For the price, these Altec speakers are great. On an absolute scale, so-so. They are good enough that while watching The Incredibles DVD, you can stop listening to the speakers and enjoy the movie. But, they don't sound as good as good home theater speakers.
Here are the sonic deficiencies I've noticed:
1. You can't crank the music up to orchestral levels. The unit is powered by a wall wart providing 9VAC at 1000 mA, so power is limited, and loud transients at moderate volumes are distorted.
2. The highest sounds that provide sparkle are missing. This may because of the satellite speaker's 2" driver.
3. In complex orchestral works, such as the 1812 where the bells start pealing, the instruments lack clarity.
4. When listening to sub-woofer test tones, in addition to the tones I hard lots of rattles, some of which may have been due to other junk near the speakers, but some of which may have been due to resonances of the 4" subwoofer's plastic enclosure. This problem was less noticeable during actual music.
All the electrical connections are made to the right speaker. The power cord from the wall wart, which is somewhat short at a little less than 5 feet, plugs in there, as well as the subwoofer. The left speaker is permanently attached to the right by about 38" of wire, so that's the maximum separation of the speakers. There is a power switch on the back of the right speaker, a volume control on top, and an amber power-on LED in front.
The self-noise of these speakers is inaudible.
The specs printed on the box include:
Two 2" full-range drivers
4" down-firing subwoofer
Sound Pressure level (SPL) 84 dB
Total Continuous Power: 9 Watts RMS
Each speaker: 2 Watts per channel @ 4 Ohms @ 10% THD @ 180 - 18 kHz
Subwoofer: 5 Watts @ 4 Ohms @ 10% THD @ 50 - 180 Hz (-10dB)
Signal to Noise Ratio @ 1 kHz input > 74 dB I'm glad that Altec provides these specs; many cheap speaker makers don't bother, hoping to sell a pig in a poke. In summary, if you just want to watch DVDs and normal PC sounds, these speakers will do the job, and are a bargain. If you are seriously into music, you'll want to get something better.
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