soundscience rockus� 3D | 2.1 Speaker Review

Many PC sound enthusiasts have limited space on their home or office desktops. They simply cannot accommodate large speakers and stereo system components, but they still want to have quality sound reproduction as well as multiple connectivity options when they are in front of their PCs. In the last few years, new PC speakers products suited to the above criteria have been scarce or non-existent. Fortunately, this situation has finally begun to change for the better.

We have decided to continue our evaluations of new and innovative PC sound and speaker solutions with a product created by another respected and established company in the PC peripheral industry.

Antec is a well-known and trusted manufacturer of stylized PC cases, quiet cooling solutions, and reliable power supplies. This global company began in 1986 and has its primary headquarters in Fremont, California.

Just as Corsair, did with its HS1 USB gaming headset, Antec has decided to expand its wide range of product offerings to include its first ever PC sound product. Today, we will evaluate the company’s soundscience rockus 3D 2.1 speaker set in order to see what it can bring to our PC gaming, music, and movie experience. The unusual name “rockus” is perhaps a subliminal way of telling us the company intends to rock us with its first foray into the PC audio world.

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Antec/soundscience has incorporated what it calls 3Dsst into its new product. This is:

…a suite of DSP (digital sound processing) algorithms that create a virtual surround sound experience from 2.1 stereo speakers. The technology analyzes the frequency content and pan/positioning of sounds in the incoming audio stream, and then uses certain types of filtering and phasing to widen the sound stage and create the effect of listening to a much larger surround speaker system.

Much of the above may not mean much to you, so we intend to test the speaker set just as we would any other under normal, daily usage. We are very curious to see how successful and/or innovative Antec has been in creating its first audio product for what has been a previously ignored product segment for the company.

Product Pricing and Packaging

Antec has created a new, separate subsidiary and website for its new speaker set, soundscience products. The site has product specifications, technical support information, and online product ordering directly from the company or third party vendors.

The soundscience speakers are priced at $249.99 on the company’s product ordering page. The cheapest of the six shipping methods offered is $8.86 UPS ground. Amazon.com offers the same price of $249.99 with free shipping through a third party vendor. Newegg offers the speakers for $249.99 as well but shipping is $19.99. In the past, we have found that some product manufacturers typically price their products 10 to 20% higher than third party vendors, so it is refreshing to see Antec be competitive with its new product launch. The speakers have a two year limited warranty on parts and labor.

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The set we received had a plain brown outer shipping box with large red lettering simply stating, “soundscience” with “rockus 3D/2.1” printed much smaller in the bottom left corner. We are glad the company sleeved the retail box inside as our set’s outer packaging took a bit of punishment in shipping.

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The front of the retail box shows one of the two speakers life-sized and an enlargement of another that will certainly draw the attention of shoppers browsing for new speakers. The back of the box explains the unusual construction of the satellites and subwoofer, and we will discuss those characteristics later in the review. We should point out that everything inside the retail box was packed very securely. Each component was wrapped separately in plastic and then placed in molded Styrofoam that also protected the subwoofer in between.

Product Specifications

As you can see below, the one cable omitted with our retail review set was an optical cable. If we would be willing to pay $250 as consumers for a 2.1 speaker set, we would expect an optical cable included to complete the package. After a quick online price search at Amazon.com, we found that a six foot long optical cable costs less than $4.00 with free shipping. We feel one of these cables should be bundled with a premium priced speaker system. If optical is our connection method of choice, we do not want to get the speakers home and then have to go back to the store to buy the appropriate cable later.

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We see 150 watts listed for the total measured power of the speakers and subwoofer. This figure is obtained by adding 100 watts from the subwoofer and 25 for each satellite speaker. The standard used in obtaining this power rating is the RMS method. Corsair used the newer FTC method to obtain its rating for its SP2500 speakers.

From what we have learned, many audiophiles are divided as to which standard is the best to use for such ratings. Some say the RMS method is an average power rating over a set period of time while the FTC method is continuous power available over a set period of time. We wish that Corsair and Antec had listed both standards on their respective product boxes. This would help consumers to base their buying decision on whichever method they were most familiar with. You can learn more about the differences in measurement in this Texas Instruments PDF.

