Antec Soundscience Rockus 3D 2.1 Review

Author: Chris Ledenican
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Wednesday, May 4th, 2011
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/antec_rockus_3d/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

Antec is best known for their cases and power supplies, but over the past year they have branched out into new market segments like heatsinks and even PC audio products. The audio equipment created by Antec is designed by their Soundscience team. In the manufacturer's own words:

"Antec soundscience is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Antec Inc., designs and creates audio- and video-enabled lifestyle products and accessories for the PC and home entertainment markets. Founded in 2010, soundscience brings Antec's expertise and reputation in PC enclosures, cooling and power systems, to speaker systems and multimedia components."

As of now Soundscience only has one product in its lineup, the Antec Soundscience Rockus 3D 2.1 speaker system. Outside of its extremely long name, the Rockus 3D speakers feature a design that allows users to listen to music in high-fidelity, while at the same time presenting home theater enthusiasts with a 3D audio mode for a virtual surround sound experience. This lets the Rockus 3D speakers offer the best of both worlds, as it can accurately reproduce music as it was intended to be heard, and also play back audio in an immersive 3D experience.

This being Antec's first foray into home audio, it will be interesting to see how the design compares to the M-Audio AV-30 speakers we use in our labs, as well as the standard OEM speakers that come bundled with pre-built computers from third-tier vendors.

Specifications
Dimensions

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)

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)

Weight: 8.5 kg / 18.7lbs

Output

Total: 150 Watts

Satellite Speakers: 25 Watts/each

Subwoofer: 100 Watts

Maximum Output S.P.L: 95dB

Inputs

Analog: 3.5mm, RCA

Digital: Optical (TOSLINK)

Frequency Response 10 Hz - 20 kHz
Box Contents 2 satellite speakers, subwoofer, remote controller, .5mm to 3.5mm cable, speaker cable - speaker cable - 2 x RCA to open end, RCA to 3.5 mm cable, remote cable
Box Dimension 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 Antec speakers come in a double-box. The outer portion of the packaging gives the speakers extra protection during transit, and of course advertises and describes the speakers. Inside the box, the speakers and subwoofer are encased in custom formed styrofoam with the included documentation at the top. Antec has done an exceptional job with the packaging, as not many other manufacturers package their products with such care.

Box contents include 2 satellite speakers, a subwoofer, remote controller, a .5mm to 3.5mm cable, 2 x RCA to open end cables, a RCA to 3.5 mm cable, the remote cable and documentation.

The Rockus 3D system comes with two satellite speakers that each have a 2.5-inch internal driver. Each speaker is driven by 25W of power and is capable of delivering frequencies ranging between 10 Hz - 20 kHz. In addition, the satellites are enclosed in heavy duty anodized aluminum, which will help reduce vibrations. This in turn allows the speakers to accurately reproduce mid- and high-range frequencies with little distortion.

Along with being able to accurately play high-fidelity music, the Rockus 3D system features a 3Dsst surround mode. When using the speakers in this mode, the sound stage is essentially increased, which according to Soundscience will intelligently place the listener into a virtual 3D sound field. This is achieved by analyzing the frequency content and pan/positioning of sounds, and then using certain types of filtering and phasing to widen the sound stage and create the effect of listening to a much larger surround speaker system.

To control the volume and sound stage, Antec has included a remote control that allows for easy switching between 3D/music, muting, and switching between the digital and analog inputs. To indicate the status of the speakers, the remote control has four LEDs that show if the speakers are connected via the digital input, which audio mode is in use and if the speakers are muted.

The included active sub-woofer is encased in a compact enclosure that houses a 6 inch driver. The sub utilizes a passive radiator technology that creates an extended low frequency response. This allows the sub to create deep and sustained bass from a compact enclosure. The sub uses 100 watts of power, which along with the two satellite speakers gives this system a total power rating of 150W.

All the audio cables for the Rockus 3D system are connected into the back panel of the subwoofer. The input options on the sub consist of a left and right analog input along a Digital Optical (TOSLINK) input and a auxiliary input. With three available audio sources, the Rockus system can be connected to three devices simultaneously. This means this system can be connected to a PC, gaming console and portable device all at the same time.

The rest of the connections include the speaker wire connectors, top audio controller input and a bass level switch. The bass depth can be adjusted to three levels.

The audio cables for both the speakers and remote control come out of the sub and connect into the back of the device. To make sure the installation is as easy as possible, Antec has clearly labeled all the cables.

