Class AB amplifier; discrete bass control; off-the-hook price/performance ratio.
One-way satellites; hardwired cabinets; sub distorts when driven too hard.
We don’t bring products into the Lab just to beat them up, so we almost didn’t bite when Genius pitched these speakers. We also try not to prejudge products, but we didn’t have high expectations for this 2.1-channel speaker system: It looks cheesier than a wedge of Vermont cheddar and sells online for less than 50 bucks. We were fully prepared for a craptastic audio experience. Wow, were we ever off base.
Corsair needn’t worry that Genius will bump its exceptionally good SP2500 speakers off our Best of the Best list—the SW-G2.1 1250 isn’t that good—but it is better than we thought any $50 speakers could be. We’re not sure if the weird hourglass shape of the ABS plastic satellite cabinets is supposed to serve a function or is just an odd design decision, and we hate the hardwired speaker cables that connect them to the subwoofer. But we have no complaints about how they sound.
The SW-G2.1 1250's amp has a 1/8-inch headphone output and a 1/8-inch mic input in front (with a mic output in back). There's also a 1/8-inch aux input in back, which is handy for plugging in an MP3 player.
We’re also not sure what Genius sprayed on the one-way drivers to achieve that shiny red finish. These are simple 3-inch paper cones with inexpensive foam surrounds, so we were quite surprised with their capacity for reproducing both midrange and high frequencies without dedicated tweeters. While listening to “He Was a Big Freak,” from funk diva Betty Davis’s They Say I’m Different, we found that the satellites rendered the drummer’s high hat unexpectedly tight and crisp without compromising Davis’s lusty screams and guttural growls.
The compact subwoofer’s design is equally simply: a 5.25-inch paper cone driver with a foam surround housed inside a 9mm MDF cabinet. This isn’t the tightest sub we’ve heard, and it’s easily driven to distortion if you crank the bass dial much farther than the halfway point, but it does move an incredible amount of air through its rear reflex port. We thought the bar across the face of the compact sub might be there to protect the woofer, but Genius tells us it’s just for decoration.
Most 2.1-channel speaker systems tuck the amplifier inside the subwoofer cabinet, but Genius houses this one in its own enclosure. And we suspect the amp is the component most responsible for this system’s better-than-average sound. Most inexpensive active speaker systems utilize class D amps, but a more sophisticated class AB amp drives this system. The amp delivers just 9 watts RMS per channel to the satellites and 20 watts RMS to the subwoofer, though, so don’t expect to fill a large room with sound using this system. It’s plenty loud for near-field listening—including gaming—and the satellites don’t distort, even with the volume control pegged.
The aforementioned hardwired speaker cables limit your options when placing the components, and having the amp in its own enclosure will add to your desktop clutter, but we like its large primary volume knob, and we doubly appreciate having a discrete bass control. This is no audiophile system, but we predict we’ll kiss a lot more frogs before we find another set of cheap speakers that sound this good.
$50 (street), www.geniusnet.com