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Altec Lansing's motto for its Expressionist Bass FX3022 PC multimedia speakers is, "All the bass in half the space." The concept is a good one. You take the subwoofer that normally sits on the floor, shrink it down, and integrate one into the bottom of each speaker. That way the user gets an ample amount of bass without having to deal the extra gear and wiring.
Before we get to the sound test, let's start with the superficial stuff. The $130 Expressionist Bass FX3022 makes for a striking set of speakers. They've got that sort of retro futuristic look that's reminiscent of something you might see in the video game BioShock. The flattened-cone enclosures are just a little over 10 inches tall with a diameter of about 5 inches at their base. The speakers are finished in a glossy, piano black, with some silver trim around the top-speaker port, which covers a 1.5-inch driver (the built-in downward-firing subs are 4 inchers). Altec's new logo is tastefully printed on the front in bronze lettering and stamped into the plastic on top of the left speaker.
As for the volume controls and power, they're on top of the right speaker. The buttons are rubberized and easy to access if you're sitting at your computer. That said, some PC speakers these days come with a remote, and it would have been nice if the FX3022's did, too. Perhaps a future model will.
The two speakers are actually hard-wired to each other. That's unusual, but, arguably a good thing because you don't have to worry about the cord falling out or connecting properly. The cord that joins them is about 6 feet long, so you do have some degree of flexibility in terms of placement and separation (most people will probably space them about 3 feet apart, on either side of a PC monitor). Around the back of the right speaker, there's a port for connecting the speaker to your computer with the included 3.5mm minijack cable. You also get an auxiliary input for connecting any device that has an audio output or headphone jack (a second 3.5mm cable isn't provided, however).
In terms of sound, the first thing you notice about the Expressionist Bass FX3022s is that they indeed deliver a good amount of bass. The treble, however, is another matter. It's pretty brash and at higher volumes comes across as being very aggressive, which will irritate some people. With music, the sound just isn't as tight and clear as we'd have liked it to be. When it came to gaming and movies, however, we felt the speakers hit their stride. The big bass was a big plus for action sequences, and explosions in first-person shooters were delivered with gusto. These guys performed better than your typical multimedia speakers in this price range.
So, the long and short of it is these are impressive-looking speakers that play loud and perform well when it comes to gaming and movies, though they just aren't all that great for music. In other words, they're a solid B.