You may not have heard of the Soundscience name, but if you have experience in the PC world, you’ve most likely heard of Antec. The company has been producing PC components like cases and power supplies since 1986, and Soundscience is Antec’s new subsidiary created to market audio- and video-enabled products. The brand’s flagship is the Rockus 3D|2.1, a speaker system that costs $249.99 at newegg.com and comes with a two-year warranty.
The Rockus 3D|2.1 differentiates itself visually from its competitors with a number of unique touches, such as the cylindrical anodized aluminum satellites and a tall and thin subwoofer. Each satellite measures 5.7" x 4.7" x 6.3" and contains a single 2.5” 25 W hemp driver, while the tall enclosure houses a 6” 100 W passive radiator subwoofer. At 13.8" x 7.7" x 10.2", the subwoofer enclosure is the tallest and thinnest in the roundup.
This product comes with a 1/8” mini-jack input cable and a stereo mini-to-RCA splitter cable. The satellite cables have an RCA-style jack on the speaker end and bare wires on the other for the output clips. There is also a remote control pod along with its dedicated cable.
All of the inputs are on the back of the subwoofer enclosure and consist of a 1/8” mini jack, a stereo RCA input, and a digital optical input. Yes, the Rockus 3D|2.1 has a digital input and is the only product in the roundup that can make that claim. Speaker systems with fewer than six channels that come equipped with a digital optical input are quite rare, although there are a few models with built-in sound hardware that use a USB interface. In any case, the Rockus 3D|2.1 sports an AKM AK5358B DAC, a higher-end component that can be found in respectable amplifiers like the Denon AVR-4311.
The control pod has one large volume knob that can execute a mute function when pressed like a button. There is a small button on the side of the remote that handles input selection (when held down) and toggles between music and 3D mode (when pressed and released quickly). These might not be the most intuitive controls, but they get the job done and are easy to get used to.
The music and 3D modes are for unmodified two-channel audio and virtual surround output, respectively. The Rockus 3D|2.1 uses a suite of DSP algorithms to create a virtual surround experience from two satellites and a subwoofer. We’ll talk more about this later in our tests.
Other than the control pod, there is a three-position bass level switch on the back of the subwoofer enclosure. I’m not a big fan of splitting control locations, especially when it’s on the back of something that isn’t particularly easy to access. But the thing that really concerns us about the control pod is the lack of headphone output for times when your roommate or family isn’t interested in sharing an explosive gaming or loud music experience. In our opinion, a headphone plug should not be optional on a high-end 2.1-channel PC speaker system.