Altec Lansing arrives and takes the throne

For some time now, I’m collecting old computer parts to bundle computer system for my sister. I have practically everything apart from motherboard, memory and speakers. I planned long time ago to replace the memory with something more akin to overclocking, so the memory is somewhat solved. I’ll fetch some used nForce2 board, which left me with speakers.

I’ve had Jazz J-7907 for several years (four or more, can’t remember) and they were working acceptably. My wallet would start screaming every time I went to visit a friend with hardware 5.1 decoder and set of Jamo speakers, but I thought that nothing like that is possible on PC speakers, hence I never bothered to look for new speakers.

Now, I needed to buy something. I could’ve gone cheap with used speakers for €20 or something. After a bit of thought, I figured that it’s about time to update my sound system, as it turned out to be the oldest component in my home setup. Quick surf through hardware sites yielded Altec Lansing 5100 - often mentioned as “look-upon” set in the middle class. I read several reviews from the web and decided to get them; little below €150, here in Belgrade.

Official image of the setup

Reviews are one thing, but the actual sound experience can be so different from person to person. Sound experts can rate them as promising or not bad, while general users would rave (difference similar to what good web site means when you ask me and average Joe). So, I employed the one and only way to test 5.1 speakers: The Lobby shooting spree scene from The Matrix.

Man, how good this beauty sounds.

I can bet my neighbors thought that the war started in my room. Then another test with Minas Morgul scene from the Return of the King to see how it handles the deep-high changes. The surround effect is fantastic, once I figured out how to connect the cables. The colours for rear and center were inverted on my Abit NF7-S motherboard to those on the speakers, thus on the first try it sounded crazy (Frodo and Sam were constantly talking behind me :)).

Nice abilities include independent setting of the volume levels of Bass and Treble, as well as center and rear satellites.

Further, as the HardCoreWare reviewer said: there is also a 2 channel auxiliary input, which can be used with devices like MP3 players, CD players, video game consoles etc. You are not limited to mini-stereo plugs either, because Altec Lansing thoughtfully included a stereo RCA > mini plug adapter. I REALLY appreciate it when manufacturers do this. Now I just need to get me one of those iPods everyone are talking about, and the bliss will be complete.

From the usability point, the remote controller is a great tool and comes in very handy - no need to duck under the table to adjust volume, change modes (stereo, 4.1, 5.1) etc. The satellites are compact and beautiful, slick design that perfectly fits with my silver-claded TFT. The center speaker is horizontal, with the little hinge used to stabilize it on the upper part of the monitor.

If, when it comes to PC sound, you are like me - mostly movies with music on rare occasions, then this is a good buy, no doubt about it. Even if you are not like me, consider these and try them out if you can. They give so much out of so tiny satellites. Admittedly not very powerful, but with excellent sound quality.

As a side note: I realized that NVMixer fails to install, when I install latest nForce chipset drivers (5.10). No errors, all goes well during install, but it is non-existent on the system afterwards. If anyone knows why, please let me know.