Klipsch ProMedia 2.1
Like the and the 2.1 speakers, the $180 Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 speakers have been on the market for more than a year, in this case since November of 2002. All of these speakers represent the highest-end 2.1 sets from their respective manufacturers, and indeed, they all produce excellent audio output. We found some distinction between the Klipsch set and the others, however. The ProMedia 2.1 set has the highest price of the three but not the highest-quality audio, which prevents us from recommending them over the competition.
The Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 speakers include two 35-watt satellite speakers and a hefty subwoofer that blasts up to 130 watts of bass output via a side-firing 6.5-inch-long throw driver. The speakers each rest upon a built-in metal stand, and while there's no control pod or remote, you'll find volume and subwoofer-level knobs, a headphone jack, and an auxiliary-source input ringing the bottom edge of the right satellite. With a frequency range of 32Hz to 20KHz, the ProMedia 2.1's power and dynamic range surpasses that of the Logitech Z-2200 set and its 35Hz low end, but the ProMedia is beaten by the Creative MegaWorks 250D-THX speakers, with their broader 25Hz-to-25KHz range. We should stress that frequency range isn't the de facto indicator of a speaker's performance, especially with multimedia PC speakers where the various ranges are so close.
For music and DVDs, the speakers have an "optimum" subwoofer level that is indicated by a marking next to the knob (roughly 10 o'clock). With the suggested setting as our starting point, we played U2's new "Vertigo" MP3. While the mid-to-high frequencies sounded crisp and clear, the sub seemed to offer more rumble than clarity--the bass line and the kick drum were nearly impossible to separate, and fiddling with the sub level didn't help clear things up. At their maximum level, the ProMedia 2.1 speakers also suffered from slight distortion issues, but this is somewhat irrelevant, as no sane human will choose to listen to these speakers at their maximum volume (106dB, or 14dB shy of the threshold of pain) for more than a few seconds.
Chapter 17 of the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind DVD proved to be a more fitting match for the ProMedia 2.1's capabilities. The crashing of waves and collapsing of a house offered substantial, pleasing low end (again, with the subwoofer at the suggested level), and as long as the sub level never surpassed 11 o'clock, the dialogue and the score never became muddled, despite the tremendous low-end presence.
Gaming provided another moment for the ProMedia 2.1 speaker set to shine: Call of Duty's grenades have never sounded heavier, and each gun cock benefited from a healthy balance of clean high frequencies and formidable low mids. The sub's performance in this capacity was impressive, even when we turned its knob all the way up.