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Yes, most of your movies and music already lives inside your Mac, and yes, the built-in speakers on iMacs and MacBooks work for watching that “Honey Badger” video on YouTube when you’re supposed to be working. But to really pump up your movies and music on whatever type of Mac you use, dedicated external speakers are a must. The sleek new Rockus 3D 2.1’s look like they pack the power to help you kick back and be entertained…but does the audio quality keep up with their lovely modern lines?
As the name indicates, the Rockus is a 2.1 speaker system -- two small desktop satellites for mids and highs, and a compact subwoofer for that satisfying low rumble. There’s also a small wired controller that sits on your desk and controls the system, muting and adjusting volume, as well as switching between sources and activating the 3D audio mode. Everything gets wired back to the subwoofer, which has analog RCA and stereo-mini inputs, as well as a Toslink input for digital sources. The desktop satellites are built from matte black aluminum, giving them a satisfying heft that also helps them stay put on your desk. It’s a nice touch, especially when compared to most other speakers in this price range, which are usually made out
of flimsy plastic.
Rockus features Soundscience’s “3Dsst” audio processing, which attempts to create a wider, three-dimensional soundstage. For video or games, we dig the additional punch it adds. But when listening to music, the 3D effect adds a muffled quality that buries delicate treble frequencies. Mid-range and bass response, though, is stronger, imparting a warm feel that we appreciate. But we prefer to leave the processing off for tunes, which you can do at the touch of a button on the controller. The subwoofer itself sports a three-position switch to adjust bass. Unfortunately, even on the maximum setting, Rockus falls a bit short of what we’d like to hear.
Still, the sound quality of the Rockus is pretty good, if not a bit bright. While the included cables are decent quality, they’ll be way too short for some setups. And while we like the desktop controller, the fact that it’s wired adds complication and clutter to what would otherwise be a fairly clean-looking system.
The bottom line. For $200, we expect a little more bass and a little less treble -- especially for music -- but the Rockus 3D 2.1 is great for gamers or movie fans who don’t have a lot of space.
Rockus 3D 2.1 Speakers
Audio source with stereo mini, RCA, or digital output
Works great for games and movies. Sturdy speakers stay in place on your desktop.
Wired controller adds cable clutter. Subwoofer doesn’t quite rock hard enough. Can sound a bit bright.