MidiLand S4 7100 Plus 5.1 Speakersby Jim Warren on January 31, 2001 12:43 AM EST
The 7100 Plus system goes together in two primary parts - the speakers and the decoder. The first step is to layout and connect all of the speaker components prior to interfacing the system to the computer via the decoder box. As the amplifier and subwoofer share the same enclosure, placing the box close to its final location is a good way to prepare for running the cables.
The satellites in the system are the same ones used in some of MidiLand’s smaller systems, the S4 4060M and S4 3050M. A description of setting up the satellites comes from the previous article, with slight modifications for the surround sound applications.
Depending on the listening environment, the speaker enclosures have different angles on the top (15°) and bottom (25°) faces to allow for a lower or higher sweet spot, respectively. For taller listeners, this helps get the sweet spot up to their ears, instead of just smacking them in the chest and having things sound bad as they are off axis of the stereo image. A little care is required to make sure that both are on the same angled face.
The nature of a small computer speaks induces a certain amount of directionality to the sound reproduction, as the drivers are smaller and the lower powers need to be more focus. This is fitting to a near field listening situation in which there is a limited number of people (usually one in a computing situation) listening to the system and therefore the sweet spot can be narrowed. This also benefits such 3D positioning techniques as A3D, and environmental audio effects such as EAX, whose algorithms are based on psycho acoustical perception at the sweet spot. When used for gaming, which is not encoded for Dolby digital, the 7100 Plus will essentially reduce to a 2.1 system as the digital output is only stereo, so this directionality is important.
The front and center satellites connect to the amplifier integrated into the subwoofer via 10’ long RCA cables, while the rear satellites have 16’ cables for better positioning. The speaker wires connect to the amplifier via a terminal block on the back of the sub. The cabling for the system is not the highest quality equipment - the gauge of the wire is fairly high (i.e. thin wire), and the connectors are molded plastic. This seems to be a sacrifice focused on keeping prices down, though at the relatively low power levels of the satellites, the wire should be sufficient, though not optimal.