|Antec SoundScience Rockus 3D Speaker System|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Audio|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Saturday, 26 February 2011|
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Speaker System Test Results
Testing speakers can be done two ways: the right way, using an anechoic chamber with calibrated audio equipment, or the layman's method using a subjective ear and unqualified hardware. This section is closer to the latter, and I apologize for that in advance because this website is named Benchmark Reviews after all. Perhaps manufacturers will recognize my understanding of the subject matter, and offer to put their reputation on the line with quantitative results that back their claims. This would make it worthwhile to spend money on test equipment, but if the product isn't as good as they claim it may not be in their best interests. Here's my subjective analysis:
For this project I tested the Antec soundscience rockus 3D speaker system against three others: Logitech's Z623 premium THX-certified 2.1 speaker system, a 2.1-channel Logitech X530 system, and a much older Logitech Z340 sound system. All four of these speaker systems are computer-compatible 2.1-channel kits, but only the rockus 3D and Logitech Z623 demand premium-level prices. While the Logitech X530 and Z340 kits are decent multimedia speaker systems, they are not capable of high-level audio quality that the rockus 3D and Logitech Z623 produce. Here is where it becomes a listener's market, because none of these offer a dedicated center channel and lack 5.1 or 7.1-channel separation. More than anything, it really depends on what you plan to use them for.
Perhaps this is where the rockus 3D comes to shine in comparison to others, because 3Dsst technology manipulates the digital sound processing signals to create that illusive center field of sound. The 3D mode helped create a natural ambiance in music playback, and movies were generally very pleasing with or without this feature. Video games weren't effected enough for me to tell the difference, but it was hard to tell which direction attacks were coming from. The sound levels were crisp and clear at their respective low, mid, and high-level tones, but they don't compete with enthusiast-level six or eight-piece speaker systems designed for much larger environments. However, for space-constrained users looking for an upscale sound system that can simultaneously connect their gaming console (via TosLink in PCM mode), HDTV (via RCA), and notebook/desktop PC (via aux 3.5mm audio jacks), the rockus 3D offers a lot of value.
If you're after deep base, the Antec soundscience rockus 3D speaker system truly delivers. I am unable to confirm the 10Hz low-frequency specification, but with the combined active/passive system it's certainly possible. By following my suggestions in the previous section, audio enthusiasts could easily fool listeners into thinking that the powered subwoofer is delivering a lot more than 100W of bass.
soundscience rockus 3D Conclusion
IMPORTANT: Although the rating and final score mentioned in this conclusion are made to be as objective as possible, please be advised that every author perceives these factors differently at various points in time. While we each do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer changes which occur after publication that could render our rating obsolete. Please do not base any purchase solely on our conclusion, as it represents our product rating specifically for the product tested which may differ from future versions. Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas that we rate.
In terms of product performance, the rockus 3D speaker system did well overall but the absence of a physical center channel is holding it back. I know it's uncustomary, but if positioned correctly a 3.1-channel speaker system could essentially mimic a 5.1-channel kit. In the end, Antec's 3Dsst technology is an acceptable alternative, but two 25W drivers don't make up for a missing speaker. It's worth noting that the soundscience rockus system isn't designed with THX, DTS, AC3, or any other standard in mind; but when it comes to 2.1-channel sound quality the soundscience rockus 3D speaker system has very few competitors. The bass tones are unbelievably tight, and for a 100W 6" driver you'd be surprised how low it can go.
Generally speaking, manufacturers go out of their way to convince consumers that their audio products sound as good as they look. Antec is no different, and the soundscience rockus 3D kit is given a polished show-quality shine to chrome-plated plastic bezel pieces on black satellite speakers; even the remote pod looks sharp! On the other hand, Antec could have done something to differentiate their subwoofer from everything else that's appeared on the market since 1931. It might cost them a little more to produce, but if the soundscience rockus 3d subwoofer had used a thick oval-shaped plastic housing that featured soft angles, consumers would jump on this like they did the iPod a few years back.
Antec put quality first with the rockus 3D speaker system, and the solid anodized aluminum barrel chambers are a testament to its durable construction. These aluminum chambers lend themselves to improving functionality, but not nearly to the same extend that an active 6" subwoofer paired to 6x9" radiator does for bass levels. Users with a grasp on audio technology will use this multi-firing subwoofer to reproduce the bass impact of much larger speakers, such as a single-firing 10" subwoofer.
As of March 2011, the Antec soundscience rockus 3D speaker system sells for $250 at Amazon, Newegg, or PriceGrabber. For a 2.1-channel speaker system this is priced rather high, and may cause consumers to overlook the strongest aspect of this kit (hint: subwoofer). The rockus 3D kit is perfect for dorm rooms and apartments, and connects to a gaming console, television, or computer where the competition cannot. If Antec can market these speakers to the right audience, the value becomes apparent. But when you've got 5.1-channel multimedia speaker systems selling for half the price, consumers begin to lose sight and choose quantity over quality.
+ Accepts TosLink, RCA, and 3.5mm Aux audio input
- Kit lacks RCA-to-RCA and TosLink cables
Final Score: 8.75 out of 10.
Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.
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