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Published on December 9th, 2014 | by Greg


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.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Appleā€™s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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