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Old 10-29-2006, 08:00 PM   #1
Rob Williams
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Default Altec Lansing FX4021

Altec Lansing recently announced two new speaker systems, and we are taking a look at the smaller of the two. The FX4021 is a 2.1 system that promises high-end sound in a compact, and stylish package.

Read the full review here and discuss it here!
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Old 10-31-2006, 03:04 AM   #2
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Quote:
I listened to many various songs off this album and repeatedly listened with and without the bass and treble being enabled, and noticed an extreme minute difference. One that you'd clearly have to be intently paying attention to catch. The "Loud" button made up for all that though.
THis phrase conscerns me.

You mention "with and without the bass and treble enabled". This statement confuses the HELL out of me.

They are on On/Off buttons. In that you turn on "treble" and suddenly the treble is improved.
If Altec stays true to their former designs, and i cant see why not...pushing the button activates the adjustment feature for that tone. For example...

You push the treble button, it lights up...
THen you adjust the volume knob...and the volume lights display the level of adjusment for that tone range, from 0 to 100%.
Then after you have adjusted it to the desired level, you push the button again to cancel the adjusment mode, and go back to normal volume mode.

Perhaps the reviewer understood this...and just didnt convey it properly.

But given teh quality of Altec Lancings speakers (i happen to own a pair, and have owned several), it seems silly for me to think that they sounded as bad as they did.


For myself personally, i find that altering the sound useing Loud options, and "sfx" options, isnt an option. But then again im a bit of an audio whore, so perhaps im not the best to say one way or the other. But for me, i dont like them.

I would also like to point out that the top cap with mesh on it, is nothing more then a protective cap/bueaty cover.

Remove that, and all you basicly have is a simple ported box. But the isobaric design does help with efficiency, and therefore produces stronger, louder, tighter bass in a smaller woofer enclosure. But i wouldent say its anything revolutionary. Though it is a first in the small multimedia speaker system market. So i will give them there credit where its due.


Anyway, closing up, i would like to hear the reviewers responce to the bass treble buttons. And weither or not the imagine and soundstage of the speakers was adiquate. And also the placment of the speaker units in relation to the reviewer.
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Old 10-31-2006, 06:56 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buck-O View Post
THis phrase conscerns me.

You mention "with and without the bass and treble enabled". This statement confuses the HELL out of me.

They are on On/Off buttons. In that you turn on "treble" and suddenly the treble is improved.
If Altec stays true to their former designs, and i cant see why not...pushing the button activates the adjustment feature for that tone. For example...

You push the treble button, it lights up...
THen you adjust the volume knob...and the volume lights display the level of adjusment for that tone range, from 0 to 100%.
Then after you have adjusted it to the desired level, you push the button again to cancel the adjusment mode, and go back to normal volume mode.

Perhaps the reviewer understood this...and just didnt convey it properly.

But given teh quality of Altec Lancings speakers (i happen to own a pair, and have owned several), it seems silly for me to think that they sounded as bad as they did.


For myself personally, i find that altering the sound useing Loud options, and "sfx" options, isnt an option. But then again im a bit of an audio whore, so perhaps im not the best to say one way or the other. But for me, i dont like them.
Hehe, I got the sense the reviewer doesn't know much about audio, too. Apparently, the "loud" button switches an EQ circuit in the speakers that mostly emphasizes highs and lows (aka. "The Disco Smile"). All consumer audio speakers have similar adjustments on by default to get that "wow factor." It seems that these speakers are set flat by default, which is nice in my opinion. If someone needs to hear accurate audio, whether by personal preference or because he's mixing/recording, it's nice to have that option. (However, if you really want to do recording, go for studio monitors rather than consumer speakers.)

The difference here is similar to video monitors; rich colors and high contrasts are best for entertainment, but accurate colors are more important for work and video/photo editing.
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Old 10-31-2006, 09:10 AM   #4
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Buck-o,

"Then you adjust the volume knob...and the volume lights display the level of adjusment for that tone range, from 0 to 100%."