Features

  • Anodized aluminum satellites that reduce vibration and minimize distortion,
  • Remote control pod for volume adjustment, 3D / music mode
  • Optical input for playback of digital audio from game consoles
  • Active subwoofer with passive radiator technology, delivering an expansive range of bass comparable to larger footprint subwoofers
  • When looking at the product specifications, it is great to see that these speakers can be used not only with PCs, but also with game consoles, DVD players, MP3 players, and anything else with similar connectivity. One important part of this feature is that a user’s PC does not have to be turned on in order to use another device with these speakers.

    When reading the feature list, conscientious buyers should note that these are one of the few sets of speakers designed with PC and Mac users in mind that are not housed primarily in plastic.

    The subwoofer’s passive radiator technology is not used for any type of cooling, like the radiator of a car. It is used for low frequency reproduction in a smaller enclosure than physically larger subwoofers of similar output capability. We are interested to see how this unusual, smaller design standard performs with our testing choices.

    From the product flyer, we read the following:

    “soundscience rockus 3D | 2.1 speaker system creates a personal home theater experience that brings the power and realism of 3D sound together with the clarity and accuracy of high-fidelity audio. 3Dsst, soundscience’s 3D technology, actively analyzes incoming stereo audio signals and intelligently places them into a 3D sound field. The results are a personal theater experience with realistic, immersive 3D soundscapes for your movies and games from 2.1 speakers – whether it’s the impact of an explosion, the snap of a baseball whizzing by a player’s face, or the thunder and fury of a videogame gunfight. The rockus also features a dedicated music mode optimized for superb stereo sound reproduction, letting you hear your music with deep, visceral sub-bass and spacious crisp, mids and highs. soundscience puts 3D cinematic sound and high-fidelity music in its place: Your room.”

    We will be testing all of the dedicated listening modes of these speakers to see if they deliver everything outlined above. Whenever we read terms like “personal theater” and “3D cinematic sound,” we hope that the product in question lives up to the marketing hype.

    Product Appearance and Installation

    After unpacking the product, we have to say that Antec has created one of the most unique and best looking sets of PC speakers, or any speakers for that matter, that we have ever seen. When we think of ” typical PC speakers,” we can quickly recall past sets we have had, such as the original Cambridge Soundworks. That set had very small, cube-shaped satellite speakers. They were also putty-white and became discolored over time.

    As stated in the specifications, the Soundscience speakers are made of anodized aluminum to reduce vibration. Upon picking up a single speaker, anyone can feel that these are very heavy, durable, and solidly-built speakers. Its appearance is quite unique and attractive; it resemble small bullhorns like those used to speak to medium-sized crowds of people. We weighed one of the speakers using a calibrated digital scale. It weighed 23 ounces.

    If you have only seen product pictures of the soundscience speakers, you may not be able to tell that the collar around the outside of both speakers is made of plastic. The collar’s coating is obviously intended to resemble a chrome finish, but it is a mismatch in quality compared to the speakers’ solid aluminum housing. The front of each speaker has a honeycombed grill covered with taut black fabric.

    Looking on the backs of each speaker and the subwoofer, you can see that a single standard RCA connector to open-ended wire is all that is needed to connect each channel to the subwoofer. We are glad to see that there are no proprietary connections like those used by Corsair in its SP2500 speaker set. If you wanted to buy longer runs of RCA cables for your speakers, they can be found online under $10.00 per set in much longer lengths, or in retail stores for a few dollars more.

    The cable that connects the speakers’ control pod to the subwoofer is an 8-pin male to male mini-din cable. These were once used to connect Apple printers and computers together in the 90s. We were able to find these cables in various lengths easily online, but we were not able to find them in retail stores locally. You might find them easily where you live.

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    Something else we immediately noticed when examining the connection choices on the back of the subwoofer is that one can connect standard RCA jacks, 1/8 inch stereo mini-jack, or digital optical cable for sound input and you should achieve similar playback results with all three.

