It was not hard to believe how clear the MidiLand S4 7100 multichannel computer speaker system sounds, or how loud it is, or even that it is far better than my high-end car or home stereo. What is interesting is that the speakers actually improved my game play both in terms of better scores and in my overall enjoyment.
Forget the industry standard of four speakers because MidiLand throws another one into the mix. It makes my office seem as acoustically correct as a concert hall. An additional satellite speaker handles a specific range of the audio spectrum and also can amplify voice data.
The system of 2.5-inch satellite speakers coupled with the subwoofer can reproduce sound within the full spectrum from 180 hertz to 20 KHz. The system is not only accurate, it’s powerful. It has a 100-watt, six-channel amplifier plus an active crossover filter at 180 hertz between the subwoofer and the satellites.
The subwoofer’s two-vent wooden case enriches the sound. Although the satellite speakers have plastic cases, that’s not a problem because of the nature of the sound they produce. All have antidust cloth grilles. Each component is completely shielded magnetically so as not to affect your system’s other components. I tested several magnetic components with an unshielded monitor, and whenever they got near it, the colors would warble.
But even when I placed the S4 7100 speakers right up against the monitor, there was no image distortion. Subsequent tests with an inductive amplifier did not find any current leakage from the speakers.
When properly set up, the fifth speaker should sit atop the monitor or right below it. The two stereo front speakers sit on either side, and the surround-sound rear speakers should be positioned behind you, in line with the front two stereo speakers.
Games played with a compatible soundcard, one that knows where to direct the sound, are great. When playing an RPG recently, the sound bubble the game created floored me. When I would meet people in the game, their voice would come through the center speaker, while the background music played all around me. It was like being there.
The system also increased my accuracy to some degree when playing shooters. I could hear the other opponents moving though the mazes all around me, which prevented most people from sneaking up behind or even beside me. I found myself running into a fairly defendable area and just stopping a second to listen. Quickly knowing what everyone else was doing I could direct my efforts, and my fire, at the right places. Before the S4 7100, I mostly ran around and used the limited visual window games offer to target opponents. This way is much better.
MidiLand also did a smart thing by putting the speaker controls in a separate module. Instead of fiddling with controls on the individual speakers and subwoofer, you simply put the control panel module on top of the monitor or mount it in a free drive bay. Besides the clearly marked on and off button, there are controls for volume, fade, loudness, bass, treble and balance.
To drive all this power, you must have the right PC sound card. The speakers are Dolby Pro Logic-ready and Sound Blaster Live-compatible, so finding a good card should not be difficult.
The one negative thing I will say is that the setup of the S4 takes quite a long time. All of the speakers need to be connected to the main unit in much the same way a custom stereo is put together. You sort of clip the wires into the main panel. This gives you a lot of flexibility, but takes a bit more technical knowledge and a lot more patience than most gamers have. But if you can sit through it, the results are worth the effort.
What MidiLand has done is improved on the industry standard for computer speakers. For gamers who spend a lot of money on their hardware, the S4 is a must have to get the full experience. It earns an impressive 4 and 1/2 GiN Gems for the effort.