You know... I did not know that actually, which is apparently why I did not notice a difference. I figured the control was being "simple" with me, but apparently not.

As for speaker placement, I don't have much room in here, so the speakers were not that well placed. The woofer was directly in front of me, and the speakers were on each side of the television.

Despite the Treble issues, the Loud button did take care of everything in my opinion. I'm not concerned really with "what" it does, but the fact is I noticed a very noticeable difference with it, and wouldn't change much beyond that point.


Bluesdealer,

You are right, almost all my headphones/speakers in my house have such options. And.. with every one of them, I tend to enable the feature. It was the same thing with my Turtle Beach HPA headphones. They sound fine without adjustments, but taking advantage of the amplifier make a big difference.

As for me not knowing much about audio. There's probably a reason why we are not known as Audiogage :-)

No doubt with the way Buck-O rides our asses with each and every audio review, they can only get better. ;-)
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Old 10-31-2006, 09:52 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Williams View Post
No doubt with the way Buck-O rides our asses with each and every audio review, they can only get better. ;-)
Lol... ass rider.
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Old 11-08-2006, 10:48 PM   #6
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Anyone please compare this one with FX6021. I'm looking for 2.1 system for music and gaming. I'm very confuse becoz in Thailand, both prices are same!!!.
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Old 11-12-2006, 07:40 PM   #7
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Hey, come on now Rob.

I dont think i did to much ass riding on this one. I was just pointing out some truths about the product that you may have been misinformed abiout or missunderstood. (tisk tisk, thats why they have manuals)

I have since listened to these speakers, and am fairly impressed with their performance. The sub woofer does provide relatively aqccurate bass, but as is a problem with speaker sets like these, the satalites often do not provide enough mid-range punch to allow the sub to actually be a "sub". WHich causes it to get a bit thuddy in higher frequency bass hits, and also cause directional sound to come from what is designed to be an omnidirectional device. That was a bit dissapointing. However, the Sub did remind me ALOT of the older ACS48.1, and to a lesser extent the ACS 45.1 from the late 90's. WHich IMHO where some of the best Multimedia speaker systems ever produce by Altec (and why shouldent I, I own a pair of both).

Unfortuantely i cant really comment on imaging, or sound stage, as the setup i listened too was in a cramped office, and far from ideal. But overall they are good litle speakers.
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Old 11-13-2006, 01:19 AM   #8
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Hi, How about sound when compare with FX6021?
Thanks,
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Old 11-13-2006, 08:28 AM   #9
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I'd like to point something out here, the loudness button is not for "Wow factor" it's a remedy to an old audio problem in that deep bass and high treble are difficult to reproduce at lower listening levels. Plotted with a pink noise generator and a spectrum analyzer (Both of which I used to own and someday will again) you'll see that as volume levels drop the upper and lower ends of the spectrum will roll off faster than the rest of it. Hence the loudness compensation was born. The purpose is to raise the ouput of the amp at these points in the spectrum (Actually raising the voltage the amp emits at those frequencies) thereby making the sound more natural. A properly designed loudness circuit will roll the equalization off as the volume is increased until there is none. That is all.
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Old 11-28-2006, 10:42 AM   #10
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Hi. I've been designing and building my own loudspeakers for about seven years, and have held a job at a manufacturer of professional loudspeakers in Philadelphia, PA. I'd like to clear up for your readers exactly what is happening in the Altec Lansing subwoofer, because I don't feel it is adequately explained in the article.