    This is excellent to have multiple connectivity choices because potential buyers will not be excluded from choosing these speakers because they believe they may have incompatible device connections. A user may think of these at first as simply a manner of connecting his PC or DVD player to the soundscience system, but an MP3 player, IPod, or any other device with compatible stereo connectivity can be easily connected as well.

    We were sorry to see that Antec/Soundscience did not include a headphone out jack on either its control pod or subwoofer. This would have been another great connectivity option for both PC and console gamers, as well as late night movie watchers.

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    Installation

    If you have ever installed PC speakers or a home stereo before, setting up the soundscience system will be easy and familiar. If you have not ever set up such a system, it will not take long for the steps to become intuitive.

    We unpacked everything in the retail box, placed the speakers on our testing desk in their desired positions and then we chose subwoofer positioning. We like to place the sub in a corner for the best reverb effect, but it can also be placed under a desk without too much loss of space. The size of the satellites leave a fairly small footprint on the desktop. Each speaker is the size of a large coffee mug laid on its side. The speakers have built in stands that angle the speakers upward 35 degrees.

    We plugged the included RCA cables into the back of both satellites and then placed the included control pod to our right behind the mouse pad. The control pod is small and takes up very little space. It only weighs four ounces. The control pod connects to the subwoofer with the included 8-pin mini-din cable.

    We did not see replacement cables for neither the speakers nor the control pod offered yet on the soundscience website. We feel that replacement accessories or specifications for adequate substitutes should be listed on the company’s website so as to coincide with the product’s launch. Article Image Article Image Article Image

    Next, we connected the open ended portion of our speaker RCA cables to the subwoofer. We then added the mini-din cable for the control pod. Lastly, we used a male RCA to male RCA cable to connect our sound card to the female input on the sub. This whole process was very quick and trouble-free. It probably took longer to type than it did to actually setup.

    There is an on/off switch on the back of the subwoofer which we very much like. At the end of our daily usage, the whole system can be switched off. Klipsch removed this type of switch on its very popular Promedia 2.1 set in its last product revision.


    Our test system is as follows:

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    Music

    Testing music on any new set of speakers or headphones takes some time to get used to because we have already become so accustomed to the sound signature of one set or another. We made sure that we spent a few weeks, not merely hours with the soundscience set.

    When we initially saw the small, flared trumpet appearance of the soundscience speakers, we anticipated shrill echoes of some sort added to every sound. This was definitely not the case.

    For testing, we used a similar playlist that has been in many of our other audio reviews because we want to cover as many genres as possible. We used a selection of high bitrate MP3 and FLAC tracks from Metallica, Tom Waits, The White Stripes, Lil’ Wayne, Queen, Garden State Soundtrack, The Black Eyed Peas, The Best Jazz Album in the World, The Crystal Method, The Preacher’s Wife Soundtrack, The Best Of The Most Relaxing Classical Music In The Universe, Ministry Of Sound – The Sound Of Dubstep, Open Your Ears, and Ray Charles-Genius Loves Company from HDTracks.com.

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    The soundscience speakers have a setting on the control pod for optical input, 3D, music, and mute. Of course “3D” is not a proper way of listening to stereo recorded music; it is usually more suitable for gaming or movies. We used a flat EQ with our Titanium HD sound card.

    We sat directly between the two speakers that were five feet apart and there is truly a “sweet spot” right in the middle. Stereo imaging was extremely good. The Metallica songs we listened to had a nice, raw edge to their sound. Electric guitar sounded excellent. Our only complaint was that we were not feeling kick drum, bass, and the deep timbre and tone of certain vocals as much as we would have liked. Lil’ Wayne and the Dubstep albums were quite weak with lack of impact.

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    We looked under our test desk at the soundscience subwoofer’s back panel and noticed that we had only set the subwoofer to “1” out of three possible bass settings. After changing it to “2,” the music experience improved immediately. The Dubstep album now showed off its quick, punchy bass. Our speakers never exhibited distortion of any sort with the last settings we used and the immediate change in our experience simply made us want to continue our testing.

