by Sarah Meyer
In September, Altec Lansing released five new speaker systems made specifically for hottest technologies: mobile phones, MP3 players and laptops.
One of these was the SoundBar speaker system. Made to help clear desk space while improving the audio quality on your computer, the SoundBar looks amazing. But we were curious to see how the SoundBar would work with a notebook, when it seemed to be geared towards a standard desktop. Can it be used interchangeably?
- Speaker type: 2+1 system
- Drivers (per satellite): Two 2" full range drivers and one 2" passive radiator
- Signal-to-noise ratio: 93 dB
- Dimensions: 14.7" (W) x 3.4" (D) x 4.4" (H)
- PC system requirements: Windows XP, Windows Vista; Audio out port (headphone port)
- Connections: Powered, Auxiliary input for media devices
- Warranty: one-year limited warranty
- Included in the box: Altec Lansing Soundbar with two 2" precision-engineered speakers and a large bass pressure driver; AC power cable; Two in/out cables; quick connect card; limited hardware warranty.
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Design and Build
The Altec Lansing SoundBar is designed to be a solution to the clutter on your desk while giving the listener "immersive sound." It is a one-piece speaker system that can fit easily under a flat-screen monitor or behind a notebook.
The SoundBar is a compact, good-looking system. Only 4.4" tall and 3.4" deep, it can fit almost anywhere without being a pain. There are only two cords; a power cord that plugs into the back of the system and an audio in/out cable that comes in two different sizes to help with "wire management."
The system stands on two plastic "legs" that have a rubber panel on the bottom to keep the SoundBar from sliding, even on a slick surface. It has a sleek design that fades from the front to the back, making it seem even smaller and less obtrusive.
The power on/off and volume control knob is located on the front of the speaker system. By turning the knob to the right, you can increase the volume. Push the knob in, and the mute the noise. Turn the knob to the left and you turn the system off. Above the knob is a thin stripe that glows a blue-violet color when the system is on (The knob also makes a clicking noise when turned on or off).
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On the side of the SoundBar, there is an auxiliary input for attaching media devices and a headphone jack to make the music, or movie for one. The Audio In port and the DC IN 5v port are located on the back
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The AudioHub is a 2+1 speaker system that “maximizes performance and clarity with two 2” precision-engineered speakers and a large bass pressure driver. In other words, there is no subwoofer unlike the typical 2.1 speaker system. Instead, there is a third speaker that has been modified to focus on the bass levels.
Altec Lansing says it makes up for the lack of a subwoofer with their patented XdB technology. There is really no mention of what the XdB technology is, or how it works, other than it “enhances the bass.” So I guess you have to take their word on it.
The audio quality was a huge improvement over my Dell’s built-in speaker system, although that’s not saying much. In all seriousness though, the audio quality on the SoundBar was great. At 93 dBs, or maximum volume, the music was just barely distorted. Just a tad lower, at 91 dBs, the music was still extremely loud but clear.
I also watched a television show online on my Dell notebook with the SoundBar hooked up and the sound quality was as good as my TV. The sound was clear and crisp, and there was no distortion that I often get with my standard Dell notebook speakers.
Using the SoundBar is simple. Plug the AC power cord in, and attach the Audio in/out cable. Since most notebooks don’t have Audio Out ports, or at least my Dell Latitude D620 doesn’t, I had to plug the Audio cable into the headphone jack (This wasn’t a huge deal since there is another headphone jack on the SoundBar).
There’s no software and the system worked with Windows XP and Vista. No adjustments necessary, as soon as you turn it on, it’s ready to go.
The SoundBar speaker system is a great addition to any computer that is lacking in sound/speaker quality. The unit is simple to use and doesn’t clutter up workspace. It may be geared towards desktops but I loved using it with my notebook at home. It’s not great for traveling since you need an electrical outlet to power the system, but it’s portable. I fit the SoundBar easily in the bag I carry my notebook.
If you want to enhance the sound quality on your desktop replacement notebook, or even your desktop computer, and want a system that is simple to use, the Altec Lansing SoundBar fits the bill.
- One-piece, multi-functional unit
- Little distortion even at maximum volume
- Simple to use, no software
- Reasonable pricing
- Geared towards desktops
- Only one-year limited warranty
- No "traditional" subwoofer
Pricing and Availability
The Altec Lansing SoundBar Speaker system is priced at $99.95 and will be available for purchase on the Altec Lansing website and at Best Buy starting sometime in October 2007.