Altec Lansing Octane 7 (VS 4621)

Laldinfela Pachuau 2010-07-16
74 Good
Price: Rs 3,990

Full Review

The Altec Lansing Octane 7 is a welcome addition to the mid-range 2.1 PC speaker market. Though not perfect, it has a very good mix of looks, quality and output that makes it viable option for 2.1 PC speaker buyers.

The Octane 7 is a 2.1 speaker system with a total power output of 28 watts (RMS). This is good enough for a mid-sized room. The system has a whopping seven drivers, so the name Octane 7 fits. Each satellite is rated at 7.5-watts (RMS) while the subwoofer is rated at 13-watts (RMS). The system has a rated frequency range of 40Hz to 15 KHz and 95dB of SPL.

The Octane 7’s 6.5-inch woofer sounded warm but boomy which overpowered the rest of the frequencies most of the time.

Just like the old Altec Lansing VS 4121 speakers, the satellites of the Octane 7 are torch-shaped with a round base. The slender part of the satellite has two 1-inch micro-drivers and the rounded base houses a down-firing 3-inch midrange driver. This down-firing arrangement (Altec Lansing claims) reflects the sound waves from hard surfaces and disperses the sound in all directions. Due to this obvious reason, the satellites are not mountable.
The right channel satellite has controls for volume, bass, treble and auxiliary in, but unfortunately, there are no headphones out. The satellites have a fixed cable that plugs into the back of the subwoofer.  The subwoofer has a 6.5-inch side-firing, long-throw woofer and its back has a fixed power cord, power switch, 3.5mm line-in jack and ports for hooking up the satellites’ cables. The Octane 7 works with MP3 players, laptops, PCs, DVD players and anything else which has a 3.5 mm audio jack.

The slim cylindrical satellites look great and they fit nicely on our desktops without taking up too much space. The down-firing design required the satellites to be placed on a hard flat surface for best sound dispersion. So, while we tried out this set, we placed them on a hard-wood table and tucked the subwoofer under the desk.
The wooden sub has a good build quality, so do the plastic moulded satellites. One problem was with the unprotected sub-woofer driver which makes it vulnerable to damage when placed on the floor under the desk.  Altec Lansing should have considered giving at least a clothe-grille or some sort of protection grille. On the other hand,  Setting up the system also was a cakewalk as the ports and connectors are color coded and clearly labelled. Reaching for the controls was easy, however, the main power switch which is located at the back of the subwoofer as in many other PC speakers is inconvenient. The Octane 7 also did not come with a remote control of any sort, but at its asking price, we don't fret.

Sound Quality
Our first impression was the overwhelming bass. The Octane 7’s 6.5-inch woofer sounded warm but boomy which overpowered the rest of the frequencies most of the time.  We always had to keep the bass level at zero on the control knob to make the sound more balanced.  And the mids, vocals or guitars did not sound as sharp or crisp as we’d like them to be. They sounded a bit muffled and lacked openness, especially the lower mids. The highs are bright, airy and never sounded shrill, but also not quite articulate at the same time. We kept the treble control at around 70 percent which sounded fine for most of the tracks we played. The overall sound signature comprising of bright highs, thin mids and overwhelming bass would make many listeners happy at first, but once we began to expect more details, the Octane 7 did not live up to our expectations. We found the system best suited for listening to commercial pop, hip hop or trance. Going down further, the sub played our 40 Hz test effortlessly; however, it was too overpowering for the rest of the frequencies while listening to music.  For a mid-range budget speaker system, the bass output might not be articulate and punchy, but it sure was hefty. Compared to the Creative Inspire S2, the Octane 7’s sub sounds bigger and better. We did not find it quite suitable for Jazz or Rock and even classical due to lack of transparency in the mid-range reproduction and the overwhelming bass.

For movies and gaming, the overall sound is not too direct or straightforward due to the same reason – lack of rich and crispy mids. However, given its affordable price tag, the sound quality was acceptable. Also, the Octane 7’s distortion level was less towards the maximum volume - we could easily pump up the volume to 80 percent of its threshold without hurting our ears.  Soundstage was also good for a speaker of this size.

Bottom Line

Judging from its sound quality alone, it isn't hard to find faults with the Altec Lansing Octane 7 (VS 4621). But for Rs. 3,990 the Octane 7 has enough power to let you feel the bass and bright highs which made it just a good pair of PC speakers with unique design.

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