unit, which allows you to pull the cables through and connect them to the push-in terminals inside - all while the unit is attached to the wall. Once connected, there is a small faceplate that then sticks onto the LX-7, covering the port and cabling for a smooth look. This is important if you intend to run it without the fabric frame. The terminals accept up to 10AWG wire or banana plugs up to 5mm, and are also one of my only complaints about the LX-7. Labelled as channel 1, 2 and 3, I feel it would have been more intuitive to label them Left, Centre and Right, but this is a small gripe.
Placing the LX-7 into my dedicated room, the dimensions are approximately 6m by 4.35m which is fairly typical, or perhaps a little larger than many of the rooms I would expect this speaker to appear in, with many media rooms sitting around the 4m by 4m range. The magic was sent via a Marantz 8805A surround preamplifier and powered to 140W through a Marantz MM7055 5-channel power amp.
Watching the UHD Blu-ray presentation of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol3, the LX-7 immediately proved its blockbuster credentials and sent packing any concerns I might have had about this being a serious home cinema product. Watching the High Evolutionary's ship come under attack from the enormous Knowhere was a particularly dynamic scene, with a combination of large-scale explosions, scattered action pieces and interspersed vocals. The ample excursion of the bass drivers allowed for every explosion to be replicated for each of the three front channels with ease. There was no sense of the 'hole' that you often get between the bass and LFE when running smaller satellite channels, and none of that small speaker feel of a soundbar. The Krix tweeter waveguide also contributes tremendously to the experience – one of the benefits of the Hyperphonix45 was a wide on-axis response. For the LX-7, which is a one-piece unit with no lateral directional control, this wide response helps to provide a soundstage that's even larger than the imposing width of the 100” bar.
Despite its relatively small stature, there was not the slightest hint of compression in the Krix's delivery. Contrary to any soundbar I've heard, this is a remarkable and delightfully full-fat home cinema experience. Even in my largish, deep room, it imparted big-scale movie thrills at a volume well beyond what I would have expected based on appearance alone. That the LX-7 could pass the spouse approval test is perhaps its biggest trick of all!
The recent UHD release of U-571 might still use the original 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that many lambasted for losing the LFE might of the DVD version, but the combination of tense silence between the splashing of the depth charges into the waters above, and the hell unleashed as they explode around the doomed U-boat, is another fantastic example of the LX-7 stepping beyond the confines of its dimensions. The remarkable scale with which this speaker can replicate both the delicate noises of the crew awaiting their fate and the depth of the huge explosions bouncing around the stage, is beyond what any conventional soundbar can ever hope to reproduce.
Those of you who enjoy the home concert experience are not left out either. 2013's reference quality Blu-ray of The Eagles' Farewell I – Live from Melbourne is a special favourite, and I was thrilled by just how artfully the LX-7 handled it. The opening country-style solo into Heartache Tonight was engaging and transparent, while the transition to the chorus had all the vibrancy and energy of the live concert, even at really high volume levels in my room. The vocal stylings of Glen Frey and Don Henley were given ample space and depth, and the whole performance had a stadium feel. The signature guitar riff of Life in the Fast Lane had me wriggling in my seat, while the solos and brass sections never fought each other as the song matured. It was a fantastic delivery of an exciting live performance – just like the band itself, the LX-7 kept me listening and enjoying.
While the form factor screams simplicity, you will face many of the same considerations confronting home theatre designers everywhere. This includes embedding your surround, height and LFE channels, choosing a processor or receiver to run it all, and using room correction and EQ to balance the brightness inherent in the tweeter design. It could be a learning curve for someone thinking of this product in the way that one thinks of a soundbar, hoping for plug-and-play functionality. This said the payoff for that investment is remarkable.
Think of this speaker less as a beefy soundbar, and more as a large speaker system that delivers a big home cinema experience, albeit scaled down into a form factor that meets a niche that's hitherto been poorly catered for. There was never a time during my weeks with Krix's LX-7 when I felt disappointed by not having my full-size speakers in situ; such is the ability of this mighty unit. It's not aimed at the typical soundbar buyer but at the serious home theatre enthusiast who perhaps dreams of an MX system, but doesn't have the space.
Although this isn't the first passive soundbar to hit the market, Krix has, in effect, created a new weight class and beefed it up for that knockout punch. The LX-7 has all the ingredients to become the go-to product for small to mid-size media rooms nationwide. If you want serious home cinema sound without filling your room with cumbersome floorstanding speakers, or cutting large holes in your walls only to find your cavity isn't deep enough, then the LX-7 is the obvious choice. It's classic Krix cinema quality in a neo-Krix form factor. Finally, soundbars can be exciting.
With a 20 year passion for home cinema ensuring he will never be able to afford retirement, Michael’s days involve endless dad-jokes and enjoying the short time before his son is old enough to demand the home theatre becomes a temple to Frozen II.
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