Bringing Home The Bass: 2.1-Channel Speaker Roundup

Klipsch Promedia 2.1

Klipsch was one of the first U.S.-based loudspeaker companies, and has been building premium speakers since 1946. The Klipsch Promedia 2.1 has been a staple of upper-echelon 2.1-channel PC speakers systems since its introduction in 2000. While the company recently released a new wireless version, we’re testing the standard, wired speaker set. It can be purchased for $154.99 at bestbuy.com, and comes with a one-year warranty.

The Klipsch Promedia 2.1 is only one of two systems in the roundup that boasts THX certification. A THX-certified audio system meets or exceeds specific levels of audio performance. as specified by THX Ltd. The THX specifications are proprietary and aren’t publicized, but we do know they include things like signal-to-noise ratio and distortion level requirements. Keep in mind that the THX certification isn’t free and, in fact, can be very expensive. This is why many speaker manufacturers do not opt to get the certification, even if their products might meet the standard. There are also four tiers of THX certification, and the “THX-certified multimedia product” is the easiest to achieve.

The subwoofer enclosure is the lightest in the group, containing a single 6.5” long-throw fiber-composite cone subwoofer rated at 130 W peak. At 9.5" x 9.8" x 10.2", the enclosure is only slightly larger than that of the Gigaworks T3.

Despite the relatively low price tag, the Klipsch Promedia 2.1 is only one of two systems in this roundup that offers both a tweeter and driver in each satellite. The tweeter is a 0.75” poly compression driver and it’s paired with a 3” long-throw fiber-composite cone woofer in each satellite measuring 8.5" x 4.2" x 5.67". Individual speaker power isn’t specified, but each channel is rated at 35 W peak per side. The satellites are attractive with or without the removable covers and have an understated home audio look, the only identifying mark being the small orange/gold Klipsch and THX badges.

The Promedia 2.1 speakers don’t include much in the way of separate accessories because they come permanently attached to all of the necessary cables. The 1/8” mini line-in and control interface cables are attached to the right satellite. Both satellites also have speaker cables built in, and these attach to standard speaker clips on the subwoofer.

As an alternative to the line-in cable, users can plug an audio source into the auxiliary input on the right satellite enclosure. A 1/8” headphone jack is also conveniently located here.

The Promedia 2.1 controls are simple, but effective, with volume- and subwoofer-control knobs. A treble control would have been nice, but volume and subwoofer control is par for the course in our roundup.

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    Top Comments
  • damasvara
    Audiophiles dissing common audio listeners = Hardcore PC gamers dissing console gamers

    Typical... :pfff:
    12
  • cleeve
    clownbabyWow, those freq response graphs are pretty telling that computer speakers are basically all trash.


    If you know audio, you know that the environment has a *MASSIVE* effect on response recording. Even moving the mic a few inches in the same environment can change the result by a large amount.

    As we've stressed in the article, we don't have the luxury of a professional-grade anechoic chamber for testing. Our results are likely heavily degraded by comb filtering and phase cancellation, but they can be used to compare speaker output to each other because they were all tested in the same conditions.

    The bottom line is, don't write these products off based on a response taken in less than ideal conditions.

    Use these response graphs for what they are good for--not absolute, but relative measurements.
    11
  • miaaron
    A few comments:
    1) The Creative Gigaworks T3 does have 3 drivers in the sub enclsoure, but two of the drivers are not active/powered. They are more commonly referred to as passive radiators and they just tune an enclosure like a port would. If you want more info on how ports work, search for "helmholtz resonator".

    2) Don't knock the speakers for the freq response measurements, or any other speakers measured freq response when someone measures them in a regular room. What those freq measurements are showing is the freq response of the speakers in their room...not your room. That's why all the response curves look alike for the most part, because the acoustic patterns of the room are going to dominate the measurement. So don't look at the measurements themselves, look for deviations from the overall pattern to identify issues, like the dip in the response of the sp2500 between 2k-5k.

