on January 5, 2012
I'm starting with initial impressions, but I can add more ideas after using this product longer. Like many people who shop for these higher-end PC/Media speakers, I spent days scouring different products, user ratings, and even professional blogs and reviews. Here are a few systems that intrigued me:
Audioengine A5 Powered Multimedia Speaker System (Black)
Harman Kardon Soundsticks III
Several others (Bose, Klipsch, etc) with somewhat more inconsistent reviews and several simply out of my price range.
I focused my search on active self-powered 2.0 or 2.1 systems because I was specifically looking for something relatively portable that would connect with different media. Even though I was not looking to build a component-based system, I still wanted something that added power and depth to my music.
The Audioengine and HK both looked very appealing from user and professional reviews (cnet) but I was not entirely comfortable pulling the trigger for that much money. With the A5, many reviewers think it's a beautiful sound, but numerous references even from people who like the system to major overheating problems (acknowledged by the manufacturer) and poor "low volume" functioning were a concern. The newest generation (Audioengine 5+) adds a heat sink to correct the overheating, but then you pay an additional $100. For a company that prides itself on trying to imitate the Apple standard there is no way they should go 5 long years with a product that has a known design flaw. When the improved version comes out you charge the same price as the old product so that both new customers and those upgrading feel like they are getting more value for the same price.
My concern with the HK was many of the design irritations voiced by users not to mention several commenting about poor construction and limited lifespan. I also did not like that the proprietary wiring could not be lengthened if necessary.
After looking at a lot of the popular (and yes, still highly rated products) but trying to listen carefully to the minority voices of the critics, I decided that for once in my life I would become an earlier adopter of something. The Rockus 2.1, apparently on the market only about a year, and without a lengthy product history, still appears to have many encouraging early reviews. In addition to that, it would save considerable money over the Audioengine, superior thought that set probably is. So here are my first impressions of what I got:
1. Solidly built. Has the appearance and feel of being a well-manufactured product. With a 2-year warranty, I intend to play it hard and play it often to make sure the integrity lasts.
2. Many nice features-3/8 input, RCA input, and optical input; uses interchangeable speaker wiring (one end is an RCA-style plug and the other end is a +/- lead, but at least you could purchase such cable in longer lengths if one so desired.); Powers on to 'muted' mode followed by lowest volume so you don't have to worry about getting blown away by the previous setting. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I could connect to the RCA input from an output jack on my stereo receiver and get 2-way communication. In other words, I could channel any of my various devices into the Rockus speakers that way (TV, DVD, Tape, Phono, iPod, tuner) as well as play the stereo driven speakers off the auxiliary input to the Rockus.
3. Admittedly, there are some design features I would like to see improved, but no deal-breakers: no L/R speaker balancing, 3-way toggle switch rather than an analog volume knob on the subwoofer; spring clips rather than binding posts on the sub output; AC cable is not detachable (again, say if you wanted to purchase a longer one). The satellite wires are only about 3' out of the box. 6' would be better. I also agree with many commentators that the "3D" sound mode is more or less useless, unless, perhaps it enhances non-musical sound effects in gaming environments, but that's not really how I plan to use this system.
4. One feature I don't take issue with is the 'attached remote.' Calling it a remote is really a misnomer. It's a control device. Don't lose it or you will have no control over your volume! Adding an IR remote would probably add to the cost and other devices could accomplish the same result.
Of course what we all care about the most is its sound. Now I'm going to make another quick digression here. I would make an analogy between shopping for speakers and shopping for digital cameras. For a long time there was just point-and-shoot (compact, but basic) and the dSLR. Then we started getting really cool hybrids like superzooms and compact interchangeable. The professionals and devoted amateurs will always have and use dSLRs as their primary equipment. But, the average amateur can now use the intermediary types and get close to professional results without having to break the bank. We know that point-and-shoot models are still inferior, but at least you can afford and enjoy them almost as much as the higher-end equipment (which most people wouldn't know how to use correctly anyway).
I think it's similar with speakers. Self-proclaimed 'audiophiles' always have and always will swear by receiver-powered component built systems. The rest of us who want to enjoy music, but not in the price range of the pros now have a number of exciting products like this to choose from. I'm not trying to speak for everyone out there. This is just what I am gathering as the general consensus from numerous critics on these types of systems. So here's how I see the profile of a person shopping for this product.
You will likely purchase and enjoy the Rockus 2.1 if you are one of the following persons:
a. Someone who has never owned a high quality receiver-driven sound system (i.e.-no other reference point)
b. You don't consider yourself an audiophile
c. You are upgrading from computer speakers
d. You are looking to fill the space of a medium to large-sized room
e. You might own a better sound system but want to add something more portable for a separate location.
f. You know how to take advantage of DACs or EQ software to enhance what this system can do.
g. You want to improve upon your television or gaming speakers.
You will likely purchase and be disappointed with the Rockus 2.1 if you are looking for the following:
a. a cheap way to claim that you own an audiophile-grade sound system
b. Something to blow the doors off the house for your frat party
c. Something to create theater quality 5.1 surround effects
d. Something to fill the 'great hall' of your mansion
You will likely never purchase the Rockus 2.1 if you are one of the following:
a. Wealthy enough to afford a higher-end system, even of the self-powered variety
b. A true audiophile
Since I don't have experience listening to high-end systems, I'm not going to make up comments about specific frequency ranges and such. I will simply say that the Rockus 2.1 is a significant improvement over my PC speakers. With solid 320kbps files and a little EQ on the iPod, I am able to create sound that rivals or bests my 90s-era receiver which drives both a set of Pioneer and JBL monitors. It fills the room with wonderful mid and high-range timbres. When positioned correctly, you cannot distinguish among the three speakers, which I take to be a sign of good system integration. The subwoofer works when you balance it correctly. Some of the critical ratings are accurate insomuch as, paradoxically, the sub does not blow the doors off, but in other situations it comes off a bit strong, even on the lowest setting. I think the EQ evens it out fairly well, even with basic iPod presets. When you want the bass to move the room it definitely produces vibrations, just not all-out tremors.
My only claim to true musical authority here is that I have played the trombone in bands and orchestras for most of my life. I LOVE the sound of brass through these speakers--warm, rich, exhilarating, and palpable. Vocals are crystal clear as well. I'm not saying one couldn't do better, but for $150 this is a solid product that shouldn't disappoint the average consumer. I regret that I didn't find it when (as some reviews claim) it was as low as $100, but it still feels like a sound value at this price point. If you really want more, then spend more.
The last thing that has become abundantly clear to me is that the process of comparison shopping for sound systems online is really a losing proposition. Unless you can get all these systems side by side or at the same dealer, it will become difficult to make truly definitive comparisons. For that reason, I'm going to put this system to its best use and enjoy what it gives me. I'll add further updates if something dramatic changes in the coming weeks. Perhaps with so-called "break-in" I'll end up liking it even more.
on November 18, 2011
Background: I'm no audio expert, but when I buy new A/V equipment, I usually scour the internet looking for reviews because I want the BEST product (that fits within my budget). These SoundScience speakers had a number of positive reviews from some smaller blogs. I also saw a few mixed reviews on other blogs. However, the Rockus scored an "Editor's Choice" from PCMag. According to their "Lead Analyst, "it sounds so magnificent, we can't believe it costs just $200".
With that in mind, I decided to give the Rockus a shot -- especially given the current $100 price point. My first set arrived with a bad satellite speaker. Fortunately, Amazon is very good at returns. The second set had no problems. I promptly compared them side-by-side with my Klipsch Promedia (which have long been a standard for desktop audio). The Rockus seem to put an emphasis on clarity -- in comparison, the Klipsch seemed a little muffled.
In my research, there seem to be two main objections to these speakers: lack of bass and tinny highs. Regarding the supposed lack of bass: I think many (most?) desktop speakers artificially boost the bass to cover poor sound. That includes the Klipsch: I always found the recommended bass level really high, but I always left it at the recommended setting because, well, it was "recommended" (kind of dumb now that I think about it).
After spending a couple of weeks with the Rockus, I can definitely say the bass is NOT lacking (I have the subwoofer switch set to 3). It's enough to shake my desk on certain songs. IMPORTANT: the speaker on the Rockus subwoofer is on the BACK of the unit. The front of the subwoofer is basically a hole (a "passive radiator"). My first inclination was to put the subwoofer right against the wall under my desk -- don't do that! That will block the "active" portion of the subwoofer and leave you listening to the "passive" output. I have the back of the subwoofer about 1 foot away from the wall, which gives it enough room to reflect the sound. Anyway, now that I've given these speakers a thorough test, the bass sounds perfect. By contrast, the bass on my Klipsch seems over the top and boomy (and not in a good way).
One reason I've been wanting to swap out the Klipsch Promedias is that they have a constant, annoying hum whenever the power is on. So I had to put them on their own power strip so I could turn them on and off without getting down on my hands and knees to flip the switch on the subwoofer. I was very pleased to learn that the Rockus have absolutely NO background hum/hiss -- I love the sound of silence :) The only thing you'll hear from the Rockus when you're not playing music is a slight "click" when the system powers itself down (after a period of inactivity).
Regarding the so-called "tinny" highs on these speakers, all I can say is that I find the highs very clear and pleasant. Like other users have mentioned, you're free to tweak the sound using an equalizer (Mac iTunes users: choose Window > Equalizer). I personally have the lows SLIGHTLY boosted and the highs SLIGHTLY reduced.
As for the other components of the system: the satellites have that silver ring around them that pick up a lot of reflections (I might paint mine black). But the satellites look cool (especially with their honeycomb grills) and are VERY solidly built. The speaker angles are perfect for flanking a computer screen. The cables ARE a little short, but they work for my setup (and are easily replaced if longer ones are needed). And I'm liking the wired remote.
To sum up, the more I use the Rockus, the more I like them. Very happy with these speakers so far.
on March 4, 2011
After an exhaustive search for a computer speaker system that offered regular speaker connections (rather than proprietary connectors and always-too-short cords), I had given up. I just wanted a simple 2.1 system where I could choose what type and length of speaker wire to use. Is that so much to ask?
Then I stumbled across Rockus, a cute little speaker system by a brand known for its PC cases (of which I own one, and love dearly). Hesitent to plunk down $200 on a newcomer to the speaker market, I ran through the gamut of online review sites. Unfortunately, due to the newness of this product the most comprehensive reviews I could find were from customers. 5-star after 5-star convinced me to try these out, and I'm glad I did.
First, I'll say that the subwoofer is larger than the pictures make it out to be. And the whole set is heavier than I would assume given the size, which means they probably are using beefy magnets. Second, the satellites have a single RCA connector in back. I don't know why Antec didn't use standard terminal posts, but at least RCA is easy enough to deal with. Third, the satellites are mounted to a basic metal hoof. The angle isn't adjustable, nor do the speakers have any sort of wall mount option. So you're kind of stuck with the placement & angle of the speakers. Bummer.
As mentioned above, your placement options for the satellites are limited due to the nonarticulating stands. The good news is that these speakers (in my opinion) sound better off-axis. If you listen directly on-axis, especially at close range, the highs can get a bit... crispy. However, as you back off the mid-range really comes in and fills out the sound nicely.
The subwoofer doesn't seem like anything special, but it feels solidly built nevertheless. There are three loudness settings, and even at 3 the bass isn't exactly overwhelming. However, it doesn't disappoint either. It just does its job without blowing out the windows. It is advertised that 10Hz can be achieved, but I believe I'd have to crank the volume to feel even a whisper at that frequency. 10Hz is mighty low, and it takes power to push that kind of wavelength fast enough to be audible.
I tried the 3D function momentarily while listening to music, and it sounded awful. But as this function is supposed to be for movies, I'll reserve judgement until I can plug it in to old Blu.
Oh, one more thing. This speaker system is touted as being built tough, and I believe it. I stupidly opened the box as it sat on its side -- on a dining room table -- and as soon as I pulled out the styrofoam, out rolled the speakers, bounced off the table, and hit the floor with a thud. No dents, no scratches, and they sounded perfect upon hookup. *whew*
Worth $170 on Amazon? Probably. However, if you're an audiophile I'd wait until a pro review comes out with a frequency response chart before you make your decision. Just because the speakers are punchy and tight doesn't mean there isn't a Q gap somewhere that will disappoint the hardcore listeners. These are by no means reference speakers, but they are fun to listen to.
on February 24, 2011
Wow, do these speakers sound great. I absolutely love these speakers. Everything from the build quality, to the sound, to the option to select modes between music and their "3D" mode.
I can't say enough about them. The build quality is great. They're actually made out of aluminum. I thought only a smart part would be, but the whole satellite is made out of the material. I like how they did not skimp on the quality.
I originally bought these speakers as a replacement for my broken bose companion 5. but since i was a bit short on money, i decided to buy something a bit less expensive. I was really amazed at the sound quality, and i have to say, they're comparable, if not better than the Bose! After using them on my desk for a bit, i decided to move them to my TV stand so that i can use it with my xbox 360 and make use of the optical input. I connected them to the speakers and they sound great! The best part is, i can stream my netflix movies from my xbox and now i have a set of great sounding theater speakers!!
I'm really happy with my purchase and highly recommend giving these a try. I'm positive you wont be disappointed.
on September 21, 2011
For some people, high quality PC speakers mean something around a hundred bucks producing excessive unrealistic bass and treble with a total lack of anything between. If you like such kind of speakers - this set is not for you, just buy Logitech or Altec Lansing. This set is for those who enjoy natural, well balanced sound but don't want to spend a fortune on similar Boze or Harman Kardon system. I got this set for $99.99 but let me tell you, I would buy it even for $200 without any regrets.
+ Extra high quality built - good materials, good assembly
+ Excellent sound, realistic and balanced lows, middles and highs - so clear that I'm afraid you'll have to delete your MP3 collection (even if it's in 320kbps) and purchase only uncompressed tracks
+ Three different inputs for audio
+ Optical input - you need to try it once, and you'll never go back to analog connection
+ Very loud on max volume
+ No distortion of any kind even on max volume
- Satellite cables are a little bit short (not a big deal since they are easily replaceable)
- All three bass settings for a sub are near the same
- 3D mode is a joke (but who need it anyway? if you prefer synthetic sound, as I said, this set is not for you)
Bottom line: for $100 - $150 it's a steal. Nothing (and I mean it) for less than $250 comes even close to this set.
on August 17, 2011
Having never heard of this company and being picky about sound, I was skeptical. But between these reviews and an Editor's Choice rating from PC Mag, I decided to give the speakers a shot.
First, these speakers are well built. The satellites are in nice metal housings. The subwoofer is heavy and solid. They don't feel cheap at all. I did need to put little stick-on rubber feet on the bottom of the satellites to keep them from sliding around. Also, the satellites have an RCA jack on each speaker and a wired input on the subwoofer (which is also the amp). This is great if you need longer cables and want to build your own cabling to each speaker.
Second, there are a variety of inputs: TosLink (optical) digital, RCA, and headphone inputs. It comes with both headphone-to-RCA and headphone-to-headphone cables. I intend to use the digital input with my Mac Book Pro once the extra cable arrives. Having a digital input is pure awesome. No hum or buzz.
Third, the remote control knob is really handy, especially when using a fixed level input like a line out or a digital out from an audio source (computer, ipod, etc.) In this case, you control the volume entirely from the knob, just like your home audio system. You can also switch between digital and analog inputs from the control knob, and mute the signal.
Sound is surprisingly good. In every 2.1 speaker system I've had, especially ones that sit close to you, the sound can be bright/tinny at low levels because you're only hearing sound from the satellites. Since the bass is covered almost entirely by the subwoofer, you need some volume to move the air so you can feel/hear the base. This system does a nice job of handling this at reasonable listening levels. In other words, you don't have to crank it to enjoy the bass. This was a pleasant surprise. Additionally, the system has some punch for louder listening. Could fill an office or small living room reasonable well, but may not run a wild party.
One minor nit, the volume knob has detents -- little clicks you can feel (but not hear) as you turn the knob. I really prefer a continuous, smooth volume control.
on December 20, 2011
I had the opportunity to compare this set side by side with the Klipsch Promedia 2.1 and Logitech Z623. Of the three 2.1 set-ups, the Antec Soundscience had the clearest sound, but with a few repercussions.
2 computers (one with default onboard sound and one with the ASUS Essence STX soundcard)
Antec Soundscience Rockus 2.1
Klipsch Promedia 2.1
The downside to the Antec is it sounds very bright (high treble presence). The bass proved to be very clean and punchy, if not perceived as lacking. In comparison, the Logitech Z623 had muddy bass and interestingly enough, the Klipsch's bass had both the punchy and muddy aspect to it.
Of the 3 sets, the Logitech sounded the worse (muffled compared to the other two) and from then on, it was tough to decide which of the remaining two was better. Whereas the Klipsch had an excellent and more engaging bass, it wasn't up to par with the clarity of the Antec. The Antec had slightly higher clarity, but little bass (even at the highest bass setting) and an overwhelming treble. It was a tough pick between the two but I ultimately went with the Antec due to personal preference.
Note on connection route:
The treble was not as overwhelming (but still bright) when using the tos-link connection than when using the RCA connection to the computer's onboard / soundcard. I don't know why that's the case (guessing onboard sound processing by Antec), but that's how it sounded to me. If you can opt for the tos-link connection, I say go for it, especially if your computer doesn't have a dedicated sound card. (The tos-link cable isn't included in the box.)
Logitech Z623 blows. Klipsch Promedia 2.1 and Antec Soundscience Rockus 2.1 are comparable and which is better will depend on personal preference (bass or clarity).
on January 26, 2012
One thing most of us can agree on is that sound reproduction is a matter of personal taste and reviews of speaker systems are subjective.
My search for computer speakers began when my 8 year old Altec-Lansing 4.1 system finally died. My budget called for something under $200. After reading several reviews, I decided on the Antec Soundscience Rockus 3D 2.1 and the Logitech Z623 2.1 systems. Both received PC Magazine Editor's Choice award and are highly rated by Amazon users. I ordered both to conduct a side by side evaluation of my own.
After sampling several music genres with various EQ settings and enhancements (including none), I chose the Antec setup. Voices are very clear, distinct and full. The sub output is clean compared to the Logitech. I have the sub level on the lowest setting and there is plenty of thump when needed. Overall, the sound quality is very rich and accurate. I am delighted with these speakers with one minor exception. The "3D" setting is a waste of time. The sound is distorted and I just didn't like the effect.
on January 14, 2012
I wanted a 2.1 system with digital input and good sound quality decently priced.
This system met my expectations in terms of sound quality and exceeded my expectations in terms of build quality.
With the subwoofer set to Level 1 and iTunes equalizer set to tone down the lower and higher frequencies the loudspeaker system creates crisp and precise sound in the mid an highs. The lows could be more precise though. Also the bass loses it's momentum below 60 Hz with 40 Hz barely audible and 20 Hz of course not existent. The system creates a nice sound stage in front of you. The speakers are really good for pop and dance music. For Jazz music it is lacking better mids and very deep frequencies. Jazz music sounds kinda shallow. As other reviewers stated, when turning up the volume the system is over pronouncing the highs which is tiring after some time.
Quality in movies:
Movies streamed from Netflix sound alright. Dialogs are well understandable even though they don't sound very natural. Epic battle scenes are suffering from the lack of precise bass. The whole system is struggling creating a precise sound stage.
As many other people stated, cables are too short. But at least you can extend them with a RCA extension cable. The volume controller is too light and the attached cable too sturdy which makes it hard to position the controller the way you want. The Build quality of the satellite speakers is amazing since it's not jsut made of simple plastic. The loudspeaker cables are quiet thick which might indicate higher quality.
For playing music, especially pop music this system is doing really well and I can recommend it completely. I love the fact you can connect devices via digital cable or analog cable. If you want to go further and use it also for movies you'll have to spend a little more money. Invest in a nice receiver and a subwoofer that has more power and volume to create deeper and more precise bass. Keep in mind this is a below $150 system. I think the features and build quality are great. Sound does leave room for improvements, but it's sill a quiet cheap and affordable loudspeaker system.
on September 1, 2011
If you just google these speakers, you get pages of stellar reviews. In my opinion, they live up to all of them. I originally bought a cheap Cyber Acoustic 2.1 set which turned out to be a joke. I returned those and was almost set on buying some Bose Companion 3's before I stumbled upon these. I make no claims to being an audio expert, but the Rockus speakers deliver the same kind of top quality sound as any of the more expensive brand names. I use them for music, gaming, and videos and I am nothing short of impressed.
Some things that really stand out:
Build quality - the satellite speakers feel solid and, most importantly, they look beautiful next to my Samsung LED. The control pod is also very sturdy and doesn't look or feel cheap.
Music Performance - the first thing I did when I unpacked the Rockus set was plug in my iPod and it was scary good. My mom poured herself some wine and sat in a chair in front of the set for 30 minutes in the dark listening to Phantom of the Opera. Music clarity is flat-out amazing.
Bass accuracy - I hate systems that pound your entire apartment complex and drown out the song with constant rumbling. The sub on the Rockus does a great job of providing just the right complement of bass.
I would also like to point out that cord length is not as huge an issue as other reviews might say. The shortest cable is the control pod, which is about 4 or 5 feet.
Do yourself a favor and buy these. The amazing quality and reasonable price make it an absolute steal.