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Hercules XPS 2.1 40 Slim speakers review

Alan Lu
13 Mar 2010
Hercules XPS 2.1 40 Slim speakers
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
33
inc VAT

Hercules’ affordable XPS 2.1 40 Slim speakers are indeed remarkably slender, but they sound noticeably worse than the competition. Avoid.

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Hercules’ XPS 2.1 40 Slim speakers are so named because of the tall, slender satellites which aren’t much thicker than an average paperback novel. Despite their slim appearance they feel sturdy and aren't in any danger of falling over.

Despite its low price, the XPS also has a wired remote. Although this does arguably add desktop clutter, it does give easy access to the volume knob, as well as the headphone socket and a secondary 3.5mm stereo input, so you can connect another audio source such as a MP3 player or laptop.

Plugging anything into this secondary input overrides the primary input, so you can't have two devices connected to the speakers at the same time. The lengthy captive cabling (1.7m between the speakers and 3.6m to the PC), there's plenty of flexibility in placing the satellites around your room to your liking. The bass control is located on the front of the compact subwoofer, so it's easy to reach.

Unfortunately, the audio quality left much to be desired. Instruments in jazz and blues tracks sounded reasonably clear and detailed, but there was some distortion at the high end, which was especially noticeable in pieces with lots of percussion instruments, such as cymbals.

Vocals in pop tracks, especially backing vocals, sounded muffled and indistinct. We were especially unimpressed by the boomy and unfocussed bass, which also distorts very easily, most noticeably in bass-heavy rock and drum and bass tracks. Lowering the bass using the adjustment knob can compensate for this, but this leaves bass-heavy music sounding limp and unsatisfying.

The XPS may be attractive because of its low price and slender design, but we suspect the slim satellites' insubstantial drivers are at least partially responsible for the poor audio quality, which is deeply flawed in every respect. Unless you’re absolutely smitten with the slenderness of the XPS’s satellites there’s little reason to choose this set over Logitech’s similarly priced X-230, which sounds far superior and doesn’t occupy that much more space.

Specifications

Rating**
Speaker configuration2.1
RMS power output32W
Power consumption standby4W
Power consumption on7W
Analogue inputs3.5mm stereo (captive), 3.5mm stereo
Digital inputsnone
Dock connectornone
Headphone output3.5mm
Satellite cable lengths1.7m left, 1.7m right, 3.6m to PC
Cable typecaptive (phono)
Controls locatedwired remote
Digital processingnone
Tone controlsbass
Price£33
Supplierhttp://www.lambda-tek.com/componentshop
Detailswww.hercules.com

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