The PM 2.1 uses are really only for music playback and non-surround
games due to the configuration without rear speakers. 2 speaker Dolby Surround
can be used, but it really strangles the experience without the rear speakers.
The speakers are arguably the best available multimedia speakers for
music playback and demonstrate a great ability to output very loud music
with excellent overall audio clarity and quality. The reproduction of the
full frequency range is extraordinary to say the least, thanks to its separate
¾” horn mounted tweeter, 3” midrange driver and excellent dual side
firing 6 ½ subwoofer. The system produces a rich, warm sound with
excellent blending in and cohesiveness through the crossover frequencies.
The frequency balance – overall tonal neutrality is among the best that
I’ve heard. Each instrument or vocal is clearly heard without any single
aspect sounding lacking or overpowering, there was no overemphasis on the
bass frequencies, or accentuation of the higher range. This leads to crisp
and distinguishable sound without sounding either harsh or lifeless.
In comparison with the recently reviewed BA7500s the specific sounds
such as vocals are slightly less distinguished but overall have a much
more neutral feeling, and has much better blending through the crossover
of the LFE and midrange driver. I found that it provided great playback
for all types of music, with strength in the midrange producing smooth,
accurate, and liquid-sounding midrange frequencies. It also excelled at
reproducing the very low frequencies and heavy bass effects thanks to an
extremely high powered and high quality subwoofer. At higher volumes there
was no sign of distortion or graininess overall, or artificial coarseness
in the higher frequencies.
The dynamic range– the ability to express the difference between high
and low volume passages also excels.
For games where 3D positioning is not so important, such as RTS or
RPG games, the PM 2.1 provides excellent sound reproduction.
Sound effects for games such as Q3A and UT, which focus on bass heavy
effects sounded great, especially with the subwoofers ability to be exaggerated
to reproduce bass heavy effects. Unfortunately without rear speakers the
immersive feeling was not present, and 3D positioning effects such as A3D
and EAX aren’t available; the performance of a 2.1 system simply cannot
match a 4.1 system. One option is to buy 2 identical 2.1 sets, which has
the added benefit of providing a dual subwoofer rig, but overall sound
matching is not as good and additionally makes the system significantly
I also tried DVD playback with 2-speaker Dolby Surround, in which the
speakers produce a wider field of sound output to emulate the surround
field. Unfortunately the 2-speaker system just can’t match the immersive
experience provided by having at least a “downmixed” 4 channel or 5.1 Dolby
Digital experience. The sounds simply don’t have the overall experience
when the specified rear channel effects are mixed into the front channels.
While the actual audio quality itself was great, I found that hiss became
an issue before a satisfying volume output could be reached, which could
be a concern considering during a movie there are quiet scenes where the
background hiss could be irritating. As discussed in the BA7500 review,
the causes of this are most likely due to the sound card.
Although the speakers are built as a desktop multimedia system, they
are selling for a US RRP of $199, but have somehow been translated to an
extreme $699 Australian, putting its price range up to par even with some audiophile quality
Hi Fi speaker systems. Seeing as these are only 2.1 speakers, their primary
purpose would be restricted to music as mentioned and explained earlier.
As I’ve said before, it is important to measure audio performance based
on it’s specified context but in this case the type of the system, and
it’s price range pushes it up to the Hi Fi speaker range. While the power
output, attainable volume levels, and overall quality are at the top of
their range as multimedia speakers, hardcore audiophiles in this case might
opt to choose for a Hi Fi setup, which are generally in a different audio
quality league. Hi-fi speakers generally have better imaging (placement
of the different instruments in a song), more controlled bass, tighter
sound overall, less harsh treble, etc. The only disadvantage is that they
might be somewhat big for a desktop setup.
An excellent desktop system - arguably the best 2.1 speakers out only
disadvantaged by their price range and the competition of 4.1 systems with
their ability to produce 3D gaming audio and Dolby digital audio.
Read our Boston Acoustics BA7500 Speaker system review
Zalman: ZM-DS4F Headphones
An affordable, ultra-portable headphone set.