Setup, Design & Observations
This whole system nods towards being a 'nearfield monitor', what this means is, it is specifically designed for close distance listening without having to consider the acoustics of the room. Close distance tends to mean between 5-12ft. Without going into technical details about sound pressure and the acoustic properties of sound waves, bluntly, there is an ideal distance for crystal clear audio and that these speakers are not intended for the use to fill large rooms with sound. Monitors are used by recording studios, professionals, amateurs or enthusiasts to give a flat, 'uncoloured' sound playback as to give accurate sound reproduction across all tones. Gaming speakers, headsets and home theatre setups tend to 'colour' the audio to give a more dramatic effect. Fortunately, 'colour' can be added using your audio software or equaliser to cater for your own tastes.
If it isn't obvious yet, the aesthetic design of these speakers is something else. The satellites look awesome and the sub compliments them well. Anyone looking for a gorgeous looking speaker set need to look no further. Set up is straight forward, plug in power, plug in speakers and connect the audio input jack to whatever you wish to play sound from, be it your mobile phone, TV, PC or MP3 player for example. The built in DSP will give good music playback through portable devices which deserves extra mention.
Some issues that we were able to pick up on was that all the cables are only 1.5m in length, that is the jack and the satellite cables, which means it would be impossible to have this nearfield system setup correctly. I struggled to have the subwoofer in a desirable location on the right hand side with the satellites in their positions on the left and right of the screen. Another concern is for the remote. Using fresh batteries the steps of increasing and decreasing volume was huge and build quality wise, it feels a little fragile. Considering, as far as I could work out, the remote is the only way to adjust the subwoofer bass volume, if it was to break, it could hinder your user experience. That being said it is a good addition, it works up to several metres, click in once for mute, click and hold for a few seconds to switch to bass adjustment, normal use will adjust the volume. Finally, there is no way to turn the speakers off without directly having to go to the back of the subwoofer, when shutting down the PC or starting up, loud crackles and pops could be heard.
Listening through the speaker shredding Zero Life album by Kap Bambino the FC 50 competently handled the abusive sounds and noise of each timbre accurately. The highs were very clear without being harsh and the mids were very well handled while the subwoofer gave excellent warmth. Turning up the volume, the speakers do go very loud with little to no distortion, though stepping back at a distance the audio volume and clarity diminished. The only playback issue I discovered was that, when playing with a lot of bass at high volume, the subwoofer made 'flapping noises' like the driver was being restricted and physically hitting the fabric covering material. Also certain bass effects weren't handled so well when listening to bass heavy music giving more of a 'pahh pahh' sound rather than a real bassy warmth. This issue will only effect 'bassheads' who like clear, heart moving bass when played loud and shouldn't effect most users when using the bass to supplement the low tones. This effect was only recreated on a few tracks such as Sabrepulse - Paradise with the bass volume turned all the way up, so overall it seems fairly minor.
In gaming, the sound quality was excellent, with exception to the bass, the sound quality to me seemed very close on par to the highly acclaimed Corsair SP2500s which are twice the price! Battlefield 3 was very tense and involving, certainly when you are sat on the edge of your seat you know you're having a good time. The sounds of Skyrim were peaceful till the bassy sound of a dragon flew overhead and scared me, very clear and impressive.
Playing music through a Samsung Galaxy S II was enjoyable and highlights the fact that these can support playback from your friends portable devices should you so wish and the speakers were capable of filling a decent sized room (3.5 x 3.5m) with good quality sound.