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Altec Lansing Expressionist Plus

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What's hot: Loud and clear audio. Works with most MP3 players, cell phones and computers with a 3.5mm stereo jack.

What's not: The bass could be even stronger when playing some techno/dance music.

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Reviewed July 2009 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor

In the ever-growing market of portable speaker systems, Altec Lansing has established itself as a brand that builds good quality audio systems at affordable prices. The inMotion speaker series for iPod/iPhone are still among our favorites for their good audio quality and sturdy yet portable forms. The Expressionist Plus is the latest speaker system in the Altec Lansing Expressionist PC speaker family although the power of these speakers can easily reach beyond your desk and workspace and fill much larger areas. The Expressionist Plus system includes a 2.1 channel system with a subwoofer and two full range satellites, and has a standard 3.5mm audio input for working with MP3 players and desktop or laptop computers. The Expressionist Plus has very good audio quality with full sound and booming bass. Altec Lansing made the right move in keeping the Expressionist Plus under $100.

Altec Lansing Expressionist Plus and iPhone 3GS

The Altec Lansing Expressionist Plus and the iPhone 3GS.

Design

The cone-shaped design makes the Expressionist Plus look cool and funky, and the speakers are extremely portable. Both the satellites and the subwoofer are enclosed and covered in shiny piano black plastic, and the satellites have 2” full-range drivers and the subwoofer has a 5.25” woofer. The two drivers sit on built-in stands with rubber feet, and you can aim them at any direction. The down-firing subwoofer has a 10.4” base and tall feet that lift the woofer off the ground to provide the booming vibe. The two satellites have 58” long connecting wires that should fit the span of your desktop computer easily. Both the speakers and the subwoofer have their own volume controls which is nice for users who want to create their own dynamic.

All the connection ports live on the subwoofer with the power on/off button conveniently located on top of the sub. These ports include a 16V DC in, satellites in, AUX in and input jacks. The Expressionist Plus comes with a 3.5mm audio cable and you can simply plug your iPhone 3GS, iPod or any MP3 player or cell phone that has a 3.5mm audio jack and play the tracks you have on your portable device. As with most desktop speaker systems, you will need to plug the Expressionist Plus into AC to use it, and a small LED light on top of one of the satellites lights up when the system is connected to power.

Altec Lansing Expressionist Plus

All connectors are at the back of the subwoofer.

Sound Quality

The Expressionist Plus has surprisingly rich and loud sound for a speaker system this size. At max volume, the speakers can easily fill a large room or a long hallway. Even at very high volume settings, the speakers never distort or lose richness. Regardless of the type of music we tested the Expressionist Plus found the right balance for most genres of music. It presented full range and rich texture thanks to that balance. We tested a wide variety of music, video, podcasts and audio books using the speakers, and here’s how it performed with different types of content:

Rock/Pop Music: The Expressionist Plus was very good at finding the right balance between the instruments and vocals. We didn’t hear any bias between high, mid or low range sounds. The high-pitched parts sounded full and the bass was accentuated at the right parts as well. All tracks had very good clarity even when the entire band is rocking out.

Classical/Instrumental Music: The balanced sound and clear audio excelled at playing instrumental music and most orchestral pieces. Tracks featuring guitars, saxophones, drums and orchestral instruments had full sound with help from the bass. It seemed that the bass accentuates more than in the rock songs, and helps bring out more power, though purists might want to EQ down the bass a tad.

 

 

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R&B/Electro Music: The balanced audio on the Expressionist Plus showed a small weakness when playing dance music, work out tunes and some R&B tracks that have a heavy duty need for more powerful bass. If your phone or MP3 player doesn’t have an equalizer, the Expressionist Plus will most likely play the tracks in a more balanced mode rather than emphasizing the bass. That being said, the bass is quite strong for a system in this size.

Country: The country music we played had very clean instrumental separation, and the Expressionist Plus found every voice. Vocals and instruments were balanced and clear.

Podcasts: With good quality podcasts (like NPR programs) we easily found it as enjoyable as listening through a good FM radio. The bass can be overwhelming when playing deep vocal voices in some podcasts, but overall this is a good system for listening to podcasts.

Audio Books: Audio books benefited from the clear and balanced audio. We tested some Audible audio books via the iPhone 3GS and found that the speakers worked well with them.

Altec Lansing Expressionist Plus

One of the 2 satellite speakers.

Altec Lansing Expressionist Plus

The subwoofer with power/volume knob up top.

Conclusion

The Expressionist Plus is yet another strong MP3/iPhone/iPod speaker system from Altec Lansing. The speakers have a simple and cool looking design, and the system is easy to use. Altec Lansing incorporates technologies such as Audio Alignment that ensures drivers are precisely aligned for natural sounding audio and balanced stereo. The Expressionist Plus has excellent audio quality, clarity and volume, as well as powerful bass when playing most music styles. The subwoofer seems a bit lacking in some workout and techno tracks that rely on very deep and loud bass. Since the Expressionist Plus connects only via the 3.5mm jack, it doesn’t offer a charging port for phones, the iPod, iPhone or Zune. The price is competitive for the quality and features, and the system accommodates most personal audio players and computers.

Price: $99.95

Web site: www.alteclansing.com

Comparison Shopping: Where to Buy

Specs:

Drivers: Two 2” full range drivers, one 5.25” woofer

Power output: Each speaker: 4W per channel @ 8 Ohms @ 10% THD @ 180 Hz – 20 kHz, both channels loaded. Subwoofer: 28W @ 4 ohms @10% THD @ 50 Hz – 180 Hz, single channel loaded.

Frequency response: 40 Hz – 20 kHz (-10 dB)

Dimensions: Satellite: 5.2 x 4.2 x 4.9 inches. Subwoofer: 10.4 (diameter) x 6.1 (H) inches.

 

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