Midiland s4: MidiLand S4 4060M Review

MidiLand S4 4060M Review

by Jim Warrenon January 6, 2001 12:00 PM EST

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IndexSetupMore SetupThe SoundConclusion

the ever increasing presence of surround sound and 4.1 systems in the computer
sound market, 2.1 sounds remain as a strong category of their own. Though they
may not fill the bill for everyone seeking to turn their home computer into
a home theatre system or the ultimate gaming machine, they do remain as a strong
option for those that enjoy listening to music at their computer or are seeking
a more economical sound solution.

Though many 2.1 system are offered as cheap OEM sound packages principally
designed so that users can hear their computer dinging when they do something
wrong, it is possible to find quality speaker manufacturers turning their tools
to smaller computer systems. Much is the case for MidiLand, who offers both
full surround sound systems (the S4 8200 and
S4 7100) and smaller 2.1 sound systems (this
model and the S4 3050M).

2.1 systems are designed to work around the size limitations of a speaker
driver that will fit on a desktop, as smaller driver cannot reproduce low frequencies
well. The systems utilize two stereo speakers combined with a subwoofer to extend
the frequency response of the smaller drivers used in many computer speakers.
This also allows for a higher powered bass driver, to provide the room filling
low frequency energy without blowing out the ears of a listener in a near field

The MidiLand S4 4060M review is a system that includes two satellites, a subwoofer,
and an external control unit that can be mounted in an extra full size drive
bay or left on the desktop. The control unit has volume, pan, and two tonal
controls, in addition to a 1/8″ headphone jack, mute button, and button
for MidiLand’s 3D RSS (Real Surround Sound) processing. The components all feature
MidiLand’s metallic finish common to models ending in the «M» designation.

(Courtesy of MidiLand)



Satellites: 15W

Subwoofer: 30W


180Hz — 20kHz (+/-3dB)

Subwoofer: 20Hz — 180Hz (+/-3dB)




2. 5 inch

Subwoofer: 6.5 inch




3.3″ (W) x 3.9″ (H) x 4.2″ (D)

Subwoofer: 8.7″ (W) x 13.4″ (H) x 12.2″ (D)

Control Module: 5.8″ (W) x 1.7″ (H) x 3.1″ (D)

IndexSetupMore SetupThe SoundConclusion


The MidiLand S4 4060 4-Piece Speakers

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om For The Buck: The MidiLand S4 4060 4-Piece

Definitely not the new
kid on the block, MidiLand has been manufacturing computer speakers since
1990. The S series, while not new, has a most welcome recent addition: The
S4 4060. Actually a 3-piece rig, the fourth piece isn’t a speaker but rather
a control module; a module that is usually included in systems costing several
times the $99 asking price. While most speaker makers continue with the tried
and true «off white» coloring scheme, MidiLand stuck their collective necks
out—way out, and produced a strikingly good two-tone design. Whether you
appreciate the dramatically improved sound over the MLi series or not, this
S4 setup will make a very bold statement even in the off mode. Thanks to MidiLand
for providing the review sample.



  • 2-channel,
    60 Watt system
  • 6. 5″ Woofer,
    2.5″ Tweeters
  • 6-Button
    Control Module
  • 30 Watt
    subwoofer, 15 Watts each satellite
  • 100% Magnetic
  • Wall Mount
    Capable satellites
  • Signal To
    Noise: 55dB
  • 150Hz-20KHz
    satellites and 20Hz-150Hz subwoofer
  • Platallic
    material for durability and crisp tones


Description & Specifications

The 4060’s have a great
feature, the control module. It houses 6 buttons and a headphone jack. Yes,
a headphone jack! Sometimes, when I desire to crank the sound full-tilt-boogie
and not disturb anyone else, plugging into the headphone jack saves many a
vocal cord from having to shout, «turn it down. «

control module isn’t required to be installed into a blank 5.25″ slot, but
it’s sure convenient to do so—I did. The mute button comes in handy when
the phone rings.
Instead of searching for the volume and turning it all the way off, just smack
a button. The power button is a thing of beauty. When depressed it glows MidiLand
green and also lights the small LED in the control module. Installation
was so simple that I didn’t bother looking at the directions. All the wiring
is included and the package is very extensive judging by the picture. If you
are familiar with CD-ROM or hard drive installation, this S4 setup won’t pose
any challenge whatsoever.

Objective Measurements

measurements are completed without any bias whatsoever, hence the term «objective.»
I simply love to snoop around inside anything that I can open with a screwdriver.
Upon removing the rear connector panel, I spied a mark of quality—a rubber
seal. This seal will keep the metal cover from buzzing at high volumes just
like the MLi-490’s sub cabinet did.
The internal amplifiers
are a pair of Philips OM8383S dip units that MidiLand also uses in the MLi-490.
The AC filter cap is rated at 6800uF @ 35 volts DC. The sit-on-the-floor AC
transformer is a hefty unit, weighting in at 14.5 VAC @ 3.5 Amps. This equates
to a smidgen over 50 watts at full load. Don’t drop this piece on your foot.

