Premium Two-Channel PC Speaker Roundup

Altec Lansing Expressionist Bass FX3022

We start in alphabetical order with Altec Lansing, a company that has been manufacturing speakers since the 1940s. The Expressionist Bass FX3022 speaker system has a big name, but it’s actually the lightest product in our roundup, composed of two 1.15 lb enclosures.

The FX3022 definitely sports a unique and attractive configuration. The 1.5” drivers are mounted at the top of the cone-shaped enclosures, aimed at the listener. 

Each 4” "subwoofer" is positioned at the bottom of both satellites, pointing downward to reflect bass off of the desk. This approach works well, but just don’t jam your hand into the driver when you’re picking it up. The enclosures are 10” tall, the second-tallest in our roundup.

The speakers come with a six-foot long, 1/8” mini-jack input cable; the relatively long length affords some flexibility in placement. Other than the warranty card and input cable, the box contains nothing but the speakers and an A/C adapter for power.

The Expressionist Bass’ inputs are on the rear of the right enclosure, above the power input and left speaker cable. The inputs are labeled Input and Aux, but they're technically identical. Both inputs work at the same time—that is to say, you can listen to music from your MP3 player and listen to the in-game glory of Call of Duty simultaneously.

When it comes to I/O, the absence of a headphone jack is perhaps the most notable and grievous omission. As a PC gamer, I often find myself plugging in headphones when I don’t want to disturb anyone else, or when I need to use a headset with a microphone. The FX3022s do not accommodate this option, forcing you to look for a front-panel headphone jack on your enclosure of choice. Frankly, this may not be a convenient solution in some cases.

This product is the only in our roundup that has a permanently-integrated cable between its enclosures. This is an odd design decision that could lead to cable routing challenges. Fortunately, it wasn’t a problem during our tests.

I’m a fan of using knobs to dial in audio control. Thus, I’m not particularly impressed with the '+' and '-' buttons that Altec Lansing uses to specify volume. They do the job, as does the large power button in between, though. What’s missing here are bass and treble controls. Then again, perhaps we need to cut the Expressionist Bass kit a little slack here. At $105.31 on Newegg, this is the lowest-priced two-channel speaker system we’re reviewing by at least $45. Despite the low price, it comes with a two-year warranty.

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  • Anonymous
    Has the reviewer heard of Audioengine A2 speakers? They are outstanding 2 channel speakers for $199.
  • Randomacts
    No love for the budget minded folk?
  • Harby
    jdmiHas the reviewer heard of Audioengine A2 speakers? They are outstanding 2 channel speakers for $199.

    Indeed, A2s are really good, though a bit on the weak side with 30 watts. But since you went with B&W you could have tested Audioengine A5s which are insanely awesome and cheaper than B&W's at ~$325.
  • gostumpy
    Large knob that feels quick robust? ;)
  • dEAne
    I like that Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 - but yes theirs a bit lacking to the design.
  • sparky2010
    I'm really happy with my 4 year old creative soundworks 7.1 system... until now it still offers great sound, and having true 7.1 really rocks, especially in FPS... although i'm considering the logitech z5500.. hat sounds amazing and looks even better...
  • icehot
    Nice review, I bought the Creative Gigaworks T40 Series II about 4 months ago, and have loved them, the sound is superb.
  • titaniumsquirrel
    The AV 40s were the first speakers I've ever owned that failed on me. I don't care how good they sound if reliability is an issue. I'm never purchasing another M-Audio product. Decided to go with a pair of Gigaworks refurbs for a fraction of the price afterward and have been very pleased.
  • hardcore_gamer
    2.0 is way too low.For gamers, a 5.1 is the minimum requirement.
  • megatron46
    Nice Speakers but i like my Monitor Audio RX8 teamed with Definitive Technology Supercube I sub and Cambridge Audio Azur 840A Amp.......
  • Anonymous
    Too bad the nuberts arent out yet
  • Anonymous
    Well, I'm not a hardcore gamer, but I'm well into music. I tried lots of 'computer' speakers, only to find that none comes close to even sub-par 'hifi' speakers.
    So, I went for a pair of Mackie MR8 - which are pro audio monitors. They're not much more expensive than high-end PC speakers - but it's a totally different world in any respect: sound quality, power, you name it.
    If you're serious about sound, check them - they're discounted everywhere.
    By the way, I'm driving them with a Fucusrite Saffire Pro24 DSP: a killer combination.
  • Alvin Smith
    KRK Systems RP5G2 Rokit G2 Powered Studio Monitor - 5 inch, 75 Watts

    Just Better.
  • JohnnyLucky
    My pc is connected to my old audio receiver & speakers through a fiber optic cable. The sound is outstanding.
  • jeverson
    For that kind of money I would rather just get this...

    That way I also get a dedicated sub.
  • Yargnit
    Hopefully we'll see a 5.1+ article soon as well. I have a Logitech z5500 that I use for PC as well as TV and Xbox, and I'd love to see how other surround systems stack up.

    I do find it odd that you'd include a $500 2 speaker setup, yet you don't include any systems in the ~$50 range. It seems like $500 2 speaker systems is a very niche market, my 5.1 system cost less than that, and it can function as a home theater system as well. It would be interesting however to throw a cheap system in there to see if there is a big difference. The $100 and $500 seemed amazingly close.
  • orodreth
    The article should have provided additional parameters around which the selections were determined (unless you sampled only speakers that manufacturers were giving you for free in exchange for the review... though that would be nice to know). Price is probably the number one differentiation that consumers would consider. Then you have physical dimensions, power, inputs/outputs, and perhaps frequency response, which would be the collection of main factors that might categorize purchasing decisions.

    The only two criteria cited were 2.0 configuration and "pc speakers" which would presume that all of the samples had to have their own internal powered amplifier. If you were trying to get a sampling amongst a wide price range, your sample size is too small, though that might also be due to the limited vendor options noted.

    THG, you can be more comprehensive than this. You guys do Video Card reviews by price bracket and you're claiming sound is the big #2 sense used in computer use. You could do 2.0 speakers in two or three price brackets, 2.1 speakers in the same brackets and 5.1 or 7.1 in same brackets. We know you have the intelligence and enthusiasm :)
  • Zoonie
    Harman/Kardon's Soundsticks should've definitely been a part of this roundup :)
  • cyrusfox
    RandomactsNo love for the budget minded folk?

    While a bit of a pain to set up in Windows 7, these are great for the budget lover

    LOGISYS Computer SP8000BK 4.1 Speakers for $30 from newegg.

    Or you could go the other route, and just use a receiver and hand select your own speakers. Unfortunately it is hard to find nice used receivers at a decent price.
  • wasupmike
    agree with how good the M-Audio speakers sound... ya, they're a bit pricey... but they're that good sounding - especially good for 'audio professionals'

    so if it's within anyone's budget... they're very worth considering - even over more complex setups (like 2.1)