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Reviews

Altec Lansing FX6021 2.1 Speaker System

By Brandon Miniman May 26, 2005, 9:55 pm

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INTRODUCTION

   

Touted
as a “revolution in pro audio” by the Altec
Lansing website,
the FX6021 enters the high-end 2.1 market to compete with offerings from
Logitech and Klipsch. These premium speakers sport some premium features,
and a premium price. Are they worth the extra cash? Listen up, and read
on for the full scoop.


WHAT’S HOT

With six (yes, six!) 1″ neodymium micro
drivers per satellite, these speakers feature InConcert technology which
attempts to disperse sound more effectivly by directing it straight ahead
and to the sides, not up and down like other speakers. Apparently,
the system uses 3 amplifier to power each of the 12 speakers and the subwoofer.
You’ll have to read on to find out whether this technology actually makes
a difference in the listening experience. The subwoofer is similar to the
one found in the MX5021 system:
a 50 watt 6.5″ driver enclosed in a ported wooden box. The subwoofer
can hit frequencies from 180Hz to 40Hz, although the MX5021 can
hit notes 10Hz lower. Perhaps a reason why these speakers do not have THX
certification (as the MX5021
do) is because its frequency floor isn’t low enough. The design of these
speakers is truly upscale, with an elegant silver-metallic finish that
is sure to go with any decor. There are three inputs – two miniplug (for
use with computer, mp3 player, CD player, etc), and one RCA (for use with
a DVD player, TV, radio tuner, etc). And finally, the control pod can adjust
treble and bass while showing off its cool blue LEDs, and can be controlled
via a handsome and slimline IR remote.


Above
are the (rather tall) satellites featuring 6 drivers each,
the control pod, remote, and speaker bases. The pen is for a size comparison. Notice
anything about the micro drivers in the satellites? They look to be
the same drivers used in the Altec inMotion series.

The speaker can be titled to 60 degrees…

or 90 degrees.

You can easily mount the speakers onto a
wall, although no hardware is included to help with this. A nail or two
ought to do the trick.

The
subwoofer looks great, with rounded edges and a silver mesh grill covering
the silver 6.5″ woofer.

From
an angled view, the sleek lines of the base are revealed. This sub
is made to be displayed! Too bad optimum placement will put it under
your desk and out of sight. A warning sticker on the top tells you
not to place the subwoofer near a monitor, as it is not magnetically
shielded.

The
rear reveals the right and left speaker port (a bit unconventional
for a speaker connection, eh?), controller hook up, auxiliary miniplug
input, and RCA input (which the MX5021 lacks).

The control pod is also elegant, with cool
blue lights indicating levels.

The
right side of the control pod brings a headphone connection away from
the tower of your computer to within your reach.

The other side of the control pod has the
second miniplug auxiliary input.

The
remote color matches the entire system, and allows for adjustment of
volume, treble and bass, and will even turn the system on/off. The
remote had a long line-of-site range.

On
either side of a flat panel, the speakers look a bit unconventional
but overall classy. Many friends wondered why the satellites had so
many speakers.

href=”http://pocketnow.com/review/altec-lansing-fx6021-21-speaker-system?p=2″>Continue
On: Bugs and Wishes / Listening Experience / Pros and
Cons / Conclusion . . .

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HELP AND SUPPORT

 

    These speakers
are extrememly easy to install and use – everything is color coded and
self explanitory.


LISTENING EXPERIENCE

Overall: The
InConcert technology is real, and it works. With smaller sized multimedia
2.1 speakers (as opposed to larger home theater loud speakers), high
and middle frequencies fade over a distance, so that the quality of
the audio is lower as you step away from the speakers. The InConcert
technology made it so that the fidelity of the audio remained intact
over the entire room, regardless of position relative to the speakers.
I’ve sensed that the speakers break up the frequency by each driver
— the center two seem to act as tweeters, while the outside four produce
midrange. Perhaps this is the work of the 3 separate amplifiers.


Music:

 

I
mentioned that that MX5021 sounded
a bit “tinny” when listening to music because of the material
that Altec used on the drivers, but with the FX6021, the material is
conducive to producing more natural sound. Rock music sounded great with
these speakers: the voices of the singers were equally as loud as the
sound of the cymbals. I ran in to a problem with rap though – the subwoofer
made “fart” noises
when I tried to play some Ying Yang Twins and Nelly, probably because
the frequency floor of the subwoofer is only 40Hz, while notes within
my rap tracks probably go down into the 20Hz range.


Games

 

:
Hardcore gamers know that the best audio source for some games is headphones,
because you can hear each little detail, each footprint, each wisper.
The FX6021 seemed to be incredibly sensitive during gameplay, making
each little noise evident.


Movies:

 

I’m
going to go so far as to say that those with a dorm room or smaller
living room could use these speakers as their primary speaker system
if a full surround system is not desired. The InConcert feature allows
each person in the room to equally receive crisp and clear audio with
great left/right channel separation.


Loudness

 

:
At max volume, the speakers kept up nicely and did not distort at all.
The system can put out a very nice
105dB. The subwoofer, though, had a trouble doing its job at loud volumes
with very deep bass. For everyday listening, and with
almost all music types, I found the subwoofer to be well balanced and
hard-hitting…just don’t turn on the hardcore rap.


BUGS AND WISHES

face=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>   I think Altec needs
to rethink this product a bit. With an MSRP of $299 (although we found
the speakers for $70 less seen below), I want to have a subwoofer that
can take whatever I give it. For $179, I can get the Klipsch 2.1
THX certified speakers that can show me 31Hz with THX-cert. The 9Hz difference
is huge when listening to selections of rap and even some techno.

Also,
the cheaper MX5021 has
the THX-cert, but not the FX6021, even though the latter are $100 more.
Although THX-cert means nothing to many, it represents the audible range
and quality of a set of speakers, and I wonder why Altec didn’t take the
time to seek this certitication.

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PROS

  • style=”font-weight: bold;”>

    Sexy-looking

  • Excellent sound dispersion
  • Three inputs
  • Sleek, functional remote
  • Plenty of volume


CONS

  • Subwoofer cannot produce frequencies
    below 40Hz
  • Price
  • Where’s the THX certification?
face=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif” size=”2″>Value

alt=”” src=”http://cdn.pocketnow.com/images/rating/3.jpg”>

size=”2″>Ease of Use

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size=”2″>Features
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Overall

 

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href=”http://pocketnow.com/ratings.html” target=”_blank”>What do these
ratings mean?


OVERALL
IMPRESSION

 

    I had
a hard time coming up with a recommendation for these speakers. They are
able to disperse sound like I’ve never heard before, and they are very
attractive-looking and are sure to get some attention. Its fault though,
comes with the subwoofer. If Altec Lansing were to throw an 8″ subwoofer
into the package, or fix the “only 40Hz” floor, or just lower
the price a bit to be competitive with premium 2.1 offerings from Logitech
and Klipsch, then I could seriously recommend these speakers. Until any
of those conditions are met, my call is to wait for the price to go down
a bit unless the InConcert technology sounds extra-exciting to you.

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