So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Altec Lansing VS2221
- Good quality in mids and treble, Sturdy design
- Poor bass response
If you can live without massive bass, and want a cost effective set of speakers for a PC or portable audio device, the VS2221 might be a good choice.
Price$ 99.95 (AUD)
The Altec Lansing VS2221 2.1 speaker system produces impressive sound in the middle and top ranges let down only by a lacklustre subwoofer.
The satellite speakers stood up to all tests we threw at them with no notable distortion at common listening levels. The whaling vocals and stabbing riffs of Radiohead sounded clear and crisp with good separation of instruments and frequencies. The sound could be described as bright and vibrant, with the most well defined areas being the middle and upper registers.
Our tests with the deeper sounds of soul and hip-hop however, left the subwoofer struggling to match the satellites. The bass lacked punch or crispness and on the whole made a mess of bass guitars and warm bass lines. We found it difficult to maintain a good balance by adjusting the volume of the subwoofer as it was either too soft, lacking power, or became overbearing and muddled. Turning the subwoofer down to a relatively low volume corrected the problem to a degree, but left us with a lack of definition in the lower frequencies.
The system also includes a surround option called the Sound Field Xpander. It is designed to improve the surround capabilities of the speakers, and although it does create a slightly wider and larger soundstage, it didn't really have enough of an impact to be too noticeable.
Sticking to their trademark conservative style, the design seems a little plain when compared with recently reviewed products such as the Creative Labs i-Trigue 3600 and the Klipsch ProMedia GMX A-2.1. What is lost in the looks department, however, is more than made up for in build quality. Made of a combination of wood and metal, this product is remarkably sturdy and solid for the price.
Installing the speakers could not have been simpler. A single 3.5mm jack connects the speakers to the PC, notebook or portable audio device, with another single cable wiring them to the subwoofer. The volume control on the right satellite speaker also takes care of the on/off function and includes a small blue LED power light. The speakers are wall mountable and are fitted with a headphone jack.
The subwoofer is also equipped with its own volume control dial, which is handy if you listen late at night and have housemates you'd rather keep as housemates. The speakers being magnetically shielded also means interference with visual displays is not a problem. The speaker package is rated at 28 WRMS, with 6 of those coming from the satellite speakers and the subwoofers providing the remaining 16.
All in all, the VS2221 features impressive satellite speakers for the price, let down by a less than inspiring subwoofer. If you are content listening to music with a limited bass response this may not pose too much of a problem, but turning the subwoofer up will leave you with a blurred wall of sound. The build and sound quality from the satellites makes this an attractive option if you are looking for a simple, inexpensive speaker system for a computer or audio device.
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