Objective & Subjective Listening Results
When I initially powered the ACS-45.2ís, I was
greeted not with a "slam" or "crack" of sound, rather
the volume gently rose until maximum was attained. Called soft on,
Altec took advantage of the native TDA 7375 abilities. When powering the speakers
down, they also exhibit a soft off type feature, gently turning the
sound down until only computer fan noise is heard. This feature activated
and de-activated over approximately a one second interval.
I used several musical selections, ranging from
classical to dance and also made use of various 3D hardware accelerated games
such as Unreal Tournament and Quake2. Immediately, I was aware that the high
frequencies, particularly in the 10KHz-20KHz range were completely missing.
Quickly switching back to the 48ís, I verified that tweeters do indeed make
the satellites sound more "airy" and lifelike. Not much actually
happens in that range though, so donít think that lack of extreme highs knocks
this contender out.
The 45.2ís have what many, but not all, speakers
haveóa "fun" frequency response. A fun frequency response is one
that deliberately deviates from flat in order to emphasize particular aspects
relating to their intended application. If executed properly, this curve mangling
can give the user a feeling of closeness or excitement when using the product.
What is to be avoided at all costs, is a sound that provokes the listener
to turn them off. Headaches after several hours of listening usually indicate
problems. The Altecís had no such problems, even after 3 hours of stupidly
high level listening.
Initially, I listened with the woofer placed
in free space approximately 4 feet from any wall. The bass was satisfying
and extended sounding, but the overall volume lacked sound pressure levels
(SPLís) in the 100dB range. The best I could muster was an undistorted 96dB
SPL at 18 inches. Placing the sub at the juncture of two walls produced a
dramatic increase of 10dB, which effectively doubled the volume. This 10dB
figure is very close to the theoretical increase of 12dB for a bass driver
placed at the intersection of two large surfaces. The 106dB maximum now jibed
with the satellites 106dB maximum and was within 4dB of the ACS-48ís total
Now this was getting exciting. Here we have speakers
listing for $79.95 comparing favorably to a set costing nearly double, same
midranges and same woofers--hmm. Altec,
in an effort to save money and create a new speaker, merely dipped into their
parts bins and presto! Killer speakers at a killer price.
After listening to several speakers in the $80
price class, Iím declaring the ACS-45.2ís a best in class rating. Modeled
after a longtime classic, the ACS-48 three way speakers, the little bother
two-way 45.2ís clobber the competition and give many more expensive sets a
run for their money. While itís impossible to hear every single entry in that
tightly guarded arena, I have heard at least 4 examples, including the Sonix
S-2000 flat panels. If missing extreme
upper range highs donít give you fits, then take a close look at the Altecísóa
very close look.