What Is 5.1?
The "five", in 5.1, stands for the five discrete channels of sound information. These channels are left front, right front, left rear and right rear and center. The "point one" is the sixth channel designated for a subwoofer. The channels are "discrete" meaning that each channel is completely individual from the others. The channels do not interact or derive information from one another but work individually.
When compared to typical "surround sound", it is a vast improvement because surround sound, as most of us knows it, encodes multiple channels of information into two channels and then decodes the multiple channels when played back. This does not allow for true sound sculpting that the 5.1 standard offers and limits frequency response for the subwoofer channel.
The biggest thing to remember about the Kinyo R-655U is that is a Dolby and DTS 5.1 compatible speaker set that does not require a 5.1 sound card...or any sound card for that matter.
You see, the Kinyo R-655U only requires a USB port to work. The USB port can be 1.0, 1.1 or 2.0. The heart of the system is a 5.1 compatible external audio box that has 3 outputs for 6 channels (front and rear, left and right, center and sub) and a line/microphone input.
The audio box supports a 12 MB/s data rate and supports DVDs with 5.1 and has the ability to create it's own 5.1 surround sound called "Q-Space' for typically two channel formats, such as MP3s, WAV files and CD Audio.
The audio box features LED indicators that show power, surround sound (Q-Space or 5.1), and microphone enabled. Control buttons control mute, surround sound, and microphone input activation.
The box has a signal to noise ratio of over 85 db. Signal to noise is the ratio of the largest signal that can be handled by a sound card with low distortion to the noise sent at the same time. 85 is good, and you'd need a dead silent room to notice the noise, but Creative Labs has a better STN ratio of 94 db for their Live cards and 100 db for their Audigy and Extigy sound cards.
The five 3" satellites are rated at 5 watts RMS and the 5" subwoofer is rated at 20 watts RMS. RMS stands for Root Means Squared and is the average power output under the very best and the very worst conditions. If you want the number that represents peak momentary power output, it's 850W PMPO (la dee da!).
The frequency range of each satellite is 120 - 20,000 Hz and the frequency response of the subwoofer is 40 Hz - 3000 Hz (the website is wrong and states 70 Hz as the lowest clean frequency). The sub actually produces 20 Hz, but there is distortion and there is excessive port noise at 30 Hz.
Of course, what the speaker can do free air versus what it can do in an enclosure is the pudding of proof. I will be charting actual frequency responses of the speaker set and see what it really can do and how well it can do it later. Regardless of what I find out charting frequency responses, one thing remains true and I don't need a sound level meter and a test tone CD to know this. DESPITE speaker sets having subs capable of, let's say, 20~40 Hz, you still tend to end up with 3" satellites that totally miss the mid range, and you end up with a sound that is bassy and brassy with no in between often missing the range somewhere between 700 and 2000 Hz. I would rather have a rich representation of frequencies across the most common spectrum.
The kind of set up I'm used to something that reminds me of some kid's car that has 15" Fosgates in the trunk and a pair of 4s in the dash. Do you know the cars I'm talking about? They usually roll down the street going "boooooom tick tick tick booooom", but the person in the driver's seat is completely happy with his sound system as long as he is able to drown out his 5" tail pipe.
The only difference between the kid in the car and Joe Computeruser is that Joe is just happy drowning out his Delta 50cfm fan.
On paper, these speakers look like they might be able to pull it off, but not until I actually hear the representation of these ranges will I know if these Kinyos are any different than any other speaker set that pairs up 3" satellites with a subwoofer.