The Arctic Cooling S361 speakers are not perfect. The audiophile purist in me could wax lyrical about the slightly wooly and somewhat overblown bass as well as the tendency for the system to add sibilance to specific material. It all seems like nitpicking however when you double check the asking price of 80 euros. Yes, thats right, 80 euros.
This slightly overblown bass and moderately harsh treble can be dealt with carefully with a modicum of self control. Dial down the bass and treble settings and what you end up with is a very capable set of budget speakers which add a small amount of warmth to the material on offer. For acoustic and folk music they sound fantastic, with individual notes easy to pick out and the depth of the lower soundstage supported generously by the twin port subwoofer. Not a purist design by a long stretch, but slightly colourful and generally in a good way.
As a media speaker they deliver performance in all the key areas. Action movies are given the impact they need to create a jaw dropping and immersive experience and they can be surprisingly focused when you least expect it, especially with dialogue and depth of field sound effects.
Musically, and with the right material they tend to sound much more expensive than they really are, however they can pick holes in poorly sampled tracks, giving them a harsh and unpleasant edge. Hardly a fault of the design, but without the right source material and with over zealous settings they can quickly becoming fatiguing. We are happy to report however that when the volume is cranked very high, the sound doesn’t compress too badly and the cones can handle the throughput without crackling.
We can certainly recommend the S361 speakers to a PC enthusiast user who yearns for plenty of aural impact from his media and music. They are a lot of fun, and we like that. The nearest competitors would be the Gigaworks T40 Series II speakers which offer a more refined satellite experience, but can’t deliver the same depth of bass frequencies.
KitGuru says: S361’s have plenty of power on offer and deliver a warm and fun experience for enthusiast users who don’t want to spend hundreds of pounds on speakers. Arctic Cooling have gotten the mix right. We have certainly heard better speakers, but not for 80 euros.