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The Altec Lansing 621 3-Piece Speakers


Most everyone remembers the explosion Altec made on the computer sound world with their now legendary ACS-48s. They encompassed so many things great and didn't break the bank at $149.95 list price. That was way back in the late 1990's. So what has Altec been up to lately? The 48s are long since gone and a newer, sleeker lineup has replaced the older, mostly white and boxy-looking sound reproducers. Enter the 621s. Will they stand the test of time (a nearly impossible task in the computer world) like their predecessor?

The essence of the 48s still exist. A mid-size dedicate woofer in a non-shielded wooden box with two satellites round out the still entirely too rare 3-way configuration. The asking price remains the same after four years at $149.95. So what did Altec do? Merely re-package the classic into new skins?

Factory Specifications
Altec Lansing 621
  • Power Output: 113 Watts RMS @ 1% THD, 143 Watts RMS @ 10% THD, 200 Watts Total Peak Power
  • Frequency Response: 35Hz-20KHz
  • Drivers: 6.5" Woofer, 3" Midrange, 1" Tweeter
  • Shielded Satellites
  • Input Impedance: 10Kohm
  • S/N : >65dB
  • Warranty: 1 Years
  • List Price: $149.95 USD

Altec Lansing

9/10 Rating

Description & Specifications

The subwoofer unit is the heaviest beast I've ever tested. Weighing in at 17 lbs., the apparent heft is quite a welcome change from many of the welter weight cheap plastic enclosures that seem to dominate the market. The front panel easily pops off to reveal the woofer's top-ish mounting location (the rear has the port at the bottom). A welcome improvement is the re-positioning of the feet so the unit sits upright, therefore creating far less of a footprint.

The satellites are much larger than most, standing over eight inches tall and can be tilted back or stand perpendicular to the typical computer table. They too have similar removable covers and when pulled off, reveal the rare two way design. Unlike the 48s however, the 621s have a separate controller module. The 48s had their volume and mute controls built into the right channel satellite. These significant beasts weight in at approximately 2½ pounds each.

Altec is one of the very few companies that doesn't rate their gear based on fabricated specifications. For example, I've tested many speakers that claim hundreds of watts of "max power" or "peak music power" and those numbers are completely meaningless. After all, who listens at 100% distortion? 10% distortion involves serious cracking sounds and a few others that turn most people's stomachs, so I usually refrain from exceeding (or caring) about distortion levels over 3%, which is where most sine waves aurally and visibly (on an oscilloscope) commence to clip.

In tabular form let's examine Altec's power claim:

Distortion Level
1% THD
10% THD
Total (Peak)
Power Output
113 Watts (RMS)
143 Watts (RMS)
200 Watts

In scouring Altec's literature I almost passed out due to overwhelming surprise when my eyes met the quoted power FTC specifications along with useable power ratings.

The power module appears to be the exact same unit as in the 48, but I'm willing to bet that a few modifications have been made to achieve the low frequency extension other than raising the woofer's Q factor.


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