A sound investment.
As console gaming gets more and more popular, more and more companies are getting a piece of the action. After all, with revenues bigger than the Hollywood box office, there's a huge untapped consumer base to hit up.
Klipsch GMX D-5.1 Speaker System
You've probably heard of Klipsch, as the company has been a solid speaker manufacturer for the better part of 60 years. Only recently has the company dived into gaming, though, and we certainly had some doubts about whether or not they'd get it right. In the case of the ProMedia GMX D-5.1 speaker system, they pretty much hit the nail on the head. Aside from a few small complaints, this is a sturdy offering for console gamers looking to blow out their eardrums, though PC users might want to look elsewhere.
The GMX D-5.1 is touted as a surround-sound solution for gamers still tweaking the bass and treble settings on their TV. The package contains five futuristic satellite speakers, a hefty black subwoofer and a command module used to switch settings, along with all the requisite wiring.
Aesthetically speaking, the five identical satellites are best described as industrial modern. They almost look like laser guns from old sci-fi movies. Resting on nice little stands that allow for 45 degrees of movement, the speakers can be easily rotated in the proper direction without breaking anything. It's really a great engineering move and one that will hopefully be implemented in future sets. The 6.5-inch sub is an ominous, fairly compact black box. Compared to the massive subwoofers we saw from Altec-Lansing, it won't really get in the way.
But you're not going to spend all day taking pictures of the speakers, right? The specs - 50 watt sub, 10 watt satellites (apiece), 108 decibels max, support for Dolby Pro Logic II and Dolby Digital (no Dolby DTS, oddly) - are certainly impressive. So how does it perform?
Not bad, thanks for asking. We tested the setup with a variety of Xbox and PS2 games and found that, generally speaking, the system pumped out more than enough solid power at various ranges to keep us pleased. Things get a little tinny when you really crank the hell out of it, but when kept within the recommended decibel range the speakers perform well.
GMX D-5.1 Command Module
The subwoofer is deceptively strong. At first, it didn't seem to really punch out those low-end thuds, but after running it through a battery of music and movies, it turned out deliciously warm bumping. And in case you need even more oomph, Klipsch includes something called an "SWS Link" system, which allows you to add more subwoofers quickly and easily. You simply run a line out from the first sub into the second one, and voila - piggybacked subwoofers.
We tested this with up to three subs at once, at which point we had to stop in fear of literally shattering the television stand. Of course, each extra woofer costs an extra 150 bucks, so this is really only a useful tool if you have the bread and need more low-end rumble. On the other hand, those subwoofers will work with any stereo amp, so the investment isn't such a bad one.
Shaped like a UFO, the command module is a useful if bizarre-looking device that controls all essential settings, from overall and individual speaker volume to input sources and surround decoding. Despite its odd shape, it's quite durable. The device allows for one analog and two digital (optical and coaxial) inputs, which means you can effectively hook up your TV and two consoles at the same time. Astonishingly, however, the system doesn't come with a remote control. In other words, you have to get off the couch and mess with the thing if you want to turn it up. Pssst...gamers are sedentary beasts. We don't like to get off the couch unless it's on fire.
That's not such a big deal if you use the GMX 5.1 with your PC, but this system isn't really designed well for PC use. The module only supports left and right analog ins, meaning you'll have to use the S/PIDF jack if you want 5-channel support - provided your sound card has one. Plus, there's no headphone input on the command module, which is a killer if you game late at night and don't want to piss off the neighbors.
But if you keep this sucker planted in the living room, it will keep you happy. At $299.00, the GMX 5.1 is cheaper than the terrific Logitech Z-680 system (though you can find those for well under the MSRP these days) and provides good quality for the money. If you're still listening to your games, music and DVDs through those wimpy TV speakers, the GMX 5.1 presents a smart, safe step into the next generation.