For a 2.1 speaker system, the Rockus 3D has a relatively small footprint. This compact design will allow it to easily be placed on a computer desk or a home theater system. Additionally, since all the cables are connected through the sub, it is easy to hide all the excess cables out of sight.

Test Setup

  • CPU: Intel Core i7 920
  • Motherboard: MSI X58 Platinum
  • Graphics card: ATI HD5870 video card
  • HDD: 1.5TB Seagate 7200.11
  • Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower 1200W
  • Memory: 3x2GB Mushkin Redline

 

Comparison components

  • M-Audio AV 30
  • OEM 2.0 speakers

 

Testing

The Antec Soundscience Rockus 3D 2.1 speaker system will be run through our test gauntlet, which involves listening to various audio sources to compare the sound quality from all contenders.

Music

When testing the Rockus 3D system, we listened to high quality lossless audio files and tried to include as many genres as possible. While testing these speakers in the music mode, we were actually very impressed with clarity of the audio. In tracks that included acts such as David Bowie, The Shins, Spoon, and Pink Floyd, the acoustics were very clear, which is saying a lot for compact speaker with a 2.5 inch driver. Lyrics and instruments were all crystal clear.

The same was true for music that has a larger emphasis on bass, such as hip-hop and techno. Here the speakers did an excellent job reproducing the mid and high range frequencies, while the sub handled the lows. We have listened to many systems in the past that mask weak audio with overly loud bass. The Rockus 3D system is not one of these systems, as the bass was never too loud and actually really helped bring the music to life.

While the Rockus 3D system mostly impressed us when listening to music, we did find the mid and high-range frequencies didn't have the same level of clarity found in larger speakers. However, as a compact system with a  2.5 inch driver, we really liked what the Rockus 3D speaker system was capable of.

Movies

For movies, we tested the speakers in the 3D mode, and ultimately we were not impressed; the spatial representation never delivered surround sound. This was consistent across all the movies we tested, and even while the audio was better than on the comparison speakers, they just never delivered a theater experience. The sub on the other hand was excellent during movies, as it easily filled our small testing room. This did help increase immersion when there was a lot of onscreen action and explosions. In all though, we just felt the speakers were a bit lacking when it came to reproducing sound in a 3D plane. 

Gaming

While using the speakers for gaming we also used the 3D mode, and again we noticed the same type of results. While the sound was improved from the comparison speakers, and the bass sounded great during explosions, the sound just never really delivered an immersive 3D experience. Nonetheless the overall sound in games was very good and the speakers were able to reproduce in-game music and sounds the way they were meant to be heard. It was just the 3D audio effect, or lack thereof, that we found disappointing.

Throughout testing the Antec Soundscience Rockus 3D speakers we found a lot to like, as they are a compact 2.1 systems that can accurately reproduce high-fidelity music across many genres. The Rockus speakers sound better than the majority of compact PC speakers we have tested to thus far. Soundscience also did a phenomenal job designing the included subwoofer. During our testing there was not a point where we felt the sub was overpowering. Instead it nicely complemented the speaker’s mids and highs, which gave music, movies and games more character and depth.

Soundscience also did an exceptional job in designing the Rockus system. From the look down to the materials used, we have to say that this is a very high quality set of speakers. The average OEM speaker that comes bundled with pre-built computers are made of generic materials and have poor sound quality. So, the fact that the Rockus speakers use anodized aluminum along with an upward tilting cylinder design really show off the quality of this setup. Having great sound quality certainly didn't hurt, making the Rockup an excellent upgrade from generic PC speakers.

One aspect that we found to be disappointing while testing the Rockus speakers was the 3Dsst digital surround signal processing. In theory, the 3Dsst technology should expand the soundstage and create an environment where the user will hear objects surrounding them in a 3D plane. However, during our testing the Rockus speakers never actually gave us the feeling of being surrounded. This was disappointing, being a huge part of the appeal for these speakers.

Even though we were disappointed with the virtual surround sound aspect of the speakers, we still really like the Rockus 3D system as a whole. Of course you can get better results with larger and more expensive speakers, but for their size and price range the Rockus 3D is really a great product.

The Antec Soundscience Rockus 3D 2.1 speaker system is available now, and can be found for as little as $129. At this price they are a steal and would make an excellent upgrade from any generic speaker system that came bundled with a pre-built system.

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