Antec is well known around the PC industry for making quality power supplies, cases and coolers. Recently the company has decided to expand its enthusiast line of products for PCs to some other accessories - namely speakers. Their first entry into this is a set of stereo speakers called the Soundscience Rokus 3D 2.1 - and its more than just a mouthful to say - its an earful of audio.
The premise of these two speakers and subwoofer are simple - try to replicate a 5.1 surround sound speaker system using only two speakers and something called DSP - or digital signal processing. What this does is it takes two channel audio and tries to emulate the sound as if it was coming from any direction into a 3D sound field. The Rokus 3D speakers use a specific DSP called 3Dsst to do this, and it can be applied to any stereo audio source.
In the box you have two stereo speakers made of anodized aluminum - they are shaped sort of like a musical instrument from the brass family - with a flared end. Each speaker is rated at 25W. There’s also a subwoofer rated at 100W which also dubs as the control center for the speakers. Everything plugs into the sub including a dial like control pod that allows you to adjust the volume, mute, and turn 3D DSP on and off. Also included are various adapter cables for different audio hookups including a ⅛” stereo to stereo cable and a standard A/V to ⅛” stereo adapter. Not included was a toslink or digital audio cable.
I used the set of speakers over a few weeks on various devices including my PC, Nintendo 3DS and Xbox 360. Devices can connect to the Rokus via optical cable or standard a/v cables. This is where I ran into my first issue with the speakers as I tried to hook them up to my PC via optical connection. Turns out the speakers can’t receive anything but a stereo signal or Dolby Digital Stereo signal via optical. With a myriad of choices for my output format it took a lot of trial and error to even get it to work.
I gave myself a few rounds of Left 4 Dead 2 and played through a lot of Dragon Age Origins - two vastly different games. The speakers were solid and sounded good - but I never felt like I was getting any kind of “3d effect” - certainly not as good as the 5.1 speakers I have set up in my office. After gaming I gave music a try - Mumford and Sons “Sigh No More” is my go to album to hear details in speakers. After turning of the 3D mode on the control pod I gotta say these speakers performed amazing. Deep bass, rich sound, and high details of the guitars and vocals filled my ears.
After the PC I decided to try the Nintendo 3DS on the speakers. I was already impressed with the 3DS’s built in pair of speakers, but obviously connecting a system with power should yield some impressive results. I fired up Ghost Recon and played a few missions. It seems the 3DS games are just designed to be very spatial - as I had the best experience with the 3D simulation done by the speakers here. Bullets and gunshots seems to come from all around. Playing on the 3DS revealed another weakness of the system - the sweet spot for the 3D effect is a pretty small area and is very dependant on how you set up your speakers and your distance from them.
Finally I used the speakers connected to my Xbox 360. After setting the output to Dolby Stereo in the settings I gave a few games a try that i know have some excellent sound - Kane and Lynch: Dog Days was one of them. Again - it was hard to discern actual spatial recognition but the speakers themselves sounded really good and the subwoofer kicked out some adequate bass on explosions and machine gun fire. I also tried the recent Section 8: Prejudice and got similar results - excellent stereo sound but 3D simulation was weak.
All in all the Soundscience Rokus 3D speakers are quality made and kick out some really solid sounds. For gaming and music listening - as stereo devices - they really impressed. The 3D DSP simulation stuff just fell short of my expectations. While there were a few “ah-ha” moments, they seemed too far between. If you are looking for a solid 2.1 setup - its easy to recommend this system, but if you want something that’s similar to surround sound - there might be better options out there. While the system's MSRP is $200, you can easily find it for $150 or less online - its not cheap - but quality speakers rarely are.
+ Excellent stereo sound quality
+ Rich Full sound, solid bass
+ Multiple connection options
+ Well designed, quality build
- 3D DSP isn't impressive
- Somewhat pricey
- Some compatibility issues with Optical Audio