The Sound Science Rockus 3D 2.1 is Antec's first array into consumer speakers for desktop computers and presents a visually unique, alien spacecraft-like design, partnered amazingly sturdy build quality. The speakers are made entirely of metal with the intent to minimize vibration. Although only having two speakers, the 3D part of the units name refers to Sound Science's "digital sound processing algorithms that create a virtual surround sound experience from 2.1 stereo speakers." It also has an optical (toslink) input so you can connect any external component such as your video game system or Blu-ray player.
Well packaged and protected, the box is fairly sized and wasn't light. Everything was packed in nice and neat. Plenty of cables were included to connect everything together and to your computer. Hooking everything up was quick and easy, and you could skip the instructions if so inclined.
The speakers themselves were quite heavy, presumably due to its metal construction. It gave a sense of real quality and the fit and finish are superb. The dark black canister and stand contrasted nicely with the shiny rim around the front. The honeycomb look through the mesh is unique and distinctive. The cable plugged into the speaker wasn't the most secure, and with the short length came out often when putting things into place. Once set in place this wasn't really a problem.
The subwoofer while fairly compact also had a bit of weight to it and is very nicely constructed. Everything is well labeled and all the inputs are well spaced for easy access. The included RCA to 3.5 mm cable was short but could easily be replaced with a longer one.
Remote Control Pod:
The remote control pod is about the diameter of a hockey puck and twice as tall, with a similar nice heftiness to it. Adhesive on the bottom allows you to mount the controller, but I found the weight to hold its own. The pod connects to the subwoofer with an included proprietary cable that's only 5 feet long, so your subwoofer needs to be fairly close. It's also a big fat connector which doesn't jive with the system's cool look.
A disc on top rotates to adjust volume and also servers as the mute button with a solid click. On the side there are four LEDs labeled DIGITAL, MUSIC, 3D, and MUTE. Clicking a little gray button on the front toggles the system between music and 3D mode. Clicking and holding the button toggles the optical input. It's quite nice that the LEDs are all different colors as well as a quick visual cue to the current setting in addition to the position and label. In testing the unit I frequently found myself pressing down on the mute button instead of the toggle button for music and 3D mode, over and over again. While the system immediately mutes, there's quite a bit of delay when unmuting. I also kept reaching instinctively reaching over to control my music (play/pause/etc.) before realizing that it couldn't, which would have been a nice touch. Overall I found the remote control pod to be a very nice feature of the Rockus.
Throwing in a music CD (to avoid any perceived MP3 compression imperfections), the first thing that stood out when listening to the Rockus in music mode was the crisp clarity of the highs. Almost immediately noticeable as well was the absence of a mid range. While the bass was adequately punchy, I had noticed a toggle on the back of the subwoofer to adjust the output. Unfortunately it was already on the highest setting of three, so that was a bit disappointing. Trying the other two didn't seem to make much of a difference.The missing mid range made for a really weak sound when at lower volume settings.
Pumping up the volume a bit helped, with the sound quality bringing to mind studio reference speakers for recording engineers as opposed to a multimedia sound system. In fact the "technical support and features document" we were provided with touts the dedicated music mode as a feature for musicians to "accurately reproduce stereo sound." While great for mixing, it's not necessary ideal for daily listening. Trying 3D mode with music covered up much of the great treble with a muddy sounding mid range.
Being advertised for movies and gaming, I tossed in the Star Trek Blu-ray. Only having a setting choice between music or 3D, I toggled back and forth between both to see which worked better for movies. While of obvious higher quality, music mode sounded a bit like my TV's built-in speakers. 3D mode was a bit messy, just as when listening to music.
Gaming is where the Rockus actually shines. I started up Mafia II, a first person shooter and immediately noticed a helpful distinction. In gaming situations where specific definition and location of sounds can be helpful, the Rockus' clean highs without much distraction from mid and low range allowed me to hear exactly the sounds and noises that I needed to for this type of gaming. Gun shots and directionality were extremely clear and precise. While more full of sound, I found 3D mode to be distracting and left it on music mode for the duration.
The bottom line is the Rockus 3D is a fair sound system but it depends entirely on your style of listening or what you're using it for. If you like to be immersed in theater-like sounds, we'd recommend you look elsewhere. If you like to be able to hear specifically where gun fire is coming from or to differentiate sounds in the gaming battlefield, the Rockus excels. While the Rockus 3D may look out of this world with its alien spaceship appearance, the sound doesn't match up which is why we can only weak recommend the unit, especially at its $200 price point.
Pros: Excellent crisp and clean high range; Distinctive and clear sounds for gaming
Cons: Lacks good mid range
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.