To some, audio isn’t the most critical aspect of a computer system. But, for me – and probably many of you – my system pumping out soothing beats and sweet melodies keeps me sane when I’m crunching a particularly crunchy bit of code.
If you like to be bathed in soundwaves while you’re working, gaming or browsing, you’ll appreciate the importance of quality speakers. And, let’s face it, there’s a lot of multimedia speakers out there that just don’t do your favourite song justice – this could spell disaster for your screen (and fist) when tensions run high.
Altec Lansing, master of audio peripherals, has come to the rescue, though. This speaker trio – two three-inch satellites and a 6.5-inch sub-woofer – is a fantastic buy at under £70. Yes, 6.5 inches of lush, resonant sub-woofer at a bargain price.
The ACS 65i is styled after the iMac, hence the “i”. This is most evident in the cute satellites, although the bass-box does have token blue plastic feet on the otherwise beige cube. The satellites look like iMac babies: blue- and clear-plastic, flat-ended bubbles that are “oh so cool” to have on your desk. Unfortunately, these speakers don’t come in Apple’s full range of Glacier Fruits colours at the moment. So – if you don’t have a blue iMac or G3 – unless you want clashing nouveau-Mac chic (and that’s just not millennial, darling), you’re out of luck.
On the design side, there are a couple of minor failings. While the volume control is handily on the satellites, the bass knob is on the bass-box. This is inconvenient if you have the woofer on the floor as recommended. Both controls also lack calibration marks – a minor quibble, but it would be nice to know just how much bass you were blasting.
But, what do you get apart from mini iMacs? Well, I’m really interested in the bass. With the 20-Watt sub-woofer squatting near your feet, it’s non-directional, low-frequency dynamics positively pulse through you. The satellites – with 13 Watts of power and small enough to be perched almost anywhere – deliver crisp audio, even at high volume.
The ACS 65i has a wide frequency range and excellent clarity – music becomes almost touchable. It easily copes with my demanding industrial-noise CDs, and shoot-’em-ups are most traumatic. Don’t be surprised if you end up sinking down under your desk into a sea of sound waves – very seductive.
If you are still stuck with a two-speaker or, even worse, internal audio set-up, one try of Altec Lansing’s terrific trio and you’ll never look/listen back. The only way to ensure clean sound across the full range of frequencies is to separate bass and treble with a three-piece system. The ACS 65i does this beautifully, stylishly and at a very reasonable price.