capsule review

M-Audio LX4 2.1 System and LX4 5.1 Expander

At a Glance
  • M-Audio LX4 2.1 System

    TechHive Rating
  • M-Audio LX4 5.1 expander system

M-Audio LX4 2.1 System and LX4 5.1 Expander
Artwork: Rick Rizner, John Goddard

M-Audio's LX4 2.1 System and LX4 5.1 Expander System are two products that you put together to create a 5.1-channel set. At a combined price of $550 (as of January 17, 2006), they're expensive--and they're not targeted at PC users, either.

Since the LX4 system is designed for use in audio production, you likely won't find it in many mainstream electronics stores. The system delivers a flat response across the frequency spectrum, so the person mixing can be sure he or she has an accurate rendition of the original source material with a neutral EQ setting. The LX4 would be a good pick for musicians who record in a home studio and who want to mix songs in 5.1-channel surround sound.

This setup, however, is not really designed to be connected to a PC. First, the six inputs on the subwoofer are 0.25-inch mono jacks. That's fine if you have audio production gear, where 0.25-inch mono jacks are standard, but for use with a PC, you'll need Y-cable adapters to connect to a typical sound card with three 0.125-inch stereo mini-plugs. Second, there's no remote or breakout box to control the volume; you'll have to use your media player software or stoop down to reach the master and subwoofer volume knobs on the back of the subwoofer.

The speakers produced very good sound quality in our DVD-Audio and DVD-movie audio clips. The low end was full, well defined, and not too boomy, while the highs were clear and crisp. Music sounded natural overall, although I found the sound better suited for mellower genres than heavy rock.

The only sample that sounded subpar was that of an audio book; however, this often happens on a "flat" system, since audio books are typically produced to be heard over ambient highway noise. The overresponsive upper-mid range made the narrator's voice sound a bit brittle and unnatural. This same unpleasant quality also detracted from the otherwise natural tones of a piano in a stereo music track.

Listeners in search of a thumping subwoofer that will shake the windows may not be thrilled with the LX4 set. One (younger) member of our jury, for example, found the bass a little lacking. But if you don't expect the floorboards to vibrate loose during Hollywood movie explosions, this subwoofer should be adequate.

This musician's setup delivers full, crisp sound, but it isn't ideal for use with a PC.

Eric Butterfield

This story, "M-Audio LX4 2.1 System and LX4 5.1 Expander" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating
  • M-Audio LX4 5.1 expander system

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