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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [03.17.03]
Manufactured by: Altec Lansing 

MSRP: $179.95
Est. Street: $140 appx.

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The Test

Now that we've covered just about every tangible aspect of the set, let's get into how they sound.

Again, I'm not going to pretend to have the full capabilities of objective sound level testing, etc.  What you're going to get is my subjective opinions on the sound quality in various scenarios.


First and foremost, let's take full advantage of a 5.1 surround sound set and watch some movies.  If you've read my past reviews, you know how I have always been against watching movies on computers.  I always considered it to be pretty silly to sit in a computer chair for 2 hours, watching a tiny screen.  However, since moving to Hong Kong I have been somewhat restrained in where I can watch my movies.  I do have a PS2, and a rather nice 29" TV, but there is no way to connect these speakers to that set using true 5.1 sound.  So lately, I have been watching all my movies on my LCD screen, checking out these speakers... Was it worth it?

I think it was! I have watched various movies with various types of sound: I watched the full Band of Brothers series, which definitely makes heavy use of surround, and with realistic explosions and gunshot sounds, you are quickly going to find out what your speakers are made of.

These speakers held up nicely to the action of Band of Brothers, and sounded absolutely wonderful in Road to Perdition.  I have also been able to watch the recent Hong Kong megahit, INFERNAL AFFAIRS, which also sounded great.  Watching the full Initial-D anime series, with its pounding Euro Megabeat soundtrack was also a joy on these speakers.


When I moved to Hong Kong, I was very limited in what I could bring along with me.  This means my entire collection of CD's was left behind - something I have been regretting since Day One.  For the first time since I was capable of earning money, I am resorting to getting MP3's off P2P apps.  Of course, in this case I DO own all the music I download; really!

I'm not going to get into what a pain it is to download MP3's, but I do have to mention that they aren't exactly the best way to test speakers.  I don't care what anyone says - MP3's do NOT sound like CD's.  Play any MP3 encoded in its usual "online distribution" format, and you should IMMEDIATELY notice a difference in sound quality if your speakers are capable.  Often the added noise is so bad, songs are completely ruined.

I guess it's a good indication for these speakers that you can actually make out a crappy MP3.  Usually sound quality on MP3's should be reserved for high end speakers, but you'll definitely know the good stuff from the bad on the 5100's.

I do own some CD's now - I bought the HERO soundtrack (another unbelievably awesome movie that you should put every effort possible into watching), which is a mostly string-based soundtrack, with a lot of percussion.  I was glad to find out that the 5100's were completely capable of allowing this soundtrack to sound as beautiful as remember it from the movie.

Also new to my CD collection are some vocal HK music, including a Faye Wong "best hits" CD.  Faye Wong sounds as beautiful as ever on the 5100's.  Her high notes are perfectly executed, and the woofer is very capable.


And now let's get down to business with some gaming!

First, here is my most current playlist:

Splinter Cell
Battlefield: 1942
Medal of Honor
Ghost Recon

You can see how high quality 3d sound can be important to me.  With the exception of Freelancer, and Splinter Cell to some extent, each game above makes heavy use of 3d surround sound, particularly Battlefield 1942.  Luckily, this is the one game I got to focus on a lot.

And once again, the 5100's come out sounding like a champ.  I was skeptical of what such small drivers would sound like in a surround gaming environment.  The Philips set, using NXT flat panels had left a sour taste in my mouth.  Luckily, the 5100's are the Scope of my life, and I have full confidence that they will perform well for a long while.

Going into this review, I had the prenotion that 1" drivers were going to sound as tinny as the ones that came attached to my LCD monitor.  Luckily I was proven wrong, but what gets to me is the poor physical design of the speakers.

They cannot be mounted on walls or stands, and they are narrow and heavy.  This leads to non-favorable positioning of the speakers, and potential accidents.

Besides that, however, I thought the controller was designed very well, and of course the entire set looks fabulous.

I would definitely recommend this set to anyone who cares about appearance, but doesn't want their speakers to fall short in sound quality.

  • The look AWESOME
  • Sound good too
  • Extensive package includes remote cradle and rca adapter
  • Well designed remote with a lot of features

  • Non mountable
  • Narrow - easy to knock over
  • They sound good but not GREAT
  • No simple stereo mode - we still listen to music you know!

Final Score: 91%