5.1 Surround Sound on the Cheap

Altec Lansing VS 3151R Puts Volume Above All

A small system clearly aimed at reducing size, the 3151 is based on a small subwoofer and a control unit, which includes an infrared remote-control system. It's a combination that should be attractive to those who seek both a small footprint and ease of use. The system's look remains restrained and discreet, and in keeping with the brand's tradition, the speaker set is in black and aluminum.

The major innovation of this system, compared to previous Altec speakers, is the presence of a control unit that's more than just a way of centralizing the potentiometers. It's a true electronic preamplifier. And on/off and volume adjustments are possible using the supplied extra-flat remote control. It's also possible to adjust the surround, center-channel and subwoofer levels directly on the speakers without using your PC, which is far from common at this price level among the competition. The unit also has a headphone jack and line input with cinch connectors for connecting a console or other device (an MP3 player, for example). On the back of the unit is a switch for changing from six-channel (5.1) mode to two- and four-channel modes. You'll need to use this switch for all non-5.1 sources, or the subwoofer won't work and you'll have no bass at all.

  • synpse
    I LOVE the logiteh X-230 speakers, but my sister snagged them... so I went to get another set, and found the X-530 for the same price!! Wish I found a 7.1 setup.. and wish windows had better "speaker fill" options. but these are my favorite speakers ever.