Review: Tangent Spectrum X5 HC 5.1

Test Tangent Spectrum X5 HC 5.1

This week we reviewed the Tangent Spectrum X5 HC 5.1 home theater speaker pack, comprised of the Tangent Spectrum X4 and Tangent Spectrum X5 compact speakers, the Tangent Spectrum XC center speaker, and the Tangent Spectrum XSW-8 subwoofer. A particularly compact 5.1 configuration boasting an elegant design, and an ideal solution for a smaller living room.

Tangent Spectrum X5 HC 5.1: why choose the Tangent Spectrum 5.1 speaker pack?

First of all, because Tangent speakers benefit from a design which is both classic and elegant. This criteria is particularly important for speakers and Tangent is well aware of it. The wood veneer base and the grills give these speakers a unique visual identity which makes them particularly easy to integrate into a living room. The second reason is the Tangent Spectrum’s simple technical design, developed to ensure compatibility with a wide range of hi-fi amplifiers and home theater receivers. The compact speaker drivers are loaded inside relatively small spaces and even in a sealed enclosure for the center speaker, which enhances transient response.

Test Tangent Spectrum X5 HC 5.1

Test Tangent Spectrum X5 HC 5.1

Aesthetically pleasing and practical, the wooden base of each Tangent Spectrum speaker is fitted with rubber pads for optimal decoupling.

Tangent Spectrum X5 HC 5.1: presentation

Tangent X4: This is the smallest of the two compact speakers in the range. It features a circular back-firing bass reflex port, a 4” medium-bass driver, and 1” soft dome tweeter. The 10” driver is fitted with light mobile parts (voice coil) for an enhanced response. The Tangent Spectrum X4 is very compact and is therefore not designed to handle low frequencies below 70 Hz (which prevents an excessive course at high volume from damaging the driver). This speaker’s main asset is its linearity, but it comes with a price, as its sensitivity is rather low (86 dB/W/m).  The Spectrum X4 requires the support of a subwoofer to create a convincing home theater experience.

Tangent X5: The older sibling of the Spectrum X4, fitted with the same tweeter but paired with a bigger driver (5”) loaded in a bigger enclosure (still using bass-reflex technology and a back-firing circular port), which gives the Tangent Spectrum X5 the ability to reach lower frequencies (50 Hz) while adding 2 dB (88 dB/W/m) to its sensitivity rating. Due to its larger emissive surface, the X5 can create a broader soundstage (in both width and height) than the X4.

Test Tangent Spectrum X5 HC 5.1

Each speaker from the Tangent Spectrum series features a back-firing circular bass-reflex port.

Tangent XC: The Tangent Spectrum XC center speaker is equipped with the same medium-bass drivers as the X4, and they’re also loaded in a bass-reflex enclosure (two ports). According to Tangent, the speaker can go as low as 50 Hz, which seems unlikely considering the size of the speaker. However, an extended frequency response is not necessary for the reproduction of voices.

Test Tangent Spectrum X5 HC 5.1

The back of the Tangent Spectrum XC.

Tangent XSW-8: Tangent XSW-8: The Tangent Spectrum series’ subwoofer is very compact (28 cm high) and  fitted with an 8” driver specially designed for a sealed enclosure. Its integrated amplifier provides a moderate amount of power (90 W RMS). It is also equipped with an active variable low-pass crossover filter, a phase switch, an automatic or manual on/off switch, and a pair of high-level and low-level inputs (stereo RCA and binding post).

Test Tangent Spectrum X5 HC 5.1

The Tangent Spectrum XSW-8 subwoofer can easily be fine-tuned.

