Published on December 9th, 2014 | by Greg0
Thonet And Vander’s Thoughtful Laut Speakers
It’s always interesting too see how reality lives up to stereotypes, and just as interesting to see how they differ. Take, for instance, fabled German engineering. One might imagine that a company started in 1949 that lists the “Bauhaus School” of design as a primary artistic influence might create products that come across as a little… well, harsh and perhaps stark, but well-made and precise.
And indeed, at first the Thonet & Vander Laut 2.1 Stereo Speaker System comes across as a pretty solid representation of it’s heritage- a little cool, a bit forward, but detailed and with a sturdy body. One major shift in expectations though was the strain it might put on your wallet- when asked how much they thought the system would cost, writers routinely offered figures around double the actual price tag. Inexpensive and German are words that don’t often go together, and to be clear, this model is made (like most all competitors) in China. And despite some bold manufacturer claims of construction with high-density acoustic absorption, the material employed looks and feels a whole lot like MDF (fiberboard), a cheaper material than wood and very common these days though looked down upon in the audio world.
That doesn’t mean that this system won’t impress though. For starters, it’s a pretty big system, when many 2.1 systems trend towards having the satellite monitors shrink, which can adversely affect sound quality. The central subwoofer unit is wider than the normal square box, and includes a 6.5 inch woofer made, a bit unusually, out of an eco-friendly hemp. The other drivers are 3-inchers, and combined you can expect a total of 60 watts (15 per satellite and 30 from the woofer)- enough for personal use and ideal for a computer, but not enough for your home theater system of course. There are plenty of nice finishing touches on the knobs and sides, even if the speakers themselves look a bit dull. The best part of the Laut was the lack of distortion- though treble could fall out at the top and bass wasn’t too roomy, we never got a “pinched” feeling and even better, never found ourselves wincing when we exceeded the output volume or range. Even on dubstep tracks, or falsetto opera, the sound was pretty rich and never shaky- exactly the sort of frequency response you want from a unit this size in this class.
We confess: the brand is a blank canvas here in the USA, and the Laut doesn’t fill in the empty spaces much. It’s large footprint and fairly humdrum aesthetics won’t draw a lot of new converts we suspect- but these sound bigger even than they are, and the dual RCA inputs are decent though a bit weird. The company does have quite a lineup, including some higher-end speakers and studio monitors. But if you’re in need of a 2.1 system that offers a great value proposition, you can’t go wrong with the Thonet & Vander Laut 2.1, available now online and in stores for around $100.