For the best part of a decade PC sound boffins have been trying to convince us that we need to hook our desktops up to surround speakers to make the most of games and PC video.

It is, of course, a load of twaddle: a PC is almost never in the right size or shape room to benefit from surround sound. So now the new trend is for high-end stereo speakers, with the only awkward part being the subwoofer. Altec Lansing’s solution? Build mini subs into the base of stereo satellites.

Quality not quantity

That’s right, the Expressionist Bass speakers – which have a certain Dalek chic – contain a downward firing 100mm subwoofer, which supplements the fairly decent 3.5W output.

A power switch and volume controls are on the left speaker, which also has the input sockets for power, PC sound and a handy extra jack for a portable player.

Boom, shake the room

Sadly, the sound quality isn't quite what we expected from an £80 set of speakers. The bass and midtones are clear and loud enough, and you'll have to really try hard to distort music.

High range response, though, is awful. Games don't suffer too badly, but songs are absolutely flattened by a deadening of any reverb effect.

This is all slightly ironic considering the biggest problem with these speakers is the physical reverb. Of the several good reasons why a sub stays on the floor, one of the best is that it needs a sturdy surface to reflect sound off.

Review continues after the break…


Desktop rumblings

Put these on your desk, and you'll feel the vibration of every bass note or explosion through your fingertips, even at low volume. Turn up the volume and it's like your keyboard is at the epicentre of an earthquake.

This could have been mitigated by the inclusion of a tone control to adjust the bass volume independently. But, sadly, it hasn’t, leaving us to conclude that, for all their Doctor Who allure, these speakers are best avoided.


Stuff says... 

Altec Lansing Expressionist Bass review

A great idea in concept, but not it practice. Only hardcore Dalek fans need apply