Tangent Spectrum X5 HC 5.1: test conditions

To conduct this test, we used the Yamaha RX-V781 home theater receiver, paired up with the Panasonic DMP-UB900 Ultra HD Blu-ray player. We used NorStone W250 speaker wire for all of our listening sessions. Each speaker was set up as “small” in the receiver’s menu, which means that all the low frequencies were sent to the subwoofer. We arbitrarily set the cutoff frequency at 100 Hz, so that the high-bass range could be transmitted to the subwoofer as well, especially since the latter benefits from a good transient response (sealed enclosure). We adjusted this frequency on the subwoofer, too. With this configuration, the Tangent X4, Tangent X5 and Tangent XC were freed from the low frequency register, thus enhancing their response over the rest of the sound spectrum (100 Hz to 20 kHz). We didn’t use the auto-calibration system but simply adjusted the level of each channel manually (+1 dB for each surround channel, Tangent X4). Front-left and front-right speakers: Tangent X5, center speaker: Tangent XC, surround speakers: Tangent X4.

Test Tangent Spectrum X5 HC 5.1

Tangent Spectrum X5 HC 5.1: listening impressions

We had already tested the Tangent X4 compact speakers previously, and we found them to be sharp and clear, with a pleasant balance between bright and sharp highs and tight low-mids. No need to turn the home theater receiver’s volume all the way up to get a clear restitution of the audio message with these compact speakers. The same applies to the Tangent X5 (FL and FR), with the addition of a wider sound stage due to its larger driver. The sound signature is the same, which means the 5.1 system ensures a particularly coherent restitution. This sound signature is defined by energetic low-mids and slightly highlighted highs, while the overall restitution does not suffer from any imbalance. This slightly personalized sound signature makes the Tangent Spectrum speakers “easy” to listen to. The sound is clear, especially at low volume. The fact that it is not necessary to turn the volume all the way up to enjoy an immersive home theater experience is one of the major assets of this Tangent speaker pack. When listening at high volume, the tweeter’s fervor needs to be tamed a little with a slight EQ (any receiver with an auto-calibration system will take care of it).

Batman v Superman, the final fight
The epic battle opposing Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman with Doomsday is delivered in a convincing way, even at low volume. Extra credit for the Tangent XSW-8 subwoofer which does not get carried away and simply provides a strong foundation to the soundstage. If the downpour of images is stifling, the sound delivery provides discernible breathing room to the audience. The Tangent X4 situated in the back add a lot of depth to the experience, for example during Wonder Woman’s assaults.


Doomsday in Batman v Superman

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the destruction of Jedha
The Tangent Spectrum XSW-8 subwoofer is put to the test during the attack on the Death Star, due to the complex layer of low frequencies at high volume. By keeping the subwoofer’s volume dial at mid-level and the amplifier at high volume, we overstepped the driver’s mechanical capacities (some crackling caused by the cone’s excessive excursion). A really good test to find the optimal volume adjustment of this subwoofer, or to decide if you need to add a second one.

David Bowie : A Reality Tour, Under Pressure, Life on Mars, I’m afraid of americans, Heroes
The voices of David Bowie and Gail Ann Dorsey restituted via the center channel are well separated and the subwoofer provides the perfect amount of energy to bring the famous bass line to life. We can distinctly hear the audience clapping in the background. Life on Mars showcases the qualities of the center speaker, with a very intimate delivery of Bowie’s voice. The performance of the speaker pack on I’m Afraid of Americans is particularly enticing and the restitution is powerful thanks to the subwoofer. During Heroes, the bass drum is well defined and the guitars are properly placed. The Tangent speakers delivered a satisfying performance.

Tangent Spectrum X5 HC 5.1: conclusion

The Tangent Spectrum X5 HC 5.1 speaker pack is a great value and is especially easy to appreciate at moderate volume. The Tangent Spectrum pack is a great option if you’re not looking for an exceedingly loud delivery and would rather experience smooth performance in a small living room while keeping the neighbors happy. For a more spectacular experience, the Tangent Spectrum X6 HC 5.1 pack, featuring the Tangent Spectrum X6 floor-standing speakers, or an additional Tangent XSW-8 subwoofer, are options to consider.

Enceintes Tangent Spectrum

This post is also available in: French

About the author

Tristan Jacquel

Tristan est rédacteur chez Son-Vidé Passionné de musique, d'acoustique et de high-tech, il réalise notamment les tests matériels pour notre blog.

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