To tune a subwoofer to a low frequency, typically a large enclosure is needed, but a small enclosure with a very long bass port can be used to achieve the same tuning frequency. However, this small enclosure tends to produce a much higher acoustic impedance on the back-side of the driver, restricting the cone motion and requiring a large amount of force from the driver's motor. When the enclosure used is too small, the response curve appears to gradually roll off at a higher-than-desired frequency instead of exhibiting the proper vented box cutoff characteristics at the desired tuning frequency. Simply, the bass response won't be there, even though the enclosure is tuned to a low frequency, because the air volume is too small to let the woofers do their thing. By taking two drivers and coupling their diaphragms together, it is possible to produce a driver with twice the motor strength and suspension stiffness acting on the same amount of diaphragm area, allowing the required enclosure size for a given tuning to be reduced by half. This method of coupling two drivers together is called Isobaric* loading, because it creates a tiny chamber of constant pressure between the two driver cones, which is about as effective as coupling the voice coils of both drivers. Sometimes both drivers are facing forward, and an extra chamber must be built into the enclosure. However, another method of achieving Isobaric coupling is by taking the second driver and mounting it face-to-face with the first driver. Then, the second driver is wired out-of-phase with the first one, so that when the electrical signal is applied, both cones move in the same direction, even though both drivers are facing each other. This is called Isobaric Push-Pull, because one driver pushes while the other driver motor pulls. This has the added effect of canceling out asymmetries in the motor's magnetic field or the compliance of the drivers' suspension, lowering the distortion produced by the drivers when they are driven hard, for bass that's both deeper and cleaner. Isobaric push-pull doesn't double the effective diaphragm size, so it doesn't double the efficiency, but it does double the thermal power handling. Isobaric push-pull isn't useful for midbass and midrange drivers, but it can be very useful especially in situations where a small enclosure is a design requirement but deep bass is desired. Isobaric loading is also fairly uncommon because the much more expensive drivers used in high-fidelity audio have the powerful motors necessary to drive a low-tuned, small box. Isobaric clusters double the cost of the drivers used, and they're not very aesthetically appealing. For a multimedia subwoofer, an Isobaric cluster is a very practical way of achieving deep bass output while keeping the enclosure size small.

The use of the dual woofers in the FX4021 subwoofer isn't to produce louder bass, but to produce bass that is deeper and lower in distortion. Unfortunately, those who have an untrained ear might be accustomed to lots of extra energy around 60-80 Hz and the distortion that comes from conventional driver configurations involving small drivers, and suppose that the FX4021 isn't producing much in the way of bass. But listen again -- there's real high-fidelity bass there, and it goes deep. That's the thing that struck me most when listening to these speakers - the quality and extension of the bass when compared to similarly-priced offerings from other manufacturers. Altec Lansing has seriously hit upon something here. My only personal beef with the FX4021 subwoofer is that the vent size (~1.5" diameter) is too small to support the amount of air that the enclosure is capable of moving at that frequency, so there is some wind turbulence noise produced at each end of the vent. This could be ameliorated by the use of radiused 'flares' at each end of the port tube.
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Old 11-28-2006, 11:35 AM   #11
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Wow!!!

Thank you for that! I worked in high end musician's repair shop for a while many years back, and I followed almost everything you just said there!

You answered several questions that I had long ben *wondering* about with that one post...

Stick around!
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Old 11-28-2006, 02:07 PM   #12
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Ok, here I am. I decided to become a member of the forum. (I'm the one who posted about the Isobaric loading technique.)

The speakers in my avatar picture are some that I've built. My favorite types of music are jazz and acoustic rock.

*The proper spelling of the word is Isobaric. Sometimes, you will see this technique referred to as "Isobarik", because the Linn Products Company offered a loudspeaker using this principle, called the Isobarik. Linn has been known for their funky product names, but in this case we aren't referring to the Linn product, but to the design principle.
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Old 11-28-2006, 02:09 PM   #13
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Well, I will be the first to admit that we need audiophiles around here. We could talk RAM timings, overclocking, CPU and GPU architecture but one thing that I personally do not know is sound. I know what sounds good to me but its difficult for me to be comprehensive in my reviews because I dont fully grasp audio hardware. Thank you Buck-O and Tater for your insight.
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Old 11-28-2006, 02:15 PM   #14
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Welcome to the forums Taterworks, and thanks for letting us know how retarded we are ;-)

Even after reading your post I don't fully understand it, and that's a weakness of mine. I generally love good audio, but am not one to explain my thoughts in a review real well.

Thanks a lot for the informative post.
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Old 11-28-2006, 02:54 PM   #15
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Matt Damon!!!!
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