Dell AY410 2.1 speakers review

I found the Dell AY410 on my doorstep today. I ordered it 3 days ago for $24 shipped from Dell.com. This thing retails for $59.99 but I’ve seen it for $19.99 on one occasion (would’ve bought it then if I had the money on hand). Anyway, I thought I should probably write up this review before the “new toy feeling” wears off or I’ll never get around to it.

I’ve been using this AY410 on and off for the last 12 hours, so if it needed any burn-in it’s probably well-cooked by now. But first a little background. I’ve been saving up for a 2.1 computer speaker system for more than year. And that’s how long I’ve had to live with only laptop speakers and earbuds. Before then, I had one of those big, fat, ugly, 90s bookshelf stereos setup for my workstation. But then I got a new desk, and I really didn’t want that blonk invading my workspace. Last Black Friday, I almost got a nicer (than the AY410) Altec Lansing set, but I didn’t get there in time (and didn’t have the money). But now I’ve finally got my dream come true.

My old workstation with the wack 90s stereo

Back to the AY410. If you want a review in two words: No cons. If you want a review in four words: I’d buy for $40. But you might actually want a longer review. So let me start off on product appearance.

This thing just looks and feels premium! For someone OCD like me, Dell did a great job of using consistent rounded rectangle shapes and just two material choices: Glossy white with matte black trim (trim meaning the back of the speakers and subwoofer and the top of the volume control). The white parts are only moderately glossy, so no need to hate you gloss-haters. And Dell has painstakingly covered every single glossy surface with precision-cut plastic wrap (for no reason since each component comes in an individually-wrapped plastic bag anyway).

I’ll look at the AY410′s volume control unit separately, since this is the one component that you’ll actually be touching daily. The big knob on top that controls the volume turns very smoothly and is made of soft-touch material. In the corner is the power button with a white LED indicator. On one side are a line out (for headphones) and a line in (for a secondary audio source like your MP3 player) jack. And on another side is the bass control scroll wheel. Finally, the bottom of the unit has rubber pads to help it stay put on your desk.

Now, for audio quality. As someone who has never had a computer speaker system before, I can’t really judge. I did throw on some high-end (Christina Aguilera, Leona Lewis) and low-end (Young Jeezy, Dre) tracks and both sounded alright to me. The highs weren’t exceptionally clear, but the lows were better than my expectation from a little woofer like that. The speakers had no distortion no matter how high I cranked it and it had no problem filling a medium-size room with music at around 50% volume. Another thing I noticed was that the AY410 is exceptionally good at eliminating static that I would normally hear with earbuds and other speaker systems. Finally, I tried some Battlefield with bass turned up and I could feel bullets like I was really dying.

So all in all, I’m happy with the Dell AY410. If you can find the set for under $40, it’s probably the best 2.1 speaker system you can get (my judgment based mainly on build quality since I can’t really compare audio quality).

"pain is inevitable; suffering is optional"