Onkyo X3

FOR Wide sound­field; good de­tail; pairs with two de­vices AGAINST Lack­lus­tre de­liv­ery; bass and mid need more power

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

A fair as­sump­tion here is that the X3 is the big­ger brother to the lit­tle Onkyo T3. And it is, un­de­ni­ably, big­ger, but the two mod­els don’t im­me­di­ately scream ‘sib­lings’. We’re think­ing more ‘cousins’.

Eschew­ing the in­got-like look of the lit­tle ’un, the X3 adopts an el­lip­ti­cal form. In the process, though, it loses the vis­ual charm of the lit­tle T3. It’s sleek, yes, but it’s also a plain-look­ing Blue­tooth speaker – es­pe­cially when pitched up against ri­vals such as the JBL Charge 2+ (see p36) and Award-win­ning UE Roll 2.

The up­per end of por­ta­ble

The larger chas­sis – the X3 weighs 620g more than the T3 – nat­u­rally isn’t as handy as its cousin’s but al­lows the Onkyo to re­main in the ‘por­ta­ble’ cat­e­gory. It will still fit in your lug­gage, but it’s no longer a shoo-in for a hand­bag. The up­side is more space for com­po­nents. The X3 houses a pair of 45mm driv­ers plus a brace of 64mm pas­sive ra­di­a­tors, driven by 2 x 4.5W max power.

In ad­di­tion to the en­hanced au­dio mus­cle, the X3 main­tains the T3’s por­ta­ble power-pack fea­ture – feel free to use a mains-charged X3 to re­vive your smart­phone – as well as a mic for hands-free calls. The pack­age in­cludes a power sup­ply and, hand­ily, re­gional plugs, mean­ing one less de­vice for your travel plug. Even without be­ing at­tached to the mains, the Onkyo prom­ises up to eight hours’ play from a full charge.

Two’s com­pany

The X3 also of­fers a dou­ble-pair­ing func­tion. Es­sen­tially, this en­ables you to si­mul­ta­ne­ously con­nect two de­vices, let­ting you in­stantly switch mu­sic be­tween them. This fea­ture is easy to ‘skim-read over’, but in ac­tion it’s ac­tu­ally pretty neat. Whether you’ve got a buddy over, or you and your part­ner con­nect, we came up with a fair few sce­nar­ios where this op­tion is marked ‘im­prove­ment’ on the ker­fuf­fle of un-pair­ing and pair­ing de­vices – of­ten to just hear one new track.

“It en­ables you to con­nect two de­vices and in­stantly switch mu­sic be­tween them”

In com­par­i­son

At this money, the fea­ture count is good, but the sound qual­ity doesn’t re­ceive our dou­ble thumbs-up. As ex­pected it sounds big­ger than the slighter X3, reach­ing fur­ther while de­liv­er­ing an evenly spread sound. De­tail is fine here too, and in­di­vid­ual in­stru­ments are clear and present. On first listen, the Onkyo also af­fords Holst’s Mars rea­son­able space in which to son­i­cally breathe, but a swift com­par­i­son with other de­vices around this price con­firms that this clas­sic piece of clas­si­cal mer­its more head­room.

Switch to sim­i­larly priced, and sized, ri­val speak­ers and they give Mars not just space in which to ma­raud, but outer space, too. The X3 doesn’t bring the reach, or mus­cle, to match the best.

Holst’s Plan­ets Suite also ex­poses the X3’s lim­ited dy­nam­ics and ‘matt’ per­for­mance. Mars wants for the full im­pact of its dy­namic sweeps and un­der­ly­ing threat, while Jupiter’s strings need more re­fine­ment and vigour – con­se­quently, we’re left with Mars – The Bringer Of A Bit Of An Ar­gu­ment, and Jupiter – The Bringer Of Half A Smile.

As is the way, the big­gest prob­lem for the Onkyo X3 is not its per­sonal short­com­ings – the unit re­mains well spec­i­fied, ad­e­quately turned out, and over­all lis­ten­able. No, the big­gest threats come from ri­val prod­ucts such as those men­tioned at the top of our re­view. Stan­dards have re­cently risen sharply in wire­less-speaker world; these mod­els set the bar high and the X3 fails to clear it.

Though big­ger than its T3 sta­ble­mate, the X3 nev­er­the­less still qual­i­fies as a por­ta­ble

Even with its sleek, cur­va­ceous form, the X3 looks pretty con­ven­tional to­day

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