capsule review

Razor Mako 2.1 Advanced Desktop Audio System

At a Glance
  • Razer Mako 2.1 Advanced Desktop Audio System

    TechHive Rating

    This pricey two-speaker system sounds as good as some 5.1 speaker kits.

Five speakers around your computer borders on overkill. But cut down that number, and the sound quality can suffer. Razer's Mako 2.1 Advanced Desktop Audio System solves that dilemma. While pricey at $400 (as of 2/1/08), the Mako provides top-notch audio and does a good job of simulating surround sound.

The two satellite speakers and subwoofer deliver 300 watts of power. And thanks to THX's Ground Plane and Slot Speaker technology, the units fool you into thinking that you have more speakers than you do. That's because Mako's downward-firing speakers bounce sound off your desktop surface. Unlike audio solutions that shoot sound directly at you, these speakers create incredibly spacious sound quality.

The bad news: It's time to clean your desk. For optimal performance, each speaker requires a six-inch clearance. And, as tempting as it may be, don't use these ultra-mod black stumps as paperweights: Interference between speakers and table will distort or dampen the sound. The subwoofer works similarly. Park it on the floor by a wall for bone-jarring bass.

Listening to gunfire in the game Crysis had me ducking for cover. And despite Mako's gaming heritage, these speakers are great for movies and music too. Watching The Fast and the Furious, I felt cars scream past my ears to near-Doppler effect from one side of the room to the other. Listening to Ray Charles' Greatest Hits, I felt I was sitting in the middle of the band while his gravelly voice crooned off to the side. It's amazing, really, the quality of sound that rumbles from these miniature monsters. And this is all without the benefit of a discrete sound card; I plugged the system directly into my PC's audio jacks.

The quality of the bass response in the Mako is especially impressive. Often, bellowing bass masks bad middle and high sounds. Not so here. With the bass turned down, I missed the soulful bottom end in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, but the violins still filled the room.

A few drawbacks stand out, though. The slightly twitchy control pod, a sleek touch-control dongle that connects to the subwoofer, can tweak only bass levels and volume. And as nice as it is to have a second input for devices like MP3 players on the control pod, I'd like to see more connectivity options on the back of the subwoofer. It has a standard 3.5mm jack for your PC and one set of RCA inputs for your olde-tyme devices, but I can't help but wonder if an optical audio input for connecting to your present-day DVD player could have really made these speakers sing.

At $400, the Mako is as expensive as most good 5.1 kits (like Creative Labs' GigaWorks ProGamer G500 or Logitech's Z-5500 Digital), and it sounds almost as good. For fashion-forward audiophiles, it's well worth the money. But you might want to clear out your cluttered desktop and shag carpeting first.

--Darren Gladstone

This story, "Razor Mako 2.1 Advanced Desktop Audio System" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating

    This pricey two-speaker system sounds as good as some 5.1 speaker kits.

    Pros

    • Solid sound reproduction
    • Good surround sound virtualization

    Cons

    • No optical inputs
    • Hogs up desktop space
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