Altec Lansing Expressionist BASS FX3022 - 2.0 Speakers - Altec Lansing Expressionist BASS FX3022

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

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.

Verdict

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.

Overall Score

8

Scores In Detail

  • Value 8

Marko

April 8, 2009, 5:59 am

Bless, reviewers really do trot out a load of generic cliched nonsense when it comes to trying to convey the subjective nature of playback quality for speakers and headphones. Not a criticism of Andy per se, every reviewers seems to suffer from this apparently insurmountable problem.

Ed

April 8, 2009, 2:02 pm

If it's insurmountable, why mention it? What alternative method of assessment do you suggest we use? Graphs?

Marko

April 8, 2009, 2:36 pm

Well quite, if a comment doesn't add anything to the review then it's not worth making. Anyway, don't take yourself so seriously, it's a beautiful day outside in London...

ruthless

April 8, 2009, 4:51 pm

It's god awful here in Paris

Dave W

April 8, 2009, 6:01 pm

If the bass driver is built into the same cabinet as the remaining ones, surely it is simply a woofer. Doesn't a subwoofer need to be in an entirely separate enclosure? I've been irritated by the whole 'built-in subwoofer' thing so beloved of the flashy-light 'hi-fi' makers for ages. (I realise this doesn't add a great deal to the review)

Andy Vandervell

April 8, 2009, 6:20 pm

@Dave W: No, it's a good point and you're absolutely right. Changed.

StuAndrews

April 8, 2009, 7:07 pm

I don't want to go too far into the realms of beardy Hi-Fi debate here, but my understanding of a subwoofer is that it simply goes down to lower frequencies than an ordinary woofer (down to 20Hz rather than the 40Hz of the typical woofer). It should be a separate speaker, but it doesn't necessarily need to be in a separate enclosure. However, in this case it looks like the 'built-in subwoofer' doesn't hit that range and so is actually more of a woofer, in which case I think your point still stands. Erm. I'll go away now. Stu.

Keithe6e

April 8, 2009, 7:09 pm

@Marko: Bless, reviewers really do trot out a load of generic cliched nonsense





Struggling with that, even re-read trying to find these cliched bits. Seemed to explain his findings in plain English without going all retro, what exactly was you referring too?.

ChaosDefinesOrder

April 8, 2009, 9:47 pm

@Keith: I believe Marko is referring to bit like "where the intricate percussion lacks a little bit of punch" and generally describing how a song sounds on the speakers.





I agree that it's a little bit strange reading that kinda thing, but at the same time I'm fully aware of how near-impossible it is to describe how a set of speakers sound compared to another set without resorting to "um... they just sound better, ok?"

Keithe6e

April 9, 2009, 2:27 pm

@ChaosDefinesOrder, That was my point, how else would you explain it. It was pure English, described the sound, and I could certainly understand what he was trying to describe. And "where the intricate percussion lacks a little bit of punch" still doesn't sound cliched to me. He didn't add "Asta La Vista Baby", or "I'll be back" did he without me noticing. :)

Marko

April 9, 2009, 5:51 pm

I think that's the wider question, are perjorative comments on speaker sound quality largely redundant. I don't dispute that there's no alternative to the current type of comments, but I'm not sure acknowledging this makes the comment any more useful in making a purchasing decision. Bottom line, anyone spending anything meaningful on speakers should try before they buy.

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