Are you in the market for some speakers to bring all that fantastic Mac media potential up a notch? Then you might as well get a pair that look as good as these. Fun is the order of the day here with these retro-looking boxes from Scandya. They come in a range of primary colours and can be bought alone or added to other pairs and a Scandya bass bin to create a surround sound system.
These speakers have their own volume control and will take a signal directly from an iPod without you having to run that feed through a stereo amp. Whenever you see the word 'active' in a speaker's name that just means that they have an amplifier built in. We used them to boost the signal from a Mac and an iPod using the 3.5mm input jack.
High adrenalin sound
Over a recent holiday break we digitised a boatload of vinyl records onto a home network drive and used these speakers to monitor the results. A great deal of music went through them, as well as a wide range of mastering techniques. They also saw action as a part of a home video set-up, where they had to deal with the varying textures of film soundtracks, not least those tricky silent parts where any ghosts in the drivers are exposed.
Overall we liked them, particularly during Hollywood action scenes where everything is blowing up and exciting beats fill the score: they're pretty good at displaying this kind of adrenalin sound. Each unit sits on three alloy legs, so nothing is reverberated into the shelf or desk, which keeps things lively. Students into funky looks and bright, fast music will be happy with the overall package.
They are less good with more tender moments, and during silent bits they have an ever-so-slight background hum, barely audible but still present. Classical guitar, piano solos and other more refined sounds can sound a bit forced, when you really just want neutrality. Perhaps the red plastic shell, which is thin and two parts clipped together, reduces the speakers' refinement where a more thickly moulded single piece might have been better. Sound engineering is an art, but that would be our guess.
The reassuring weight and quality of the connection components, plus the decent delivery of bright music does provide some value. For the price tag, though, we would have liked to see a more rounded performance. Also on the downside, there's no remote and the volume doesn't go very loud at only 10W per channel. Perhaps best leave this set for the kids and get something more neutral for yourself.