Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 speaker system

Audio|Video|Misc
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Antec Sound Science Rockus 2.1

February 8, 2011 by Mike Chin

Product
rockus 3D | 2.1
Powered speakers with subwoofer
Supplier
Street Price
US$250

Diversification is the name of the game as the computer industry continues to morph and expand into a blurred convergence with all kinds of consumer electronics. There are many examples, and several distinct waves of diversification over the past decade. One of the most obviously successful was the iPod, which started the transformation of Apple into the most visible, celebrated consumer electronics brand of the early 21st century. Less visible to the average consumer but significant among PC brands was the diversification by memory and cooling companies into the retail power supply market, with Corsair probably the most successful in this sector. Another arena is solid state drives, now being supplied by many brands never before associated with digital storage.

Over the past year, audio accessories and components have become one of the hot grounds for diversification among many computer-related companies. Arctic Cooling, a cooling solutions provider, began marketing a big line of earphones and headphones last year. Zalman has also moved in that direction in recent months, now offering soundcards, headphones, and even amplifiers. Silverstone and Scythe both offered amplifiers for the PC for a while, and the latter now offers speakers as well. Aforementioned Corsair also jumped in recently with gaming headsets and speaker systems for PCs. Remember how computer audio began — a 1.5" throwaway speaker slapped somewhere in the chassis to beep codes, mostly about errors — and you'll have to agree, things have come a long way... even though $4.99 at Newegg can still buy you a pair of "350W Multimedia Speakers Powerful life like Sound Quality Connects to Any Computer, TV, Boom Box, Shelf System, CD player, Windows 95, 98, 2000, XP and windows NT compatible."

Almost every reader knows that Antec has been a major case and power supply brand for over two decades. Even with all the new competition in the crowded retail case and power supply space, Antec still has strong market position and distribution in North America. But with the acceleration of mobile computing and the slow growth in traditional (read: ATX) desktop PC sales, it is no surprise that Antec, too, is branching out.

Antec's move into audio seems to be a bit more focused and perhaps more cautious than most other IT brands. Soundscience is a new brand created for Antec's audio line, and for the past couple of months, only a single product has been offered: The rockus 3D | 2.1 powered speaker system. The latter part of its name describes it as a 3-component system — left and right speakers with a center bass speaker that also holds the electronics, including the crossover, controls and amplifier.


Antec soundscience rockus™ 3D|2.1 official glamor shot.

In a recently launched Antec blog, Ryan Richards, Product Manager for Sound Science, wrote strong words about the rockus 3D | 2.1:

In the beginning I envisioned our first speakers as the perfect audio system to pair with our gaming and performance enclosures. What I ended up with, the rockus 2.1 system, not only accomplishes that goal but works equally well as a small home theater setup or a gaming console companion. The result? A sleek, well-balanced compact speaker system solution that’s easy to use and delivers a crisp, powerful audio experience to a wide-range of users.

In the process of developing the rockus speaker system, I relied heavily on our core expertise in enclosure engineering as well as PSU design. The years of making PC enclosures with a heavy focus on quiet acoustic performance (Sonata, Performance One) gave us a unique perspective on speaker design. Certain materials vibrate or rattle easily, which can cause distortion and a loss in audio quality. To avoid this, I chose very early in the development process to construct the rockus satellites entirely out of anodized aluminum – something no other PC speaker manufacturer does. Our experience with power supplies, like the EarthWatts series, helped us create an amplifier that is both powerful and efficient.

It is noteworthy that Antec set up a floor booth at the 2012 CES last month, with an enclosed room of perhaps 10 x 12' size set up as a small living room, with a rockus™ 3D|2.1 speaker system providing sound for a big screen TV. This was after a 10-year hiatus from the CES show floor; Antec relied exclusively on demo suites at nearby hotels and catered mostly to corporate buyers, distributors, other existing customers, and the press. Our familiar Antec reps informed us that the main reasons for the change was to celebrate the start of Antec's 25th year, and to provide exposure for the new Soundscience brand and Rockus speakers to the non-IT crowd. Remember that computers represent only a portion of the Consumer Electronics Show. TV, video, other home electronics, and audio — general home, car, mobile, PC-based, and high end — represents a big slice of the audience.

