Energy's tiny desktop speaker-subwoofer system

Energy's pint-size Power EM-2.1 three-piece satellite/subwoofer system ($100) takes up an absolute minimum of space.

The Energy Power EM-2.1 system Energy

Energy's Power EM-2.1 plug-and-play desktop speaker system is remarkably compact.

How tiny is it? The EM-2.1's gloss-black 4.25-inch-by-2.25-inch-by-2.75-inch satellite speakers come mated with a satin black 4.5-inch-by-5.25-inch-by-5.75 inch subwoofer. Connectivity is as basic as it gets, there's just one 3.5mm input jack, and the sub has stereo RCA outputs that drive the satellites. Build quality is inline with my expectations for a $100 package.

The EM-2.1 system promises 80-Hertz-to-20-kHz frequency response, but those numbers sound a little optimistic as far as the bass goes. A power-house system, it's not. I will say the 3-inch fiber composite "subwoofer" blended well with the satellite speakers' 1.3-inch fiber composite cone drivers. The sub has front-mounted volume and bass controls, but I had to turn the control all the way up to get a reasonable amount of bass from the system. Energy doesn't provide wattage ratings for the EM-2.1's power amplifiers; the company's Web site just says the "power handling" is 25 watts.

Setup is supereasy: plug the sats into the subwoofer, hook up the included 5-foot-long cable (with 3.5mm connectors at each end) from your computer to the sub; connect the wall wart power supply, and you're good to go. I needed about 2 minutes to get the EM-2.1 up and running.

The satellite speakers are really small. Energy

The EM-2.1's sound is clear and articulate. It can play louder than I would have expected, but power delivery and oomph aren't in the cards for systems as small as this. A more positive spin: the sub never booms or gets muddy. I was impressed with the EM-2.1's poise with Harry Connick's rousing tune, "All These People," about the aftermath of the Katrina disaster in New Orleans. It's an emotionally charged performance, and the EM-2.1 conveyed the passions well.

I next watched Steven Wilson's "Grace For Drowning" YouTube video, and the pint-size system projected a big and spacious soundstage. Nice, but the EM-2.1's sound balance is too lightweight, and not just with this video; with other program material I wished for just a bit more bass fullness. When I played the system near its maximum volume, the subwoofer made buzzing sounds. That shouldn't be a deal breaker; the EM-2.1 isn't really the sort of system you need to play loud.

The Energy Power EM-2.1 will retail for $100 through the company's authorized retailers later this month.

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