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Cerwin-Vega SL-28 Review

The Cerwin-Vega SL-28 might well be a speaker that you are not aware of. The company is not what you might call a household name in home audio, but Cerwin-Vega isn’t a newcomer to the market.

Founded in 1954, they have worked with some well-known companies and are not short on their own innovations. So, let’s take a closer look at one of their best budget speakers in our in-depth Cerwin-Vega SL-28 Review…

A loud impact…

They came to people’s attention by manufacturing an 18-inch speaker. So what you might say. It was an 18-inch speaker that could produce an SPL of 130dB at 30Hz. Something unheard of at the time.

The world’s first…

In 1957 they manufactured and marketed the world’s first solid-state amplifier. Continuing with their successes, they installed big speakers in cinemas all across the US in the 70s.

They were heavily involved with the development of Sensurround. A speaker system using multiple horn subwoofers specially designed to handle special effects in movie theaters.

Working with Fender…

Their stock rose again when they started supplying Fender with speakers for their amps. That was ironic in itself. After bankruptcy crushed Cerwin-Vega in 2003, they eventually fell into the hands of Fender’s best friend, Gibson. This came after Gibson Guitars acquired the Stanton group in a sudden rush of blood to the head before its own bankruptcy.

Still here…

To their credit, they somehow survived all of this and are still making audio equipment. Some for cars, some for the home. We are going to take a look at the Cerwin-Vega SL-28, which could be one of the best floor standing speakers available for those on a budget.

Cerwin-Vega SL-28
Our rating:4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

Cerwin-Vega SL-28- Overview

It is difficult to know where to sit this speaker. Is it an expensive budget offering? Or is it a cheap version of something better? It seems to fall in between either both in price point and in its performance.

It has 300 watts of peak power, about 75 watts RMS and a 2-way speaker system design. The build seems adequate, and the design will appeal to some. We shall look at that further a bit later.

We have to say; it doesn’t look like what you might consider an upmarket speaker. But what is important is how it sounds. We shall look at that a little later as well. Let’s first take a closer look at how it is put together…

The Build


It is made from particleboard and has a black wood veneer finish. Particleboard or the alternative fiberboard, more commonly known as MDF, are very similar. They are constructed and used in similar ways. There are some criticisms of this material. But real, solid wood is not usually good for speaker cabinets. You can get a much better sound using this material.

It is a bass-reflex design with a tuned port on the rear to add a little to the bass sound. Inside there is adequate bracing to prevent too much vibration and reduce potential distortion. All in all, it is one of the most durable cheap speakers you will find, especially considering the price.

Back to the design…

It is quite plain in its look and nothing special. What isn’t plain, however, is the red foam ring surrounding the drivers and decorating the tweeter.

Now, this might suit some people, but we’re afraid it doesn’t do much for us. If the idea is to add a bit of color to the design, it hasn’t worked. It does work with other manufacturers like Klipsch. There is a certain ‘chic’ to their designs. But this is just cheap red foam. Yes, it serves a purpose around the speaker to reduce vibrations, but did it have to be red?

It has a non-magnetic grille, and the cabinet measures 38 by 13 by 18 inches and weighs 40 pounds. It has magnetic shielding, which reduces the electromagnetic field and isolates it from its surroundings. A good addition. It is fitted with 5-way binding posts.

Where is it best used?

It is not restricted in its uses. It could form part of a home cinema system and would fit in a surround sound system as well. Also, it could be just used as a standalone speaker for listening to music. Therefore, it is one of the most versatile budget speakers on the market.

The Performance

It isn’t blessed with a great deal of technology built-in, but at this price point, you probably wouldn’t expect that. As we said, it has a rating of about 75 watts RMS or peak at 300 watts.

Also, a 2-way crossover. The frequency response shows 32Hz to 26kHz, which indicates that it should give you enough bottom end. Performance, though, is dedicated to a certain extent by the sound. So let’s see what that is all about…

The Sound


The Cerwin-Vega SL-28 has two eight-inch woofers and a one-inch soft dome tweeter to deliver the sound. On the rear of the cabinet is the tuned bass port we mentioned earlier. Does it deliver?

This is where we once again run into difficulties. Now we understand that most, not all, manufacturers ‘talk up’ their products. That is only natural. But in this case, “talking it up” is a risky business.

Sound-wise, it is not in the same class of tower speakers that are just a little bit more expensive. But it is equal to, and in some cases, better than budget range speakers. As we said at the beginning, it is difficult to place it in a particular group for comparisons. And comparisons do need to be made.

A budget sound?

It sits nearer the budget end regarding the way it sounds. The bass and lower mids are not the strongest and are lacking in circumstances where the bottom end is vital. The highs are not too bad, though. And while there are no real complaints in that area, they can’t compensate for what is, or is not, happening at the other end.

For that reason, we would call it a budget speaker. And in that category, it does just fine, even if it is a little expensive compared to other budget speakers.

Cerwin-Vega SL-28 Review – Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Quite sturdy and well-put-together.
  • Tuned bass port.
  • Two eight-inch drivers and a one-inch tweeter.
  • Magnetic shielding to isolate the cabinet from its surroundings.
  • 5-way binding posts.
  • 75 watts RMS with a two-way crossover.

Cons

  • The inclusion of the red foam around the speakers gives it a slightly cheap look.
  • Bass and lower mids are lacking.

Looking for Something Else?

We have the solutions for your home audio needs. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Wireless TV Speakers, the Best Budget Studio Monitors Under $200, the Best In Ceiling Speakers, the Best In Wall Speakers, and the Best Tailgate Speakers you can buy in 2021.

Also, have a look at our comprehensive reviews of the Best Powered Speakers, the Best Bookshelf Speakers under $500, the Best Party Speakers, the Best Home Theater Speakers, and the Best Smart Speakers currently on the market.

Cerwin-Vega SL-28 Review – Final Thoughts

Considering that we placed this speaker at the budget end of the market, it is a decent buy. It isn’t going to surprise you with its performance level, but it is going to do a decent job. It might not be good enough sound-wise to fit into a home cinema, surround sound arrangement. But that will depend on the quality of the other speakers around it.


Most of what you see with this speaker has been done a little bit on the cheap. But that is okay. It keeps costs down. And for those looking for one of the best cost effective speakers that will give decent performance, it will be fine. A good speaker and a good buy, if you aren’t expecting too much from it.

Until next time, happy listening.

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About Corey Hoffman

Corey is a multi-instrumentalist who has played in numerous bands over the years, some good, some not so good. He has also written countless songs and recorded five albums in professional studios across America. Today he is a hobby musician but still loves the guitar after over 15 years of playing.

He considers his writing as a way to share what he has learned over the decades with younger generations ad always can't wait to get his hands on the latest gear.

He lives just outside New York with his wife Barbara and their two German Shepherds, Ziggy and Iggy.

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