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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Philips MMS 305 review:

Philips MMS 305

  • 1
MSRP: $149.99
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The Good Spacious, easy-on-the-ears sound; excellent remote control; small size; distinctive concept; potent output in small environments.

The Bad Low-powered given its price; no power switch or headphone jack; limited ultralow bass.

The Bottom Line Innovatively designed and capable of some of the truest sound in this price range, the Philips MMS305 is a good value despite being somewhat underpowered.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

8.0 Overall

Easily one of the most innovative PC speaker sets on the market, the Philips MMS305 also happens to offer some of the truest sound in its $150 price range. In lieu of the thick, boomy bass and the condensed midrange that typify numerous midlevel rigs, the MMS305 delivers a tight bottom range and a wide, airy soundstage that just doesn't seem possible from such petite components. It also comes with an impressive roster of controls, a cordless remote, four-speaker surround-sound support for games and DVD movies, and a superclean signal. It is not, however, a particularly powerful system given the price; despite all its attributes, this shortfall may lead some users to higher-wattage competitors. Easily one of the most innovative PC speaker sets on the market, the Philips MMS305 also happens to offer some of the truest sound in its $150 price range. In lieu of the thick, boomy bass and the condensed midrange that typify numerous midlevel rigs, the MMS305 delivers a tight bottom range and a wide, airy soundstage that just doesn't seem possible from such petite components. It also comes with an impressive roster of controls, a cordless remote, four-speaker surround-sound support for games and DVD movies, and a superclean signal. It is not, however, a particularly powerful system given the price; despite all its attributes, this shortfall may lead some users to higher-wattage competitors.

Unique speaker technology
The MMS305's distinctive aural and aesthetic qualities are not an accident. Using a specialized, flat-panel speaker technology that combines a wafer-thin vibrating membrane with an integrated, washer-shaped, high-frequency driver, Philips has fashioned four satellites that handle treble as well as they do midrange sounds--a rarity in the world of flat speakers. Slightly longer and no thicker than a typical wallet, each cone-free enclosure rests either vertically or horizontally atop a small plastic base that tilts to guide the output in any direction you'd like.

The subwoofer is just as unique, uniting a front-firing, 5.25-inch cone driver with a 6-inch underside radiator and offering more bite than boom. At normal listening levels, it accurately reproduces the low frequencies of all but the most challenging music and distorts only when the bass level drops to the lowest levels. Sharing the subcabinet is the system's 80-watt amplifier. This wattage is a meager serving of power compared to that of other speaker systems in this price range. While the MMS305 was still able to exaggerate impressively the weapons-blast effects in games such as Unreal Tournament, many users will look at this spec and look elsewhere.

The MMS305 is as convenient as it is easy on the ears. You won't find a headphone jack, unfortunately, but the system's speaker cords are lengthy enough for most setups. Also, the MMS305's AC cable is blissfully free of a power brick, and the three auxiliary inputs are perfect for alternate stereo sources such as CD players. The wonderfully nondirectional infrared remote houses a bevy of controls, including volume, treble, bass, front-to-rear fade, mute, and loudness, plus a three-position EQ and a three-way input selector. The remote interfaces with the system through a matchbook-sized receiver that sports a series of four LED indicators and mounts to most hard surfaces with an enclosed adhesive strip. Definitely keep track of the remote because it's the only control panel for the speakers. One other curious feature about the speakers is the lack of a power switch; you'll have to unplug the unit if you want to formally shut down.

Few speaker systems in this price range are as inventive and proficient as the Philips MMS305. Although more power and force can be had through less expensive sets, such as Cambridge SoundWorks' FPS1800, the MMS305 is still an extremely user-friendly and accurate PC audio solution.

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