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S2/MidiLand 4100 Speakers

Posted: July 4, 1999

Written by: Dan "Tweak Monkey" Kennedy

Estimated Retail Price: $309.00 from Pricewatch.

 




Nearly every component in your computer affects the way games look, feel, and play. The most obvious components are your CPU, ram, and video card. One item you should never overlook is your sound system. A good sound system can ultimately mean the difference between exciting and boring game play. You should consider upgrading your sound system because speakers last a long time and are usually well worth the money. Do the S2/MidiLand 4100 speakers offer all that they should for such a high price? Hopefully, my review will answer this question.

 

Features
  • RMS - Satellite Speakers: 25W + 25W; Subwoofer: 50W
  • PMPO - 500W
  • Frequency Response - Satellite Speakers: 120Hz - 20kHz 3dB; Subwoofer: 45Hz - 120Hz 3dB
  • Input Sensitivity - 200mVrms (A), 400mV (B)
  • Driver - Satellite Speaker: 4" Neodymium 2 Way; Subwoofer: 8" Long Throw Woofer
  • Power Supply - Subwoofer: 160W Toraidal Transformer
  • Master Controller - Volume, Balance, Treble, Bass, Mute, 3DSP & trade, Loud, and Input Select
  • Dimensions - Satellite Speakers: 7.25" x 5" x 4.5"; Subwoofer: 16" x 7.5" x 17"

The features are impressive to say the least. The frequency response covers almost anything important that your ears can hear. The subwoofer in this speaker set is enormous. Also the satellites are rather large (compared to most modern, smaller satellites) and each weigh about 5 lbs.

 

Installation

I have yet to come across a set of speakers with a mind boggling installation. Usually it's as easy as twisting a few wires and plugging in a few cables. The S2/MidiLand 4100 speakers were not quite this easy to install, but the installation was still nearly foolproof.

My first step to install these speakers was to move my case. I had to re-position everything under my desk because the subwoofer was about the same size and shape of my ATX midtower case. Once I had done this, I needed to find a place for the satellites. I have a small desk and a 19" monitor, but the satellites still fit very easily. After I had all of the speakers in good places, I began to install the Control Module [small plastic box with volume, balance, bass, treble, mute, loud, input, and 3DSP controls]. This small box is built to fit in a 5 1/4" case bay, but I chose to mount it on the bottom side of my desk. For me, this was optimal. I used the included two-sided adhesive tape to attach it to the desk.

Now came the easy part: plugging in wires. The installation manual does a good job of making the plug-in process easy. First I plugged the speakers into the subwoofer. Then I plugged the subwoofer into the Control Module. Next I plugged the Control Module into the subwoofer. Finally I plugged the subwoofer into the output jack of my sound card.

After starting up Windows, I was nearly knocked out of my seat when the startup sound played because it was so much louder than what I was used to hearing.

 

Performance

Test system

  • Pentium II 450
  • ABit BX6 mainboard
  • 128 MB PC100 SDRAM
  • TNT2 Ultra reference board using 1.88 reference drivers
  • 19" Optiquest V95 monitor
  • Creative Labs Sound Blaster Live! Retail
  • Windows 98

There is no official method for testing speakers, so I played some of my favorite MP3s, games, and then I tested some of the additional features of the speakers.

MP3s

After listening to about a hundred different MP3s of all types (techno, rap, reggae, death metal, you name it!), I can honestly say that these are the best speakers I have ever had on my desk. To hear others' opinions, I had a few different friends come over to hear the speakers and all were impressed. The only people that were not impressed by the speakers were the neighbors; because we woke them up. These speakers are very loud and sound great at even very high volumes. I highly recommend them even if all you plan to do is listen to music, because they're far louder and higher quality than some stereos with an equal price tag.

Games

If a game has poor sound or music, it won't sound good with any speakers. However, the combination of a game with great sound/music and a killer sound system is unbelievable. I personally like the sounds in Half-Life, so I played for a bit with the MidiLand 4100s. With these speakers, Half-Life's guns and explosions don't just pop and fizzle: they rumble the house and leave you shaking. The rockets and explosions from mines are enough to really get the action moving. I used to play this game with the S2/MidiLand 4030 speakers, which are also very good but are a bit cheaper than the 4100 speakers. After playing for even a few minutes with the 4100s, I cannot picture myself ever returning to the cheaper model.

After playing Half-Life I moved onto Midtown Madness. The engine sounds are especially impressive. They are very realistic and clear. The sounds of smashing metal and frantic car horns really bring the game to life. After I tweaked out the bass a bit, I started playing Team Fortress Classic. Right away I realized how intense this game was with good sound. The grenades and sniper rifle thumped like a cannon being fired in my room. At first it nearly gave me a heart attack. So I lowered the bass and volume, then proceeded to test some of the speakers' features.

Other observations

I made a few important observations while testing these speakers. They do have a 3DSP feature (toggled by a button on the Control Module), but it has some problems. While it does have a 3D feel to it, I would say it sounds more like it separates your speakers to the left and right. In other words, instead of sounding like your speakers are 3 1/2 feet apart, they sound more like they are 5 feet apart. They also sound closer to you at the same time. This feature does make them louder, but it also sounds like it actually moves the speakers a foot closer to your ears.

There is one major negative aspect while using the 3DSP button: it creates a lot of extra static. Even if the speakers are unplugged from your sound card and/or the volume is turned down, the speakers still create a noticeable amount of extra static when this feature is enabled. Normally there is almost no static or hissing from these speakers unless the volume is turned up very high.

I think everyone would appreciate the Control Module. It's extremely handy to have total volume/bass/treble and more controls right in front of you. With really loud speakers, it's especially useful because sometimes I will be frightened by a sound (on the Internet, for example) because I left the volume up high. Now at least I can easily lower the volume or hit the mute button the Control Module so it won't happen again. Also the control is useful because you can easily tweak the bass and treble settings to the perfect amount. With these speakers, I recommend setting the treble to 50% and the bass to about 65%. If you are not used to a lot of bass, try 50% with the bass and as you gradually adapt to it, raise the value.

 

Conclusion

The S2/MidiLand 4100 speakers are the best computer speakers I have ever heard, hands down. You don't need to stop there though - these speakers would be great for a TV or stereo, too. I highly recommend that you buy these speakers. The price is high but you won't have to upgrade for years, and the whole time you can be enjoying incredible sound quality and performance. If these speakers are too far out of your price range, check out the S2/MidiLand 4030 speakers, which retail for around $130. They can't compare to the 4100 series, but they do offer similar features including the Control Module and deep bass.


[+] Good

  • The sound quality and volume will leave you on the edge of your seat.
  • Bass from the massive subwoofer does a great job of bringing realism to games.
  • The speakers feature a solid wood construction and attractive design.
  • Control Module allows for easy access to all features.


[-] Bad
  • Static from 3DSP.
  • Priced at over $300, these are definitely a bit expensive for most people.



S2/MidiLand 4100 Score Comments
Value 8.0 Quite a hefty price tag...
Performance 9.9 These are the best computer speakers I have ever heard.
Features 9.5 Every feature is great except the static from 3DSP.
Quality 9.7 Solid wood, very high quality construction.
Overall 9.3 If you've got the money, buy these speakers!


You can read more about the S2/MidiLand 4100 speakers by clicking here.

 

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