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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Greetings to all!
I was looking for a new HT forum with less 12year old posters (hint hint to where I come from) and this seems to be a nice place:
I recently bought this speakers (HTD Level3) and would like to share my experiences with it as well as a comparison I did with a friends Onix X-LS and Rockets 250.

Here are my first impressions:

Finally got my HTD Level 3 Center with the Horizontal Ribbon tweeter and boy am I impressed!

Looks:

To my eyes it looks gorgeous. The light cherry color (which is not my favorite) really looks pretty and the drivers are very good looking as well. Even my wife liked it.

Build Quality:

This thing is built like a tank! It passes the knuckle rap test with ease. You can really tell a lot about this speaker just by admiring the build quality. Its kind of big at 22" but I love huge center speakers (bigfoot anyone?). All in all, as I am writing this, I cant stop looking at it...I am in LOVE!

Sound Quality:
Ok, I am no expert but WOW!
I tried everything from heavy metal to mariachis and everything was oh so great. The acoustic guitars, trumpets, pianos, everything sounded so natural that I couldnt help but listening to each whole song even though I was supposed to be testing only. Thats when you know you got something special.
Who ever said that the ribbon tweeter was dull or mufled either was talking based on other ribbon tweeters he may have heard before or really like ultra bright speakers because this Level 3 sounds perfect to me.
The bass is really tight and hits very low, ****, I though the sub was still on at one point. They claim 45hz +/- 3db and I will have to believe them. The mids are just perfectly balanced and natural. The highs (which I was afraid of based on ribbon tweeter comments Ive read) are just amazing. You get ultra detailed highs without been harsh or bright...its like "Having Your Cake and Eating it Too". You actually seem to get the best of both worlds because you dont get fatigue or endure harshness and yet the detail is superb.
To make it short, this speaker blew me away much more than the original Level 3 did when I went to their office while I was living in Texas. I really dont feel the need to look elsewhere as this speaker delivers everything I was looking for and then some. Now all I need to figure out is if I want to go with 3 center channels to use as Mains and Center or get the Level 3 bookshelves.

As a reference Ive auditioned or owned the following speakers (among others):

Acoustic Research 318PS
AR PSC25
Klipsch RC52
Klipsch RF82
Paradigm Titans
Paradigm CC-70 (center)
Advent tower (cant recall the model)
Insignia

The receiver used for testing is the Harman Kardon AVR-635

If you have any questions please ask. My testings is limited since I only have 1 speaker so not sound stage or imaging comments yet. Still, for anyone looking for speakers I will say PLEASE do your self a favor and get this, HTD will even pay for shipping BOTH ways so its a totally risk free trial, now I know what they are so confident to do that.


HERE IS THE COMPARISON / REVIEW

First of all let me thank skriefal for taking the time to come home and bring the rockets and onix plus cd player, iriver and stands! BTW, he sold me some nice stands for practically nothing and it makes my speakers even sweeter now since the tweeter is at ear level.
Anyway, I will only comment on my feelings about the speakers and my preferences (which happen to be different from skriefal's).

About me:
I dislike ultra bright speakers but dont like them to be too laid back either. To give you an example so that you can relate, I dislike Klipsch as I found the harsh and I also found Paradigm Titans very bright too. If you are familiar with those speakers then you will have an idea of what I call bright.

Equipment:
Receiver : Harman Kardon AVR-635
Sources: My (really loud) PC and skriefal's Iriver (?) player.
Music played: Some of my latin music like mariachis, salsa, and tropical music. I will let him comment on the titles of the songs he used. I do recall Drawns to the Rythm by Sarah Mclachlan.

Speakers :
HTD Level 3 Center
Onix X-LS
Rocket 250 (first version)

Impressions:

Rockets:

Highs: It sounded to laid back for my taste. I dont really think I would be happy with these speakers cause I the highs are to recessed for me even though I dislike bright speakers.
Mids: They have very refined mids but so do the other 2. Voices sound very nice but the lack of highs hampered its performance.

Bass: It has less bass than the others but what it has its good. Its a balanced bass without trying to be more than what it should. Still, I dont see me using it wihout a sub.
Soundstage: The soundstage was very wide, almost as wide as the HTD. Where it beats the HTD is in depth..hard to explain but it seemed to extretch further back from the speakers than the HTD and Onix.
Imaging: Very good imaging and easy to pinpoin instruments but we didnt test that much with the Rockets to be honest.

Overall Impression: My 3rd choice in this shootout which is surprising cause I was expecting it to blew the other 2 away.

Onix X-LS:

Highs: Nice highs, much better than the Rocket but less bright than the HTD. I really like the highs in these but sometimes some instruments sounded lacking just a tiny bit of brightness like trumpets and violins in a mariachi song I tried.
Mids: Very nice mids just like the Rocket but not quite as refined. Voices were clear as well. Acoustic instruments sounded very realistic and "in the room".
Bass: Second place in the bass department, I was really surprised at the bass performance. Much better than the Rockets, Titans and Insignias but not as deep as the HTD which didnt surprised me since its a bigger speaker and rated at 45hz +/- 3db. Still, I dont see any reason not to be happy using the Onix without a subwoofer since the bass is controlled and solid for music.
Soundstage: I felt is had the narrowest soundtage of all 3. That kind of hurt it in my evaluation cause a wide soundstage is somthing I really desire in a speaker. Again, nothing wrong with it and on its own its a good soundstage but this is a comparison so I am giving my opinion.
Imaging: Imaging was very good as again, pinpointing where instruments were was quite easy.

