Soundscience Rockus 3D | 2.1 speaker system

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Tidily packed and protected in blocks of dreaded, eco-unfriendly styrofoam. Call this an official start to our anti-styrofoam packing campaign: I will point out and diss every product package that features materials that are not recycled and recyclable. This is especially disappointing, coming from a company whose PSU products are generally packed almost entirely with recycled cardboard.

The components consist of the center bass/amp box (with unremoveable grill cloth in front), the two satellites, a control knob, and cables to run the little parts to the center box. There is also a short user's guide.

The speaker cables are phono plugs on the satellite ends and tinned bare wires on the center box end. For those who are unaware, phono plugs were originally designed for low level signals (like between preamp and amp, or source component to preamp) rather than the higher currents between amplifiers and speakers. Admittedly, they are in wide use among computer multimedia speakers, and these particular plugs and cables (18 gauge?) look reasonably hefty enough to handle 25W peaks.

The back side of the center unit (really hard to call it a subwoofer) is made of metal and has all the inputs, and outputs. The metal sheet doubles, most likely, as a heatsink for the electronics inside. It has to have three amps — 25W peak each for the left and right satellites, and 100W for the woofer, which is visible behind the slot grill. The passive radiator is apparently on the front. 3-conductor mini-plug and phono plug analog inputs or on the right, above the optical TOSLINK. Below that is a 3-position Bass Level switch, whose function is obvious. The plug for the wired knob remote is below that. Left and right spring loaded wire terminals run along the center. On the other side is the power switch and captive AC cord. It runs on 100~240 VAC, 50~60Hz. A notice on the right states maximum power consumption (AC) is 150W. There are some felt pads on the bottom panel that act as feet.

The remote control is actually a fairly large knob about 2" in diameter and almost as tall.

The remote is more sophisticated than it looks. To enable/disable the optical input, you press the little mode button on the side for three seconds when the system is powered on. There are LED indicators: Digital indicates engagement of the optical TOSLINK input (or not — LED goes off if not engaged), music for normal stereo, 3D for 3D effects, and Mute. The system always powers on in Mute. Pressing down on the top of the big knob unmutes it; pressing it again re-mutes it. When the big top knob is used as a volume control, there is no natural stop, it will spin as long as you keep turning it... but the volume doesn't get any louder beyond a certain point. Does this controller work in the digital domain? Probably not.

The cable for the remote is about 5' long, the same length as the speaker cables. At a desk, these cable lengths are fine, but with a big screen TV, they seem too short. Normally, the center bass unit would have to go to one side of the TV/cabinet. For the far satellite to reach the other side of the cabinet of a big TV (say 50" or bigger), the 5' cable is not long enough. The speaker cables were too short for the 55" TV I tried it with. The center unit had to be left in the center, rather in the way. If the system was going to be installed permanently, at least one speaker cable would have to be replaced with a longer one.

The satellites are unique looking.

The satellites are an interesting design. The enclosure is a short aluminum extruded tube, nicely painted or anodized a slightly textured dark grey. Each speaker weighs 0.65 kg, and feels reasonably solid, with no rattles when it is shaken. The back end piece is made of plastic, though it took some effort to confirm, and there is a recess in the center for the phono jack input. Four Allen-head screw give it a very sturdy look. The shiny flange in the front suggests horn loading, but it's only cosmetic, and it's plastic, though the illusion of metal is pretty good. Looking past the thin weave cloth, you can see a hex-pattern grill beneath which the cone of the full range driver is visible. This hex-pattern grill is probably plastic and meant to protect the cone of the driver, but it does look rather obtrusive to use as a speaker grill: It is well known in audio circles that early diffraction of sound waves emanating from a speaker driver can lower sonic fidelity.

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