    I've done a LOT of room measurements and can say the author did a decent job here. If he had no other audio experience before diving into this project, it shows he really did his research...or got really lucky. lol The people with the nasty/mocking/snob comments should actually take the time to do some in-room measurements, they would be suprised.

    3) Don't let anyone tell you a PC speaker sucks because it is a PC speaker. I've built dozens of DIY speakers, and I bought a logitech Z-5500 for my bedroom. Why, cause I couldn't build them for the price I paid ($160 AR @ buy.com). I could have built something very similar if I wanted, as the Tang Band driver logitech used in the z-5500 was well known to the DIY community, but it wouldn't have been a nice without a lot of effort & extra money.

    4) Plastic enclosures aren't bad. The enclosure material doesn't matter as long as it blocks the rear wave of the cone output and doesn't resonate. Plastic actually has a huge benefit in small speakers like this, as a simple curve or some added thickness can add a lot to strength...something cheap and easy to do in a plastic mold.

    5) Don't be afraid to use the EQ built into many sound drivers.
    10
  • Other Comments
  • hmp_goose
    It's you: Where the hell are my 5.1 sets?
    1
  • Mark Heath
    Interesting.. thanks for the article. :)
    4
  • jazn1337
    Dang, I was hoping you guys would look at the Swan M10s.
    1
  • clownbaby
    Wow, those freq response graphs are pretty telling that computer speakers are basically all trash. The bass peaks and generally crappiness in the mid range seem to be a common theme. Almost no consideration seems to be given to music listening.

    2.1 is the ideal setup for a computer imo. 4.1 at most. A center channel just isn't needed for monitor sized screens.

    You can buy a cheap onkyo receiver, some low end bookshelf speakers and a small sub for a few hundred bucks and have sound that will destroy the best pc speakers.

    The fact is, pc speakers are toys. There is no high end option. What they market as high end would be laughed out the door by the regular audio comminuty.

    p.s. Plastic is not an acceptable cabinet material
    7
  • clownbaby
    this is what frequency response graphs of decent speakers should look like.

    http://www.speakerdesignworks.com/StatementCenterChannelResponsePlots.JPG
    0
  • tigerwraith
    My Logitech G51 speakers have a Headphone and mic passthrough on the remote.
    3
  • clownbaby
    this is a frequency response graph of the first diy speaker I built from a popular design. This is a super budget MTM speaker.

    http://www.speakerdesignworks.com/TritrixMTMfr.gif
    -2
  • d0gr0ck
    clownbabyWow, those freq response graphs are pretty telling that computer speakers are basically all trash. The bass peaks and generally crappiness in the mid range seem to be a common theme. Almost no consideration seems to be given to music listening.2.1 is the ideal setup for a computer imo. 4.1 at most. A center channel just isn't needed for monitor sized screens.You can buy a cheap onkyo receiver, some low end bookshelf speakers and a small sub for a few hundred bucks and have sound that will destroy the best pc speakers. The fact is, pc speakers are toys. There is no high end option. What they market as high end would be laughed out the door by the regular audio comminuty.p.s. Plastic is not an acceptable cabinet material


    Pretty much this. I've been telling people for ages that their super-duper PC speakers aren't. Any brand that quotes max power over RMS values raises an instant red flag for me. Even 20yr old Radioshack shelf speakers can run circles on most modern PC speakers.

    I die a little bit every time I hear someone with a premium add-in sound card is running generic PC speakers.
    -1
  • tigsounds
    This is all Go out and buy it junk. Build your own and end up with something that rattles the neighbors nerves if done right.
    0
  • Mark Heath
    For all those who trash all PC speakers, they're usually the best option on the lower end of the scale. There are people out there who have compared entry level (sub 400) active speakers to the Klipsch Promedia set (best active speakers ~150 for sound quality imo) and they say that they're not that different. If you do it right, then it's not as bad as you might think.
    3
  • cleeve
    clownbabyWow, those freq response graphs are pretty telling that computer speakers are basically all trash.


    If you know audio, you know that the environment has a *MASSIVE* effect on response recording. Even moving the mic a few inches in the same environment can change the result by a large amount.