Overall:
My second choice with ease. If it were for music performance alone, I wouldnt mind having either the HTD or Onix as they both have an amazing performance for music. I like the extra touch of brightness of the HTD but I know skriefal feels the opposite...thats why there are many different type of speakers, cause not everyone like the same thing. :)
My only concern with this speaker will be Home Theater performance...I sometimes feel my HTD lack a bit of brightness for HT so I can imagine the Onix will sound even more laid back for my taste. If I were buying a music only setup I will probably buy the Onix and save some money compared to buying all Centers like I did with the HTD (or maybe try the HTD bookshelves).
So, to summarize...highly recommended for music but I have my doubts about ht performance.

HTD Level3:

Highs: All the fear about having dull or mudded highs due to ribbon tweeter had no reason to exist. ****, if anything we both agreed that it was the brightest of all 3. The difference is that I feel is the bright as in detailed sound and not the Klipsch or Titan harshness. In the mariachi track, trumpets had that extra bite that Im used to hear from my years in a latin band.
Mids: Very good mids second only to the Rockets. Voices were very clear and it had a really full sound to the mids. Acoustical instruments were very realistic and again, that in the room feeling. I didnt feel it was to upfront or laidback...more like very nicely balanced which could be a benefit of having the ribbon tweeter as well.
Bass: It had the biggest bass of all 3 and it was controlled and punchy but never boomy. That was expected and I can easily use it (and normally do) without a sub for music perforamce..for movies of course I need a sub.
Soundstage: To widest soundstage IMHO. The only thing it lacked was the same depth the Rocket one had but it was defenitly wider. Thats a big thing for me.
Imaging: As with the other 2, imaging was great with different instruments occupating a different space. The one thing I was mostly impressed with was at one point in the Drum of the Rythm track the sound seem to be coming out of a very high place behind the speakers almost from the cealing...it was great. Besides that thing, the imaging seem to be pretty even between all 3.

Overall:
This was my 1st choice due to its more balanced HT and Music performance. I would love to have that deep soundstage the rockets have but they are so laidback for my taste that I wouldnt be happy with them. Besides, the HTD had a wider soundstage which I love cause it makes my room seem a lot bigger! I felt the HTD gave ME what I wanted. Enough detailed highs to bring out all the acoustical instruments nuances without falling in the harsh/ear piercing category. I have the choice of returning them (at least one) and buying the Onix if I wanted but I dont really feel like doing that. The HTD fits ME better but I can honestly say that have I bought the Onix I wouldnt have been dissapointed either at least for music.
Its just that the extra amount of controlled bass, better balance, extra detail of the ribbon tweeter, huge soundstage, highly defineded imaging and simply put "fuller sound" made it the winner in my book. I am sure the MTM design made a difference as well and also keep in mind its a bigger speaker than the other 2 with dual woofers so the fuller sound and bass performance was expected since its a "high" quality speaker at this price range.
The x-ls and HTD are both extremely good speakers with slightly different caracteristics that some people will prefer over the other and that sounds great for me. In order to get this level of performance from other speakers you will probably have to spend a lot more so if you are looking for new speakers, do yourself a favor and pick up one pair of each, the HTD and the Onix, and decide which one fits you better. Either way you will be getting a great bang for buck deal.
Regards

PS It seems that you need decent power to make them perform but I will test an old pioneer this Sunday 5th to confirm that theory.
UPDATED Nov 4th/2006

FINALLY SOME PICS:
Some images of my babies!
Keep in mind this are CENTER speakers so thats why the port (line transmission one) is on the side. You can always use the grills if you dont like the way they look on their side or get the bookshelves but in my case, I love how they look....its my 22" inch tall bookshelf!






 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Actually they use real veneer even in their Level 2 speakers. Construction quality its very high indeed. I have been asking Chris (main guy there in terms of customer service) and the advantage they have is that their parent company builds those drivers so they can get away using very expensive drivers and still hit a very affordable price. I just hope they will put more info on their page. Havent I heard their previous gen speakers when I was living in Dallas, I would have probably not even paid attention to them.
It seems they are about to update their page with more indepth info, at least thats what he told me when I asked him if he had any info, diagrams on how the line transmission design is applied here.
The only bad thing I see is that they are no longer making the Center with horizontal tweeter so that when you turn them on the side, it will be vertical so most people will prefer to get bookshelves and a matching center and not go all centers like I am doing.
Regards
 

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Impressive Review! Thanks for taking the time to share your impressions.
And they do look nice, especially for the $$ -- wow!

And are you using these as your L/R speakers too? It kind of looked like from your pics, but I wasn't sure.

JCD
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks!
Yes I use them as Mains and totally love their sound...at least with my HK they are stunning and the detail I am hearing now its like listening to things for the first time.
I will be reviewing more Onix stuff soon but I will reserve details for a while...needless to say, I will be privilege to review some non released speakers! :)
 

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I know this is an old post, but I wanted to let you all know that we're planning to travel to Plano this weekend. I would like to stop in and see how the Level II bookshelf & Towers sounds.

If anyone here listen / demo'd the Level II please share your thoughts.

Many thanks!!
 
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