    The Ray Charles album was one of our favorite choices for this review. Each song has a duet with Charles and another well-known artist. The individual voices of each singer, male or female, were reproduced very clearly and distinctly. We heard the acoustic nature of the recordings coming through very naturally. The sounds of the pianos and organs used throughout were reproduced very smoothly and audibly. We heard a nearly identical sound signature when we tested our jazz and Zydeco selections as well.

    The Preacher’s Wife Soundtrack and Queen’s Greatest Hits were exceptional as the vocals were so clear and “in front of us.” We could still hear individuals in the bands playing and backup singers singing behind the lead vocals, and that demonstrated very good sound separation.

    After listening to many different styles and tastes in music, we feel that these speakers are best paired with jazz, Zydeco, gospel, country, and classic rock music. These speakers have a very wide soundstage and we feel that music lovers who favor the above genres will be very pleased with the acoustic signature of these speakers. The amount of clarity in the upper mid range and high frequency reproduction really stood out for us.

    Our hip hop and rap selections sounded very good, but the vocals were the highlight with these speakers, not just the lower beats.

    For a small 2.1 system, the soundscience speakers’ music playback impressed us in the same manner that a quality set of open backed headphones would under similar listening conditions.

    The physical design of the speakers themselves truly allow sounds to project and carry. If the bass setting on the back of the subwoofer is changed to “3,” you will really feel and notice the difference over the lesser two settings, but your neighbors, roommates, or family members will either complain or simply be jealous.

    Throughout music testing, the soundscience speakers were very pleasing to our ears. Every word sung and every instrument played was reproduced so clearly. The mid and high frequency sounds were distinct, not piercing. The speakers effectively merge left and right channels toward the listener in the sweet spot as to provide nothing short of an immersive listening experience.

    We had two friends sit nine feet behind and to the sides of us and listen to music with us. They both commented as well, that these two speakers and subwoofer did not have the usual “small, boxy PC sound” that they had expected. The sound stage presented by the soundscience speakers is very wide despite their size. Obviously, the trumpet-like design and angled positioning of the speakers have their purpose and merits.

    Our phone rang while we were listening to music and ordinarily, we would have to find our remote or grab a dial and turn down or mute the music if were using a receiver. With the soundscience speakers, we simply tapped the volume dial on the control pod downward and they were immediately muted. When we wished to un-mute, we pressed simply tapped the volume dial again. Within a second or two, the music returned at its previous volume. It did not return instantaneously, but rather ramped back up to the previous full volume. When the music volume has been previously playing at a loud volume level and you suddenly un-mute it, it can be an unpleasant experience to you or those around you. Very nice touch by soundscience.

    We experienced no distortion whatsoever when listening to music except when we turned our PC and the speakers’ volume to near maximum levels. Such an observation may seem obvious at first, but it is necessary to state that the speakers and subwoofer performed very well with louder volumes.

    Although the control pod’s indicator light blinks once with each incremental change in volume, we found we had no way to know when we were reaching our volume limit or how much each adjustment raises our overall volume level.

    Legacy Games

    We thought we would test legacy games first, because many older games can be DirectSound 3D hardware accelerated with our Creative sound card’s Alchemy program. We decided to use our Creative sound card’s CMSS-3D software for software surround up-mixing first. On our second run-through, we would test the “3D” setting on the soundscience control pod.

    We used Call of Duty 2, “Not One Step Backwards” for our first legacy game test. We were on the second story of a building and the enemies below and to the left could be pinpointed perfectly with just two speakers. When we were crouched behind a broken wall trying to find a broken telephone cable, we could literally hear a grenade fly over our heads and explode behind us. We were really drawn into the game by the subtle rumble the subwoofer reproduced with machine gun fire’s constant repetition and grenades exploding and reverberating in the distance. It was an impressive experience overall.

    We tried the level again with CMSS-3D off and used the soundscience control pod with the 3D setting activated. Gameplay was simply not quite as good, because that setting adds a degree of hollow character, not surround, to the game’s sound playback. The “Music” setting on the control pod plus CMSS-3D was the superior choice.

