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Manufacturer: Altec Lansing
Min OS X: Any Version    Requires: Minijack Audio Port

Altec Lansing MX5021
March 17, 2004 | Tim Morgan

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Altec Lansing, long a stalwart in the audio industry, has recently begun to take notice of Apple’s innovations. With the introduction of the inMotion, Altec’s iPod speaker system complement, Mac users are in turn beginning to notice the company’s speaker line up.

At last January’s Macworld Expo, Altec Lansing appeared with their inMotion, and two high-end speaker setups, the FX6021 and the MX5021. Both systems, imposing in appearance and sound, likely intrigued passers-by. In this article, we’ll take a look at the MX5021, Altec Lansing’s more traditional high-end offering.

Out of the Box
The MX5021 is a high-end offering for computer users. The speaker system is larger than most computer speakers, resembling something more appropriate for home theater. The satellites are roughly rectangular, two tall and slim black enclosures housing two 3-inch drivers and a one-inch horn-loaded tweeter.

The subwoofer is an imposing enclosure, something certainly meant for the floor. A 6.5-inch woofer is housed in a case nearly 16 inches tall. The back of the subwoofer holds connections between the audio input source, the speakers, and the wired remote.

The wired remote stands only a few inches tall, with a tilted face housing a volume knob and a row of LED’s to indicate volume. Above the volume knob are controls to alter treble and bass equalization, and finally a power button. As if a wired remote weren’t good enough, the buyer also gets a wireless one, with all the same controls, that beams its signal to an IR receiver at the base of the wired remote. In addition, the wireless remote includes a power standby feature, which cannot be found on its wired counterpart.

The wired remote plugs into the subwoofer via a serial cable. The subwoofer also takes audio input from a standard eighth-inch jack, making it immediately compatible with the analog out on all computers. The two speakers are each connected to the subwoofer with speaker wire, another uncanny resemblance to home-theater setups. (Unlike some home-theater setups, however, the MX5021 includes spring clip connectors to ensure that people who have never even seen speaker wire before can get the system connected fairly easily.)

The wired remote includes two additional jacks, one for headphones, and a second audio input to be mixed with the primary input on the subwoofer.

The speakers are magnetically-shielded, and can be placed in the vicinity of the computer, but the subwoofer is not, and must be kept two feet from hard drives and the like.


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