Rated R.M.S. Power

claims 30 watts for the sub and 15 watts for each satellite. While I wasn’t
able to find any info on Philip’s website (I usually can), I can make estimates
for power output. One of these days, I’m going get a hold of that elusive
OM8383S pdf spec sheet. In any case, the no load voltage across the filter
capacitor was 14.9 volts DC and the full load voltage dropped to 12.5 volts.
Using those numbers and assuming a 4-Ohm load of the subwoofer, this would
give a maximum
short-term (say 100mS) peak output of 27. 8 watts and a RMS output of 19.5
watts. This is well below rated specs; however, I may not have all the relevant
info regarding the output design, so take these numbers for what they are,
educated guesses.

satellites were even more perplexing to measure. Rated at two, that’s right
two Ohms, I was skeptical of 15-watt outputs to each unit. Sure enough, I
measured 3.64 VAC RMS at clipping at a frequency of 1KHz. Next, I measured
AC current and arrived with a number of 900mA. Using E=IR, where E=voltage,
I=Current and R=Resistance, I calculated an impedance of 4.04 Ohms at 1KHz.
A quick check at 4KHz revealed a 4-Ohm impedance as well. If these are 4-Ohm
units, the calculated power is only 3.3 watts; if these were 2-Ohm units,
then it would be 6.6 watts.


The signal
to noise is rated at 55dB but my measurements were significantly better. Relative
to 1 watt into 2 Ohms (1.41 volts), the unweighted S/N was 63dB. The maximum
attainable dynamic range relative to maximum output (3.64 volts), calculates
to just over 71 dB, which correlated to what was heard in the listening tests.

The crossover frequency,
the point at which the sub stops producing sound and the satellites take over,
measured a low 190Hz. This is a very low figure for satellites so small (2.5″)
as other 3″ units usually crossover at 150Hz or higher. The
maximum undistorted SPL (Sound Pressure Level) was 102dB from the satellites
and 106dB from the sub box at a distance of 18 inches. The sub was in a corner
position, where three walls meet. Hence, the total undistorted output from
the combo slightly exceeded 106dB.


The subwoofer
had the lowest cutoff ever measured or heard. The -3dB point relative to 100Hz
is 43Hz and the -6dB point is 40Hz. The sub will produce the lowest bass notes
available from a 6.5″ driver. The highs extended well beyond 14KHz from the
satellites. They will have a significantly better output in the highest hearable
octave (10-20KHz) than all other units in its price class.

Listening Tests

installing the control module and positioning the subwoofer where my old Altec
Lansing ACS-48 sub was, I was promptly kicked off the computer so the wife
could complete her regularly scheduled email spamming session. I moseyed upstairs
to fiddle and 10 minutes later I felt my feet start to buzz for no apparent
reason. Then the townhouse shook with the bass line from Mission Impossible,
a midi file that she had downloaded and was trying to hear. Keep in mind that
the sub was placed at the intersection of three walls, which gives a theoretical
bass boost of 18dB, peaking in the 100Hz range. Sweet—big, fat, round bass
notes to soothe the savageer, they sounded awfully good. And that body shaking
bass was clean, clear and flat—the control module’s knobs were all at their
center detent position (except the volume knob).

Moving on
to classical, dance, rock, pop and of course, 3D gaming tunes, proved to be
a very
pleasant experience. Once in a while, I even cranked up the boom knob to see
how far I could make my pants leg flap. The bass had a very slight «one note»
sound. The woofer’s «Q» or damping was much looser (above the target 0.707)
than the entire Altec Lansing lineup. This gives the bass an easy, forgiving
sound and considering that most sound cards sound much harsher than my reference
SB Live!, this trait will be a plus across the board for the vast majority
of users. I kept thinking, these jobs are worth at least $125 green backs,
but MidiLand doesn’t charge that much.

The satellites
are the first I’ve ever heard that reproduce acceptable quality and quantity
from a single (tweeter-less) driver. For once, I didn’t eagerly desire to
go back to my beloved 48’s. That says a lot. I would still prefer a tweeter,
but unless you’re a persnickety audiophile like me, you won’t notice the absence
of a small screecher. Cymbals and human sibilance were reproduced at a level
that is unheard of in this price class. This should equate to great high frequencies
for MidiLand’s more expensive S4 lineup if they use the same midrange driver.
If you’re particularly sensitive to hiss, the 4060’s do have some. Even with
the volume knob turned down and the mute depressed, a slight noise emanates
from the satellites at all times. Most of the time, I never noticed and besides,
if you don’t like a little hiss, put some tunes on—that will cover it up.


There comes
a time when a reviewer must update his or her gear and the S4 4060’s will
be staying put for an «extended» listening period. For the asking price of
just under a C-note, the four-piece setup does a best in class job of reproducing
a long-term listenable sound. For those bass freaks out there, you will be
amazed at what the sub can do. The lack of tweeters that I usually harp about
is hardly a cause to not pick up a set as highs are almost perfectly reproduced
in the 10-20KHz range. When MidiLand saturates the market more with these
babies, I could conceive a web price of under $90 and at that price, they
would be the best two-channel rig you could buy. A very enthusiastic recommendation!



Target PC


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