    The next legacy game we chose was F.E.A.R. We played through the first three levels. Using CMSS-3D in software, we really had a sense of hearing everything around us. We ran outside from one of the offices on the second level, and chose “Slo-Mo” to slow everything down. We heard shell casings hitting the ground below us and bullets impacting the walls behind us. The sheer clarity of the speaker set made everything happening inside the game sound very realistic but most of all, precise. These speakers were only placed five feet apart, yet we still heard a great in-game surround effect.

    Current Games

    We decided to use a reliable testing choice like Left 4 Dead 2 because ally and enemy placement are everything in this game. We set the game’s audio menu choice to stereo and ran through the “Dead Center” level in single player mode. The soundscience speakers have a 3D setting and we switched to that before playing the level. During our run through, we did not place teammates or enemies very well at all. We felt as if we’re playing inside of a fishbowl and sounds were bouncing off its walls. Needless to say, sound placement of enemies and allies was poor.

    We exited the level, changed the control pod to music and re-enabled CMSS-3D on our Creative sound card. We re-entered the level and placement of everything was once again excellent. The voices of teammates commenting from a distance sounded realistic and we felt a genuine sense of direction and elevation.

    The last game we tried was Metro 2033. When our character first leaves the tunnels to go outside, we clearly perceived the more spacious environment from the sound cues alone. We no longer heard echoes as we did inside, we heard the wind whistling toward us and then behind us. Our fellow character running in front of us was speaking to us and dialogue sounded realistic and rich. When he gave instructions from his location ahead of us, we could perceive the twenty foot distance in front of us perfectly. Simply put, you do not need five speakers spaced throughout a large room to have a great gaming experience. Our previous headphone testing has shown that to be true.

    These speakers excelled as a 2 channel system when coupled with CMSS-3D. Forget the control pod’s 3D mode for first person shooters. The clarity of the control pod’s music setting is far superior when coupled with the right software up-mix combination.

    Movies

    We decided to use the new DVD Salt for our first movie test and the experience was excellent. We were most impressed that a movie that should be heard in 5.1 sounded so good on a 2.1 system. Hearing dialogue with these speakers is amazing. We really felt that there was a center channel speaker in front of us because the dialogue was so distinct in its reproduction. The car chase scene where Angelina Jolie escapes custody was utterly thrilling. Points of action could be heard above, in front, and behind us.

    When an FBI briefing was being conducted, the individuals speaking could be heard on and off screen perfectly. The persistent sounds of the office around them were also present and clear. The environment’s realistic reproduction really adds to a viewer’s immersion in the film. The subwoofer on the soundscience system really shines in movies as bass reproduction sounds and feels natural on the “2” setting, not simply “boomy.”

    Character dialogue and action sounds off-screen panned and tracked perfectly with physical location. Again, we preferred to leave the speakers in music mode for the best level of clarity and sound separation. We preferred Creative’s CMSS-3D in our soundcard’s software to the pod’s “3D” mode for up-mix, but your tastes may differ.

    For the second test movie, we used Despicable Me. Again, we were quite convinced that the soundscience speaker system had a dedicated center channel speaker because the dialogue of all of the characters was so clear. The gradual and rumbling bass that accompanies Gru as he drives his huge vehicle really gave us the feeling of its size and enormity.

    When Gru speaks to his adopted daughters, we hear each of them speak from three different locations: stage right, center stage, and stage left. All three characters were not simply heard from a faux center channel created from the left and the right ones.

    Usually background music in films is an afterthought to viewers, but the soundscience speakers’ “music” setting on the control pod really does the source material justice. Sometimes accompanying score in films is not truly experienced by viewers unless it plays loudly through the movie’s credits. Any and all music played through these speakers while watching movies, with the control pod set to its music mode, simply sounded beautiful.

    Placement of sounds in animated movies is very deliberate. When animated movies are made, each sound cue is manually added. The reproduction of all sound effects, dialogue and stereo imaging were as good with the soundscience system in “music mode” as we have ever heard during our previous 2.1 speaker experiences.

    As we did in our music tests, we preferred the subwoofer to be set at “2” when watching movies.

