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I’m Listening…

Ok, so the phase is now fixed and the bass thief has left the building, but what’s the deal with the highs? I was acutely aware of a roll-off of about 6dB per octave starting in the 6-8Khz range. This would put 20Khz down about 12dB, which explains the lack of hiss when the volume is wide open. While cymbals and human sibilance (ch and sh sounds) weren’t totally removed, they were hard to hear and gave the sound an AM radio type quality. Notice that I only messed with the left speaker, not the right and both units sound very well matched to each other. Mmmmmm…

Then it struck me; these are flat-panel bi-polar speakers. Sound comes out the front but a portion of the sound also deliberately comes out the rear. Turning these puppies around looks stupid, but illustrates the point. Nearly full volume emanates from the rear. How can bi-polar speakers sound good near anything? The bottom line is they can’t and they never were designed to. In all my high-end listening, all bi-polar setups needed several feet of breathing room around each speaker to sound their best. Any large object placed between the radiating pair was an absolute no-no. So I experimented further.

I moved the speakers so that each satellite had a 1-foot diameter of free space. Tada! Now, along with much-improved imaging, some high frequencies returned and that mid-rangy nasal AM radio quality completely disappeared. But wait a minute. These are marketed as computer speakers, not home stereo speakers—what gives? Basically, the very design precludes any flat panel speaker from sounding it’s best in a PC arrangement. The need for sound to radiate in the front and rear directions, in a figure eight shape, makes their use impractical. Of course, you certainly couldn’t affix these panels to a wall because the rear reflective sound would "beat up" the exposed driver material and cause output cancellation. Simple physics taking place here.

The Good Stuff

Actually, the subwoofer is an amazing piece. While not very large, it can really pump out the lows, with 50Hz not being out of reach. At a distance of two feet, I measured an output of 103-104dB SPL. Combined with the satellites, this translated into a useable sustained output of 100dB for the typical user. I commend AVB in managing this much undistorted volume from approximately 32 square inches of exposed plastic. The puck has a good feel and the controls "oozed" as if they were made of much sterner stuff.


Listing for $84.95 and selling for as little as $79.95, the AVB Sonix S-2000 is a frustrating product. Not really meant for your desktop, they can have a certain wow factor in a small home theater setup as the satellites and subwoofer is fully shielded. Because this price range is incredibly competitive, the S-2000’s face off against such giants as the Altec Lansing ACS-45.1’s and even my long time favorite, the ACS-48’s. While not a completely bad speaker, the overall sound quality and usability seems to point to pricing these in the 40 to 50 buck range rather than near the three figure mark. Therefore, I’m not recommending the Sonix S-2000’s at this time.


The above reflects S-2000 set #1. After contacting AVB, I was asked to ship the first set back and they were shipping me a new set. The first set was dated as 1999, week #9 and the second set is dated as 1999, week #38. Installation was much easier, not requiring nearly as much force to push and snap the stands together. The moment came to power them on and listen. What a bummer; they were out of phase too. All other sound aspects were exactly the same save one. There was an additional hum in the satellites. Placing my ear next to the sub enclosure, I heard no hum at all so I have to conclude that the problem lies in the satellite amp or capacitive filter housed inside. The high frequencies were noticeably rolled off and the bass still needs an extra 3-4dB of loudness to give the full "slam" effect.

What transpired next caught me slightly off guard. I sent word to Santa Fe Springs that all was not well with the second sample. After a few hours a received a phone call from the chief tester! He wanted to confirm the problem existed and talk about solutions. Well whatdya know, a company that cares—how ‘bout that! Steps are being taken to remedy all my rants and I must say I’m quite impressed. AVB appears to be committed to quality and I can’t wait to see what develops in the coming weeks.

William Yaple
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