Computer speakers get serious

If all computer speakers were as slick as JM Focal Labs new XS 2.1 multimedia package my desk would be a lot less cluttered. This new foray into computer audio is a wonderfully integrated package that on the surface looks like an ideal speaker solution for any but the must ardent computer audiophile.

If you know this French company’s reputation as one of the premier speaker manufacturers, then you can guess that this is no ordinary budget speaker package. At $599, you will dig much deeper into your wallet for this outfit than the run-of-the-mill speaker sets that populate Best Buy. At the same time, you will be setting up a system designed by a company that produces speakers with mortgage-sized price tags. Audiophiles spend more than $599 for the speaker cables to connect Focal speakers. This is not to say that price makes right is a law in audio, and here is where the XS system becomes a bargain. If you compare that $599 to the price of a reasonable integrated amplifier, speaker set, DAC and iPod dock, the XS system comes out a steal.

The system comes with two speakers with built in stands, one of which incorporates an iPod dock, a subwoofer and magnetic remote. I love the idea of the built in dock. You can source your music from an iPod if you need to, while syncing and charging the player at the same time. This will also let you remove one more cluttering accessory from your desk. It is also a pretty system that was designed to look great with a Macintosh rig. 

As for the sound, there is some debate. The Computer Audiophile was happy with the final product but Ilounge was more on the fence. As with any speaker system, you have to hear it yourself to decide if it is right for your ears. If nothing else, it sure is a nice piece of electronic eye candy.

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