Big sounds from tiny boxes?
There are a few reasons that you might spend upwards of a thousand pounds on a home PC or Mac.
Chief among them is gaming, but your interests may also be in high end video editing, music production or simply a very shiny media playback device.
No matter your reasoning, most people seem to forget about the sound coming out of their PC, with your speakers becoming a bit of an afterthought.
That being said, who wants bulky bookshelf speakers sat on their desks? They take up loads of room and require an amplifier somewhere in order to connect them up to your PC. The problem is that most speakers that connect directly to your PC sound, well, rubbish.
Enter Acoustic Energy with their Aego 2.1 speaker system.
AE aren’t a company I’d heard of before, it turns out their a British outfit, based in Gloucestershire, and produce a broad range of speakers for use in professional audio, home cinema systems, even out door use.
Lets see how their Aego system looks and performs.
Out of the box
The Aego 2.1 system is certainly packaged more like a home speaker system than a set of PC speakers. There’s no flash box with glorious artworks on it, no “compatible with iPod” markings or flashy catalogs included.
Nope, brown cardboard, expanded polystyrene and some very weighty (if worryingly small) speakers.
The two satellite speakers are amazingly dinky, it’s hard to believe that they can produce much in the way of sound. Here they are next to an ordinary can of beans, yes; tiny. They have a bit of weight to them, and the casings are solid metal; no cheap plastics here.
Beneath these in the box is a much more chunky subwoofer/amplifier unit. This is more like it, the unit measures around 35cm high, 20cm wide and around 27cm deep. The casing is again made of metal, and significantly heavy.
Weight is good, weight usually means some nice big capacitors and heat-sinks in the amplifier, which in turn usually means we can expect high quality, powerful sound.
To the rear of the sub/amp are the connections for the satellite speakers as well as connections for your PC. There’s also a control for the bass level as well as a selector switch for utilising a third satellite speaker as a center channel.
Various leads are supplied to connect up the speakers and connect to your PC. The RCA type connectors on the right can be connected directly to the speaker output on your PC, while the satellite speakers connect via the clamp style connectors on the left.
The decision to provide bare wire connections rather than a terminated connector might seem a little strange, but it does have two distinct advantages:
1) Using bare wire connectors cuts out the need for an additional termination, which should mean less interference and signal loss on the way to the speakers.
2) It makes it a lot easier to manage the cables. You can cut them to a suitable length without the need to re-terminate them; just cut them shorter and strip the insulation off at the end.
On the other end of the speaker cable is an RCA connector which connects to a socket on the rear of the satellite speaker, which will make it easy to disconnect and move the speakers if you’d need to.
Looking at the build quality of these speakers (and the price) my expectations were high. Thankfully they don’t disappoint.
The sound quality produced by these speakers is better than any set of PC speakers I have ever listened to.
Even at low volume levels there is a distinct clarity to music, sound effects and voice no matter whether you’re gaming, listening to music or playing back video.
At mid to high volume levels there’s more than enough power to annoy the neighbors, but more importantly there’s no loss of sound quality which can be the case sometimes with cheaper systems.
Soundtracks on movies are played back with the equivalent depth and clarity to some mid to high level home cinema systems, but where these speakers really come into their own is while playing games.
My review of these speakers has coincided with the release of ID software’s latest shooter, Rage, which has given me plenty of opportunity to evaluate both products. Rage is a great example of where sound has been used to great effect in order to draw the player deeper into the game, and the Aego speakers have been the perfect companion for doing so.
At any point during this game you’ll be listening out for enemies approaching from all directions, as well as listening for specific sound effects. With previous speaker sets that I’ve owned it’s been difficult to pinpoint an adversary based upon the sound from my speakers, but with these the sound is clear enough that I have a pretty good idea of which way to turn (usually just in time to get my head chopped off by a mutant).
I’ve also used these speakers (and my PC) in place of my HiFi, and the results were quite surprising. Granted, my HiFi is a few years old, but the sound generated by these speakers through my PC was actually better than my amp and speakers. I began to notice new parts to tracks that I hadn’t picked up on before, which indicates great definition generated by the Aego amp and speakers.
These speakers are definitely amongst the best out there, they’re certainly the best that I’ve had the use of in recent memory.
No matter whether you want them for gaming, music or video, they’re going to do the job well and contain enough power to rattle the walls (and probably your eardrums).
Those that want speakers for professional audio (recording from instruments, etc.) may be happy with these also, but they shouldn’t discount looking for a professional deck and monitor speakers instead.
That being said, those of us who’s jobs don’t rely on it should be happy to consume or create media using these speakers, especially when you consider that they’re on the books for around £125.
They also look fairly discrete, although those wanting a bit more flare can opt for the white version which may look more at home if the rest of your hardware isn’t jet black.