Sound and fury
Unlike most comparably priced units, the Xtrusio is at its best when pushed. Its 100-watt (RMS) amplifier rating may be somewhat liberal, but there's little doubt that the system has enough reserve power to rock the room when presented with Dolby Digital movies such as The Matrix or explosive surround-sound games such as Serious Sam. Its subwoofer, shaped like an upscale trash can and sporting a relatively tiny 11-by-7-inch footprint, delivers ridiculously deep bottom end and distorts only at uncomfortable listening levels. That it's capable of reproducing the speaker-killing bass lines from tunes such as Crystal Method's "High Roller" and Paula Cole's "Tiger" is truly astonishing.
The Xtrusio's four wall-mountable satellites are a little disappointing. Although blessed with conveniently diminutive 3-by-2.5-inch footprints and capable of effectively translating any media source, they fail to exhibit the sparkling treble of Altec Lansing's substantially more affordable ATP3 or the clean, airy musical qualities of Boston Acoustics' admittedly pricier Boston Acoustics BA7500G. Nevertheless, the single 2-inch drivers in each cabinet produce solid midrange and passable high end, distorting only when extra treble is added through software.
The Xtrusio is as convenient as it is proficient. It supports both analog and digital sound cards, and it offers three varieties (RCA, minijack, and DIN) of digital plugs. The unit's power transformer is mounted inside the subwoofer cabinet, thus freeing its AC cable of the cumbersome external "brick" usually found in computer speaker packages. Although its main power switch and treble and bass controls are awkwardly positioned near the bottom of the subwoofer cabinet, the unit's convenient remote lets you switch it to standby mode, adjust master volume and front-to-rear fading, and plug in a headphone, as well.
The dynamic and powerful SoundMan Xtrusio DSR-100 seems nothing less than a bargain for $179.95. Although its satellites fall a bit short of perfection and its controls can be inconvenient to use, it's still one of the best deals you can find in a five-piece system. And if you're willing to drop a few dollars more on serious sound, check out a set of top-rated, THX-approved Klipsch ProMedia v.2-400 ($249.99); they'll be music to your ears.