Is The World Ready for an Off-Center Tweeter? Emotiva Announces The Airmotiv X Loudspeakers

This past week, Emotiva announced the Airmotiv X loudspeakers series. With a new design, they stand ready to replace the previous Airmotiv line. Emotiva has three flavors of towers ($1460-$2900/pr.) and centers ($580-$1300/ea.), a pair of bookshelf speakers ($720/ea.), and surround/elevation/ceiling speakers ($580/pr.), are these on your next upgrade list? Let’s discuss!

What’s New?

The most obvious difference is in design. Gone are the angular lines of the old Emotiva Airmotiv line. Love them, or hate them, that design was distinctive and everyone knew instantly that speakers was an Emotiva speaker. The new design is more traditional, with big black boxes with square lines. One might call them boring, but I am a sucker for the classic loudspeaker look.

That’s a lot of woofers!

The design of the new Airmotiv X towers is also very woofer-heavy! Each sports a trio of woofers, and at least a single midrange. The top-of-the-line Airmotiv XT3 has a trio of 8″ woofers. a pair of mids sandwiching the ribbon tweeter, and stands 4′ tall! Now that is what I call a tower speaker! The listed specs are impressive, with the XT3 digging down to 30Hz.

Center Changes

Regarding design, Emotiva has decided to move their XC1 and XC2 center speakers away from a sealed, traditional MTM (mid-tweeter-mid) driver layout. Instead, they have moved to a ported, WMTW (woofer-mid-tweeter-woofer) design with a tweeter that is not centered on the front baffle. I will admit that I am not a speaker designer and I am sure that they did computer modeling and that it functions as intended. But…and this is a big but, that design is going to trigger a lot of home theater enthusiasts. Don’t worry, the Emotiva XC3 is a tower on its side is a WWMTMWW design. That’s right folks, no passive radiators. All active drivers!

Of note, Emotiva points out that their new Airmotiv X line is crafted from HDF – high-density fiberboard. Most speakers are made from MDF. In theory, the denser HDF is stiffer material and many will claim that it will have less resonance. What is really happening is that the HDF material just moves the resonances to different points in the frequency range. Having lugged around a 10″ subwoofer made from HDF, I can tell you that there is a significant weight difference between the two. Emotiva also points out the new X series are “extensively damped” which also should lead reduce resonance.

What’s The Same?

The Emotiva Airmotiv X line still features a folded ribbon tweeter. While the new tweeter is slightly larger and has a neomagnet system, I would suggest they are more similar than not. Power handling and sensitivity remain largely the same. The Airmotiv X has average sensitivity for their bookshelf speakers (86dB) and slightly higher for the towers (91dB).

I’d be interested to see if this new ribbon tweeter is as directional as past iterations of Airmotiv speakers. Since most ribbon tweeters do suffer from some form of directionality, I would suggest that is a yes, but I will wait till I can hear a pair or see some measurements. Plus there has been some refinement on the tweeter housing/waveguide, so that may help.

What also remains the same is the 4ohm nominal impedance across the entire line of Airmotiv X series. While Emotiva points out that, while the speakers are 4 ohm nominal, they are compatible with an 8 ohm receiver. I have long thought that Emotiva highlighted the 4ohm nominal to push folks toward their line of power amplifiers. I’m sure they’d be more than happy to sell you an amp to power your new speakers.


There is a new price with the Airmotiv X line. The new X line has a higher MSRP than the older line. A set of B2+ bookshelf speakers was $500, the new XB2 speakers are $720. That’s just about a 45% increase in price. You can expect a similar price increase over the line. This is a departure from Emotiva’s previous stance of being one of the lower-priced competitors in the home theater segment.

Tower Speakers
Airmotiv XT1 (Pair)$1466.00
Airmotiv XT2 (Pair)$1905.00
Airmotiv XT3 (Pair)$2932.00
Center Speakers
Airmotiv XC1$586.00
Airmotiv XC2$879.00
Airmotiv XC2$1319.00
Airmotiv XB2 (pair)$732.00
Airmotiv XA2 (PAIR)$586.00

Our Take

There hasn’t been a lot of press around the Emotiva Airmotiv X line. While Emotiva did do a bit of a teaser on their YouTube channel, not a lot has been released. What I do see is a redesigned speaker line with a very dense and rigid frame along with significant internal damping, plus a lot of emphasis put on driver size and quantity.

I am not surprised that Emotiva maintained the ribbon tweeter in the Airmotiv X lineup. It’s an Emotiva signature. I would have been pumped if they rotated away from that design to something new and exciting. That said, I will take a wait-and-see attitude before I give my final verdict.

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