Fantastic frequency range, sound quality, and volume levels By: snailman153624
I'm not a hardcore audiophile, BUT, as a long time musician, my hearing is very attuned to subtle sounds and distortion. I wanted a powerful, responsive set of speakers for use with my PC, primarily to listen to music, and jam out with. I have a broad musical taste; I play classical, acoustic, and electric guitar, including various genres of metal, some pop, and I really like technical progressions and solos. I also like to hear well defined, accurate bass, particularly in the very low frequencies. I needed something that could keep up with a variety of guitar amplifiers (e.g. 50 watt tube) at fairly loud levels.If this sounds like you, I can tell you these will not disappoint.The speakers came well packaged, with little socks to protect them from scuffs and scratches. The cable that connects the passive speaker, while somewhat proprietary, is very well made and has a good thick gauge. They came with a fiber optic cable, but I ordered another one (I needed something longer than ~6 feet). There were also some other analog cables in the box which I haven't used.The remote is larger, but I think these are marketed in part for TV use. A large remote means you won't lose it in the couch cushions very easily, and the buttons are easy to find by feel, since they are spread out and arranged in an intuitive manner. I don't think you can control the DSP modes without the remote, and there may be other limitations should you lose or break it.The speakers themselves are in fact solid wood (looks like birch) on the sides, with a nice 3D contour. The speakers are ported in the back, and these 5.5" woofers really deliver. Even at very loud volumes, there is no appreciable distortion, and they hit all of those low notes effortlessly (e.g. drum/bass on a Korn track, or Franz Ferdinand, Chevelle, Beastie Boys). While they won't get as loud as a full-sized dedicated subwoofer, the frequency response is amazing. The cabinets and drivers are well matched. It sounds like a large subwoofer that's just turned down, and you get those subtle ultra low notes to perfectly augment the mids and highs. The bass is crisp and fairly tight (ported speakers tend to get a little muddier, but these have tighter response than I expected).The highs really come alive on the "Dynamic" DSP setting, which seems to impose a moderate compressor on the sound stream. The built-in low and high equalizer knobs I dialed up a touch (each) to balance out with the mids a little better, but it didn't take much. Cymbals/crashes come through without being too harsh.The volume levels have small discrete steps, although there is a low volume threshold below which they just shut off, so ultra quiet listening requires you turn it down at the source. The differences in the DSP modes are subtle, but they are there. The designers did a good job with the transitions; when you switch DSP modes, it takes a few seconds for it to reach steady-state. There is no discrete step in the sound, it just gradually transitions to the new setting. Very slick, but it also makes it a little harder to hear the differences between the settings.One final note. I had an issue where I was getting noticeable harsh clipping on certain songs when using the "Dynamic" DSP setting. Initially I thought the DSP was the cause, but it turned out that at 100% gain, my fiber optic sound card was clipping a tiny bit. I had to dial it back to around 91%. The compressor in the DSP greatly exaggerated the clipping, making a distinct popping sound, particularly at very low playback volumes. I contacted customer support about the issue, they offered to have me send the speakers back, and replace them if they found any defects. If you are worried about customer support, my experience was very positive.In conclusion, these get about as loud as my much larger Sony bookshelf speakers coupled with a 5.1 100W per channel Kenwood receiver, but they get better frequency response, and maintain much better audio quality at higher listening levels. They are also about half the size of the Sony speakers, and the amp is built in, so it makes for a very clean desktop setup. I am very pleased with these. As with any new speakers, their sound gets a little clearer after you break them in at moderate volume levels for several hours. This loosens up the surrounds and allows the cones to move they way they're meant to.