I tend to use my iMac for everything from music to tv to movies when I am in my home study. And why not? After all, the 24″ screen is great for TV and movies. (And the 27″ will be even better!!) There are, however, a few things that make the experience quite a bit better. First off, the SRS iWOW plug in adds both depth and a high level of sound configurability. Second, while the iMac’s speakers do “well enough”, a pair of external speaks make a HUGE difference!
I’ve been using the Hercules XPS 2.1 40 Slim speakers which consist of two thin satellite desktop speakers and a separate sub-base and have been impressed with the increased sound quality this inexpensive system offers. Let’s take a look.
From the Company:
Combining elegance with quality, the XPS 2.1 40 Slim model includes two magnetically shielded satellites with the same refined and ethereal design. Its subwoofer, crafted entirely of wood, ensures a powerful bass presence. The subwoofer also features an extremely fine-grained finish, inspired by high-end audio system subwoofers. With 32 watts RMS (8 watts per satellite + 16 watts for the subwoofer), the XPS 2.140 delivers homogeneous, perfectly balanced sound, for a truly great listening experience, whether listening to music or watching movies on a computer.
The Hercules XPS 2.1 40 Slim comes with a mini wired remote control, featuring a volume control knob, headphone jack and a handy line in input, allowing users to directly connect an MP3 player. It is compatible with PC, Netbooks, Mac®, MP3 players, CD/DVD players, TV sets and game consoles.
* Total power: 32 watts RMS (2 x 8W RMS + 16W RMS).
* Peak power: 64 watts
* Each satellite features dual drivers
* Speakers are magnetically shielded
* Headphone jack and secondary line input on the remote control
* Integrated power supply
* Satellite dimensions: 23.5cm (height) x 5.8cm (width) x 7.2cm
* Subwoofer dimensions: 24cm (height) x 16.5cm (width) x 20.5cm
* 1.8 meter cable to connect to audio source
* Compatible with PC, Netbook, Mac, MP3 player, CD/DVD player, TV,Game consoles
I’ve been using a speaker system for well over a year now and have been quite happy.The system was mid-priced and has been well worth the money I spend on it. While it won’t will any audiophile awards it does sound quite good. In the looks department, however, it is just… blah. The satellite speakers are short and dumpy and the sub-woofer is BIG!
The Hercules XPS 2.1 40 Slim improves on this quite a bit.
The satellite speakers are slim and have a nice bit of styling attached to them.
The sub-woofer is still sizable but it is noticeably smaller than what I am used to. It is also much much lighter.
Thee are numerous ways to control the volume and sound coming from the speakers. In fact, there are too many. You can control it directly from the computer itself or from the small, wired remote unit.
The amount of bass can be controlled right on the computer or using a nob on the front of the sub-woofer. In fact, you actually have to control both volume and base from both the computer and the speaker system but I guess that is going to be the case with any speaker system attached to a computer.
The power switch for the system is, for some reason, placed on the back of the sub-woofer. Personally I found this to be an issue for two reasons. First, every time I wanted to turn off the speakers to save power when I would be away for an extended period of time I had to reach under my desk and behind the subwoofer. There is no way to turn it off from the wired remote control. This makes little sense to me. And it was worse. While the material on the speaker makes note that the speakers are shielded the shielding does nothing to shield the speakers from putting out an annoying GSM buzz whenever my iPhone was within ten feet of them. I found myself constantly having to turn the system on and off and that meant reaching under the desk and behind the sub-woofer to do so. It got annoying… FAST!
From a sound perspective the system sounds quite good, especially when you take the price-point into consideration. It wasn’t the richest sound I have heard but it was a huge improvement over the sound that comes directly from my iMac.
What I Like:
Small, slim, stylish, great price-point, good sound for the price
What Needs Improvement:
Power button on the back of the sub-woofer, GSM buzz that is truly a buzzkill
The Hercules XPS 2.1 40 Slim Speakers has an MSRP of $59.99. Details on this and other Hercule products can be found on the company site.