11 PC-speakersets review: cacophonous or melodious?

Cheap and good do not go together anymore


Around {c:gb}42 pounds / 50 euros{/c:gb}{c:us}55 dollars{/c:us}: below average

Where you could buy an excellent 2.1 set around the year 2000 for about 42 pounds / 50 euros (where we have to mention the iconic Logitech X-230), anno 2016 this is a segment you would want to avoid. That is if we base our findings solely on the three sets we could listen to for this test. These are the Edifier M1380, the Hercules XPS 2.1 BassBoost and the Logitech Z333.

Edifier M1380 Black
Edifier M1380

They all consist of two 1-way satellites and a subwoofer. There is a cabled control delivered with the M1380 and the Z333, on which there is also a headphone jack and in M1380’s case, an aux-input. On the Hercules the controls are on the right speaker, in which the two mentioned connectors are also present.

Logitech Z333
Logitech Z333

The Hercules set comes across as the cheapest of the three. The satellites weigh almost nothing, despite their relatively large measurements. The right speaker is attached to the subwoofer, the left speaker has to be affixed separately. This causes the placement possibilities to be restrained and a defected cable means you can write off the set.

Hercules XPS 2.1 BassBoost Black
Hercules XPS 2.1 BassBoost

The Logitech set does not give a good impression either. Admittedly, the satellites are made of firmer material, but they have a very light weight. Although it looks like there has been a separate tweeter built in, it is not the case. The grill and the ‘speakers’ behind it are there purely for cosmetics. The Edifier M1380 is the best looking set of the three, however this is relative. The slightly upper directed satellites almost feel fragile on their plastic feet. The case is made from the same material. The latter set is also the least powerful one, but that does not say anything about the performance in practice. This in itself speaks volumes, because none of the sets are able to be convincing in all of the genres. Except for the Z333, which barely passes the test for musical display.

The Hercules XPS 2.1 BassBoost seems to be failing in all the categories except for the display of pieces of classical music which is somewhat acceptable. There was no balance in almost everything we listened to, mainly because the quality of the satellites is lacking and the subwoofer does not honor its name either, because it oversteers as soon as it needs to reproduce low sounds, for instance with Low by FloRida. Above all, the satellites start to vibrate in this case, which is definitely unacceptable.

The Edifier M1380 does its job a little bit better, especially when we open up the bass a bit more than the standard settings. Do try to be careful, around the 70% the sub starts to bang uncontrollably. The satellites sound very shrill, there is a nasty sharp edge to the vocals, something we have seen with several songs containing wind instruments. This set misses the power to let the music be fully appreciated. For games it is passable, but only if you really do not want to spend more than 42 pounds / 50 euros. 

As we have said, the Logitech is the least moderate of the three. The Z333 misses the definition of separate instruments and has a tendency to sound hollow, but the vocals stand out well (sometimes a little too much) and the reproduction of lows is reasonable. We miss, as we do with every 2.1 set, a piece of the mid frequency and the higher notes are shrill from time to time, but considering the price and the competition the Z333 is for its price a justifiable choice if you really cannot spend more.


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