    Comparisons

    If your PC came with a free set speakers, you may ask yourself why you would consider switching to a third party set. To answer this, we replaced the soundscience speakers with a set of OEM branded 10 Watt PC speakers that a major company bundles with its home desktops as the default option. Any comparison of those speakers to the soundscience set may seem strange and unfair, but many PC users are perfectly content to use the speakers that came with their PC the day they bought it.

    The OEM speakers had no dynamic range whatsoever and sounded very muffled as if they were covered in heavy cloth when we were playing music, movies, or games. Any and all sounds simply did not carry well. The sounds reproduced were unrealistic. High, mid, and low frequency sounds were compressed together or simply not discernible. Compared to the soundscience speakers, our listening experience with the OEM speakers in general was very poor and irritating.

    Also, the lack of a quality, dedicated subwoofer significantly reduces the character and impact of music, movies, and games in general. Admittedly, the OEM speakers are extremely cheap or free and require much less power to perform, but they simply cannot accurately reproduce the wide range of sounds present in our testing material. Certain sounds played through low quality speakers would remain indiscernible or distorted no matter how high or low the master volume is adjusted and that would heavily detract from our gaming, movie, and music experiences.

    There are many PC enthusiasts that swear by Klipsch’s Promedia 2.1 speakers for everyday use. We have used a set of those on a regular basis for the last year. The soundscience speakers are nearly twice the price but clearly superior in some respects. The soundscience speakers have an aluminum, not plastic, housing. They have better stereo imaging, a wider soundstage, and greater midrange and high frequency reproduction and separation.

    We had a difficult choice choosing which brand’s subwoofer we liked better. The two subs are both squarely shaped, but the soundscience subwoofer is four inches taller while the Klipsch subwoofer is three inches wider. The soundscience subwoofer can be placed upright or on its side.

    As we said earlier, there is an on/off switch included with the soundscience brand while Klipsch no longer has one on its subwoofer or control pod. Most importantly though, the Klipsch control pod’s analog knob gave us more precise settings for our subwoofer output and we did not have to reach for a switch on the back of the subwoofer to make bass level changes.

    We made sure to watch the movie Salt using the Klipsch speakers for comparison. The Klipsch satellites simply did not reproduce neither dialogue nor sound effects (mid-range and high frequency sounds) as vibrantly, realistically, and completely as the soundscience set.

    We auditioned these and the new Corsair SP2500 set within a few weeks of each other. Corsair’s control pod is superior in its construction and features, but the aluminum housing of the soundscience speakers, not control pod, makes us feel they may last longer.

    Both Corsair and soundscience subwoofers performed well in comparison to the other, but the soundscience sub only has three analog settings and a user must reach to the back of the subwoofer to change it. The Corsair set can be increased or decreased digitally in twenty-five possible increments right from its control pod. Such precision eliminates any guesswork.

    Unlike the Corsair speakers, replacement sets or longer runs of cables for the rockus 3D speakers are not proprietary and can be bought at almost any electronics or stereo store in the world. The soundscience speaker set also has digital input capability which allows users to run a single optical cable from their PC or game console to the subwoofer’s digital input.

    The Corsair and Klipsch speaker sets both have a headphone out jack on their respective control pods. The soundscience set does not.

    Product Issues and Tech Support

    We really liked some of the features of the soundscience control pod. We were unimpressed by the size of the pod itself. Several times, we bumped it forward or over on its side when we reached for it. We found that we had to cup our hand over the pod and depress the mode button with our thumb to keep the pod securely in place. If we just used our index finger to change modes, the pod would move forward under the pressure.

    The din cable that attaches the pod to the subwoofer tends to pull downward on the pod with its weight. We finally just took a piece of double-sided tape and attached our pod about two feet from where we sit at our testing desk.

    We plugged an optical cable from our X-Fi sound card into the soundscience subwoofer, but we were not able to get the optical input setting of the pod to work. We made sure we had changed the control pod to digital input mode. We immediately plugged the optical cable into a set of Logitech Z-5500 5.1 speakers for functional testing and the optical input worked perfectly.

