If you’re lucky enough to have a well insulated detached house or understanding neighbours, a powerful surround sound speaker system for your PC could be just the thing. A specification which includes a large floor-standing sub-woofer, five satellite speakers, a digital effects synthesiser and an infra-red remote control may sound great, but what about the price tag? Aztech’s new AMS 5.1 multi-channel speaker system owns that very spec., yet the price is surprisingly low.
Besides the six speaker units, you get an infra-red receiver and control unit, the remote control, power supply unit and mounting plates and screws for the satellite speakers. The sub-woofer is housed in a rather large wooden box, though it’s taller than it is wide, so not too much floor space is consumed. Inside you will find a 5.25-inch bass unit. Compared to the size of its box, the driver itself, which isn’t magnetically shielded, is a little small and the bass produced was not quite as awesome as we’ve heard from more expensive speakers, but what bass you get is far from woolly.
All five satellite speakers are identical, save two which have longer 12-foot cables instead of the other’s 8-foot cables in order to be positioned further away as rear units. The driver units are 3-inch types and give a good clear tone. All are magnetically shielded. Finished in an off-white pale grey, with mesh grilles of the same colour, the units are reasonably attractive, but not in the same league as, say, Altec Lansing’s.
The control unit has five red/green mode-indicator LEDs and a sixth power on/remote activity LED. Ideally, an alpha-numeric display indicating which of the 14 available effects modes you were using would have been desirable, but at the price you can’t really complain. Talking of effects, there are 7 pre-set modes, including Rock, Pop, Jazz, Game, Cinema and Night – the latter seemingly designed to mute everything in deference to the neighbours. Compared to the effects you can get from a good 3D sound card, the AMS 5.1 effects weren’t too hot, but they can have their uses when playing from a non-PC source, like CD or video.
All the speakers can have their volume adjusted independently and all the usual speaker mode combinations like 2-5.1 and 4-5.1 are supported. There are also controls for loudness, treble and bass as well as a mute button. All these functions, except for overall volume control – which has a large rotary control of its own on the control unit – must be accessed using the remote control unit.
Aztech claims the speaker set can generate 700 Watts of peak music power output (PMPO). The sub-woofer is rated at 23W RMS in to 4 Ohms and each satellite is 7W RMS. Let’s not kid ourselves: although you could hook this system up to a TV, it’s not powerful enough to match a proper A/V surround speaker and amplifier set-up in a large-ish room. However, in PC speaker terms, the Aztech AMS 5.1 will rattle your PC desk as long as the room it’s installed in isn’t too large.
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