Im a happy
gamer. That seems like the best place to start. All my games have been
given new life, and its a better life. The dull rattling of my car
engine has become a thundering vibration. The ping of my machine gun is
a crushing blast and convincing recoil. I am certain that the invincible
Flood falls before my might at an unprecedented rate as if they too feel
and then fear the thundering tear of my weapons. This is a good thing.
And its only the first thing. DVDs are a new, glorious experience as
well. Quite frankly, Im not sure how I got along with out Dolby Pro
Logic 5.1 surround sound, and I will never, could never, go back. Ive
been in the console game for a long time now, and although the realm of
speaker talk is still new to me, I can tell you with absolute certainty
that Ill give up my new speaker system when they pry it out of my cold
dead handsand then only maybe.
With 100 watts of total speaker power being funneled to a 3" full
range center channel, four 3" satellites, and one 6.5-inch long-throw
subwoofer, the sound quality is excellent. The only problem I
experienced was drowning out movie dialogue because the various other
noisesbackground, soundtrack, and so onwere being picked up too well.
Through patient tweaking I was able to minimize this. The incredible
bass does a lot for games and movies all by itself. Theres enough bass
to put you in the middle of the game, and, if you want, to put your
neighbors in the game too.
Whats more, the XA3051 delivers high quality at a reasonable price.
The suggested retail price of $199.95 seems well below the going rate
for most comparable 6 speaker, 5.1 Dolby Digital systems. On the one
hand, thats the cost of a new console system, but on the other hand
its a significant upgrade to every system you own, as well as your,
VCR, DVD player, TV and stereo. Its a bargain, plain and simple.
The XA 3051 looks reasonably stylish as well. If you happen to be an
X-box owner, the XA 3051 is a color coded matchdominant black with
green accents. The ribbed plastic cages on the front of the speakers are
somewhat less than elegant, but theyre not ugly and in the end its the
sound quality that counts most.
Set up is simple; the components are color coded and virtually
impossible to screw-up. I did run into difficulty with the back
speakers, as the cords werent long enough. My living-room is moderately
large, but not significantly above average, so you may or may not find
this problem. I bought two extension cable that cost a couple of dollars
for a quick and easy fix. Speaking of connection cords, theres room for
improvement here. Blessed will be the age of wireless; when cables from
three consoles, twelve controllers, a VCR, and a six speakers arent
competing to form the biggest ball of living-room cord chaos. All hail
the Wavebird, future of
gaming, but thats another story. For the time being, we are stuck with
cords, so we ought to do something to minimize their intrusiveness. We
can start with color. The speakers can easily be hung from the wall, but
the black cords draping down the wall are unnecessary. Until we can
loose the cords, let us work on camouflage. Who has black walls? No one.
We all have white walls, so why dont we have white cables too? Now this
may seem like a small thing, but its a good start. Down with convention
for the sake of convention alone.
These minor issues notwithstanding, my only real complaint is with
the wired remote. Refer to the last paragraph for my thoughts on adding
another cable to the mix for my sound system controller. I thought
controllers were firmly entrenched, leading the charge of the impending
wireless revolution. My VCR has a wireless controller, so does my DVD
player, and my surround sound system should too. In all likelihood this
was a cost saving measure, and a wireless remote probably would have
necessitated an independent receiver, increasing the cost of the system,
so I understand the motivation here. The controller has other weaknesses
as well, however. Some buttons have multiple functions. Press for the
forward speakers, hold down for the rear speakers, for example. Overall
the controller is cumbersome to use, and I would have like more from the
one point of consistent interaction with my $199.95 system. On the plus
side, the analogue volume adjustments allow for ease of use and
The controller issues fall into the "room for improvement" category,
but overall dont detract significantly from the outstanding quality of
the XA3051. Do your games, and your movies, a favor and treat them to
Dolby Digital 5.1. They will never be the same--and neither will you.