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Bringing Home The Bass: 2.1-Channel Speaker Roundup

Bass Basics

If you’re a PC user who hasn’t experienced what a subwoofer can do, you owe it to yourself to try one out. Strong bass brings incredible power to game sounds, and extends the range of music much lower than a two-speaker setup can achieve. If you want to feel those explosions and rhythms, a subwoofer isn’t an option. It’s a necessity.

Creative, Logitech, and Klipsch are well-known names when it comes to 2.1-channel PC audio systems, but Corsair and Antec (under a new audio/video division named Soundscience) have dipped their toes into the market with some new products that we have the pleasure of reviewing today.

We put the following PC speaker systems through the paces—some are new, while others have been around for quite a while—but all represent the premium 2.1-channel offerings from their respective brands:

CorsairSP2500CreativeGigaworks T3KlipschPromedia 2.1LogitechZ623SoundscienceRockus 3D|2.1
Power:232 Wby FTC guidelines80 Wnominal RMS200 Wpeak200 WRMS150 Wmaximum
Satellites:(two)1" 10 W tweeter3" 40 W driver2" 15 W driver0.75" tweeter3" woofer2.5" 35 W driver2.5" 25 W driver
Subwoofer:8" 120 W driverthree 6.5" drivers50 W total6.5" 130 W driver7" 130 W driver6" 100 W driver
Inputs:1/8" jack (remote)1/8" jack (sub)RCA jacks (sub)1/8" jack (remote) RCA jacks (sub)1/8" cable (satellite) 1/8" jack (satellite)1/8" cable (satellite)1/8" jack (satellite) 1/8" jack (sub) RCA jacks (sub)1/8" jack (sub) RCA jacks (sub)optical (sub)
Outputs:1/8" headphone (remote)1/8" headphone (remote)1/8" headphone (satellite)1/8" headphone (satellite)N/A
Controls:Volume, subwoofer,EQ presets, effectsVolume, subwooferVolume, bassVolume, bassVolume, input, 3D
Dimensions:6.3" x 4.3" x 4.7" satellite (2)11.7" x 18.1" x 10.2" subwoofer5.9" x 3.0" x 3.7" satellite (2)8.4" x 9.3" x 11.3" subwoofer8.5" x 4.2" x 5.67" satellite (2)9.5" x 9.8" x 10.2" subwoofer7.75" x 4.5" x 4.75" satellite (2)12" x 11" x 10" subwoofer5.7" x 4.7" x 6.3" satellite (2)13.8" x 7.7" x 10.2" subwoofer
Weight:2 lbs. satellite (2)19.2 lbs. subwoofer0.8 lbs. satellite (2)13 lbs. subwoofer2.1 lbs. satellite (2) 11 lbs. subwoofer1.6 lbs. satellite (2)13 lbs. subwoofer1.4 lbs. satellite (2) 13 lbs. subwoofer
Accessories:1/8" mini-to-RCA splitter cable,two satellite tilt stands,wired remote with color LCD display1/8" mini-to-RCA splitter cable, wired remote1/8" input cable(attached to satellite)1/8" input cable (attached to satellite)1/8" mini-to-RCA splitter cable,1/8" input cable, wired remote
Price:$249.00 (MSRP)$249.99 (us.store.creative.com)$154.99 (bestbuy.com)$146.99 (newegg.com)$249.99 (newegg.com)
Warranty:two yearsone yearone yeartwo yearstwo years
  • hmp_goose
    It's you: Where the hell are my 5.1 sets?
    Reply
  • Mark Heath
    Interesting.. thanks for the article. :)
    Reply
  • jazn1337
    Dang, I was hoping you guys would look at the Swan M10s.
    Reply
  • 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
    Reply
  • clownbaby
    this is what frequency response graphs of decent speakers should look like.

    http://www.speakerdesignworks.com/StatementCenterChannelResponsePlots.JPG
    Reply
  • tigerwraith
    My Logitech G51 speakers have a Headphone and mic passthrough on the remote.
    Reply
  • 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
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply