Antec plans to get into the audio business

Enthusiasts may associate the Antec name with power supplies, enclosures, fans, and those neat noise-dampening panels on P-series cases. But high-end computer speaker setups? Believe it or not, the Californian company plans to introduce just such a product through its subsidiary brand Sound Science. We got to try out the speaker system at Computex last week.

Antec told us it’s still in the process of tweaking the product, but it aims to produce a "balanced" sound via a big subwoofer and two aluminum-clad satellites. Inputs include optical, RCA, and 3.5 mm jacks; for our test, the speakers were connected via a 3.5-mm jack to a laptop’s integrated audio. We got to switch back and forth between regular audio output and a 3D mode, which simulates a more voluminous sound stage while still using just two satellite speakers.

Although Antec provided only a limited number of audio and movie clips for us to sample, we’ve gotta say, these things don’t sound half bad. We noticed some distortion in one of the clips (which may well have been part of the audio track itself), but highs were crisp, mids were ample, and the subwoofer did its job well. The 3D mode worked, too, almost replicating the sound of a movie theater—albeit perhaps with a tad too much crispness. Switching the 3D mode on and off can be done by pressing a button below the volume knob.

Antec aims the Sound Science speakers at younger users who live at home or in a college dorm room and consume all their entertainment—be it games, music, or movies—on their PC. The $200-250 price tag might sound a little high for cash-strapped students, but as Antec points out, that same demographic doesn’t shy away from pricey graphics upgrades.

Comments closed
    • albundy
    • 9 years ago

    “but as Antec points out, that same demographic doesn’t shy away from pricey graphics upgrades”

    i’d never even considered antec’s products as high end. maybe they should look at other “demographics” and their price points, such as the mighty klipsch pro medias or the every so sexxy z5500.

    • FuturePastNow
    • 9 years ago

    $250 = no effing way

    • Rectal Prolapse
    • 9 years ago

    High-end computer speakers is an oxymoron.

      • pedro
      • 9 years ago

      It can be done, and once you’ve done it there’s no going back. The key is getting hold of a sound card that has balanced outs.

      • Corrado
      • 9 years ago

      The original Klipsch Pro-Medias were awesome and ‘high end’. Also, high end is a relative term.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 9 years ago

    $200-250 for these? I guess if having the ‘powerful’ bass from a ported sub is paramount. Otherwise there are lots of choices for better 2.0 channel speakers that have much better sound quality.

    • dustyjamessutton
    • 9 years ago

    You cannot get good frequency response from small drivers. Bose speakers are notorious for using small drivers, and sound quality suffers greatly from it. I would say 6 to 8 inches for the main drivers for good frequency response. Audiophiles cannot be fooled by marketing small speakers as high quality, therefore small, compact speaker systems appeal to mainstream users, and users looking for cheap speakers. $250? I’d rather spend that on a decent set of headphones, at least I would hear my music played back properly.

      • Waco
      • 9 years ago

      Small box, low frequency response, efficiency. Choose 2.

        • NeelyCam
        • 9 years ago

        Screw efficiency. That’s what ClassC amps are for.

    • Chrispy_
    • 9 years ago

    Those satellites are too small. You cannot produced a “balanced” sound without a good range of different sized drivers.

    The only way microdriver satellites sound convincing is if they are multi-driver satellites with seperated drivers. They reproduce the sound waves in a similar way to a larger, oval-shaped driver.

    Single-driver satellites are limited, no matter how well-made they are. I’m willing to bet something like these produce significantly better sound:

    §[<http://www.logitech.com/en-gb/speakers_audio/home_pc_speakers/devices/231<]§

      • Waco
      • 9 years ago

      Perhaps. I have that same set and they sound okay…I still prefer large towers (with a /[

      • UltimateImperative
      • 9 years ago

      Actually, it looks like the Logitechs you linked to have single driver satellites.

      Looking at the Antec, from the size of the RCA jacks, it seems about 10″ wide. So the satellites would have a diameter of around 4″. That’s not too bad, especially if they’re relatively deep (hard to tell from the pictures). As in most satellite+”sub” systems, the low-end unit will probably have to go pretty high. But with some coaxial drivers in there, it could be fairly sweet for this type of system.

      Me? If I had $600 (granted, that’s more than twice the price of the Antecs) and desk space wasn’t an issue (or I could wall mount them, I’d go with these buggers:

      §[<http://yorkville.com/products.asp?type=34&cat=20&id=373<]§

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 9 years ago

        Scrounge around on Ebay. Monitors do not hold their value in the used market, and the manufacturers constantly update their lines more or less just with new looks, which magically makes the old ones plummet in price. You can pretty regularly find what was previously around $1,000 new for $200-300.

        Tannoy Reveals and KRK V series monitors are pretty common in that range.

          • pedro
          • 9 years ago

          I just sold 2 x Yamaha HS80M and 1 x KRK 10S for exactly the same price I paid for them all a year ago.

          Quality gear holds it’s price very nicely indeed.

        • Chrispy_
        • 9 years ago

        You’re right!

        I just looked at the image of the satellite without the grille in place and what I thought was a tweeter appears to just be a port.

        I’ve had several cheap (less than $100) 2.0 and 2.1 sets over the years for beeps and light gaming/listening, and IMO a good range of driver sizes from tweeter down to sub is what makes the most balanced sound. “Tinny and boomy” is all too common from these one-driver satellites.

        In the UK, my favourite cheap speakers were £25 T3000’s (http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/2,898-5.html) and I’m willing to bet that a good reason for this was the even distribution of driver sizes: 13cm sub, 6.5cm satellites, seperate tweeters at 2cm or something like that.

        For low volumes you’d need to be an extremely fussy listener to complain about the balance and clarity. I consider myself reasonably fussy having spent a month’s disposable income on a pair of Mission 733i’s about a decade ago.

    • eitje
    • 9 years ago

    These have an optical input, right? Why’s everyone so worried about in-system EMI?

      • NeelyCam
      • 9 years ago

      Good point.

    • h4rb1ng3r
    • 9 years ago

    as some of you have touched on, none of that is going to mean jack until manufacturers pull their finger out and fix the EMI and grounding issues a lot of motherboard and cases suffer from. Antec is guilty of making crappy front audio/USB connectors on their cases. They appear to have a common ground so as soon as you connect the USB header to the motherboard the headphones and mic get noticeable buzzing and crosstalk from system activity.

    DFI were the last people who addressed this properly with their discrete audio header on the I/O shield on their LanParty boards.
    But we all know what’s happened to them now….

      • UltimateImperative
      • 9 years ago

      /[

    • marvelous
    • 9 years ago

    $250? That’s quite pricey. I wouldn’t spend no more than a $100. The one I have now is only $50.

    • ew
    • 9 years ago

    Mmm….. crispy audio…

    • Dashak
    • 9 years ago

    Unless this is better than the $150 Klipsch 2.1, it doesn’t have a chance at that price.

      • ludi
      • 9 years ago

      One way it could be better is more power output, although that remains to be seen once official specs are released. The Klipsche 2.1s are hard to beat.

        • StuG
        • 9 years ago

        I absolutely LOVE my Klipsh 2.1, best 2.1 sound system I’ve ever had for my computer. Wish they still sold their 5.1 system, I would love to get those and down-grade the 2.1 system to the GF.

        Though I will say that Antec is a great company that I find makes typically very well built computer parts. It does interest me that they are entering this field, I feel it has been stagnant with the obvious leaders for a while now.

          • Thebolt
          • 9 years ago

          Do the 2.1’s still have reliability issues that they had back in 2006 and earlier?

          I owned a broken set in 03′(knew they were a little messed up when buying) and returned them to get a different type. Then I bought a brand new set of them in 06′ which only ended up lasting a couple of years before biting the dust. I remember reading about their reliability issues as well.

          If they’re fixed I’d go pick up another set of them because the sound was amazing.

            • StuG
            • 9 years ago

            I had a set from 04 that worked for me for the longest time. They started becoming flaky so I talked to Klipsh and apparently the two faulty issues came down to:

            A: Fuse that would become faulty within the subwoofer
            B: Connection from the control pad to the subwoofer

            They had told me that these issues were addressed, and I got my unit back with said things replaced (or atleast looked to be new and replaced). I haven’t had a issue yet.

            Even if they did die every 1-2 years I would still get them. Hard to find speakers better than them at their price level.

            • Thebolt
            • 9 years ago

            Good enough for me, thanks. I’ll look to pick up a set when I get the chance.

            • HammerSandwich
            • 9 years ago

            Actually, 1% distortion lies at -40dB.

            • UltimateImperative
            • 9 years ago

            Field/Power. Argh.

    • Sanctusx2
    • 9 years ago

    Very cool that Antec is getting into the business. Options for high-end 2.1 systems that will work well on a computer are pretty limited. I’ve been eyeing the Logitechs for awhile, but I might hold off and see how Antec’s comes out after review.

    • UltimateImperative
    • 9 years ago

    Repeat after me: a properly implemented Realtek codec is perfectly adequate; even $250 speakers are going to be the limiting factor in this case.

      • grantmeaname
      • 9 years ago

      not when it’s an analog signal exposed to a ton of EMI.

        • UltimateImperative
        • 9 years ago

        One more time: a /[

          • indeego
          • 9 years ago

          Codec is software and won’t do jack to help a leaky sound setupg{<.<}g

            • ssidbroadcast
            • 9 years ago

            On campus, I’ve noticed that the hp workstations have /[

            • UltimateImperative
            • 9 years ago

            In PC audio parlance, /[http://www.realtek.com.tw/products/productsView.aspx?Langid=1&PFid=28&Level=5&Conn=4&ProdID=135<]§

          • Kurotetsu
          • 9 years ago

          Do you have any examples of a properly implemented Realtek codec?

            • UltimateImperative
            • 9 years ago

            If TR’s noise testing method is sound, all of these motherboards can give acceptable results:

            §[<https://techreport.com/articles.x/17789/6<]§ That is, if a 3 (= Good) in Rightmark Audio Analyzer is as good as I believe it is (I haven't been able to find the numerical values they use for good/very good/excellent), the noise should be imperceptible: they say a THD+N of -91.8 is "very good". The problem is that the inside of your computer might be noisier (EMI-wise) than TR's test bench. Edit: by comparison, Crown only claimed less than 0.1% THD (That is, -30 dB or better) for its Studio Reference amplifiers §[<http://www.crownaudio.com/pdf/legacy/136734.pdf<]§ So while the signal will only degrade further, RMAA calls "very good" a figure that's a million times lower than that of a very, very good amplifier.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 9 years ago

            Um, yeah, but no, you forgot to mention the most important part of that studio amp THD spec: q[

            • UltimateImperative
            • 9 years ago

            An Avalon recording preamp: 0.05%
            §[<http://www.avalondesign.com/mp2022.html<]§ Only $2970! On sale! §[<http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/AD2022/<]§ The preamp section from a high-end live console: 0.03% §[<http://www.midasconsoles.com/xl42-specs.php<]§

            • bcronce
            • 9 years ago

            I can crank my sound to full volume and I hear no emi, even with DVD on. I have a realtek

      • dale77
      • 9 years ago

      My Realtek ALC889 into logitech z-5500 sounds pretty nice. Certainly don’t get any buzz’n’crackle that might be EMI.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 9 years ago

        Are you using analog or digital output, and if digital is it coax or optical?

          • dale77
          • 9 years ago

          Analog out. It’s the only way to get blu-ray Dolby TrueHD and DTS-Master to the z-5500.

          Only complaint is that some music tracks can sound a bit over-bass.

      • Fighterpilot
      • 9 years ago

      Try playing BF2 with your properly implemented onboard sound….then try it through an X-Fi.
      Realtek fanboys FTL.

        • Grape Flavor
        • 9 years ago

        Then try it through a Xonar, and your mind will melt. X-Fi is yesterday’s news. 🙂

          • Meadows
          • 9 years ago

          Not against an X-Fi Titanium /[

        • UltimateImperative
        • 9 years ago

        Wouldn’t I have to use EAX to experience problems with the Realtek? Because I can’t really use EAX: I don’t have a Windows XP license for this computer.

          • Meadows
          • 9 years ago

          ALchemy. …You’re making up issues.

        • Krogoth
        • 9 years ago

        EAX and Creative are walking corpses. Get over it.

        OpenAL emulation for it is life support.

        It is a damm shame too. We could be having superior surround audio algorithms, but Creative raped is own market and lay down the patent minefield.

        3d Audio world is now in DD and DTS’s hands.

          • Kurotetsu
          • 9 years ago

          Errr, this could just be my ignorance showing itself, but what do Dolby Digital and DTS have to do with 3D positional audio processing? I thought DD and DTS were compression/encoding standards for surround sound?

            • Meadows
            • 9 years ago

            Don’t mind him.

            • Fighterpilot
            • 9 years ago

            Don’t tell me X-Fi sound cards are on him disappoint list two?

      • aatu
      • 9 years ago

      It is more than adequate.

      I have an integrated Realtek connected optically to a 600€ audio set (amp, speakers, sub). And hopefully never buying a discrete sound card again.

      But regarding the Antec solution: the optical input is a welcome feature, but unfortunately the price kills it. You’re better off spending that money to a decent amp+speakers combo.

      PS. The previously mentioned 600€ price tag may sound high, but I’ve already had it for ten years. It’s the longest running part on my computer set. I’d say it’s good value for money.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 9 years ago

        By conecting it through a S/PDIF connection you avoid most of the pitfalls of onboard sound which are mainly in the analog output section. Not sure why people don’t get this…

          • aatu
          • 9 years ago

          And it’s not always because of unawareness, sometimes people are just too lazy to invest some time and money to their setup. It’s so easy to just plug-in some generic 50W (PMPO or “Taiwan-watts”) table speakers and be done with it.

          (I had “40W” speakers for my first computer for a whole year…)

    • Farting Bob
    • 9 years ago

    Looks pretty nice, but too expensive for most users, who still think £50 for 5.1 is all you ever need.

    Also, if they are trying to show off the quality of high end speakers, why did they use a laptop with integrated audio? Should have used a decent soundcard (people who buy $250 speakers tend not to use integrated audio..), would have made a small difference. And they could have put it in a Antec case just for extra exposure.

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