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PURE Digital ZXR-500 5.1 Speaker System
By Robin Ang
Category : Sound
Published by Jimmy Tang on Wednesday, 16th October, 2002
Rating : 3.5 out of 5 stars  

What is in the Box?

Upon opening the box, you will find the following:

1. Subwoofer with built in 6-channel amplifier
2. Three satellite speakers with 3m cables [Front Speakers]
3. Two satellite speakers with 8m cables [Rear Speakers]
4. Five removable satellite speaker stands
5. Three dual phono to 3.5mm stereo jack cables
6. 2-pin to 3-pin power adapter [removable]
7. A printed manual

A silver chrome finish helps to complete the look of class.

The satellite speakers have a silver chrome finish, which gives it a trendy look, and as such, should appeal to a wide variety of users. The speaker cones come hidden behind a metal grid, though some might prefer that it be covered with a soft nylon mesh instead. As it stands, it gives the speaker a gritty quality.

The speakers are magnetically shielded. This means that it is relatively safe to place them beside your monitor and other magnetic-sensitive electronic devices with no fear of interference or damage. However, the speakers give off a soft hissing noise whenever it's powered (even if it's disconnected from any audio source) and this is attributed to the quality of the amplifier.

The speaker stands look like over-sized "chicken" feets.

The speaker stands have a silver chrome finish too. They come with rubber soles beneath each leg of the stand, which should promote stability and grip. However, its design might not please everyone. For one, the legs of the stand come in a triangular formation, which looks like an oversized set of "chicken" feet. A more subtle design would have worked better here. Another thing is that the stand is made of plastic and not metal. Thus, its durability might be in question.

Another belated point is that as the speakers are not flat at the base, it can be wobbly without the speaker stands. In most cases, the user would want to place the center speaker on top of the monitor and the stand will just introduce unnecessary height. Thus, it's best to forgo it and attach some form of temporary adhesive to fasten it to the monitor. You might encounter the same situation with the rear speaker stands. Let's just say that the stands would look good only in very specialized settings.

The Subwoofer has a silver chrome motif as well.

The subwoofer is of a decent size (165mm (W) x 250mm (H) x 340mm (D)) and will fit comfortably into small spaces. Additionally, it is made of wood, which enhances bass response.

The "grill" plate on the front of the subwoofer gives it a look of strength.

In keeping with the overall silver chrome motif, the 5-inch subwoofer is coated similarly, and the front bezel consists of a grill plate, which gives it enough strength to prevent any accidental knocks to the subwoofer cone. There are two circular holes in the front and the right side of the subwoofer. These are the two tuned bass ports as purported in the manual as ensuring distortion-free and thundering bass.

Together with the front bass port of the subwoofer, the right bass port combines to enhance the bass responses.

Note that the subwoofer is not magnetically shielded and thus, it is advisable to place this on the floor. Another good reason to do that is to "load" the subwoofer by placing it in a corner between two walls. This will further enhance its bass performance.

Though the speaker buttons allows one to manipulate individual sound volumes, it can be a "hassle" to adjust them.

The speaker controls in the form of dials are located at the subwoofer. These include the volume controls for the front, rear, center and subwoofer speakers. Thus, you have the ability to fine tune individual volume for a balanced sound field. However, one disadvantage is that all the controls are located at the subwoofer only. There is no controller of any kind, whether in-line or remote. As such, you will have to contend with the hassle of bending all the way down to the floor to adjust them. Though there is the alternative of doing this using software controls but this defeats the purpose of having the dials in the first place.

The 16-fin heatsink help to conduct heat away from the subwoofer.

At the back of the subwoofer, you will find a finned (16 of them in total) black heatsink, which is used to conduct heat away from the amplifier built inside the subwoofer. During our testing, the subwoofer feels moderately warm but the heat sink remains cool to the touch. However, as the test is conducted in an air-conditioned room, you might get slightly warmer temperatures if you leave it in an air-cooled room. Still, this is normal and you should not have to do anything extra to cool the amplifier.

Notice there is a separate subwoofer input for external decoders.

In addition to the heatsink, you will find multiple inputs and outputs for your audio components. There are a total of 6 RCA phono input plugs (front left/right, rear left/right, center and a separate subwoofer input). Three sets of dual phono to 3.5mm stereo jack cables are included in the package; the ZXR-500 can thus work with the 3.5mm stereo jacks found in most soundcards. A separate subwoofer input is ideal when working with an external Dolby Digital 5.1 or Digital Theatre System (DTS) decoder that comes with a low frequency channel (LFE) output capability. The subwoofer does not come with digital optical or co-axial inputs since there isn’t any digital audio decoder onboard.

Notice that you cannot change the audio cables because it has been hardwired to the speaker casing.

Looking at the back of the speakers, you will realize that the speaker's audio cable is directly hardwired to them. As a result, it is not possible to replace them with better cables (e.g. Monster Cable) to improve audio performance (by reducing any possible electronic interference and cross talk). Also, it may not be possible to swap them with longer cables. As it stands, the cable looks kind of thin so audiophiles might not like this. On the other hand, the three sets of dual phono to 3.5mm stereo jack cables can be replaced. Another caveat is that the audio cables are not color-coded. In other words, it might get a little confusing which cable goes to which plug during installation. You would have to label them yourself.

The subwoofer is slightly elevated due the presence of four small plastic legs underneath it. However, they can be unscrewed for those who are fastidious about dust accumulation beneath the subwoofer.

The printed manual is written in English and several other European languages. There are several illustrative diagrams, which aid in understanding. However, those whom are not conversant in these languages, might find it difficult to comprehend.

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