|Ineo AlienVibes W601 Speaker System|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Audio|
|Written by Dan McNamara|
|Wednesday, 13 March 2013|
Page 3 of 4
Testing & Results: Alienvibes W601
This was my first opportunity to test a computer sound system so I wanted to do it right. I was lucky that I was able to have a conversation with a couple of scientists at one of our national testing agencies, one of whom is an audiophile. Well I was a bit taken aback by his enthusiasm but I was able to tease out a general methodology. I used a combination of known sound signals to test the responsiveness of the system and the ability of it to move the sound around. In addition I used various types of music to see how well the system worked in the real world. Finally, as the system is supposed to be hooked up to a computer after all, I used it while participating in the Crisis 3 MP Beta, which has ended as EA is set to release it 19 Feb 2013.
Just a quick note on the test system. My reasoning was that since the system is primarily a computer system add-on I did not want to hook it up to a source with a higher output. I was more concerned with the performance of the system itself rather than that of a high end sound card. I understand that a higher quality input would produce a higher quality output, but the system below provided me a standard input for testing.
HP Pavilion g6-2288ca Notebook
To provide some objectivity to the assessment process I searched for standard audio inputs for the system. There is a very large body of articles on the internet about audio testing. At this point I did not want to be setting up a lab in my basement. Not just yet. Eventually I was able to find a website where audio test tones were available for download at audiocheck.net. I was able to select which test tones I required and proceeded to test the system. I also conducted general listening tests at this time.
The following tests really are for the mid to upper sound range produced by the system. From my research it seems that there was a recent push to provide clearer high tones, and now the pendulum is swinging more to generate a fuller audio environment with solid midrange and lows. That is why I try to test each separately. I will cover the test and results in the order listed above.
Acoustic Space. The definition I have used to define acoustic space is that the sound system will create an acoustic bubble. In this space you can move around and the sound picture will not noticeably move, allowing you to rotate your head to concentrate on aspects of the scene. So in my set up with an approximate 10 foot isosceles triangle formed by the two satellite speakers and myself I detected an approximate 2.5 to 3 foot circle describing this acoustic space. In my opinion that is pretty good for a sound system that has such a modest price, and three speaker locations.
LEDRO - Overhead. LEDRO stands for Listening Environment Diagnostic Recording Test. This means that sounds are spatially rotated and you can listen to see how well you track the sound. On the Overhead test a sound is produced above your head and to the left. It travels from left to right and back again. You should be able to picture in your mind the sound moving with some precision. With the Alienvibes W601 Subwoofer Speaker System the sound was clear, and above, but the clarity of where the sound was a little weak so I rated it at 65.
LEDRO - Down to Up. The down to up test provides the same audio translation. With a down up down simulation for the right and left sides. In this case the sound was quite distinct and you could form a clear picture of where it was in your mind. Score: 85.
LEDRO - Left to Right. The Alienvibes W601 Subwoofer Speaker System also performed very well in this test. The sound clearly hovered to the front and translated left to right and back. Score: 85.
Timber - The timbre, in my definition, is the covering the audio across the full audio band. I assessed the system using various music types: Classical, Rock (Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody), and Pop (Psy - Gangman Style). I also threw in som Diana Krall and Herbie Hancock to round out the styles represented. The Alienvibes W601 Subwoofer Speaker System is very strong in Bass and Treble reproduction. There is a distinct weakness in the mid-range, but honestly, outside of the audio sweet spot it is almost undetectable. Score: 90.
Sound location Left and Right. This was a quick test. A voice is transmitted to the left or right and it was so distinct you wanted to turn your head. Score 85.
Imaging Detail. Imaging detail is another very subjective test. It is easier to pick up when listening to complex music representing many instruments. Mostly this is clearer in good quality classical music. A truly remarkable sound system will allow you to almost pinpoint where every instrument is placed. In this test the W601 also did very well. The sound was reproduced very well and singular instruments could be heard in general locations. For this reason the system scored 85.
Distortion. I did my very best to produce distortion in this system. Granted I only used my computer, and I am sure if I wanted to overdrive the audio inputs I could, but I was able to max out all the volume levels available and I only was able to detect distortion at the edges of the sound. Score: 90.
As I mentioned above I was given access to the Crysis 3 MP Beta. The Alienvibes W601 Subwoofer Speaker System provided a full picture of the audio during the game, although it was limited to the frontal 180 degree hemisphere. When sound was coming from that direction you could clearly detect movement from left to right and up and down. And the level of audio detail generated a very positive gaming environment.
I have not mentioned bass specifically yet. From the previous tests it was clear that there was a very strong bass engine under the hood, but I was stuck how to test it out. My son provided the answer: Dubstep. Although I tried out quite a few songs Brain Damage by Jomekka was my hands down favorite. After the first minute or so it jumps into a solid baseline that you really need to hear in free air, with the bass jacked all the way up and the volume blasting. The Alienvibes W601 Subwoofer Speaker System blew me away. Full volume, full base, the sound was solid without fuzz at all. There was enough air moving out of the rear ports that the curtain behind the speaker was actually moving!