Disclaimer: I really wanted the XTR-SSA5 - aesthetically it is perfect for my application. The 50 is definitely deeper, and it also weighs a lot more (it feels like so much more than 31 pounds) and presents challenges for mounting on the same bracket with the TV. I already have a dedicated theater and this was going to go in a new Family Room with a Sharp 80.
I read the Sound&Vision article and was really annoyed. To say "Yes, the XTR-SSA3 has its limits, and you will probably find them in time" without going into further detail is a complete farce. I have never seen such a useless review. With all the soundbars on the market I expected to hear how this one stacked up. Given this review seemed to happen in a bubble with no recognition there is an entire market of competing products out there, all I learned was the 3 has problems (don't know what they are though), it has many of the same parts as the XTR-50, and it sounds OK.
I finally bought an SSA-50 and took it to a local shop that had an XTR-SSA5. We set them up just like DefTech tells you to (no auto-magic EQ and balanced the outputs as recommended), and let them rip with and without a SuperCube Reference to help out.
There was absolutely no comparison between them. The 50 was full and rich, while the 5 was thin and compressed. Sure they could both play loud, but the 5 didn't hold up at max volume where is got a little shrill/bright and everything started to compress. With the 5 I was most impressed with the size, and found myself trying to justify going with the 5 just based on its looks.
I have to agree with the S&V reviewer on one point - the blend with the sub is weak with the 5. There is definitely a hole there that the 50 does not have. The 50 can easily stand alone, and only needs the sub for impact. Music and movies gave the same impression. From a sonic perspective I would never choose the 5 over the 50. Not even close.
Just my 2 cents.