Aaron buys some new speakers...
I recently needed some new speakers for my main computer, well to be honest the word "needed" could be replaced by the want "wanted". Not that there was much wrong with my old speakers, but I am doing an increasing amount of music writing and I am getting a bit miffed that what sounds OK upstairs on the PC, sounds awful when written to CD and played on the big Hi-Fi downstairs. Anyway I wanted a surround sound setup, with plenty of bass, and a nice rounded sound. Many computer speakers sound far too sharp and clipped to my ears, and I can't work with them. My usual source of computer bits an bobs is e-buyer, but of course you can't hear speakers over the Internet, so you need to see and hear them in the flesh.
Every month or so there is a computer fair in Bracknell (perhaps I ought to go one week with a pile of VirtualAcorns and see what happens), this is the ideal venue to buy speakers, as you can see and hear them. A trawl round the show left me with a choice of one, there were plenty of speakers available, but none of the others were better than my existing ones.
Anyway the ones I selected were a set of Niveous 2100-SA's. without even hearing them I was half sold, anything that is big, silver and has proper buttons on is off to a good start. When I say buttons I don't mean ones you press in and out, but big chunky metal ones that you turn. The sort of buttons you used to see on Stereos almost 30 years ago. The setup comes with a subwoofer, a centre speaker and 4 satellite speakers, it also comes with a remote control, which would save me reaching over those extra few inches to grab the volume control when the phone rings. As the computer show was drawing to a close I was able to wave a pile of money under the stall holders nose and get a 10% discount, taking the whole kit and kabodle to exactly £50. I have since discovered a couple of other companies selling the same set for £80 so I am quite pleased with myself.
The full surround sound set
As as aside I assumed that Niveous was a made up word, like Mondeo and Customer Care Line, but no according to Webster it means snowy, resembling snow or partaking of the qualities of snow. Now who said RISCWorld wasn't educational.
So what are they like? First impressions are good, they are well packed, and very well made for what is a cheap set of speakers. All the speakers are made of wood, not plastic like my old set, and have a reasonable weight (a lot of weight in the case of the subwoofer). All the speakers are connected by phono sockets and a full set of leads is supplied, including all the leads from the computer to the subwoofer. The remote control, feels a little cheap in comparison, but does its job well enough. The speakers can operate either as a full surround sound set, or as a normal 2.1 (stereo + sub) setup, which is how I currently have them.
Set up in stereo mode
The first job was to connect them up, so where is the manual? Help I can't find it, but wait, what is this nasty single bit of printed paper in the bottom of the box, it claims to be a manual, but it's worse than useless, oh well how hard can speakers be to connect up? Actually quite hard when you see the number of connections on the back of the subwoofer, luckily everything is clearly marked so its a matter of a couple of minutes to wire everything up. So what do they sound like, well they must be good as I can hear lots of detail on music that I couldn't hear before, including some subtle mistakes on my own compositions. In fact I spent the whole of the next day playing different pieces of music to hear what they sounded like, and the results far exceed my expectations. .
I have also had a long play with the remote control, since this is undocumented. It includes separate volume controls for each channel, so you can control front, centre, rear and sub independently, as well as all together if you want. It has a mute button and a really funky 3D mode, that fakes surround sound with just 2.1 speakers, this works very well on dance tracks, but don't try it with heavy classical music as it makes a mess, it does sound good with a piano though.
So am I happy with these speakers, oh yes, very much. I actually prefer the sound to my office Hi-Fi, which looks like that might get made redundant after 3 years of constant use. I would safely recommend these speakers to anyone, they sound great for the money, they look great, and even at low volumes produce a warm well rounded sound with lots of detail, at higher volumes they shake the house, oh and in the summer you can use put your face in front of the sub woofer and use it as a fan. If you are interested in listening to or composing music then these speakers will do the job admirably, indeed I am just about to try them with the copy of Rhapsody supplied with this very issue. The only negatives are the very poor instructions, and the slightly nasty looking remote, but then I bought these for the sound, and sound for pound they are a bargain.
A silver PC with a silver speaker