I got a surprise delivery yesterday by Fedex. All is forgiven
I'm having a hard time shutting down the tunes and writing this up but I'll give some quick impression over the first 24 hours. Please excuse the mess, I haven't tidied everything up yet.
Some quick pics:
First off: Packaging was excellent. Double boxed with beefy Styrofoam inserts. Speakers were in white cloth bags with the usual Swan white gloves.
Accessories were all present and the quality was okay. I initially disappointed when I saw the speaker wire. It was terminated with an RCA plug. What?
Take a look at the back of the sub. Those RCA jacks aren't inputs like I was hoping. That's the speaker output. Input is a single 1/8 inch mini-plug.
I had to run out to Radio Shack to get a stereo RCA to mini-plug to run the speakers off the Xonar Essence Card. There is an included male mini to male mini cable for use with the usual onboard sound or cards that output via miniplug.
Setup was a breeze after that. The speakers have spring loaded gates that really grab the speaker wire (which was nicely stripped and split just enough).
I should have measured the wires for you guys but there seems to be enough length for just about any configuration.
The attached volume wheel (nice touch) works fine. It's solid with just a touch of play in the two halves. I have a volume rocker on my keyboard that seems more convenient for me but the wheel would be super useful when using the speakers with just an Ipod or DAP.
The speakers and sub have a surprising amount of heft to them. The Fedex guy even remarked on the weight of the box. Very solid build to everything.
The wood veneer is extremely good looking (to me). It's a nice matte finish with glossy black piano lacquer plates on the top and bottom. My dad was over and immediately commented on their appearance.
It's almost a shame that the sub is so pretty. It will more than likely just end up under most people's desk. It's big. You would need a huge desk if you wanted it up top with the speakers (I tried).
How they sound: In a word, fantastic. Right out of the box I knew these were nice. Bass is low, tight, and textured. The sub goes plenty low for every kind of music I listen to. Would it do pipe organ? Probably not, but it sounds great during Avishai Cohen's standup bass runs.
Each note is roughly equal volume (some of that is positioning; corner loading the sub was too much). The initial pluck is felt and heard. I haven't run sweeps with my dB meter or anything but I feel that the advertised range of 38Hz is accurate.
Electronic bass like Shpongle, Bluetech sounds amazing. It's definitely not a one-note sub.
I listen to mostly jazz and ambient/ psybient stuff. The soundstage these beauties throw was unexpected. Very wide with a surprising amount of height. The metallic dome tweeters are just tiny bit tizzy sounding but the detail and resolution they produce make up for it. It's a minor quibble. Unless you've heard some really high-end two channel rigs you probably won't know the difference.
The speakers are pretty forward in the highs but have not been fatiguing at all. It's quite a trick they've pulled off here with these.
My dad likes blues so I put on Joe Bonamassa Blues Deluxe. Whoa. Excellent detail in the guitar. Snare hits were a touch recessed but that's to be expected with the size of the drivers. Bass was articulate.
Threw in some Bella Sonus Enamoured. Oh yes. Soundstage is ridiculous at this point. With my eyes closed I'm really having a hard time believing these are 8 inch tall cabinets.
Beck's Sea Change. Again, phenomenal. The acoustic guitar was very lifelike. Huge soundstage.
Patricia Barber's Nightclub. Virtually holographic soundstage with my eyes closed. It had width, height, and a degree of depth that was I not expecting. I got real relaxed, closed my eyes, and dimmed the room. Very immersive experience. I could not get over the realism of the depth.
I was blown away by any female vocals. If I had to say what these little babies were born to do, it would be to reproduce female vocals.
Diana Krall's Case of You on Live in Paris. Hairs standing up. Very forward lifelike vocals. You can hear her lips part before she sings. Every nuance is there.
I made my wife sit down in the sweet spot and listen. Her eyes got wide pretty quick. She plays piano herself and was blown away by the details in that simple song. It's an amazing recording and the speakers do it justice.
I was equally floored by Patricia Barber's stuff with these. I swear I'm hearing stuff from her percussionist that I've never heard before.
I picked these over the M200MkII's because I also watch movies on my computer. I figured the 2.1 system would be more fun.
So far, so good. Even in 2-channel mode the dialogue is clear and realistic. It doesn't have that slight hollowness that a phantom center often does.
I've watched parts of Band of Brothers, Sin City, Unstoppable, and the Showtime series Shameless. Panning effects are really nice. There are some environmental effects in Get Low (crickets, birds, leaves crunching) that are just represented so well by these.
The term High Definition has been overused so much its almost meaningless but it's an appropriate description. There is an incredible amount of detail and resolution here. As of now, I'm considering the price of 290 dollars a bargain. I would recommend these to anybody wanting a versatile 2.1 system that really (REALLY) excels with music.
Okay, back to listening. Feel free to hit me up with any questions. I'm not the best writer and wish I could really convey how impressed I am with these.Edited by RedWorm - 2/20/11 at 7:49am