In the Forums...
Posted: April 18, 2000
Written by: Dan "Tweak Monkey" Kennedy
After we played around with the Sound Blaster Live!'s environmental audio features and played some MP3s, the real testing came -- games.
First on the list was Unreal Tournament, which is definitely one of the favorite newer games among us. And since it has some pretty great sounds, it was especially interesting to hear these speakers be pushed to the limit.
In terms of sheer volume, the 4100s would smash the 7100s. This is most likely because of the heavy duty, more expensive, 2.5x watt satellites, which are very powerful. Until about 10 players or bots are in a deathmatch, Unreal Tournament does sound great, though. Having five speakers around you instead of two in front of you is very cool if you've never experienced anything like it. And after a few hours of using this system even, you'll realize how flat a standard two satellite/one subwoofer system sounds. For the most part, Unreal Tournament's sounds combined with the Sound Blaster Live! card and these speakers demonstrated extreme fidelity and quality. But as we mentioned earlier, when there are 10 or so players or bots running around in a level, the sound is muddy and less detailed. However, this problem appears to exist with most speakers and sound cards. It is likely due to Unreal Tournament and not the 7100s.
Next up on the list was Half-Life. Since this was one of our favorites last year (and CounterStrike remains a favorite this year), we had to test it out. If you've played through Half-Life with a poor speaker system, you missed a lot of the action. Half-Life screams for a killer sound card and speakers... and it really makes the difference between saying, "Gee, that was pretty neat" and saying, "Crap! That scared the hell out of me!"
The speakers did a good job with Half-Life. The high sounds (especially the machine gun) would definitely freak out those not suspecting that kind of audio precision. The lows, such as grenade explosions, did fairly well, but left more to be desired.
Overall, the MidiLand S4 7100 system performed fair-to-good in all tests, with especially excellent high pitch/low-to-medium volume sounds, but with less stellar low pitch/loud volume sounds.
As a personal fan of MidiLand and its products, I must admit that I was not as impressed with the S4 7100 system as I had hoped to be. The sound quality is definitely there, the speaker construction and design is very nice, the control module is awesome, and the price isn't bad. I know this is MidiLand's cheaper system, and I know that there wasn't an emphasis on pleasing the true audiophiles out there in developing these speakers, but it's clear that MidiLand should have used more powerful technology in creating this system...
Still, these would make a great starter 5.1 set for most users and gamers, especially those on a budget. The "bang-for-the-buck" ratio that the MidiLand 7100 speakers offer is hard to match, especially in the 5.1 class. The 7100s would defintely fill the needs of the average PC user. The S4 MidiLand 7100 speakers deserve...
Overall Rating: 8.6 / 10.0