Is it live or is it Altec Lansing?
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls - you are all in for a real treat. Today GR gets a loving earful of what is easily the best sounding 4.1 and 2.1 speaker setups we have heard thus far. Allow me to introduce the 400-watt Altec Lansing 641 and 200-watt Altec Lansing 621.
Though both sets are a bit large and unwieldy, the quality here is simply top-notch. Altec has quite nicely covered all other bases with a plethora of cool features and convenient connectivity options.
Installing either of these sets is a simple plug and play matter. Connect the speakers and the remote to the massive sub ( the 641 set is easily lager than a tower computer). Now connect the sub to the front and/or rear "in" ports of your PC's sound card. Hit the power button on the remote and you're ready to throw a bass-pounding rager of a party.
I hope you own plenty of music and plenty of games, because these sets are devoid of any software bundle to get you started. This didn't bother me in the slightest - having milked Napster to the fullest in its heyday, I now own more music than my hard drive thinks I should. And I called upon much of it for testing these monsters.
Frankly, I really don't have a single complaint about the audio quality or clarity. Treble is sharp and crisp without being overbearing or excessive, which often results in an unpleasant earpiecing experience. None of that from Altec. With both sets, we tested scores of different games and music types - Samba, Soca, African drums, ska, hip-hop, jazz, funk (make our funk the P-funk), reggae, dancehall - you name it. It all sounds fabulous. The various instruments in reggae and Samba are all distinct and clear, even if you don't know exactly what they are.
But we're gamers at heart, so we popped in some favorites. Counter Strike fans can rest assured that the 3D positional audio quality is superb - most notably with the 4.1 setup. The audio in Rune sounds even more malicious, and Motor City Online's demolition and engine sounds are brought to life with roaring intensity.
Gaming with either the 621 or 641 is a brand new experience, as the bass from these things is like something from another planet. In their subwoofers, Altec is using 6.5" long-throw drivers (the 641 uses dual 6.5" long-throw drivers) for exceptional low frequency performance. I have never heard bass so exquisite.
Adjusting the volume, bass and treble levels is made very easy with the remote for the 641 set. You get a dial that initially acts as the volume control, but press the bass button or treble buttons and that very dial lets you equalize accordingly. The remote also has three different audio settings - Surround (if you decide to use only 2 of the 4 speakers), 2X mode (for all 4 speakers) and Game mode for the 3D gaming love that we're all here for. It even comes equipped with a headphone jack.
Unfortunately, the remote for the 2-speaker 621 set doesn't offer the same amenities. All you get is a power button and volume control - no bass or treble options and no headphone jack. It's a bit disheartening, but the sound puts our last 2.1 speaker set (TDK's Tremor S-150) to shame - irrefutably!
PC owners are not the only ones who will do the dance of joy. These babies are packaged with an handy AAC1 RC cable. This enables you to connect the 641 or the 621 to all major gaming consoles (PSX, PS2, N64, and Dreamcast) as well as portable CD & cassette players, MP3 devices, most audio keyboards and any other digital audio player. You can have incredible audio anywhere in the house.
But the size of these things...Holy spatial nightmare, Batman! The subwoofer for the 641 is obscene. Like I mentioned earlier, it's easily larger than a full tower computer and a lot heavier. I had to rearrange some things in my home office just to accommodate this behemoth. Thankfully, the 621's subwoofer is about a third of the 641's subwoofer size. But apparently, the bigger the size the bigger the bass, of which both systems have in spades.
Terrific sound quality and clarity, connectivity options up the wazoo, handy remotes and bone-rattling bass is what you can expect from Altec Lansing's 621 and 641 surround sound speakers systems. Ringing in at $179 dollars for the 621 and $279 for the 641, these kings of sound are also relatively easy on the wallet. Hands down, this is the cream of the crop. Just make sure you have a BIG office.
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