    We were unable to find any documentation for detailed PC optical connectivity and compatibility in our product box or online. We find that strange because most modern onboard sound chipsets and discrete sound cards have optical output. Compatibility and usage information for this type of connectivity should be included in the product’s outer packaging, printed documentation, and the soundscience website.

    We pursued our issue immediately by email with Antec’s tech support department and we received an answer only 12 hours after we submitted our support question. Antec responded, “The optical output on your card needs to be set to stereo/PCM. Please check your software setting. If it’s in Dolby or DTS encode mode the digital input on the rockus won’t work. Also, make sure the green light is illuminated on the control pod. I hope this helps.

    Thank you

    Antec Support!”

    We turned off Dolby encoding and had to select SPDIF as our default sound output in our Windows 7 control panel and we had stereo sound through the optical cable immediately.

    We have never had to use Antec’s tech department before but we were very glad to see the company has e-mail and live phone support. Many companies have abandoned phone support altogether, but Antec’s is available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific time, Monday through Friday. We were very impressed with the company’s quick response and concise answer to our question.

    Earl’s Thoughts

    The size, natural sound, and portability of rockus™ 3D | 2.1 speaker system make these a good choice for a seemingly much bigger sound in small environments. The speakers, themselves, are quite impressive in performance and appearance.

    The control pod feels incomplete or lacking when compared to the speakers and subwoofer. Its design detracts from everything else Antec has done with the creation of this new product. We do feel it is important to say that we had no issues with reliable operation of the control pod during testing due to its size or construction. The rubber skid on the bottom of the pod is a nice touch. It keeps the pod from sliding forward or backward under slight pressure and it is easy to wipe clean. Still it is not however as stable as we would like it to be.

    We really liked the one touch mute function of the control pod’s volume dial, but we do wish that the rockus™ 3D | 2.1 speaker system had an easier method for altering the level of bass response. It is truly a pain when we have to go under our testing desk to flip a switch to increase or decrease our bass levels depending on the time of day or types of sounds being reproduced. Klipsch uses a similar din cable with its Promedia 2.1 control pod and subwoofer, so we would prefer to see a similar control scheme in future revisions of the soundscience set as well.

    We would recommend the soundscience rockus™ 3D | 2.1 speaker system to almost anyone looking for a quality set of 2.1 speakers but we have two reservations. First, we wish soundscience had made a larger and more feature-rich version of the control pod to match the quality and construction of its speakers.

    Second, the implementation of a “3D” hardware setting on the control pod was not good for gaming or movies; it created a hollow fish bowl sound. A sound card with a quality software up-mixing solution such as Dolby ProLogic, DTS Neo:PC or Creative’s CMSS-3D is clearly superior.

    We cannot stress enough that pairing these speakers with a quality sound card is essential; the better the sound source, the better the sound reproduction will be. And we also know that most people spending this much money on a set of 2.1 speakers will likely have a sound card equivalent.

    The Bottom Line

    If you already use your sound card’s software for stereo up-mixing and positional audio cues for gaming purposes, and you are looking for excellent music and movie playback, rockus™ 3D | 2.1 speaker system’s wide sound stage, small size, and sharp appearance may be a very good choice for you.

    If you have an older or poor quality sound card, and you are relying on a set of speakers to give you a better 3D sound experience in gaming and movies, the rockus™ 3D | 2.1 speaker system is not for you.

    If you prefer more analog and headphone connectivity options, and a larger, more feature-rich control pod, then you should definitely consider the Corsair SP2500 speakers instead. Gaming on the Corsair SP2500 system is exemplary and was just a better experience overall comparatively.

    That all said, soundscience by Antec has a very good product in the rockus™ 3D | 2.1 speaker system, but there is some hefty competition in this category and price point. We feel as though it is a bit overpriced for a person that uses his PC for gaming primarily. The rockus™ 3D | 2.1 speaker system does shine when it comes to movies and music.

    Discussion

    SOURCE:http://www.hardocp.com/article/2011/02/10/soundscience_rockus_3d_21_speaker_review/