Introducing the Speakers
The Altec Lansing Expressionist Ultra MX6021
The inescapable thing about the Altec Lansing Expressionist Ultra MX6021 is its ultra-modern good looks. The satellites especially, with its transparent acrylic front profile housing the mid-range driver and tweeter, look scrumptious. In the flesh, the Expressionist Ultra looks as if it were a set of really, really high-end speakers.
The Altec Lansing Expressionist Ultra also gets a handy and equally good-looking wired controller pod, which allows users to adjust volume and fine tune bass and treble settings. The pod also houses the headphones and auxiliary jack. The only problem with the pod, however, is the dial that it uses. Instead of opting for a traditional dial, it uses one which you twist instead, making it difficult to get a precise setting.
At the base of the controller pod is also a string of chasing orange LED lights. The lights act as indicators when you are trying to adjust the volume, but when you are not , it just chases back and forth, and this might be distracting to some.
The Sony SRS-DB500
Despite the rather significant price tag, the Sony SRS-DB500 never once felt like it was a S$299 pair of speakers. For one, it is desperately basic and has a plastic feel. Out of the package, all you'll get are two satellites, a subwoofer, a couple of cables to put them all together and a remote control. Even the cables used to connect the satellites to the subwoofer are the extremely basic red-black speaker cables.
Things don't get better when you realize that there's no separate wired remote control pod, with which you can adjust the SRS-DB500's volume or plug in your headphones or auxiliary jacks. Instead, all the controls are located on a 'floating' console which partially covers the unit's 6.2-inch woofer. This means you cannot tuck your subwoofer in a corner and forget all about it, unless you decide to forgo the headphone and auxiliary jacks.
Fortunately, Sony has provided the SRS-DB500 with a remote control, which you can use to control the speakers' volume, bass and treble levels. There was a problem with our remote control though - the bass and treble controls were swapped for some reason.
If it's any consolation, the subwoofer does look rather funky with its 'floating' center console. The main dial which is used to control volume, bass and treble also lights up with a warm orange glow when the unit is turned on. There's no option to turn this light off or dim it, so it either glows constantly, or you can opt for its two other display presets, both of which causes the lights to dance around and are equally annoying.