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om For The Buck: The MidiLand S4 4060 4-Piece Speakers

Definitely not the new kid on the block, MidiLand has been manufacturing computer speakers since 1990. The S series, while not new, has a most welcome recent addition: The S4 4060. Actually a 3-piece rig, the fourth piece isn't a speaker but rather a control module; a module that is usually included in systems costing several times the $99 asking price. While most speaker makers continue with the tried and true "off white" coloring scheme, MidiLand stuck their collective necks out--way out, and produced a strikingly good two-tone design. Whether you appreciate the dramatically improved sound over the MLi series or not, this S4 setup will make a very bold statement even in the off mode. Thanks to MidiLand for providing the review sample.

Factory Specifications
The Unit
  • 2-channel, 60 Watt system
  • 6.5" Woofer, 2.5" Tweeters
  • 6-Button Control Module
  • 30 Watt subwoofer, 15 Watts each satellite
  • 100% Magnetic Shielding
  • Wall Mount Capable satellites
  • Signal To Noise: 55dB
  • 150Hz-20KHz satellites and 20Hz-150Hz subwoofer
  • Platallic™ material for durability and crisp tones
Description & Specifications

The 4060's have a great feature, the control module. It houses 6 buttons and a headphone jack. Yes, a headphone jack! Sometimes, when I desire to crank the sound full-tilt-boogie and not disturb anyone else, plugging into the headphone jack saves many a vocal cord from having to shout, "turn it down."

The control module isn't required to be installed into a blank 5.25" slot, but it's sure convenient to do so--I did. The mute button comes in handy when the phone rings. Instead of searching for the volume and turning it all the way off, just smack a button. The power button is a thing of beauty. When depressed it glows MidiLand green and also lights the small LED in the control module. Installation was so simple that I didn't bother looking at the directions. All the wiring is included and the package is very extensive judging by the picture. If you are familiar with CD-ROM or hard drive installation, this S4 setup won't pose any challenge whatsoever.

Objective Measurements

These measurements are completed without any bias whatsoever, hence the term "objective." I simply love to snoop around inside anything that I can open with a screwdriver. Upon removing the rear connector panel, I spied a mark of quality--a rubber seal. This seal will keep the metal cover from buzzing at high volumes just like the MLi-490's sub cabinet did.
The internal amplifiers are a pair of Philips OM8383S dip units that MidiLand also uses in the MLi-490. The AC filter cap is rated at 6800uF @ 35 volts DC. The sit-on-the-floor AC transformer is a hefty unit, weighting in at 14.5 VAC @ 3.5 Amps. This equates to a smidgen over 50 watts at full load. Don't drop this piece on your foot.

Rated R.M.S. Power Output

MidiLand claims 30 watts for the sub and 15 watts for each satellite. While I wasn't able to find any info on Philip's website (I usually can), I can make estimates for power output. One of these days, I'm going get a hold of that elusive OM8383S pdf spec sheet. In any case, the no load voltage across the filter capacitor was 14.9 volts DC and the full load voltage dropped to 12.5 volts. Using those numbers and assuming a 4-Ohm load of the subwoofer, this would give a maximum short-term (say 100mS) peak output of 27.8 watts and a RMS output of 19.5 watts. This is well below rated specs; however, I may not have all the relevant info regarding the output design, so take these numbers for what they are, educated guesses.

The satellites were even more perplexing to measure. Rated at two, that's right two Ohms, I was skeptical of 15-watt outputs to each unit. Sure enough, I measured 3.64 VAC RMS at clipping at a frequency of 1KHz. Next, I measured AC current and arrived with a number of 900mA. Using E=IR, where E=voltage, I=Current and R=Resistance, I calculated an impedance of 4.04 Ohms at 1KHz. A quick check at 4KHz revealed a 4-Ohm impedance as well. If these are 4-Ohm units, the calculated power is only 3.3 watts; if these were 2-Ohm units, then it would be 6.6 watts.

Miscellaneous Measurements

The signal to noise is rated at 55dB but my measurements were significantly better. Relative to 1 watt into 2 Ohms (1.41 volts), the unweighted S/N was 63dB. The maximum attainable dynamic range relative to maximum output (3.64 volts), calculates to just over 71 dB, which correlated to what was heard in the listening tests.

The crossover frequency, the point at which the sub stops producing sound and the satellites take over, measured a low 190Hz. This is a very low figure for satellites so small (2.5") as other 3" units usually crossover at 150Hz or higher. The maximum undistorted SPL (Sound Pressure Level) was 102dB from the satellites and 106dB from the sub box at a distance of 18 inches. The sub was in a corner position, where three walls meet. Hence, the total undistorted output from the combo slightly exceeded 106dB.

Frequency response

The subwoofer had the lowest cutoff ever measured or heard. The -3dB point relative to 100Hz is 43Hz and the -6dB point is 40Hz. The sub will produce the lowest bass notes available from a 6.5" driver. The highs extended well beyond 14KHz from the satellites. They will have a significantly better output in the highest hearable octave (10-20KHz) than all other units in its price class.

Subjective Listening Tests

After installing the control module and positioning the subwoofer where my old Altec Lansing ACS-48 sub was, I was promptly kicked off the computer so the wife could complete her regularly scheduled email spamming session. I moseyed upstairs to fiddle and 10 minutes later I felt my feet start to buzz for no apparent reason. Then the townhouse shook with the bass line from Mission Impossible, a midi file that she had downloaded and was trying to hear. Keep in mind that the sub was placed at the intersection of three walls, which gives a theoretical bass boost of 18dB, peaking in the 100Hz range. Sweet--big, fat, round bass notes to soothe the savage…er, they sounded awfully good. And that body shaking bass was clean, clear and flat--the control module's knobs were all at their center detent position (except the volume knob).

Moving on to classical, dance, rock, pop and of course, 3D gaming tunes, proved to be a very pleasant experience. Once in a while, I even cranked up the boom knob to see how far I could make my pants leg flap. The bass had a very slight "one note" sound. The woofer's "Q" or damping was much looser (above the target 0.707) than the entire Altec Lansing lineup. This gives the bass an easy, forgiving sound and considering that most sound cards sound much harsher than my reference SB Live!, this trait will be a plus across the board for the vast majority of users. I kept thinking, these jobs are worth at least $125 green backs, but MidiLand doesn't charge that much.

The satellites are the first I've ever heard that reproduce acceptable quality and quantity from a single (tweeter-less) driver. For once, I didn't eagerly desire to go back to my beloved 48's. That says a lot. I would still prefer a tweeter, but unless you're a persnickety audiophile like me, you won't notice the absence of a small screecher. Cymbals and human sibilance were reproduced at a level that is unheard of in this price class. This should equate to great high frequencies for MidiLand's more expensive S4 lineup if they use the same midrange driver. If you're particularly sensitive to hiss, the 4060's do have some. Even with the volume knob turned down and the mute depressed, a slight noise emanates from the satellites at all times. Most of the time, I never noticed and besides, if you don't like a little hiss, put some tunes on--that will cover it up.


There comes a time when a reviewer must update his or her gear and the S4 4060's will be staying put for an "extended" listening period. For the asking price of just under a C-note, the four-piece setup does a best in class job of reproducing a long-term listenable sound. For those bass freaks out there, you will be amazed at what the sub can do. The lack of tweeters that I usually harp about is hardly a cause to not pick up a set as highs are almost perfectly reproduced in the 10-20KHz range. When MidiLand saturates the market more with these babies, I could conceive a web price of under $90 and at that price, they would be the best two-channel rig you could buy. A very enthusiastic recommendation!

William Yaple

Web Target PC


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