Review: Altec Lansing VS3251 Powered Audio System

A reasonably priced surround sound system for us all. (December 30th, 2006)

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Product Manufacturer: Altec Lansing

Price: $79.95 US

The Good

  • Wireless remote. Sturdy build. Good bass. Inexpensive.

The Bad

  • Somewhat boring aesthetics. Could have better highs.

I gladly replaced the old generic speakers that came with my aging desktop with the VS3251 Powered Audio System. Within moments of reaching into the big blue Altec Lansing box, I had my new 6-channel setup blaring tunes. Installation went without a hitch because Altec Lansing provides sufficient cable lengths to rig the respective satellites in front and behind the machine to provide for that multi-directional sound that is the standard for today's gamers and their sophisticated audio demands. For game and movie enthusiasts, surround sound is a must and Altec Lansing provides a good option at a very reasonable price.

Not Flashy, Yet Blends In

The VS3251 speaker system is not especially flashy or attractive, but Altec Lansing chose a jet-black minimalist form, allowing these speakers to blend with most computer or home theater setups. It does not match your iMac, but it fits in almost anywhere and includes removable speaker stands as well as wall mounting capability to free desktops of clutter. Build quality is sturdy and the speakers seem well assembled. The IR eye that receives signals from the wireless remote control seems misplaced though. I would rather it was integrated that into one of the speakers or the subwoofer, although some people put their subwoofers on the floor out of view, which could interfere with the remote signal. There are no adjustments on the satellite speakers, and only a large master volume knob along with a headphone jack and an audio-in port on the front of the subwoofer's wooden black cabinet. You cannot synchronize your iPod, but the headphone jack supports private listening, while the secondary input jack enables users to connect different audio sources.

The hardware

The Altec Lansing VS3251 features five satellite speakers, each with 9 watts RMS of continuous power along with a 25-watt subwoofer. The total system power boasts 70 watts RMS. The included full-function wireless remote includes controls for system volume, bass and treble levels, stereo/surround modes, and a toggle switch to select an MP3 player or computer. The remote is very handy, especially when this speaker system doubles as a computer and home stereo, as it does in my own living room.

Audio Quality

The subwoofer bass quality is what really shines here; warm and clear throughout musical genres. The 5.25" long-throw subwoofer kicks loud enough for me to have that extremely obnoxious neighbor potential, and the system really compliments a gaming experience. Not only does the surround sound emulate the battlefield chaos present in shooters such as Call of Duty, the system also does well with loud volume stereo.

Naturally, I was eager to fire up some Pink Floyd to see how the VS3251 System performed Gilmour's guitar solos. After listening for a while, I felt that the 9-watt satellites did not quite do the higher notes justice. The sound is not as lush or vibrant as more expensive systems, but for the money, the VS3251 does not disappoint. It is a fantastic holiday upgrade for the few gamers still lost in the abysmal two-channel audio world. For well under $100, the VS3251 is not a superstar, nor does it come with THX certification, but it does come with a kicking loud sound with clear, warm bass and otherwise acceptable performance for a reasonable price.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Alexander Munro


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