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Speakers, Headphones and Desktop control. Why isn't it in a single package?

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I've been looking for a decent speaker set up for a while now and was having serious trouble finding what I wanted. My wish list was, I thought, fairly obvious for a desktop PC user:

1 - a desktop/speaker-front volume control
2 - a desktop/speaker-front mute button for when I get a phone call mid-gaming/work session
3 - an output selector switch so that I could easily switch from headphones to speakers and back again without unplugging cables under the desk
4 - ability to still use my mic on my gaming headset (a tricky one as it is on the same cord as the headphones socket)
5 - decent sound quality (bi-amped is good as I prefer the sound of the crossover before the amps)

I looked at a number of solutions and found I was being sent in one of two directions: either active near-field studio montors or ipod docks.

Active Studio Monitors
Some active studio monitors had 1, 2, 3 & 5, but they tended to get into the big money and way out of budget. Sound on all of them was pretty excellent, the bi-amped feature was there and but the price was painful. I was seeing ?£400-500 for everything that I wanted and that was crazy prices.

iPod Docks
The docks often came with 1, 2, 3 & 5 as well, but then they'd have this stupid flap into which I could insert a device I'd never own. If I could plug in my Android phone via USB then I might have been more interested. The Aktimate Maxi range was the closest I could find to nirvana but they were huge and way too expensive (?£500) with features that I would not use and a remote control & software that was widely reported as 'flakey'.

PC Speaker
I looked at the Acoustic Energy Aego M 2.1 Speaker System as I know that the sound is superb from these heavyweight but small satellites supported by the large woofer, but the are 'speakers only' and did not allow me the 1,2,3,4 & 5 that I wanted. They also have very limited adjustment of the sub-woofer which unless you have a room that suits I know can cause issues (it took me ages to get them positioned right in my father's home-office when I installed his)

Corsair SP2500 Gaming 2.1 Speaker System
I then, almost by accident, came across this review for Corsair Gaming SP2500 2.1 PC Speaker System:

BORKED

Up until this point I did not even know that Corsair did speakers, but this guy was clearly impressed and seriously excited by them. So I rooted around for more info, read a lot, watched reviews and to my surprise *everyone* who had reviewed them was gob-smacked by their quality (apart from one stupid person on Amazon who had not yet found the button to turn on the sub-woofer so thought they sounded naff). So after much prevarication, I ordered a set and they arrived yesterday afternoon.



I've installed them and been playing a variety of music on them to test them and quite simply I have been blown away by the quality.

They have a wired remote which sits on your desktop (mine is sat just under & in-front of my monitor within easy reach) and which has these functions & controls:
  • 1.8" color TFT display
  • Rotary volume control knob
  • Mute button (press the volume knob)
  • Independent sub-woofer volume control also on the remote
  • a variety of dynamic DSP programs like e.g. 'Late Night' which uses the active digital crossovers to redirect bass tones to the satellites from the sub-woofer (and therefore reduce their volume) and therefore greatly reduce the ability of your sleeping family to be woken up(!) - I've tried this mode and it works!
  • a variety of EQ modes to suit the style of music being played.
  • Both the DSP Program & EQ mode selectors have 'None' or 'Bypass' options which then allow the speakers to act as 'pure' reference monitors.
  • A standard 3.5mm headphone input on the front of the remote so I can switch easily to headphone mode as required
  • As the headphone plug now needs to be on the desk with the wired remote then the mic plug has to be up there too as it is on the same wire, so I bought a 2m mic-extension wire to continue the mic connection from the desktop back down into the back of the PC
  • Standard Aux input for Mp3 players


So in one fell swoop I have managed to get hold of all of the things I wanted.

Installation:
The satellites are not big, they measure 6" high, 4" wide and 5" deep, so they fit nicely on the desktop. I've installed them in a classic 'near-field monitor' position where the speakers and me form the 3 corners of an equilateral triangle (i.e. equal distance from each other). I'm listening to them right now and the sound-stage is centred squarely in the centre of my monitor, brilliant!

The speakers themselves have a 1" tweeter and a 3" mid which are fed by separate amps (the bi-amped bit I preferred), with most of the grunt being handled by the 8" speaker in the Fourth-order closed bandpass enclosure design sub-woofer which is fed by its own amplifier (yep, a total of 3 amps). That fourth-order bit just means the sub is designed to give a wider range of bass, more bass output and a tighter, more controlled bass sound from a sealed box with a single bass port (the hole you see on the front of the woofer).

The sub-woofer itself is a monster at about 18" long, 12" high and 10" deep. Think 'small microwave' and you're in the right ball park. Mine is parked comfortably under my desk with the port firing outwards and towards where I sit.

All the connections go to the sub-woofer. Power is plugged into the back of the woofer, speaker connnections go from the amps in the woofer enclosure to the speakers (2m cables so there is plenty of length for different set ups), single 3.5mm to 2xRCA jacks for the PC to amp connection. The remote is also connected to the rear of the sub.

Of course the whole thing is powered by a rather nice Corsair PSU which sits inside the woofer enclosure (and we know Corsair PSUs are good).

Wedge Feet
The speakers also come with some additional 'wedge feet' to help you 'aim' the speaker drivers at your ears more accurately. These basically allow you to tilt the drivers either upwards (by putting the wedge under the front - as you might need if you put the speakers on your desk) or downwards (by putting the wedge under the rear - like you might need if the speakers were on a shelf above your PC desk). My speakers are on my desk and so I used the wedge at the front. Believe me when I say that this *does* make a difference to the quality of the sound. Speakers pointed at your ears rather at your chest do sound so much better!

How do they Sound?
I've so far tried games (WoW, WoT and FPS), rock, pop, a whole range of dance music (everything from trance to DnB), organ music, choral and some studio-recorded tracks my daughter made for her 14th birthday. It's difficult to describe just how good the sound is in words, so here's an attempt:


My daughter Charlotte is currently away on a residential choral course at Oxford Uni and does not return until next weekend; my 12yr old son knows she is away.
This morning in my office I played Charlotte's studio recording of 'Defying Gravity' and my son, who was downstairs at the time, rushed upstairs asking "where's Charlotte, is she home"?
The quality was good enough that he thought she was at home already.


These speakers are seriously good. At ?£180 they were over my preferred budget, but buying cheap speakers that sound terrible and do not do the job is wasted money and these had ALL of the features, flexibility and control that I wanted. They sound like ?£400-500 near-field studio monitors but deliver so much more than anything I have ever heard connected to a PC.

I've listened to the stonking great big (& more expensive) Logitech systems, ?£500 iPod systems and a range of studio monitors in the ?£250-500 range and these puppies keep up with them all, perhaps bar one pair of KRK monitors which were ?£500 and had none of the flexibility/control I wanted. They are simply superb.

Yes I'm biased as I own a set now, but they are first-class. 10/10 from me for these and worth every single penny. If you get these you will be staggered at just how much acoustic quality & volume they deliver. Did I mention how loud these suckers go? Your fillings will fall out before they distort. Seriously.

Buy yourself a set, they're featured in the dMw affiliate shop and you'll not stop grinning once you hear them.

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