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The Altec Lansing ACS-45.2ís: Putting Up A Great Fight In A Crowded Market

As you may or may not know, the Altec Lansing ACS-48 as reviewed here a few months ago are my long time favorite 3-piece speakers. They possess an unusually high level of build quality, sheer volume and donít manage to completely break the bank. What happens when Altec markets a "little brother" version of the 48ís for nearly half price? Are the 45.2ís half of the 48ís? In the audio reproduction ring, the 45.2ís do more than just threaten the undisputed champís of the sub $200 category; they render a few black eyes and low blows before bowing out late in the match.

The Unit
  • Driver (per satellite): One 3 inch full range driver
  • Driver (subwoofer): One 6.5 inch long throw woofer
  • Frequency Response: 35Hz Ė 20kHz
  • Satellite Power: 6 Watts
  • Subwoofer Power: 20 Watts
  • Input Impedance: >10k ohms
  • S/N Ratio: >65dB
  • Built in Power Supply Included
  • ETL/cETL approve

The Altec Lansing ACS-45.2 speakers are a three-piece arrangement, consisting of an enclosed wooden subwoofer and two, single 3" driver satellites. Along with top mounted power on and volume controls, the sub volume knob resides at the very bottom of the 11 pound cabinet.

I would prefer a volume knob instead of up down buttons; however, since I use the ACS-48ís on a regular basis, the dexterity required to operate this arrangement has become habit long ago. Pressing both buttons down at the same time turns the speakers on or off depending upon their previous state.

A green LED glows signifying that the 45.2ís are indeed on and ready to blast out the sounds of your choice.
The subwoofer enclosure design represents somewhat of a departure from normal for Altec. The 6.5" driver fires downward and the wooden box can only be set as pictured above. Placing the enclosure on its side can scratch the finish, but also reveal significant air "chuffing" noises from the plastic underside woofer grille.

Inner Construction & Measurements

Since I am a self appointed audio nut, I prefer to find out exactly why things work as they do. I would never recommend to the casual user to attempt any of the partial disassembly that will be analyzed in this review. With that said, the anticipation grew enormously as I located my Craftsman #2 Phillips head screwdriver and began removing every screw possible.

Once the outer bottom plastic assembly was removed, I gained a much better understanding as to why the 45.2ís sound as good as they do. Upon unpacking the subwoofer, I glanced haphazardly at the box, but did not spy any evidence of a port. With the plastic lower housing gone, I found the port.

It is actually open all the way inside to the air space where the driver resides. Altecís engineers had a two-fold purpose with this port: bass frequency extension and amplifier heat sink cooling. Rather a clever design, donít you agree?

Speaking of heat sinks, the lone amplifier chip, an SGS-Thomson TDA 7375 is affixed to a large flat unit that protrudes well into the woofer port. Although slightly difficult to see in the picture, the PC board (PCB) layout reveals a clean, efficient design with the aluminum heat sink at the bottom.

Note the large blue power supply capacitor. Itís value is 10,000 uF at 25 Volts, which is larger than the 2-4700 uF 35 Volt capís located on the PCB of the ACS-48ís. The idling voltage across the capís leads measured 18 Volts DC, which puts the TDA 7375 at its recommended maximum voltage.

When listening at maximum volume, this value drops to 16 Volts which calculates to a max output power of 24 watts for the sub and just under 7 watts for each satellite for a 1% distortion level. I really appreciate Altec for not over-rating their amplifiers. Weíve all seen the advertisements: 400 watts peak for only $19.99-- ridiculous meaningless numbers.

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