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ALTEC LANSING ACS-400 Surround Speakers
Reviewed by Vijay Anand (14/09/98)

Sound System Specifications

No. of Drivers (Satellites) 2
Each Driver(Satellite) 1 x 3" Shielded Full Range (Front Facing)
1 x 3" Shielded Full Range (Side Firing)
1 x 1/2" Dome Tweeter (Active Bass Reflex)
Drivers(Subwoofer) 1 x 6" Dual Voice Coil, High Compliance, Long Throw Woofer
Frequency Response 32Hz - 20kHz
Cabinet Resonance 42Hz
Satellite Power More than 12 watts at Less than 0.4% THD
Subwoofer Power 40 watts at less than 0.4% THD
Input Impedance Larger than 10k ohms
Others Dolby Pro-Logic Surround Sound decoder circuitry built-in

[Introduction] [The Good] [The Bad] [Conclusion] [Rating]

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Introduction

The Altec Lansing ACS 400 Surround Speakers system is a 3-piece multimedia surround sound speaker system. It consists of two large Satellites that deliver the higher frequencies, surround sound and are capable of handling low range bass & the subwoofer pumps out very powerful low range bass that completes the audio output from the Surround Speaker system.

Unfortunately, the ACS400 speakers that sell in Singapore so far, are the OEM models that come in a plain box & has NO SUBWOOFER. I'm unsure of why this is so as you can buy the retail top-of-the-line Altec Lansing ACS500 with subwoofer. Both the ACS400 & ACS500 share the same Subwoofer, but the ACS500 has an even more awesome pair of satellites. The ACS-400 is just a step behind the ACS500.

The removal of a subwoofer & packing it in a simple white box rather than the retail box, reduces the price dramatically. But don't be disappointed, read on!

The Speaker-set was tested with many games, Audio/Video CD's, & wave/midi files using a Creative Infra-2400 16x CD-Rom drive & a humble Creative Sound Blaster 16pnp + 3D.

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The Good

The box is heavy, & upon opening the package, you can take out the 2 large satellite speakers. Although large in size, they do look handsome, have a nice design & makes your PC look powerful(get the ACS500 & people would think you have a theatre!) Placing this set of speakers near a 15" monitor makes your monitor look small, because of the speakers large height, width & depth. They still seem large next to 17" monitors. Oh yes, since these are magnetically shielded speakers, you can place them really close to the monitors. But as with all speakers, they do cause some jumping when placed next to a Trinitron monitor, so beware. You will not see the jumping if you place the speakers some distance away from the Trinitron monitor. If you insist on placing them close, you can always switch off the main power outlet for the speakers & switch them on when needed only. Here are the physical dimensions: 10.6" high x 4.2" wide x 7" deep (or 27cm high x 11cm wide x 18cm deep.

The setup didn't look that simple but with the comprehensive manual & it's large diagrams provided, it was easy. Altec has provided all necessary cables to get started & has even given the cables to connect a subwoofer(any model be it Altec or others). How thoughtful!
The right speaker has 2 push-switches(1 for power-on/off & the other for surround/dolby surround-on/off), 1 DC-power input, 1 subwoofer output, 1 left channel speaker output & 2 line-inputs. The right-speaker also has 4 controls in front: Volume, Center, Surround, and Subwoofer volume controls. The volume controls the main front facing speaker sound from 1 line input & the overall sound , the center controls the sound from the 2nd line input, the surround controls the side surround speaker volume & the subwoofer controls the subwoofer output volume. Phew! Here's the setup-layout:

The surround speaker switch gives you an option of whether you would like the side speakers to be activated to give a surround sound effect. If a sound is encoded in Dolby Digital Pro-Logic format, it will be decoded by the on-board circuitry & give you the proper Dolby Digital Surround Sound effect. The Side-Firing Surround Sound Speaker System technology is patented & is only available in 3 speaker models in the world, the Altec Lansing ACS400, ACS500 & the ADA305 USB speakers (the ones that the Dell ads show). All 3 have Dolby Digital Pro-Logic circuitry built-in.

Whatever your listening to, be it a game or a sound-track, the speakers sound wonderfull & are able to fill the room. The Bass is so good on these speakers that I wonder what would it sound like if there was a subwoofer attached. Generally if you like Bass at a moderate to above average, the bass provided by these 2 speakers are sufficient, unless you're an audiophile or likes heavy Bass, then it's advisable to attach a subwoofer. The sound is better than the AC-44/45 definitely & the Bass is not too heavy like the AC-44/45's subwoofer; It's pleasant. Pushing the speakers to their limit still produces clear albeit 'slightly loud-feeling' sound, which is very good, as many speakers distort their sounds by then.

Mind you, this is just running on the SB16, just think if it was running on a newer A3D based sound card! By the way, if you use the surround-switch to activate the 2 side surround speakers, they REALLY do give a nice surround feeling.In fact it's something like a 4-speaker setup but physically there are only 2 satellites.

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The Bad

It's hard to find fault with this speaker set's performance. The sounds are just nice. If you have to find fault, it would be the lack of providing an appropriate subwoofer for those who need it. But this should not bother you, as you can always purchase another brand's subwoofer & plug it in with Altec's cables. At least you have a choice. But I think the real set-back to some would be the satellites large size. They are so big, you can't phrase them as satellites but full-fledged speakers.

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Conclusion

So you've been looking to upgrade your personal computer with improved speaker audio, but you may not know what speakers are available for you to choose, the difference between the various computer speakers or the prices for different speakers. All you may know is that you want the power, performance and benefits that come from a high-powered, high quality computer speaker system, have the space to spare & want to stay within your budget. If this describes your situation, then the ACS400 Surround Speaker System is for you. It comes in 2 large satellites that satisfies most people & can be easily upgraded by adding in a subwoofer from another brand for those who have higher demands. The price is affordable at around $70 or less.


Sound System RATING

Overall Rating (Out of a maximum of 5 Star)

Installation ****1/2
Sound Quality ****1/2
Price *****
Appearance / Style *****
Overall Rating ****1/2

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