When I switched over to my Zu Dirty Weekends and played the same track for comparison, I found the guitar and saxophone leads were a bit smoother and the combination of the bass and the drums had a little more clarity. Not to say that the 35XTi was lacking in either department—far from it, actually. I liked the forward nature of the 35XTi’s midrange. It felt forceful in a good way. So far, though, I felt that the upper-midrange and treble really shined the most, especially compared to the Zu DWs. Maybe it was the Folded-Motion tweeter, but the cymbals had just the right amount of sparkle without getting all grainy and uncomfortable. Even the Hammond’s loudest high notes weren’t shouty or harsh, which was a small miracle.
Next up, I put on Lana Del Rey’s new album Norman ____ Rockwell. I couldn’t think of any other album to better demonstrate midrange purity. Del Rey’s signature breathy vocals are buttery smooth and absolutely flawless, and the arrangements flit from stripped-down acoustic guitars to full-fledged orchestral bombs. Her neo-gothic and very American style feels like pop on the surface, but her layered lyrics and breathy vocals really elevate every song she puts together. Needless to say, I’m a fan. The track “The Next Best American Record” is a very self-aware ballad with Del Rey’s vocals front and center. The reverb and acoustic guitar accompaniment simply sounded easy through the 35XTi. During the chorus, when her voice moved up through her range, the shimmering quality of her vocals came through clear as day. Del Rey has the ability to be both soft and strong, and the forceful presentation of the 35XTi really reinforced that dichotomy.
I think that was the aspect of the 35XTi’s that I liked the best. Their impactful forwardness—for lack of a better term—felt driving and engaging. However, that same enjoyable intensity could occasionally come off as harsh or a little too forward. These aren’t the most neutral speakers I’ve heard, or the warmest, but they have an enchanting quality about them.
I finished my listening back on the turntable with an album from the spiritual-jazz-oriented trumpeter Matthew Halsall. He’s had a few albums reissued lately, and I grabbed the deluxe version of the record Colour Love. On Side C, the track “I’ve Been Here Before” begins as a slow, almost sensuous march, centered by the trumpet’s call and colored by a shimmering harp. To my ear, that deep, lingering bass note was the center point around which the composition seemed to flow. The 35XTi reproduced it with aplomb—a nice, appropriately booming note in contrast with the ethereal harp and trumpet playing. It was that impactful quality again, making even a slow, quieter song come across with power.
A more upbeat outing from Halsall and company was the track “Mudita,” a nicely rollicking tune with a very solid and interesting drum solo toward the end. The mix showcases the dynamic range of the drums, and fits perfectly into the 35XTi’s profile. Cymbals shimmer, sparkled, shone, and the kick, snare, and toms were all firm and carried a nice wallop. When the horns came back up again, the drums kept rolling, contrasting with the almost gentle trumpet style. It had me nodding along the whole time, really just enjoying the stomping beat.
In the end, I liked the 35XTi. It’s as simple as that. They look nice and their sonic qualities kept me listening. In fact, I’ll probably leave them up for a little bit past the end of this review, just because I like them. There are a million different ways speakers can voice music, but it’s those presentations that keep me sitting and listening that really matter. The 35XTi really hit it out of the park in this regard. I think they’d be great party speakers, and they did my ever-growing jazz collection justice. Well worth a listen.
Specs & Pricing
Driver complement: 1.25" x 2.4" Folded Motion XT tweeter, 6.5" aluminum cone woofer
Frequency response: 50Hz–20kHz (±3dB)
Impedance: 4 ohms
Finish: Black, white, rosewood
Dimensions: 7.6" x 13.5" x 11.8"
Weight: 18.5 lbs.
Price: $699 each
2101 Delaware St.
Lawrence, KS 66046