Altec Lansing fields us a new concept in powered audio â€“ a simpler route to home theater sound. Their new PT6021 system holds special promise for Home Theater PC applications. But can it meet the performance challenges of true home theater use?
Techgage has the distinction of being the first to publish a review of Altec Lansingâ€™s newest high-end 2.1 powered loudspeaker system. Currently, only one online store carries the PT6021, and thatâ€™s Dell.com (which has had a long working relationship with Altec Lansing). I expect, however, that as demand increases for the particular kind of versatility the PT6021 offers, the number of stores carrying this system will increase.
Initially, I feel consumers will find themselves a little confused by the positioning of this system as a home theater product instead of a personal computer audio system. However, I expect that this confusion will wear off as more manufacturers of powered audio products begin to make their own forays into the home theater category, to take advantage of the growing home theater PC market. The PT6021 is a better value at its street price than at its MSRP, but even so, itâ€™s not a â€œcheapâ€ system by any means, or even an inexpensive one. Shoestring budgets need not apply.
While I donâ€™t think that the Altec Lansing PT6021 is necessarily the best value in the high-end 2.1 system category, its chief redeeming qualities are its noteworthy sound quality and remarkable versatility. Indeed, its high price and the omission of what I feel is a typical hookup cable are the only things keeping the PT6021 from receiving a â€˜9â€™ overall score â€“ this product is an excellent performer in PC audio applications and proves its worth quite handily in light-duty home theater use as well. That being said, I hope Altec Lansing doesnâ€™t assume that it has achieved the ultimate with the PT6021 system, because thereâ€™s plenty of room for improvement.
For its price, the PT6021 is somewhat light on features. I like the control pods on the newer FX4021 and FX5051 speaker systems better than the one thatâ€™s included with the PT6021. The USB input used on Altec Lansingâ€™s new FX5051 5.1-channel system would also be welcome here, allowing for a more pure signal path to the amplifier when used with a PC. More importantly, however, since this product is targeted toward home theater applications, it would have been nice to see a virtual-surround DSP like Dolby Virtual Speaker or SRS TruSurround used here.
Great stereo sound is the first step toward a home theater experience, but virtual-surround DSP processing would allow the two satellite speakers to convincingly emulate a full 5.1-channel audio system with the simplicity of two speakers.. Currently, the only other 2.1-speaker system which can emulate a surround sound field from a 5-channel input is the $400 Bose Companion 5. The ability to switch between two or three input sources would have also been appreciated.
Thanks to Altec Lansing Technologies, Inc. for providing this chance to review the PT6021, and we look forward to many more reviews of their products in the future.
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