Modern workplaces come in a variety of shapes and sizes including the traditional cubicle, the open-plan office, and even the family home.
Auditek KMEPC SN-8520 7.1 Home Theatre System
- Incredibly cheap. Incredibly cheap. Incredibly cheap.
- Lack of remote, not enough controls, sound quality not the greatest
A cheap set of speakers that are still good value for money despite their average sound
Price$ 99.00 (AUD)
Overall the Auditek speakers are at best average, which usually wouldn't warrant our recommendation. As it is though, these speakers represent possibly the lowest priced 7.1 system on the market, and for such little cost they're a bargain.
The cost of surround sound speakers seems to be plummeting. We were recently impressed by Laser's cut price offering, the 5.1 Home Theatre Speakers. Auditek has now raised the stakes again, with their 7.1 speakers coming in at $50 less than Laser's 5.1 system. 7.1 speakers for less than $100 sounds too good to be true, and in some ways it is, though the KMEPC system still manages to hold its own.
Setting up the speakers was made far more difficult than it needed to be. With so many wires trailing around it would have been really helpful to include some kind of colour coding or labelling system. As it is, there are four identical green wires and eight identical black ones. Working out which one goes where takes a little longer than usual for a speaker system. The eight speakers include a subwoofer, central speaker and six satellites, though the difference between the central speaker and the satellites is purely cosmetic. These are all in turn connected to a control box, which includes a master volume and separate volume controls for each pair of speakers and the subwoofer.
Though it's convenient to have the inputs and volume dials in a separate control, the largely plastic finish may not mesh well with your sleek, metallic devices. As there is no remote control, this means the control box has to be kept within reach at all times. A second problem with the control box is the lack of equalisation options, with only bass adjustable. The addition of a treble control at the very least would have been useful. In contrast to the control box, the satellite speakers look fairly smart, but the same plastic design is carried over to the subwoofer, which won't be to everyone's tastes.
The speakers are primarily designed to be linked to a PC's 7.1 surround sound card, with four 3.5mm jacks used as the primary connection. They could also be connected to a home theatre system, provided it uses standard RCA connectors. If it instead uses clips you can always cut the speaker cables and expose the wires. We found it slightly irksome that when connecting the speakers to a regular stereo connection there was no option to play the audio from all seven satellites. Instead, only the front and left speakers in conjunction with the subwoofer are used. Each of the satellites also comes with a useful stand that rotates 270 degrees, enabling the speakers to be angled up and down or attached to the wall using the supplied screws.
For a 7.1 system the speakers sound about average. The whole frequency range feels a bit muffled, with no clear distinction between low- and mid-range sound. The subwoofer also produces rather muddy bass, though it is at least powerful for its size. In fact the whole system's rather small stature belies the high volume it can produce. When testing our favourite scenes from The Incredibles, we weren't blown away by the sweeping effects as we usually are. Though the directional qualities of the setup were good, the acoustics were less so. When listening to music such as The Killers things were also average, with the clarity of vocals less pronounced than we would like. Having said that, the sound is still decent enough to gain enjoyment from listening to both movies and music.
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