    As we've stressed in the article, we don't have the luxury of a professional-grade anechoic chamber for testing. Our results are likely heavily degraded by comb filtering and phase cancellation, but they can be used to compare speaker output to each other because they were all tested in the same conditions.

    The bottom line is, don't write these products off based on a response taken in less than ideal conditions.

    Use these response graphs for what they are good for--not absolute, but relative measurements.
    11
  • Anonymous
    I would be interested to compare these with the Harman Kardon 2.1 soundsticks III, which i own and i am very happy with, even though they are (only) rated @ 20W RMS (Sub) + 2 x 10W RMS (satellites).
    2
  • pandemonium_ctp
    Quote:
    Is it just us, or are 5.1- and 7.1-channel speaker systems impractical for PCs?


    It's just you (guys). Gamer immersion? IMHO more channels is more important for gaming than for watching movies (which I also do with my 7.1 setup; TV speakers = 2 additional).

    Simple rules for buying good speakers (and anything peripheral):
    -Stay away from wireless
    -You can't really go wrong with Logitech, Bose or Altec Lansing (though not as good as they used to be)
    -High RMS/Watt output means next to nothing (unless you're deaf and need speakers at high volume all the time and don't care about quality of tone)

    TigsoundsThis is all Go out and buy it junk. Build your own and end up with something that rattles the neighbors nerves if done right.


    I'm all for building your own, except most people won't know the properties that are important for stereo systems and will wind up with sub-par performance compared to cheap store-bought crap. If you're just after rattling your neighbors nerves then you're just a douche. :/
    5
  • damasvara
    Audiophiles dissing common audio listeners = Hardcore PC gamers dissing console gamers

    Typical... :pfff:
    12
  • Anonymous
    I upgraded my computer speakers this holiday season and let me just say they are AMAZING now. I can't believe how much better real speakers are than PC speakers. I also tossed in a high end sound card and my music experience is surreal.

    If anyone is curious, google for "WAF-1 Rosewood Pair" the price they are selling for right now is a STEAL right now. Unfortunately they ran out of the matching 2-channel amp, so you need to find an amp elsewhere. I also picked up a BIC V1020 subwoofer because I like dance music. I'll never go back to normal PC speakers again.

    Price wise, it's the equivalent of getting a top-tier video card, but for your sound system.
    0
  • specter_jester
    I've no regret till now of my 1.5 years old Logitech Z2300 ;-)
    2
  • reasonablevoice
    clownbabyWow, those freq response graphs are pretty telling that computer speakers are basically all trash. The bass peaks and generally crappiness in the mid range seem to be a common theme. Almost no consideration seems to be given to music listening.2.1 is the ideal setup for a computer imo. 4.1 at most. A center channel just isn't needed for monitor sized screens.You can buy a cheap onkyo receiver, some low end bookshelf speakers and a small sub for a few hundred bucks and have sound that will destroy the best pc speakers. The fact is, pc speakers are toys. There is no high end option. What they market as high end would be laughed out the door by the regular audio comminuty.p.s. Plastic is not an acceptable cabinet material

    I've been saying this for years. It is 100% true.
    As per damasvara's comment about audiophiles dissing casual listeners, nothing could be further form the truth. We are not criticizing you, we are criticizing these low end speakers! We are trying to tell you that there are much better products out there for the money. Come, join us, you'll never look back.
    1
  • Anonymous
    Much more expensive but please vbuild and review a system like this:

    B&W CM5 + Rotel RC-1550 + Rotel RB-1552 + Optical Out Sound Card
    0
  • ZakTheEvil
    I'll never fall for another overpriced computer-specific speaker system. SPDIF connected to Home Theater receiver and a set of decent 5.1 HT speakers works for me well and adds the flexibility of multiple inputs and a fully featured remote, also has EQ, compression for night time listening, etc. Movie surround modes work great for games too.
    1
  • Hupiscratch
    My Bose Companion 3 is doing great, and have the auxiliary jacks you´re asking. It should be on a next test.
    -1