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Arctic Cooling S361 Speakers Review

Immediately I was impressed by the low end bass response which can easily deliver a kicking punch to the midriff reproducing the feeling of standing in front of a live band. Listening to low end tom drums was eye popping and almost matched our experiences with the THX certified Razer Mako speakers at over twice the price.

Bass lines could deliver the rumble we wanted and while sometimes they could get a little ‘wooly', it only required a little reduction on the bass volume to tighten things up. Let me be clear, the bass from this subwoofer is fantastic – there are huge resources on offer and quite often the settings needed to be dialed down, or the desk would literally lift off the floor.

Listening to well recorded rock music such as Iron Maiden's: Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album really drove home the tour de force that the subwoofer is capable of delivering. Steve Harris' thudding and slapping bass lines were accurately rendered, to the point that I was actually double checking that Arctic Cooling were actually able to sell these for 80 euros. The Staccato introduction to ‘Infinite dreams' was pinpointed accurately within the soundstage.

It really isn't all about the bass kick however as the satellites can really deliver clear and focused vocals. The All Angels cover of FleetWood Mac's Songbird sailed beautifully through the air and managed to reproduce the effortless vocal dexterity from the all girl group. I noticed a slight sibilance from the tweeters which again could be dialed down with the control pad. I have yet to find a ‘computer' oriented speaker system I would be happy to live with all the time, but for the price so far they were hard to fault.

Equally as impressive was the S361's rendition of the Damien Rice album ‘O' with the vocals firmly pinpointed in front of the ambient acoustic guitar in the background. The track Cannonball was presented with acoustic warmth and focused soundstaging.

MP3's are inherently prone to compression based audio distortion and unless you are familar with the material beforehand  it proves to be a tough platform when trying to truly evaluate speakers – we therefore moved to our small collection of Super Audio CD's.

Listening to the stunning Philips recording of The Academy of St.Martin In the Fields: Vivaldi: Guitar Concerto from 1996 highlighted that the satellites are certainly very balanced when dealing with orchestral soundstages and easily capable of filling a bedroom or living room with a vibrant, well seperated soundstage. In the upper registers they could tend to get a little confused with complex string arrangements, causing wide open passages to sound slightly compressed, however I am comparing these in my mind against my Dali Grand Coupe floorstanding speakers which cost over 40 times the price of this complete kit.

Moving the speakers into a living room really highlighted the multimedia potential from this budget offering. They deftly delt with car chases, gun shoot outs and high octane fight scenes, aptly delivering the variety of tones needed to keep the viewer planted to the edge of the seat. While the subwoofer dealt many a killing blow, the S361's also proved to be capable of subtle depth during many of the gripping and sometimes sarcastic scenes in the BBC remake of Sherlock.  Benedict Cumberbatch was given the dramatic aural platform he needed during many of his story building speech sequences.

The opening scene from the classic Terminator 2 highlighted that the subwoofer was able to work in parallel with the tweeters to produce the intense snapping sound of the human skull under the metallic foot.

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16 comments

  1. wow great price. I can never find their products here however, I hate seeing these reviews 🙁

  2. Awesome. what a great price. you have to hand it to Arctic cooling for their pricing. same with their coolers.

  3. Its the only reason I dislike my gigaworks speakers, although I dont have the revision 2. the bass is lacking. I know people say you dont need a subwoofer, but it really helps with smaller computer speakers.

  4. Hey Zardon can you get the 632s to review? I like the look of them better (but these are good also).

  5. I would also like to see the 632s reviewed, these are brilliant and for 10 euros more the higher model have even more power output.

  6. Great review ! I didnt even know Arctic Cooling did speakers. id like more of them reviewed to get a view on the ones below this set and the most expensive set above them.

  7. Meant to ask earlier, who is the OEM who makes these Zardon do you know?

  8. I enjoyed reading the testing page. I agree, none of these speakers really get it ‘all right’ its a case of finding the best sound to your personal tastes and buying a value set.

  9. These are much better than I expected. they look almost like a nice pair of studio monitors too. Shall be ordering a set when I can find them. Arctic Cooling REALLY need to work on UK distribution 🙁

  10. I was beginning to wonder that these were in fact vaporware. Can anyone direct me to stores in Germany for these?

  11. Cant find them here either (france). only one retailer shows them and its preorder. 🙁

  12. Not sure how speakers with woolly bass, harsh treble and a tendency to add sibilance (so poor upper mid-range too) can get 9/10 and a Must Have. They look like the craptech stuff you normally see in budget electronics stores.

  13. Great input there Taz. Clearly you just focused on the negatives and not the fact you could dial most of it out with the pod and the fact they are 80 euros.

    Always great to see such well rounded and intelligent feedback, lol.

  14. Hi Taz, they are far from the ‘usual craptech stuff’ you usually see in budget electronics stores. I am hyper critical of sound equipment however I don’t think it is best rating speakers in this price sector against equipment at thousands of pounds. I have heard many seperates systems which would have wooly bass, sibliance issues and even focusing problems on various levels (costing much more than these), but its all based strictly on the pricepoint. At the 80 euros price point there are very few speaker systems for PC’s which offer a fairly well rounded experience.

    it is important to mention issues with any product, but I find even the award winning Creative gigaworks T40 v2 to have issues with various frequencies and they also have a complete lack of bass response. WIth all of these systems you get what you pay for and its possible to compensate to various degrees. With these you can dial out some of the issues to various levels, but with other products you can’t add bass depth which isn’t there in the first place.

    I have yet to hear any computer based speakers id be totally happy with, so the price is an important factor. three other people who heard these were extremely impressed with the sound quality and wouldn’t even be able to point out sibliance or slight bass ‘booming’. Everyone has different ears and demands.

  15. This is almost a 1year old review, but it really helped me to chose between Creative Gigaworks T20 v2 and the same priced Arctic S361.

    You can’t correct something that isn’t there since the first time. I go with the 2.1 🙂
    This was a superb, strict and informative review! thanks.
    (first time reading a kitguru review. but not the last)

  16. Thanks for comprehensive and informative review. I made a decision to buy the set and I am certainly not disappointed. The sound is indeed superb for such price.

    What is confusing though is the technical specification of the whole thing provided by the manufacturer, which is quite slapdash. Details given on Arctic’s website say that total output is 58W (40W subwoofer + 18 W for satellites), but elsewhere they say 40W +2x18W (so 76W in total). I took the liberty of examining the set myself, and discovered that each satellite contains two loudspeakers, 10W each, and apparently no tweeter at all. So all in all it is 40W + 2x20W = 80W!

    There is, it seems, quite a mess at Arctic Cooling in the advertising department – not to mention the typo they overlooked on the remote control (‘standyby’ instead of standby).
    Perhaps underpricing is simply yet another thing they overlooked?

    All in all, I am extremely happy with the purchase even if the build quality is a bit on a shoddy side. Still good value for money!