By Anthony Huang
on 9.15.09

razer-mako-21-speakers

So, you picked up a nice new computer during one of the back to school sales last month. Maybe you even got a free iPod Touch to go with it. Chances are, you’re lacking some quality audio to project all the music and videos you’ve been downloading. No matter how good you think those stock computer speakers are, the reality is this: they aren’t.

Sure any old set of speakers from Wal-mart will likely be better than the standard issue laptop built-ins, but if Wal-mart is your go-to electronics retailer, then Gear Patrol aims to reform and reeducate you. Without a doubt, there’s a myriad of options out there and, after an extensive search of reasonably priced computer speakers, we homed in on Razer’s Mako system. The Mako is the first desktop speaker system to incorporate a host of THX goodies such as the THX Ground Plane™ and THX Slot Speaker™ technologies, as well as their ClassHD™ Digital Amplifier Technology. Certainly, that’s quite a mouthful of THXiness, but what does it all mean?

Hit the jump to find out.

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Simply put, THX Ground Plane™ and THX Slot Speaker™ technologies work to fill the room with sound by bouncing it upwards. With a normal speaker, you can get what sound engineers call “desk bounce phenomenon”. That’s where the direct sound waves interfere with the reflected sound waves. To combat this, the Mako system is designed to bounce the sound upward, creating an omnidirectional sound stage. The other ™’d feature, the ClassHD™ amplifier technology isn’t just another fancy name for a system with an amp. It actually adjusts the power to the speakers in sync with the music, rather than just blasting power at constant level. That’s rather impressive from an a desktop computer speaker system.

90_3The Mako is an attractive, if unique-looking system. The speakers themselves are jellyfish-like in shape, minus the stinging tentacles part. It’s almost what you’d expect if you mated an Orb and Cube. They’re finished in a nice matte black and embossed with the Razer and THX logos. The Mako also comes with an LED-backlit touch control pod that really sets the system apart.

Operating the system is simple. Press down on Razer logo for a few seconds to turn the speakers on or off. You control the volume by sliding your finger up and down in the area just left of the logo. You can also toggle between Line 1 and 2, mute, and adjust the bass. The Mako also features connections for line in and headphones via the front of the control pod. That’s a nice addition if you’re trying to listen discreetly or maybe for getting in some gaming without waking up your girlfriend.

Connectivity with the Mako is your standard 3.5mm jack and RCA connections. Interestingly, Razer choose to use ethernet cables for the satellites. You won’t ever have to worry about connecting positive and negative, but the cable is larger and not as easy to hide. The control pod also connects via a serial port. It comes with large warnings to not connect it to a video source. While it doesn’t specify what will happen to the system, this editor wasn’t curious enough to find out. This type of connectivity is adequate for everyday audio, but it would be nice to see optical or other HD options to accompany with your growing collection of movies living on your Popcorn Hour, especially if you wanted to use this as a bedroom set.

Enough details already, what about the sound? Let’s just say our FLAC copy of Michael Jackson’s Bad never sounded so good and the action scenes in Quantum of Solace left our desk (room) shaking. The bass was powerful but sounded tight without being muddled. Even with the system well into the red, the Makos sounded clear without any evidence of speaker fuzz or distortion. At regular volumes, we were surprised by the clarity of the audio. It is clear and crisp. You can distinguish background audio when listening to music but, more importantly, you can hear the faint shuffling sounds of someone trying to shank you in the back when gaming online. While it definitely doesn’t have the sound stage of our Aperion setup, frankly it’s not meant or priced to.

Razer has designed an excellent speaker system in the Mako, which performed far better than we expected. It is competitively priced and should definitely be in the mix if you’re considering purchasing a set of speakers to mate to your computer setup. The omnidirectional speakers do an excellent job of enlarging the sweet spot and making the sound stage feel much larger than 2.1. However, one question still remains… will they not offer us a 5.1 rig? Until then, the Razer Mako 2.1 will more than do.

Cost: $258

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