At the asking price of $250, it may be a little pricey compared to $5 next-to-monitor speakers, but this is still not a product that's going after the high end. (What is high end audio? How about... "audio for the crazy and/or rich"? I did hear in a large Venetian Hotel demo room at CES a $105,000 pair of speakers powered by about the same value of electronics and source gear.) The angled design of the rockus satellites tells us that it is optimized for the intended applications identified by Ryan Richards: Atop a desk, on either side of the monitor or on the low, wide cabinets that big screen TVs are placed in most homes. The satellites tilt up at about a 30° angle, which points them to about the right height for a person at a desk, or for people sitting in lounge chairs 6~10" away from the TV. Pop music MP3s, gaming sound effects, and TV, movies, and home video sound is what these speakers will be asked to produce. The audio signal will likely come through a PC sound card, a gaming console, or TV.


Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 speaker system comes double-packed.


Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 Features
Feature Our Comment
Anodized aluminum satellites reduce vibration and minimize distortion, resulting in clear mid and sparkling high-range sound. Plus 3D-tuned drivers deliver audio optimized for soundscience’s 3Dsst™ technology. Aluminum cylindrical enclosures, OK. But 3D-tuned drivers? Uh... duh... yeah, sure! Give us a break!
Active Subwoofer with Passive Radiator creates an extended low frequency response, producing deep bass from a compact subwoofer enclosure, eliminating the need for a larger, bulkier subwoofer.
Big claims for what looks like a 7" driver in a 18-liter box. Subwoofer suggests response down below audibility. Be real: It's a center woofer.
Remote Control Pod - Easily adjust volume, 3D/music mode selection, muting and digital/analog input selection. It is wired, though.
Optical (TOSLINK) Input allows for direct connection of digital audio outputs on video game consoles, home A/V components, CD players, DVD/Blu-ray players, and more. No mention of D/A specifications anywhere.

Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 Specifications
Dimensions Subwoofer: 13.8” (H) x 7.7” (W) x 10.6” (D)
350.5 mm (H) x 195.6 mm (W) x 269.2 mm (D)
Satellite Speakers: 5.7” (H) x 4.7” (W) x 6.3” (D)
144.8 mm (H) x 119.4 mm (W) x 160 mm (D)
Weight 8.5 kg / 18.7lbs
Output Total: 150W
Satellite Speakers: 25 Watts/each
Subwoofer: 100 Watts
Maximum SPL: 95dB
Inputs Analog - 3.5mm, RCA
Digital - Optical (TOSLINK)
Freq Response 10 Hz - 20 kHz
Box Contents 2 satellite speakers, subwoofer, remote controller
3.5mm to 3.5mm cable
speaker cable - 2 x RCA to open end
RCA to 3.5 mm cable, remote cable
Box Dimensions 13” (H) x 10” (D) x 21.6” (W)
330.2 mm(H) x 254.0 mm (D) x 548.6 mm (W)
Warranty 2 Years

The specifications don't really tell much, though the maximum SPL of 95 dB is somewhat useful — I presume this is measured a meter from the system. There's also no mention of Dolby, THX, DTS, SRS, etc: This system does not do this kind of signal decoding. Without any details, the power ratings are most likely peak numbers, not RMS or continuous. The one really glaring bunk is the specified low frequency limit of 10 Hz, which is patently absurd... unless it is 50 dB below the midrange signal level. For a speaker system to achieve 10 Hz response at 95 dB@1m, it would require something like multiple 18" woofers in giant enclosures and perhaps 500W to drive each one of them.

Never mind. There are always holes in tech marketing specs for consumers. Maybe it's just a typo. Time to open up the package and take a closer look



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