It may be controversial but this reviewer would like to suggest that there is no point in having anything more than stereo speakers hooked up to your PC unless you want to watch movies, in which case they should be 5.1-channel and offer surround sound decoding.
Music plays back in stereo, although regular 5.1 speakers do give a kind of extended stereo that uses the rear speakers. And yes, we know that DVD Audio can give true surround sound but the format hasn’t taken off. Gamers can take advantage of surround sound so they hear a foot-fall coming through the door behind them and know to spin round with both barrels blazing, but gamers also know that they should be using headphones to avoid startling the rest of the household as well as any pets that may be in the vicinity.
In short, basic stereo speakers are fine for Windows sounds, decent 2.1 speakers are what you need for music and then it’s a leap to 5.1 with digital decoding for DVDs. Although many manufacturers offer a huge range of speaker configurations (4.1, 5.1, 6.1 and 7.1) we say “Enough, we’re sick and tired of running our office chair over the cables that run to the satellite speakers unless there is a very good reason.”
And that reason is Acoustic Energy’s Aego P5 MkII home cinema speakers. Assuming that you recognise Acoustic Energy as a Hi-Fi brand name then you won’t be surprised to learn that these Aego P5 MkII home cinema speakers offer you far more than a typical set of surround sound PC speakers. Unfortunately the price is also more Hi-Fi than IT, so let’s take a look at what you get for your money.
First there’s that model name. These speakers offer full 5.1 surround sound with DTS, Dolby Digital and Dolby Pro Logic decoding, so they’re called ‘home cinema speakers’ because they only really work for their living when you’re watching movies.
Secondly, the decoder unit attaches to your PC either with three pairs of RCA cables, or through optical or coaxial SPDIF. There’s not a PC mini-jack in sight so you’ll need a suitable sound card, but that shouldn’t be a problem as most decent sound cards offer a digital output as do the latest integrated audio solutions. Your PC will only use one of these three inputs, which leaves two spare so you could simultaneously connect up, say, your DVD player, games console or Sky Plus box, but that does rather depend on the layout of your bedroom or lounge.
The decoder box is made from aluminium and is about the size of a DVD player. It has an eye-catching sloping front with a single control button and an LCD display which is essential as you make your adjustments to inputs and volume settings with the remote control.
The decoder connects to the subwoofer through a cable that looks similar to an S-Video cable and is some four metres long, so you have plenty of options when you come to locate your speakers. The subwoofer has RCA sockets for the five satellite speakers, and the flat detachable cables are a decent length. The centre speaker cable is three metres long, the two front satellite cables are five metres and the rears ten metres, and there are small wall brackets included in the package, so we would be amazed if you have any problems placing the satellites exactly where you desire.
Each satellite uses a two-inch driver, which may seem a trifle small, but they each weigh 770g thanks to their cast zinc alloy housing and the punch that they supply is completely unexpected for such a small package.
The specification says that the subwoofer operates from 40Hz-250Hz while the satellites have a range of 200Hz-15kHz. Compared to many speakers which start at 20Hz and go up to 20kHz that range may seem slightly limited, but we would strongly disagree as the bass comes in quite gently with none of the crash, bang, wallop nonsense that you often get with PC speakers. The bass is strong and impressive and adds weight without being intrusive, probably due to the sealed cabinet which prevents horrible booming noises. Then the satellites start to make their presence felt and you appreciate just how much decent audio can add to a DVD.
These Aegos have a couple of quirks, though. There are no controls on either the subwoofer or the decoder; you control everything from the remote. In the main this is very convenient but there are times when you’d like to operate a manual volume control. The second point is that the speakers lack some mid-range presence which is perhaps because of their tiny size, however they are head and shoulders above any other PC speakers that we have ever heard.
Company: Acoustic Energy
Contact: 01285 656890