I'm not a big fan of small speakers or subwoofers.
They tend to sound, well, small, and most of them squash the life out of films and music.
Thing is, people like tiny speakers and subs, so lots of speaker companies make, and sell tons of iffy-sounding 5.1 systems.
But they're not all bad, I've cherry-picked three truly exceptional alternatives from Definitive Technology, Energy Speakers, and Mirage. My complete reviews are all on CNET, but I'll run down the highlights here.
The Definitive Technology ProCinema 600 System is a six-piece package with four 7-inch tall satellite speakers, one 10.5-inch wide center speaker, and a minisubwoofer. The injection-molded mineral-filled polymer cabinets have more of a high-end feel than your typical plastic or fiberboard cabinets. Can you say "rock solid?"
The subwoofer is a conventional, matte-finished medium-density-fiberboard box. It measures 13 by 10.3 by 13 inches. Its side-mounted volume control is a convenient design touch.
The satellites are two-way designs with a 1-inch aluminum-ceramic dome tweeter and a 3.25-inch midrange driver. Ah, but the midrange driver is acoustically coupled to a 3.25-inch pressure-driven planar low-frequency radiator on the top panel (so when the midrange driver moves in, the passive radiator moves out, and vice-versa).
The passive radiator effectively doubles the bass radiating area of the tiny midrange driver. The same technique is employed on the center channel speaker; it has a pair of 3.25-inch midrange drivers flanking a 1-inch tweeter--and there's a 3.25-inch radiator on each side of the speaker.
The subwoofer's 8-inch polymer cone woofer is acoustically coupled to a bottom-mounted 8-inch passive radiator. The combined radiating area of the driver and radiator is almost equivalent to a single 12-inch woofer. This little sub kicks butt!… Read more