So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Axiom Audio Audiobytes
Tiny speakers, huge amp
- No distortion, sweet sound
- Lacking bass at higher volumes, expensive
If you’ve got the money, it’s hard to go past the Audiobytes as a pre-built PC sound system. These speakers blow their mainstream competitors out of the water with clear, analytical sound — even though they are a little bass-shy at higher volumes.
Price$ 771.00 (AUD)
Axiom Audio’s Audiobytes speaker system, which is aimed at PC users, is a noticeable step-up from even premium mainstream models like Logitech’s Z-Cinema. Without a hint of distortion even at high volumes, these speakers are incredibly clear and analytical, revealing a lot of detail hidden within music. Our only gripe is that they’re slightly short of bass at high volumes — tending towards tight kicks rather than deep, floor-shaking power.
The system itself can be ordered from Axiom Audio directly in a wide range of finishes, from simple black to wooden veneers such as Burled Walnut Cherry. We found the 'real wood' finish on our test speakers to be quite aesthetically pleasing if, well, slightly unrealistic.
Available at an additional cost to the 2.0 speaker system is the Axiom Audio EP Zero subwoofer. Only available in a black finish, the EP Zero is designed to add some low frequency response capability to the system. It’s a slightly pricy addition, but its presence is welcome in both music and gaming.
Everything you need to set up the system is included — cables and all. The cables are quite long; you could conceivably set up the system’s amplifier some distance away from the speakers and subwoofer (not that you’d want to do this since the volume control is built into the amplifier’s chassis).
The speakers are tiny — smaller than even the diminutive JB3 speakers from JohnBlue — but the subwoofer is sizeable (approximately the size of a small PC case) and the amplifier is gargantuan. It’s 13 centimetres wide and 13 centimetres tall, but at a full 32 centimetres in depth it might be slightly difficult to place on your desk. It might find a home on top of your PC case, however.
Once you’ve found a home for all the components you can relax and enjoy the Audiobytes’ performance. They’re light-years ahead of the majority of PC-based systems we’ve heard, with a character that tends towards analysis rather than musicality.
The system is remarkably clear and clean. We were easily able to notice and identify compressed MP3s and their lossless equivalents — a difficult proposition with inferior speakers. This quality is again evident when listening to female vocals and brass instruments, where the speakers are able to reproduce high treble and mid-range admirably without any sibilance or distortion.
Mid-range is a strength of the system. At low volumes mid-range is balanced and smooth compared to treble, but this frequency range never becomes booming or emphasised. Even when we pushed these speakers to their limits — a painful task considering the beefy amplifier — the speakers remained analytical and even.
Without the EP Zero subwoofer included, the system’s bass response falls off after around 100 Hertz. This is a healthy cut-off point for these little speakers; they won’t be overstretched at any point. With the subwoofer activated, frequency response between 35 and 150Hz is bolstered.
It remains even, however. Dual 6.5in drivers in the subwoofer allow response to be somewhat uniform. The end result of this is that bass response is tight rather than booming. If you’re looking for a bass-heavy system you might want to look elsewhere, but if you can appreciate a system that exposes nuance and detail within music then this could be the right option.
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