To begin with testing we threw a variety of music at the set. From the start the warm but subtle bass tones proved very pleasing, giving the set a fulsome sound that is very adaptable to all kinds of music. It must be added, too, that we can't think of any 2.0 speakers of this size whose bass production is as well defined as that of the FX3022s.
This low-range power proved itself particularly good for classical and choral music. In Agnus Dei from Faure's Requiem the dulcet tones of the organ and subtle cello accompaniment are brought out beautifully, particularly towards the end as the piece builds into its dramatic crescendo. Another particular strength, one it shares with the impressive Edifier MP300s, is excellent performance at low volumes. This is another symptom of the discrete woofers, since it allows the system to produce good low level audio at lower volumes.
This does give the FX3022s an edge over the T40s, but this advantage is ceded in the mid and high end of the frequency range. While the Altec Lansings are perfectly reasonable in this regard, the T40s are in a different class when it comes to clarity and detail. A good example of this is Radiohead's Reckoner, where the intricate percussion lacks a little bit of punch when compared the T40s lively output. This also makes the FX3022s sound ever so slightly flat when listening to rock music, such as the Smashing Pumpkins or Foo Fighters, where the bass lines tend to overpower the arguably more important lead guitars. This doesn't make this set bad for such music, but if this is your staple musical diet then the T40s are probably a better bet.
If you have more of a penchant for soft rock and pop, however, then you should enjoy this set. That warm and comforting sound is just perfect for the likes of Coldplay or Doves, while hip-hop and dance tracks also benefit from the extra bass on offer. Distortion is rarely a problem, even at the high volumes the speakers can reach, though if you really push hard they can distort in very bass heavy tracks.
Our only other issue, which is actually pretty important depending on how you intend to use them, is how the downward facing woofers cause any desk they're sitting on to vibrate. This makes them somewhat unsuitable as desktop speakers, but it's less of an issue if sat on a shelf and used as a Hi-Fi replacement.
While the looks are an acquired taste there's a lot to like about the Altec Lansing Expressionist Bass speakers. Their innovative driver arrangement delivers balanced but powerful bass and good overall sound quality. A couple of design issues and a slight lack of mid and high-end clarity preclude them from an award, but if you want a 2.0 set with more earthy power, they're worth considering.