Small Systems, Big Sound
Human beings come factory-equipped with five senses. Taste and smell are effectively ignored when it comes to PC technology (Ed.: unless you really screwed up an overclock, in which case your sense of smell might be assailed), and touch typically plays a limited role in interfacing with peripherals like keyboards and mice.
That leaves sight and sound to do most of the work when it comes to "experiencing" software. Of those two senses, sight gets most of the glory. Advances in graphics cards, displays, and now stereoscopic technologies are most palpable, and consequently receive most of our attention. Let’s face it, sight is the pampered sense of the computer industry.
Sound isn’t ignored, of course, but we'd argue that speakers aren't doted on like modern GPUs. So, we’ve decided to take a thoughtful look at some of the premium PC audio options available out there. We recently scrutinized a handful of 2.1-channel speaker systems. But what if you don't want a subwoofer taking up floor space? What if earth-pounding bass isn't your cup of tea? And when it comes to cost, what if you'd rather save some money? After all, 2.1-channel configurations tend to cost more than two-channel setups. If any of these issues concern you, perhaps a pair of satellites is preferable to the 2.1-channel kits we reviewed earlier this month. Today, we're broadening our horizons to include a few alternatives.
Here are some of the more important specifications of the products that we compare in this review:
|Altec Lansing Expressionist Bass FX3022||Bowers & WilkinsMM-1||CreativeGigaworks T40 Series II||M-AudioStudiophile AV 40|
|Power:||25 W||72 W||32 W||20 W,per channel into 4 ohms|
|Small Speaker:||two 1.5" drivers||two 1" tweeters||two 1" tweeters||two 1" tweeters|
|Large Speaker:||two 4" subwoofers||two 3" drivers||four 2.5" drivers||two 4" cones|
|Inputs:||two 1/8" jacks(rear)||1/8" jack (rear) USB input (rear)||1/8" jack (front) 1/8" jack (rear)||1/8" jack (front) Stereo RCA input (rear)|
|Outputs:||None||1/8" headphone (rear)||1/8" headphone (front)||1/8" headphone (front)Stereo RCA output (rear)Stereo TRS output (rear)|
|Controls:||Volume buttons||Volume buttons(satellite and remote)Various media player controls on remote||Volume, treble, and bass knobs||Volume knob (front)Bass boost switch (rear)|
|Dimensions:||10" (H) x 5.25" (W) x 5.25" (D) per satellite||6.6" (H) x 3.9" (W) x 3.9" (D) per satellite||12.3" (H) x 5.5" (W) x 5.5" (D) per satellite||8.75" (H) x 6" (W) x 7.25" (D) per satellite|
|Weight:||1.15 lbs. per satellite, 2.3 lbs. total||1.8 lbs. per satellite, 3.6 lbs. total||3.3 lbs. per satellite, 6.6 lbs. total||7 lbs. per satellite, 14 lbs. total|
|Accessories:||6' long 1/8" mini-to-mini cable||5' long USB cable,5' long 1/8" mini-to-mini cable,Wireless Remote||6' long 1/8" mini-to-mini cable, 1/8" stereo mini-to-RCA adapter||5' long 1/8" stereo mini-to-RCA splitter cable, 5' long 1/8" mini-to-mini cable, two grip pads|
|Price:||$105.31 (newegg.com)||$499.95(store.apple.com)||$149.99 (newegg.com)||$179.99 (newegg.com)|
|Warranty:||two years||two years||one year||one year|