Posted by Chris Scott Barr on May 13, 2011

Review – Antec SoundScience Rockus Speaker System

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Product Information

MSRP: $199
Configuration: 2.1
Dimensions:
Satellite Speakers 5.7” (H) x 6.3” (D) x 4.7” (W) 144.8 mm (H) x 160.0 mm (D) x 119.4 mm (W)
Subwoofer 13.8” (H) x 10.6” (D) x 7.7” (W) 350.5 mm (H) x 269.2 mm (D) x 195.5 mm (W) with 6.5″ diameter subwoofer
Weight 8.5 kg / 18.7 lbs
Output:
Total 150 Watts
Satellite Speakers 25 Watts / each
Subwoofer 100 Watts
Maximum Output S.P.L 95 dB
Inputs:
Analog 3.5mm, RCA
Digital Optical

Antec is rather well known for for making a number of PC components. However, something they aren’t known for is audio equipment. That’s why I was surprised to see the release of their SoundScience Rockus Speaker System. The 2.1 speaker system promised to provide 3D sound from just two speakers and a subwoofer. I’ve been using the Rockus for a little while now, and today I’ll give you my full review.

First Look

The Rockus consists of four parts: a subwoofer, two satellite speakers and a wired remote. The satellites are constructed from solid metal cylinders. Each has a chrome ring around the front, which not only makes them look a bit bigger than they are (the actual size of the drivers are 2.5”), but also just gives them a nicer look all around. One issue I take with the satellites is that the bases aren’t adjustable at all. If the angle they sit at doesn’t quite work for you, then you’re going to have to move the whole speaker around until you find a good spot.

The subwoofer is rather large, and contains a 6” speaker. The back has a number of connections, including an optical, RCA and a 3.5mm stereo jack for input. My favorite thing to find back here is the presence of straight speaker wire connectors. This means that you aren’t hindered by some sort of special connector if you decide to change speakers, or use a longer cable. The satellites do use an RCA plug, so you will have to do a small amount of work if you want longer cables, but not much. Finishing up with the subwoofer, there is a connector for the wired remote, a bass level selector (with three different settings) and an on/off switch.

The wired controller is a ring, the top of which can be spun to adjust the volume, and pressed down to mute the system. You’ll also find a single button on the front, which allows you to switch between “3D” and “music” modes. More on these later.

What’s strange is that they include all of the necessary cables except for the optical audio. Being the most appealing way to connect a set of nice speakers (and the only way if you want to connect to a PS3 or Xbox 360), you’d think that they would include the cable.

Setup

There’s not a lot of work that goes into setting up the Rockus speakers. Plug in the two speakers (they aren’t labeled left and right, so you can just pick which one goes where) and remote, decide on the audio connection you want, then plug it into the wall. I’m a tad disappointed in the length of the speaker cables (5′) that are included. It’s just barely long enough to allow the speakers to sit where I need them. This is definitely one of those cases where more is better.

As I mentioned earlier, the speakers aren’t adjustable on their bases, which means you’re going to have to move them around a bit to find that “sweet spot” to sit in. Also, there are no rubber feet on the base, which means they can slide around fairly easily. Not major concerns, but something that will hopefully be improved upon in future iterations of the product.

Performance

As I mentioned earlier, there are two different modes to choose from. The first I’m going to go over is the “music” mode. This doesn’t really do anything special to the speakers. In fact, it’s just a fancy word for “2.1 speaker mode.” The reason for their label is because you really won’t want to listen to music in “3D.”

With the speakers set to “music,” I spent a good bit of time not only listening to music, but also watching movies and playing video games. I was pleased to find bass that packed a nice punch (I found the middle bass setting to be to my liking), and very crisp highs. If it lacked anywhere, I’d say that the mids were a tad muddy at times. Overall though, the Rockus had great sound, that I enjoyed. It didn’t have any trouble getting loud either. I never cranked them up all the way, but even at uncomfortably loud volumes, the audio quality didn’t waver.

Now, the “3D” mode is one of the points that is supposed to make this speaker set stand out from other 2.1 systems. Obviously, with only three speakers, you’re not going to get a true 3D sound. Instead they produce simulated 3D audio. To be perfectly honest, there were few occasions where I found this setting to be preferable to the other. Music was definitely not worth listening to on it. Movies and games were alright, but it seemed as though much of the clarity I appreciated before was lost when using this setting.

One final thing I should touch on is the control knob. First, it is rather light, and depending on how you have it sitting, the cable running into the back can actually make the control sit up at an angle. This also means that it can move around rather easily, which I didn’t particularly care for. However, my biggest issue with it is that there is no way to know how far you have the volume set. The knob is free-spinning, which means you have no frame of reference to know how loud it’s going to be when you turn it on. This lead to me blaring music much louder than I had anticipated on a couple of occasions.

Conclusion

If you don’t have the space to house a full surround sound system, then obviously a 2.1 setup is the way to go. These Soundscience Rockus speakers pack a lot of punch, and have the clarity I like to hear in a set of desktop speakers. Just don’t buy them for the simulated 3D, as you’re likely going to come away disappointed. The inclusion of an optical audio input means that you’re going to be able to hook directly into your PS3 or 360, which makes this the perfect choice for gamers. While the Rockus isn’t without its faults, I would still recommend it for someone who doesn’t have a lot of space, but still wants some great sound.

The Good

  • Good overall sound.
  • Optical input allows you to connect them directly to your Xbox 360 or PS3.
  • Standard cable connectors allow you to easily change speaker cables if needed.

The Bad

  • Satellite stands aren’t adjustable.
  • Simulated 3D sound left a lot to be desired.
  • Included speaker cables could be longer.

Product Page

Written by Chris Scott Barr

Born and raised in Indiana, Chris grew up on a healthy diet of video games and Magic: The Gathering. He worked a number of jobs in the IT field before deciding to pursue his passion by founding GamerFront in 2007. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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