Leema Acoustics, the internationally respected hi-fi manufacturer founded and run by two
ex-BBC sound engineers, has launched the Xen 2 loudspeaker; the original Xen having been
the result of a research project to squeeze a BBC-graded monitor speaker into a 5L cabinet !
The new Xen 2 is based on the previous model (deleted in 2008), but with a host of
improvements for 2015. With a volume of just five cubic litres and a front baffle that’s A5,
the new Xen 2 is super-compact and easy to position in almost any home or studio
environment. Despite its dimensions, the Xen 2 has a frequency response extending down
to 57Hz and all the way up to 25kHz. It is also efficient at 85dB, making it perfect for
mainstream amplifiers with an output of between 60W and 150W.
Originally conceived 17 years ago as a cost-no-object nearfield monitor for use in recording
studios and broadcast vehicles, Leema Acoustics’ Xen loudspeaker quickly found favour with
music lovers outside of the professional environment. The original Xen was never designed
for domestic use, but like its predecessor, the new Xen 2 retains the stunning imaging, bass
performance and dynamics that made the original so popular with the public.
Uncompromising cabinet design
The Xen 2’s cabinet construction is uncompromising. It is made from folded and welded
steel, 1.5mm thick; in a speaker of this size, using the industry-standard 18mm-thick
MDF/veneer solution would have simply added too much bulk. The steel is lined with a
bitumastic layer, a technique also employed in the automotive industry, and the cavity is
then stuffed with real sheep’s wool (German not Welsh!).
The back panel is steel with bitumen on the inside and the crossover board is attached to
the terminals directly. The crossover uses Bennic parts and air core inductors where
possible, to avoid saturation and compression in the crossover. The cabinet also benefits
from a 12mm-thick steel bar across the centre to prevent flex and the front panel is
machined from an impressively rigid high-grade MDF to provide the drive units with the
optimum operating environment. The baffle is then finished in either a luxurious wood
veneer or a conventional black paint.
All about the bass
The Xen 2 benefits from two bass reflex ports, which extend into the cabinet then fold down
behind the bass driver, with each measuring (a substantial) 260mm. Twin ports are used to
ensure that the speed of the air moving in the port is below 0.1x the speed of sound (Mach).
This important design factor is often overlooked: the column of air in bass ports can
generate too much friction at high Mach, which leads to unwanted port compression
effects. In addition, the column of air reacts with the air in the room as if it were a solid,
resulting in port-hammer.
The Xen 2’s bass ports are placed close to the drive unit, so that the integration is as good as
possible. The original Xen has SEAS drivers, but following their discontinuation, Leema
Acoustics’ engineering team commissioned a drive unit to be built to its own specification.
The bass/mid driver is a highly durable unit with exceptional cone excursion and the tweeter
is a soft-dome unit with a neodymium magnet and Ferro-fluid-loaded coil, which helps
damp resonance and aid cooling.
In order to combat the unwanted midrange peak inherent in many four-inch (100mm) drive
units, the cabinet has been specially designed to ‘give a little’ at just the right frequency
which helps minimise the effect.
Cabinet: Braced folded steel, wooden baffle
Tweeter: 25mm soft-dome unit
Bass/mid unit: 100mm custom-spec unit
Finishes: Silver with veneered baffle; black paint
Price and availability
The Xen 2 is priced at £1,295 and is available now.