Buying Guides -> Software -> Audio Editing
The Sound Crafters
Team CHIP | 30 January 2009
Like television or cinema, the computer is a unique audio-visual experience. You have your monitor which is rapidly changing from being CRT to LCD to being HD ready, and your graphics card which seems to evolve every month. A huge amount of money is spent on the visual devices of your computer but most people barely think about their audio devices. Speakers and soundcards are where people generally save their money and put into what they consider more important peripherals.
For getting the best out of your home PC, you need to look no further than 2.1 speakers. 2.1 is a useful configuration because it can simply be placed on your table with the subwoofer on the floor and deliver quite a complete experience as far as sound goes. The sub-woofer is the clincher here because it adds that extra punch to your sound thus making it far superior to a 2.0 speaker system, which does not have a subwoofer.
What has come as a real good surprise is the variety and quality of speaker brands available in the market today. Sure, everyone would love to buy Creative, Bose, JBL, Altec Lansing and Harman Kardon but what about Umax and Artis? Both these brands offer spectacular performance and decent design for a lower price. One of the things that people look at these days is design. It wouldn’t matter how a graphics card or a keyboard looks because these devices are meant to be purely functional and hidden, speakers are a different kettle of fish altogether. Displayed magnificently on your desktop can be the eye-catching, lavish JBL Spyro speakers with their orange four petal design deliberately resembling a flower. Perhaps you want a more modern look and you decide to get the Harman Kardon SoundSticks 2, which has a striking industrial glass design. These beautiful devices can brighten up your home or simply make a statement.
Design also takes materials, acoustic design and number of drivers into account and you can look even further than that at the build and ergonomics of the device. THX certification is also an important feature to look at because if the product is THX certified it tells you that the device produces high quality sound. At the end of the day, speakers are integral to your music, movie and gaming experience, so think carefully and listen well and you won’t miss beat!
Genius has taken a slightly different approach to designing the subwoofer of the SW-V2.1 1255. It is completely sealed in a wooden cabinet with a bass port on the right side. As a result the bass is quite warm as compared to other speakers. The rear of the subwoofer sports a heat sink to dissipate heat from the circuitry packed within, while the front portion is overlaid with a glossy plastic panel with a circular rippled design.
On unpacking the demo unit, we found the plastic panel had come off. We had to put it back and seal it firmly with duct tape as it used to clatter loudly whenever there was a boom or a thud in the sound being played. You cannot do away with the panel because the air escapes from the notches meant for holding it in place. The glossy black satellites are slim and pack in three 35 mm drivers each for delivering midrange and high frequencies.
We recommend these speakers for gaming and movies, and to the fans of hip-hop and electronica genres.
For: Good bass, sleek satellites.
Against: Average build quality,
Upon recalling our past experience with the Umax UPB 3200, we thought it would again lose out to its counterparts. However, it was quite surprising to find it perform much better than the models by some of the top brands. It seems that Umax has used better quality drivers and improved crossovers for frequency distribution which has resulted in much warmer bass and clearer highs and mids. The UPB 3200 is designed keeping the comfort of the user in mind—we liked the inclusion of control pod which has controls for adjusting the bass and volume, and provides users with a headphone jack as well. The subwoofer is an 8.5-inch wooden cube with a 5-inch driver enclosed within. The satellites feature a single 3-inch driver which is protected by a cloth grille, and connect to the subwoofer using detachable cables.
The UPB 3200 isn’t meant for those who get a kick out of excessive sound levels. At a total rated output of 30 watts, the speakers are just loud enough for personal entertainment.
For: Excellent performance for the price.
Against: Average build quality.
With the Razer Mako around, the competition seems to fade in the distance. Right from its build quality to its performance, the Mako is a killer in all respects. The woofer and the satellite speakers have a downward firing design that delivers sound uniformly in all directions. Built with the ClassHD amplifier the Mako is able to deliver the precise amount of power when required to each speaker and nothing more. As far as listening pleasure is concerned, the Mako was able to handle pop, rock, jazz flawlessly with near perfect mids and highs. The voice and instrument separation capability of this system is simply incredible. Every single reload and gunshot in Doom 3 was heard with amazing clarity while even in full volume there was no audible distortion. The Mako is controlled by a touch-sensitive control pod that allows you to control the volume and base functions. While some would find the Mako over priced we would say that it’s worth every penny for its exceptional sound quality.
For: Flawless sound, excellent build quality.