Xindak Compass 1.6 Loudspeakers

2011-01-31T19:07:41+00:00January 31st, 2011|Reviews, Speakers and Subwoofers|29 Comments

You could say that Xindak is a company of many talents. For more than 20 years this Chinese company has been in the business of manufacturing amplifiers, integrated amplifiers, CD players, DACs, speakers, cables, power conditioners and other audio accessories. Our first encounter with Xindak was a few months ago when we tested the V15 integrated tube amplifier ($1299) and came to a very positive conclusion. You can now find the V15 review on our website This time around, we decided to try a component from the speaker category – we asked Worldwide Wholesales (Canadian distributor for Xindak) to send us a pair of the Xindak Compass 1.6 Loudspeakers, priced at $1699.

Visually, the Compass 1.6 is a medium-to-larger-sized bookshelf speaker measuring 8.75 inches wide by 17 inches high by 10.5 inches deep. The speaker cabinets are finished in a wood veneer that has somewhat of an undated look – they reminded me of a tuner that my dad owned back in the 80s with a similar type of finish. The front baffle of each speaker is made of black plastic and houses a 6 inch paper woofer combined with a 1.25 inch soft dome tweeter. Below the woofer is a 2 inch vent port. Since these speakers are front ported, they can be placed relatively close to the wall if you prefer. Black material speaker grilles are provided for the speakers.

Specification-wise, the Compass 1.6 speakers have an impedance of 8 ohms, a frequency response rated from 45 Hz to 25 kHz and a sensitivity of 87 dB. The woofer and the tweeter are crossed over at 3.7 kHz. Xindak recommends between 30 and 200 watts of power for each speaker.

On the back of each speaker cabinet, a milled aluminium panel houses all of the connectors. One unusual element immediately stood out here – each speaker has a small 3 volt lithium battery, one you would typically find in a watch, inside a clear plastic enclosure. Flanking the battery are two flick-switches, one which engages Xindak’s Bias Technology feature and one which indicates whether the battery has a charge. What does Bias Technology mean? Unlike most speakers which use a single capacitor, these speakers use a combination of two capacitors connected in series and a battery. Xindak says that this unique design feature reduces distortion and enriches the high frequencies. Rounding out the back panel are four gold-plated speaker terminals which allow for bi-amping or bi-wiring of each speaker. Shipped from the factory, metal jumpers are installed between the terminals for those who wish to feed just one amplifier channel to each speaker.

For the duration of this review, Robert from Worldwide Wholesales also provided me with a Xindak FA-Gold analogue interconnect cable (1 meter, $899). This cable uses a mono-crystal oxygen-free copper foil conductor that is covered by a layer of silver and gold. Each FA-Gold cable has a wooden mechanical damper on the outside of the jacket and is terminated with gold-plated WBT connectors.

While connecting the speakers to my two channel system, I removed the speaker jumpers and bi-wired each speaker to my Classé Audio CA-2100 amplifier/CP-500 preamplifier. I positioned the speakers one foot from the back wall and seven feet apart and auditioned them with a variety of music ranging from classic symphonies to alternative rock. My sources were an ARCAM DiVA CD73 CD player and a Goldring GR1.2 turntable.

Let me start by saying that these speakers must be given enough time to properly burn in. The sound that I heard upon first setting them up, did not do them justice – in fact, initially I wasn’t very impressed. It was only after some 100 hours that they appeared to reach their potential.

I began my listening tests with Respighi “The Birds: Brazilian Impressions” performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Antal Dorati on vinyl. When playing the first track “Prelude”, the Compass 1.6 speakers produced a formidable soundstage that stretched beyond the walls of my listening room, in terms of depth and width. I closed my eyes and was effortlessly able to picture the arrangement of the orchestra in the three-dimensional sonic landscape. Instruments in the higher registers, like cymbals and triangles, sounded detailed and crisp and their ringing decayed naturally. When the louder passages hit, the bass notes not only played low but I could actually feel their energy in my room. The bass notes were perhaps not as well articulated or as tight as I’ve heard from other speakers but nevertheless they were satisfying from speakers of this size. On the whole, the presentation on this and other classical albums was natural and clean.

Early in my critical listening tests I experimented with the Bias Technology feature. With the ‘bias’ switch on, I found the Compass 1.6 to produce better pronounced and more detailed mid and high frequencies. I should also say that the highs did not become harsh or tiring to listen to with the ‘bias’ turned on. The improvement was subtle but noticeable after flipping the ‘bias’ switch on and off several times. Deciding that there was a definite benefit to having this feature enabled, I listened to the speakers in this mode for the remainder of my tests. Your experience may vary depending on the type of music that you listen to and the type of amp/preamp you’ll be using.

Next up, I listened to the Norah Jones Feels Like Home CD. Norah’s graceful, smoky voice sounded exactly that on the Compass 1.6 speakers. With tracks like “Sunrise” and “What Am I to You?” the mids and especially the highs exhibited great details, without sounding strained or fatiguing. The bass notes were deep, warm and full bodied. After listening to a few tracks from this disc, I had no doubt that these speakers were a great match for jazz.

Comparing the Xindak FA-Gold interconnects to some of the other interconnect cables that I’ve been using, I found these cables to deliver a nicely balanced soundfield with very clean mids and crisp high frequencies. Overall, the cable produced a soundstage of great width and perfectly natural timbres.

I also spent some time listening to The Best of Chopin, a two disc Golden Classics collection. The speakers communicated the varying emotions of the piano very appropriately. The quieter passages were soft and mellow, while the louder passages had considerable energy and drama. In general, this pure piano disc sounded pleasing on the Compass 1.6 speakers.

On Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon CD/SACD the Compass 1.6 bookshelf speakers showed that they had the ability to resolve complex, multilayered audio. The multiple layers of audio played in harmony, yet when I wanted to I could isolate and focus on just one layer at a time. This album again demonstrated that these speakers were able to produce a soundstage that was considerable in both depth and width.

From a performance perspective Xindak’s Compass 1.6 bookshelf speakers do offer a good value for their $1699 price. They performed very well with all types of music, across the entire frequency range, especially in the mid and high registers. Visually however, their outdated aesthetics may not appeal to everyone. All in all, the Compass 1.6 bookshelves kept me well entertained during their several week stay at my house.

Distributed in Canada by Worldwide Wholesales

Xindak Compass 1.6 Bookshelf Speakers
Price: $1,699 CAD

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