So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
- Great sound, Interesting design, Low price
- Speaker placement a little strange
For those wanting a slightly different and extremely funky set of PC speakers for a bargain price, the Xa-40 is a great choice.
Price$ 59.95 (AUD)
It's difficult to make a particularly original speaker system. There's only so many ways one can design and position two satellite speakers and a subwoofer. So when TDK's Xa-40 flat panel acoustic system appeared in the office sporting a unique design and an attractive, slightly retro, look we were eager to have a listen. It proved to be an excellent speaker system, offering above average sound quality for an extremely low cost.
The value for money this system offers is what really makes it a standout product. At just $59.95 it is a bargain, and while the sound quality isn't going to impress an audiophile, your average listener will be more than satisfied.
This system incorporates two satellite speakers along with a small subwoofer, into a single cubic package, giving you proper 2.1 sound in a relatively small space. Despite being quite small, the sub packs a serious punch, lending extremely strong bass to the overall sound. This is the system's one flaw, as the bass is perhaps too pronounced. It creates a very dark sound and the bass can get bloated at higher levels. It isn't so bad as to drown out the other musical elements but it is definitely the strongest part of the sound.
However the rest of the frequency range is quite well represented, with highs that fall just short of being harsh and a clear mid range. The level of detail is quite good for a set of speakers in this price point and we were pleased with the separation the Xa-40 displayed. The speakers were capable of achieving more than satisfying volume levels as well, which can be a problem for some of the smaller units.
The design is rather minimalist, with a single volume knob being the only visible control marring the otherwise smooth white face plate. Conversely, the sides and base are covered in glaring orange netting which hides the speakers, and has a very retro look. The overall aesthetic is quite pleasing, with a simple yet interesting design that will grab attention without being too garish.
We did have a small problem with the satellite speakers being aimed outwards however - it felt a little odd not having both speakers pointed at us, as the sound was a little distant, but this doesn't have a huge impact unless you're sitting quite a way from them.
The Xa-40 connects with a single stereo cable. There are no fancy digital options here as the system is designed for basic computer or home entertainment use, not as a full blown entertainment unit. It only has one other port for the AC power adapter, furthering the minimalist design.
If an afforable, decent sounding, all-in-one speaker system appeals then the Xa-40 will do you proud.
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