Arctic Cooling Arctic Sound S111

Author
Aron Schatz
Posted
August 24, 2010
Manufacturer
Arctic Cooling
Product Page
Arctic Sound S111
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59224
Arctic Cooling Arctic Sound S111
The Arctic Sound S111 may provide excellent sound on the go, but the size of the set makes the speakers a hard thing to recommend.

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Page 1
Introduction

You're out of town and on a business trip. You have your laptop with you and want to relax in bed while listening to music. Laptop speakers aren't going to cut the mustard. Headphones are out. You don't want to relax with something holding your head down. Arctic Cooling may have the solution for you with the Arctic Sound S111. Unlike most competing products, the S111 set actually has good sound quality.

About Arctic Cooling

Quote

ARCTIC COOLING is a privately owned company founded in 2001 with headquarters in Switzerland, offices in Hong Kong and the USA and production facilities in Asia. The ARCTIC COOLING team consists of international highly educated people with business, technical and communicational skills. The attitude to work is based on Swiss principles of innovative spirit and high standards of workmanship for which it is recognized internationally. This striving for excellence is integrated in all processes as a matter of course. ARCTIC COOLING´s core competencies are multifarious including systematic noise reduction,copper and aluminum heatsink development, customization of thermal solutions, as well as designing quiet fans. More recently quiet and cool PC Cases and Power Supplies have been developed.

http://www.arctic-cooling.com/catalog/static_info.php?tid=ABOUT_US


Packaging

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The Arctic Sound S111 comes in the Arctic Cooling standard colors of silver and white. There is information loaded all over the box. The basics are that the S111 contains a standard 3.5mm audio jack and is powered by USB. The box is pretty big, too.
Page 2
Specifications

  • Compact dice-shape speakers – portable and lightweight
  • Balanced vocals and bass for natural sound response
  • Built-in volume control
  • USB-powered
  • 3.5mm jack (1m) – compatible with computers, MP3, DVD, CD players
  • Frequency Response 50Hz - 25KHz
  • Impedance 4 Ohms
  • Output Power 4W (2W x 2) RMS
  • Dimensions 70 L x 70 W x 70 H (mm)
  • Weight 494g
  • Warranty 2 year


The output power is listed as 2W each channel with 2 channels yielding 4W total. It is listed as the Root Mean Square (RMS) as well meaning that it isn't the peak value of power. Other sets may use the peak value instead of RMS to have a higher output in the specs but a lower real sound output.

Marketing Summary

Quote

The ARCTIC SOUND S111 is a set of compact, dice-shaped portable speakers. It has a one meter cable length with 3.5 millimeter stereo jack to connect to any laptop, MP3 player or many mobile phones. The ARCTIC SOUND S111 also features a large volume control knob for users to adjust volume easily. As the ARCTIC SOUND S111 is a USB-powered speaker, it can easily be powered by a laptop without additional cables or adapters. It is an accompaniment for laptops and can be used as a replacement of the mostly mediocre built-in speakers in laptops. The ARCTIC SOUND S111 can amplify the volume at a greater extent, while vocals and bass are still well balanced.

Since the ARCTIC SOUND S111 is small and lightweight, it is highly portable and versatile. When using the ARCTIC SOUND S111 without a PC or laptop, it can work with a USB charger, such as the ARCTIC C1 GT and ARCTIC C1 Mobile. Connecting the ARCTIC SOUND S111 with a USB charger allows you to play music even when there are no computers around.

http://www.arctic-cooling.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=81_90&mID=581


Package Contents

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In addition to the speakers, Arctic Cooling packages an instruction manual to get the S111 setup correctly. It is very easy to setup, though. You plug the left speaker into the right speaker and plug the USB and audio jack into a power source and audio source. That's it.
Page 3
S111

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The S111 set is more gray than silver. The first thing you'll notice is the cones of the speaker aren't protected by a mesh of any sort. This may enhance the sound quality, but will also impact the speakers down the road. If they get dirty or they get damaged, the sound quality will be diminished. We would have liked to see some protection for the speakers themselves. The Arctic Sound logo is on the right speaker to the right.

feet.jpg


The bottom of the S111 set have four rubber feet on each speaker to hold the speaker firmly in place. The bottom of the right speaker has some additional information and specifications.

asback.jpg


The real action start here. The left speaker has a nice and large Arctic Sound logo. The meat of the set is contained in the right speaker. The large wheel controls the volume. These portable speakers have a dedicated volume control that many other portable speakers lack. The left speaker plugs into the right speaker with a RCA style jack.

wires.jpg


From left to right: the RCA left speaker jack, USB power connection, and the 3.5mm audio jack. The cables are all built into the unit so if any of them break, you're hosed and will need to get a new set of speakers. We would like to see companies adding ports instead of building the cable into the device. It may add some cost, but these things are the first to break.

cdcomp.jpg


Here is the major problem with the S111. Compared to a standard CD, these are very large for portable speakers. Most people on the go aren't traveling with a very large laptop anymore and the case they use would be on the thin side. It would be pretty difficult for these speakers to be shoved into anything unless you had a normal laptop bag with the outer pocket. A briefcase would work, but the size of the speakers defeat the purpose. They are light enough, but the bulkiness just takes away.
Page 4
Testing Protocol

Remember that testing sound devices is a very subjective thing. Make sure you read reviews from many different sites to really gauge how something that deals with sound actually is. A sample size of one site is not enough to make an intelligent decision on which product to buy since there is no 'standard' way of testing something like audio equipment.

Our sound quality testing was done on a Dell Latitude D420 using Ubuntu Linux as well as various other portable devices including an iPod Nano, a Blackberry Storm, a Sansa SlotRadio Player, and others. Power was provided by USB on the laptop or with the C1 Mobile.

Testing And Use

The S111 setup is easy to do. Plug all the wires in and go. The problem is that the S111 gives no indication that there is power going to the speakers. You need to pump some audio and check it to see if it works. It isn't that big of a deal, but a status LED would be very helpful. Sure, it may draw some power, but it is good to see some type of indicator.

One thing that is clearly evident over competing, thin, speakers is the sound quality. Since these speakers are bigger, they'll provide a much richer sound quality than the tiny and tinny sound you'd get from thin speakers. This is particularly noticeable in the low frequency range. The bass on the S111 is phenomenal for portable speakers. It won't beat out a standard 2.1 speaker setup, but it will provide ample bass for listening to music on the go. The speakers get quite loud, as well. Using the volume control produced no distortion. The sound was clear at all levels of listening (at my tolerable levels).

The real problem with the S111 is the size. They are just too large to recommend someone to buy and carry along with them. See our video to find out more information.



Please leave us some feedback on our video reviews. Do it now.

Conclusion

While the Arctic Cooling Arctic Sound S111 speakers produced excellent sound, compared to competing products, the size of the speakers leads us to recommend true road warriors to stay away from this set. If you are all about the smallest possible bag, these speakers aren't for you. That being said, if you have a large laptop with enough space for a bigger speaker set, the S111 provides excellent sound and volume at a great price. The MSRP is about $16 (Retail should be cheaper) and this puts it in-line with the standard 2.0 speakers that many computers are using right now. They work well and get the job done. They might not be as portable as thinner speakers, but the sound quality is clearly superior. It is all a trade-off.

ASE Labs would like to thank Arctic Cooling for making this review possible.

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