If you think like us, you dread seeing a 3D moniker emblazoned on any speaker system. If the material isn’t recorded that way, don’t monkey with it. Antec wisely gives you the choice of running the audio through its digital signal processor or just reproducing what the artist has wrought.
We dig the stands that angle the satellites up toward our ears, but we could do without the honeycomb grilles and the garish flared rings in Antec’s Rockus 3D Speaker System.
Given the number of aluminum cases Antec builds, it comes as no surprise that the company would choose the material for the cylindrical satellites in this 2.1-channel speaker system. Aluminum is an uncommon material in this price range, but it’s a good choice. Aluminum doesn’t flex, like MDF or even ABS plastic, so you hear more of the speaker and less of the enclosure. But it matters a great deal what type of drivers go into those enclosures, and Antec tries to get away with one-way, 2.5-inch paper-cone drivers (more on that when we discuss the system’s performance). The satellites don’t use hardwired cables, but you’ll need either RCA couplers or RCA plugs you can solder onto longer cables if the ones provided aren’t long enough (the other ends of the cable are tinned wire that connect to spring clips on the subwoofer).
The subwoofer consists of a 6.5-inch active driver aided by a 9-inch passive radiator housed in the more typical MDF cabinet. The active driver is mounted in the rear of the cabinet and the passive radiator is in front, so the unit performs best with its back 10 or 12 inches away from a wall. The sub houses the amp and power supply and has one set of stereo RCA inputs, a 1/8-inch aux input, and a TOSlink digital input. A hardwired puck controls the volume, switches between analog and digital inputs, and toggles the DSP’s 3D algorithm on and off. What it’s sorely missing is a headphone jack and an aux input you could plug a digital media player into.
We thought the absence of dedicated tweeters would flatten the high end, but it didn’t; the satellites sounded brittle and harsh, instead. When we pumped Van Halen’s “Everybody Wants Some” through the system and cranked the amp way up, the satellites sounded as though they were tearing themselves apart. Could this be related to Antec’s decision to use a Class C amp? Class C amps are extremely efficient, but they also produce a great deal of distortion and are more commonly found in megaphones and walkie-talkies, devices that aren’t expected to produce high-fidelity sound. We’re not saying the Rockus satellites sound like megaphones, but they are pretty darned harsh.
The subwoofer scored better. The computer-speaker market is filled with flabby subs, and Antec’s delivers a relatively tight, well-defined low-end; but it’s just not a good match for the satellites. We like bass we can feel in our gut, and this one can’t emerge from the shadow of those banshee satellites.