Advent A51BCSB09 5.1 speaker system review
Advent's A51BCSB09 5.1 surround sound speaker set is cheap at just £40. The included instructions state that the satellite connectors on the back of the subwoofer are colour coded for easy set up, but they weren't on our sample. The connectors and the corresponding satellites are all labelled though, so installation is straightforward as long as you ignore this documentation mistake.
Annoyingly the rear satellite cables are only 1.8m in length which severely restricts how far away they can be placed from your PC, although you can extend them by using phono extension leads. Bass, treble and volume controls are located on the right hand side of the subwoofer. This should make them easy to reach to make audio adjustments, but they're positioned towards the rear of the subwoofer and aren't clearly labelled making them difficult to adjust easily in low light underneath a desk.
The bass sounds boomy and unfocussed so it's not nearly as deep and rumbling as we'd like. Dramatic sound effects such as gunfire and explosions sound flat and lifeless rather than full and thunderous. The A51BCSB09 don't sound either as loud or as detailed as other 5.1 speakers we've heard, but the surround sound effect is fairly convincing. Background music, vocals and sound effects in crowd scenes were noticeable without drowning out the main dialogue, although the lack of detail made most movies feel less immersive than with other surround sound sets.
The muddy midrange was also obvious when listening to music. Pop tracks sound unbalanced with instruments obscuring subtle vocal details in some songs and vice versa in others. Complex tones in electronic music sound flat and muddy and can distort harshly at the high end. Classical, jazz and blues lack the warmth and richness we'd expect while the less than perfect bass made bass-heavy music sound limp and unsatisfying.
Although Advent's A51BCSB09 5.1 speakers did fairly well in some of our tests, its unbalanced sound quality means it's not a good all-rounder that can cope well with both surround sound movies and various genres of music. The poorly labelled designed controls and short rear satellite cables are irritating flaws. Logitech's X-530 speakers are far better in almost every respect and cost only a few pounds more.