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Rock Solid Solutions Speaker System (S100/C100/PB100) Print E-mail
Saturday, 01 November 1997
ImageIf you haven't gotten into 5.1 audio because you're waiting for a simple and inexpensive approach to the multi-speaker dilemma, then you should take a listen to Rock Solid's Solutions 100 system.

The Solutions system consists of four S100 2-way speakers used for the front mains and rear surrounds. Each speaker houses a mid-range driver and tweeter. The C-100 center channel speaker, with two mid range drivers and one tweeter, is small and compact for easy placement on top of most TV's including large screens or CRTs. The S100 speakers are available in white or black with matching grill covers and replacement covers in burgundy and dark blue. Since the S100 and C100 are not rated below 95 Hz, you must have the 70 watt PB100 Active Subwoofer to handle the low end.

The S100 stands come in a high-tech brushed silver with a sturdy gun metal gray base. A notch is edged into the bottom of the base and the stands are hollow, making it possible to hide cables by running then up through the center. The stands, with speaker attached, are no more than 3.5 feet high.

Using a Philips/Magnavox DVD400AT DVD player I put the Rock Solids to the test using the special effects laden movies, GoldenEye and Desperado. I was impressed by how well these small speakers handled dynamic range. While I wasn't shaken out of my seat, there was no audible distortion, even during the most bombastic scenes. The overall ambient coverage was very good, providing a realistic and effective surround field. The PB100 delivered plenty of boom and thump for gun fire and car bombs. It lacked, however, definition or hard hitting impact.

While the Solutions 100 is tuned specifically for home theater use, no doubt, the system will be used for playback of audio CD's on occasion. In testing this one discovers that, while music is delivered cleanly, it isn't vibrant. As stand alone stereo speakers, I found them acceptable for low level background listening of new age and jazz recordings, but rock recordings sounded edgy and harsh as all the instrumentation collapsed into itself. The S100's don't seem designed for reproduction of a wide image. I didn't detect any mid-range emphasis or high-end tweaking in the frequency response, it was fairly flat, though overall it sounded a bit thin. Mid-bass was solid but there wasn't much depth or punch.

Despite my criticisms, I believe the Rock Solid Solutions system aptly addresses a very important, and growing, target audience the first time multi-speaker buyer who is ready to take advantage of DVD's 5.1 audio capabilities. At this price you can't expect high-end audio performance, however, the Solutions 100 does provide a spacious and effective delivery of 5.1 audio soundtracks in a sleekly designed package.

Since the system is balanced, matched sonically as well as cosmetically, I don't understand the need for separate pricing on each component. Perhaps it is because there is some discussion that Rock Solid may provide more Solutions products in the future and they anticipate some mixing and matching. The complete speaker system retails for $999.00. Each set of stands retails for an additional $150.00.

In fact, on newer products I hope Rock Solid considers using binding posts that can accommodate larger gauge cable or banana plugs. (Also that they, enlarge the hole at the bottom of the speaker stand's base, so larger cables can thread through.) Granted, one shouldn't spend more on their cables then there speaker system is worth, but I would have liked to use something other than basic 16 gauge wire. For instance, Audioquest, Monster Cable, Transparent and Straght Wire (among others) offer a large assortment of modestly priced cables that would be an excellent complement to the Rock Solid system, if the binding posts were larger.

Quality home theater on a budget is far more difficult to achieve than a "money is no object" system. The Rock Solid Solutions 100 speaker package along with a 27" TV, an A/V Receiver with Dolby Digital, and a basic DVD player would be an ideal entry level home theater or even a second system for any den, bedroom or recreation room.


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