The past year has seen a deluge of budget style speaker systems, which in some ways is a bit of a shame. Good-quality home-cinema tech is now more affordable than ever, meaning that alongside a set of speakers such as these you can have a home-cinema system for relative peanuts.
So, to this Boston Acoustics SoundWare XS 5.1 package. The price box is ticked – you'll find it even cheaper online – and in terms of practicality these speakers are a definite score, too.
Stand and deliver
Not only are they tiny units that, despite their multi-sided design, sit happily on stands, they also come complete with articulating brackets for simple wall-mounting.
Available in white or black, along with a bog-standard subwoofer, they certainly look pretty smart and feel fairly solidly built. The speakers use smaller spring-clip terminals, which work well and grip the cable solidly – handy if you're planning to stick them halfway up the wall.
The sound is impressive, cohesive and enveloping – for such miniature speakers they do a brilliant job of filling a good-sized room as sound swings fluidly around between them.
Small in stature but not in sound, the satellites deliver big but balanced audio, with a treble that's clear but never bright. The sub beds in well too, delivering the necessary bottom-end power and weight without sticking its head too far above the parapet.
There's subtlety, too, with tense atmospherics conveyed confidently alongside decent dynamics.
It's been a long time coming, but finally we have a new budget style system worth shouting about. It might be XS in size, but it's an XL for performance.