Altec Lansing Octane 7 - speaker system - For PC - wired review:

Altec Lansing Octane 7 - speaker system - For PC - wired

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Altec Lansing Octane 7 - speaker system - for PC

(Part #: VS4621)
See all prices
Compare These
2.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Integrated auxiliary input, easy setup.

The Bad Downward-firing midrange distorts sound stage; muddy bass; lacks headphone jack; drab design.

The Bottom Line We have few compliments to give the Altec Lansing Octane 7 speaker set. The awkwardly placed midrange driver and side-firing sub come off muddy and overbearing, and the constant adjustments aren't worth the cost, especially when Altec Lansing offers a better-sounding system for the same price.

5.0 Overall
  • Design 6.0
  • Features 5.0
  • Performance 4.0

The $80 Altec Lansing Octane 7 2.1 speaker system is powered by seven custom audio drivers that might make for decent-quality sound if not for the strange decision to make the midrange driver fire downward into the ground. The company claims that this unique design is meant to reflect sound from a hard surface below, but we're disappointed by the resulting imbalance between the mids and the contrasting lows/highs. Furthermore, these speakers require constant bass and treble adjustment and the end result isn't nearly as gratifying as the similarly priced Altec Lansing Expressionist Plus FX3021, a similarly priced three-piece 2.1 system that offer a more balanced, richer sound.

The Octane 7 isn't as stylish as the other speaker systems offered by Altec Lansing. The two satellite speakers are reminiscent of the conical ATP3 and don't give off the "modernist" vibe compared to the Expressionist series. The right satellite houses three knobs that control volume, treble, and bass, and you also get an auxiliary port to connect external devices like an iPod.

Unfortunately, the set is missing a headphone port--an unacceptable omission for an $80 speaker set. For that price, we're also disappointed that Altec Lansing doesn't include a remote found on some its other premium models including the Expressionist Ultra. But our issue with the Octane 7s isn't with aesthetics as much as the physical placement of the drivers inside.

Each of the satellite speakers contains two 1-inch micro drivers powering high-frequency sound at 7.5 watts per channel, but we're not sure why the company placed the 3-inch midbass drivers underneath them. According to the marketing language, the theory is that downward-firing drivers will bounce off the surface below and reflect sound in all directions.

Unfortunately, the reality is that our sound test lacked harmony and balance across all genres and media applications including high-definition video from streaming sites like YouTube and Hulu. We achieved an acceptable medium on Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall" by fiddling with the bass and treble adjustments on the right satellite, but we can still hear considerable muddiness attributed to an overbearing low end drowning out the rest of the instruments--even more so when we switched genres to more bass-heavy tracks like Drake's "Fireworks."

If it isn't obvious by now, we recommend staying away from the Altec Lansing Octane 7s unless you don't mind constantly adjusting the settings every time you change tracks. As an alternative, we suggest the Altec Lansing Expressionist Plus FX3021. At less than $100, the price is comparable to the Octane 7, but you get a richer, more balanced sound and tighter bass in a sleeker package.

Editors' Top PicksSee All

  • ELAC Uni-Fi UB5

    Starting at: $499.00
    4.5 stars

    The ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 shattered our expectations for the sound quality we could expect from...

  • LG SH7B

    Starting at: $497.00
    4.5 stars

    The LG SH7B proves how far affordable sound bar/wireless subwoofer systems have come,...

  • ELAC Debut B6

    Starting at: $279.99
    5 stars

    The ELAC Debut B6s offer sound quality that beats speakers that sell for more than double...

  • Pioneer Elite SP-EBS73-LR

    Starting at: $749.00
    4.5 stars

    The Pioneer Elite SP-EBS73-LR is, hands down, the very best-sounding bookshelf/surround...

 

Discuss: Altec Lansing Octane 7 - speaker system -...

Conversation powered by Livefyre