Introducing the Soundscience Rockus 3D 2.1

When Antec decided they wanted to introduce sound products to their portfolio with their new Soundscience brand, they weren't kidding around. They sent representatives to demo the Rockus 3D 2.1 speaker system to the press and take questions in person. I was sat down in front of a Toshiba notebook connected via analog minijack to the Rockus 3D and allowed to play with the speakers, play different music, try some tracks off of YouTube, listen to a movie demonstration. And when it was all over, they sent me home with a set of the speakers that I have rigorously put through their paces during the past 10 days.

So before we get ahead of ourselves, let's talk about the Rockus 3D itself. The Antec rep was adamant that this speaker system be near perfect out of the box, and I believe him. It's a "basic" 2.1 system: two satellites rated for 25 watts and a frequency response between 10 Hz and 20 kHz, and a large (but surprisingly not too large) subwoofer rated for 100 watts. The satellites themselves connect via an RCA jack in the back and use a fairly robust cable that splits into speaker wire when it connects to the subwoofer. Build quality on the satellites is impressive: they use anodized aluminum for almost the entire build save a glossy plastic rim around the speaker proper that serves more for decoration than anything else. This is supposed to produce a cleaner, distortion free sound that plastic speaker satellites may have more trouble with, but it also gives them some heft. We have no complaints about build quality at least; these feel solid.

The subwoofer is simultaneously more and less fortunate. As the basic control hub for the speaker system the housing is a sturdy plastic with the typical cloth front, and it's actually comparatively small, measuring at 13.8"x7.7"x10.6". The subwoofer fires forward instead of down the way many cheaper units I've seen do, and spoiler alert: it can fill a room. Connectivity on the back is kept fairly clean and manageable: there's a port to connect the remote controller (which is heavy enough to actually hold its place on your desk without being at the mercy to the cable connecting it), a power switch, the two sets of speaker inputs, and then three audio inputs. This is important: the Rockus 3D accepts a dual RCA connection, a standard 3.5mm minijack connection, and a TOSLINK optical connection. This last one is supposed to make the Rockus 3D ideal not just for your computer but for your blu-ray player or gaming console, but frankly it's just nice to see a digital connection. Finally, there's a hard switch to choose between three levels of bass, and that's disappointing: it would've been nicer to see an analog knob to let you finetune the output of the subwoofer.

Last but not least we have the remote, which is weighted fairly well but does feel comparatively cheaper than the rest of the kit. The top disc is the volume knob—press down to toggle mute—and the front of the unit has four indicator lights and a toggle button: one of the lights indicates whether the speakers are in digital or analog mode, the next two indicate whether they're in music mode or 3D mode (more on this later), and the last indicates whether the speakers are being muted. To toggle between digital and analog inputs, just hold the button for three seconds. Otherwise, one press switches between music and 3D modes.

The package includes pretty much everything you'll need to connect everything to everything, but there are a couple of major shortcomings. The cables used to connect to the satellites may be of good quality, but they're fairly short and made positioning a bit difficult on my desk. Despite including robust minijack-to-minijack and minijack-to-dual-RCA cables, Antec also neglects to include an optical cable. I understand these aren't the cheapest cables in the world, but having to go out and buy my own was a little irritating, especially when this is really one of the better features of the speaker set.

It's also worth pointing out that there isn't a single certification on the box or the unit: no THX, no DTS, no SRS, no Dolby, nothing. And I can confirm: the optical input takes PCM audio and that's about it.

Testing the Rockus 3D
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  • hybrid2d4x4 - Saturday, November 20, 2010 - link

    Just like logitech's satellites, they probably rate them @ 10% THD (!!!). For reference, the cheapest 5.1 AVR I found rated its output at 0.08%THD. Yes, it may not be fair to compare against a $300 AVR, but it goes to show how huge the gap is between "computer speakers" and home theater gear. Also, Logitech's 10% is a horrible number to settle on as most people will hear 1% distortion. Reply
  • sonci - Thursday, November 18, 2010 - link

    Thres no way, these things can compete against similar priced active monitors from
    M audio or Swans, unless you have a really small room
    I think people should be aware of real speakers and stop buying crap logitech or antec or whatever manufacter them, especially now that pc audio is becoming quite acceptable.
    Reply
  • sonci - Thursday, November 18, 2010 - link

    ps: audiophiles wont buy anything with the name "3D" Reply
  • kmmatney - Thursday, November 18, 2010 - link

    Would these be good?

    http://www.amazon.com/M-Audio-Studiophile-AV-Power...
    Reply
  • Patrick Wolf - Thursday, November 18, 2010 - link

    Not to a real audiophile. I'm sure they're decent, but the overall sound quality will be limited by their smaller size.

    And I agree that completely subjective reviews like this don't belong here. Sound card reviews maybe, but that's it. Leave everything else to the dedicated audio sites. All of these cheap popular brand (gimmicky) speakers sound about the same anyway; which in all honesty is not too good.
    Reply
  • chrnochime - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    I'd say the same about M audio and to lesser degree swans. There's a reason M audio speakers don't go higher than 1000 USD, and the fact that they don't make any speaker for use outside of studio....

    Go dig up what audiophiles in HK think of Swans.

    I can think of a bunch of speakers that exceed Swans: Dali, B&W(803 and up arguably), Mcintosh, sunfire, magnepan, Martin Logan(vantage and up), vandersteen, salk, magnepan(maggie).....
    Reply
  • AnnihilatorX - Thursday, November 18, 2010 - link

    While the article mentioned it supports PCM only, does it support HD PCM though, by HD I mean non standard 192kHz 24bit 2ch PCM. Not many equipment support this however.

    Off topic but the reason Toslink/SPDIF is getting replaced by HDMI is that, the format is old and physically cannot carry information of 192kHz/24-bit for more than 2 channels. While 48khz/24-bit DTS/Dolby Digital Live 5.1 are compressed signals are fine, DTS-HD Master Audio or Dolby TrueHD for examples, can't. HDMI can do all, even DSD, in flying colors.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, November 18, 2010 - link

    It can't do HD PCM. Tops out at 96kHz. Reply
  • Dug - Thursday, November 18, 2010 - link

    I'm so tired of measurements and anechoic chambers and testing with one recording that no on else can get. That's only important if you care.
    These are computer speakers. I'm not going to sit at my computer for critical listening, and I don't really think these need to reviewed that way.

    I have friends that have spent thousands on creating great listening rooms, with measurements in one seating position. Trying to avoid reflections and create a flat response.
    Tell you the truth. Can't imagine why. I didn't find it to be that great. So measurements don't mean crap.
    Maybe what I like isn't "correct". But I don't care.
    Just like a properly calibrated monitor or TV. I find it very flat and boring. I like a little more contrast.

    After its all said and done, I just want to know if they sound good.
    Reply
  • michal1980 - Thursday, November 18, 2010 - link

    Really Anand? This is worth your bandwidt?

    Oh looky. Brand XYZ paid us some cash, and we post about their 'great' stuff they make.

    no real tests, or measure measurements. Just fluffy feel good writing that doesn't really you tell you anything.
    Reply

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