Benwin BW2000 Flat Panel
Multimedia Speaker System
Estimated Price: $99.00
During the past year I have spent a lot of time considering audio speakers. My faithful JBL stereo speakers from the early 1970s died several months ago, and I was determined to replace them with the best possible speakers for sound and my budget.
Being a musician and music instructor, I have high standards for sound reproduction. After a lengthy search, my wife and I are now happy with our tower-design speakers from Cambridge SoundWorks http://www.hifi.com.
Seeing an advertisement in a Macintosh print magazine for Benwin’s new computer speakers aroused my appetite for more comparative testing, and the company http://www.benwin.com provided their “flat panel multimedia system” and extensive promotional literature for our evaluation.
I have been listening to them under a variety of conditions, and offer the following report.
APPEARANCE: Speaker panels are very thin, light, and silver-beige in color. The sub-woofer “brick” is semi-round, attractive, and “matte grey.” Black speakers are also available, but I have not seen them. You want blueberry? iMac colored speakers will be available by the first quarter of 2000.
INSTALLATION: A breeze, but please follow the simple instructions. All hardware should be this easy to install!
CONTROLS: Three of them, mounted on the sub-woofer: one knob each for volume and tone, and a push-button to activate 3D surround sound.
MOUNTING: I’m using the slide-in desk/shelf speaker stands. Optional brackets for attaching the speakers to a monitor or fixed surface are included. A $20 carrying case is available.
SPECIFICATIONS: 6W (rms) total power output, 50-20KHz frequency response, 5×7″ flat panels, 4″ woofer driver.
HOW THEY WORK: Benwin uses NXT technology, with the panels vibrating in three dimensions across the 7mm flat surface.
SPEAKER VOLUME: Users will need to play around with their computer system volume levels, because the BW2000 has a rather quiet sound, unless you crank up all the controls. Don’t overdo it at first, or the booming bass and piercing treble levels will make your Macintosh startup chime crack the fine china in your house, and have you jumping out of your skin each time you do a Restart!
HOW THEY SOUND: Good, but not great. Benwin advises that “The audio quality experienced from the Benwin Flat Panel Speakers may not be suitable for the most discriminating audiophile,” which is me, I suppose. Bass and treble response are robust, while the important midrange feels like it’s hiding in the background.
I’m testing the system with a variety of musical styles, and the results are consistent. The sound is clear and crisp, but I remain disappointed with the essential “melody” midrange frequencies. Gamers may not have the same experience as music-lovers do. The 3D surround sound is impressive, and I keep it on all the time.
Built-in Macintosh speakers are lousy, and even the cheapest powered third-party speakers make music and games sound great in comparison. My $30 Labtec http://www.labtec.com speakers from Circuit City http://www.circuitcity.com provide enjoyable, conventional music listening. If Benwin improves their 3D speakers I’ll gladly switch. I urge them to keep the quality high, the price low, and give the midrange more presence.
Kimanh Moreau from Benwin offers this explanation, via email:
The BW2000 multimedia audio system was designed as a new look in speaker systems for use as a business tool with personal computers in offices and laptops taken on the road. Benwin defines multimedia as any personal and portable electronic product with the capability to produce sound. A portable CD player, walkman and personal TV are great examples of multimedia products.
The BW2000 was not designed with gamers in mind. The BW2000’s do not have the wattage and total power output needed for use with most high tech gaming programs. The system cannot handle most of the heavy bass a majority of these games feature.
We are currently in production of another speaker system that will satisfy the gaming community.
MacMice Rating: 4