Product Review (May 2008)
Altec Lansing - PT-6021 2.1 Speaker System

By Kevin Nakano


Altec Lansing has a long heritage of making high quality loudspeakers. My father's generation had few good speakers to choose from and Altec Lansing speakers were among the best in the business. Times have changed and so has the Altec-Lansing product line. Their latest line of PC speakers are being reviewed here. The PT-6021 is a (Powered Theater) 2.1 speaker system that includes a pair of tall narrow satellite speakers each fitted with an array of drivers. Accompanying the main two channels is a separate subwoofer containing a 6.5" long-throw bass driver. The satellite speakers are well made and have a heavy metal base that allows the panel to tilt back from the vertical upright position for optimal sound for the listener. The satellite speakers are magnetically shielded for those using them with conventional CRT monitors. In some cases, the user may want to attach them to a flat panel being used for home theater applications.

To accommodate this, the PT-6021 speakers include a set of mounting brackets that allow them to be attached and centered on the display. This works well and places the sound close to the video where it should be. The satellite speakers also include threaded inserts on the back for surface or ceiling mounting using standard industry mounting brackets as an alternative mounting option.

Speaker Array
Each satellite speaker holds six 1” neodymium micro drivers that are arranged in a unique configuration that is designed to beam the audio at the listener and not to the floor or ceiling. This has the advantage of creating a narrow vertical pattern that provides better focus of the sound and prevents secondary reflections that often defuse the image. In this design, each pair of speakers have a different high frequency roll-off. The speakers project sound 40° – 60° above 1,500 Hz. The design works well, but does require the listener to have the speakers optimally directed for proper imaging. Failure to do so will result in a dull sounding system based on our experience with these speakers.

The PT-6021 system comes with the subwoofer, satellite speakers (with bases), control pod, a pair of extension cables for the speakers, RCA cables, mounting brackets for the display, universal and credit-card style remotes and instruction manual. Batteries for both remotes are also included (Two "AA" and one button battery). Oddly enough, there is no cable for supporting the common 3.5mm jacks.

Controller
The PT-6021 comes with an easy to use controller with buttons for power, bass and treble. The knob is a simple encoder that spins freely with detents in either direction. This design allows the knob to be used for bass, treble, and volume level control. Two indicators above the bass and treble buttons let the user know what level is being controlled. The main volume is being controlled when both indicators above the treble/bass buttons are off. There is a 5-step level display that is common for all level settings. It should be noted that the granularity of the level control is much more than the display level indicates. Several changes in level will occur before a change in the display is seen.

Universal Remote
In addition to the small credit-card style remote, the PT-6021 also includes a universal remote that allows the user to control other components in the system along with the PT-6021 hardware. The blue buttons located in the center of the remote are specifically for the speaker system. The manual allows users to program some of their other components into the universal remote.

Subwoofer
Like most of the 2.1 systems on the market, the PT-6021 has a subwoofer that houses the amplifiers for the main channels while providing interfaces to the controller. The subwoofer also contains seven discrete power amplifiers and the line array circuitry. The subwoofer fits in a narrow-profile, low-resonance wood cabinet with a ported design. The bass enclosure weighs just over 15 pounds and measures 16" H x 8" W x 9" D. Each connector on the back panel is color coded to help the user when connecting the cables. A set of RCA cables are provided for standard audio components such as a CD player, but the system lacks the more essential 3.5mm cable. Since most users would use a 3.5mm cable, it is interesting they have omitted this from the system contents.

Performance
The PT-6021 speaker system works well with both music and movies and can be driven quite loudly. However, when the volume was turned much above the half way point the sound after extended periods of time resulted in some listening fatigue. Placement of the subwoofer is important with this system because the crossover frequency is quite high, making the bass more localized than systems with a lower crossover point. Regardless, the system sounded good at moderate levels and revealed much of the weakness in my PC's audio. Playing audio from a known good source using the RCA connections made it clear that our PC's audio was limited. Few PC speaker systems have the ability to reveal this.

Conclusion
The Altec Lansing PT-6021 is a well engineered 2.1 speaker system with great sound quality. The speakers have the ability to reveal subtle issues with the source material and shortcomings in our audio system. The design takes a fair amount of surface area on the desktop unless the speakers are attached to the display. The subwoofer has a relatively small footprint (8" x 9"), but does stand 15" tall. Beyond the favorable sonic characteristics we experienced, the style and build quality of these speakers makes it worthwhile to audition even with a street price of around $250.

- Kevin Nakano




OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray Player



Review System

Desktop PC - HP Pavilion a6130n AMD Athlon™ 64 X2 Dual-Core 5000+ 2.6GHz
Display: Viewsonic G810
21" Monitor


Review at a glance

Altec Lansing PT-6021 2.1 Speaker System

Features

  • Professional audio engineering
    Fusion of line-array and tri-amp technologies create optimal sound replication.
  • Tall, thin styling
    ideal for use with flat panel screens.
  • Magnetically shielded satellites
    assure distortion-free TV picture quality.
  • Universal remote
    controls ALL home theater equipment, including the speakers.
  • Wired control pod
    Provide fingertip adjustment of speaker volume, bass, and treble
  • Auxiliary input
    Connect other audio sources such as an MP3 player.
  • Removeable stand
    Includes kit for mounting on most flat panel screens.
  • Bonus remote
    for speaker functions
  • Headphone Jack
    For private listening
    .

Company Information
Altec Lansing Technologies, Inc.
Route 6 & 209
Milford, Pennsylvania 18337-0277

Phone: 866-570-5702
Sales: 570-296-4434

570-296-6887
Support: 800-ALTEC-88

Source: Manufacture Supplied
MSRP: $349.95 (Street < $300)
Warranty: 1 year limited warranty

Spec Sheet

User Manual

URL: www.alteclansing.com
Support: csupport@alteclansing.com

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