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Review of the Rocket Tykes 5.1 speaker System


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#1 of 40 Craig Chase

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Posted September 15 2004 - 01:26 PM

In an effort to check out what is available in the VERY entry level home theater world, I ordered a Rocket Tykes 5.1 system. It sells for $399 normally on AV123.com, and the usually have special on other gear allowing a full 5.1 set up, including receiver, DVD player, and the Tykes for around $700 - $800.

The system arrived yesterday. It comes in one box, and is a VERY simple hook-up. The satellite speakers are each about the size of a can of soda-pop, and the center channel is a bit larger, maybe the size of a 20 ounce bottle.

The speaker connectors are the push in "clip" types. No Banana Plugs here, but the are easy to put a bare 16 guage wire into.

The subwoofer hooks up as most do, an RCA plug in on the back, and the controls are there for Gain and Crossover frequency. It is a roughly 13 inch cube, with a 100 watt amp and a down-firing 8 inch driver. The fairly large, 3 inch port faces the room.

Build Quality is a lot better than expected for $399... The satellites are fairly heavy, and have the feel of a more expensive speaker. Specs can be found for the entire system on AV123's website.


First Thoughts - This is a very nice set up. I am using the Kenwood 7100 Receiver that AV123 is packaging with the Tykes, and a Pioneer 563-iA universal player.

I listened to two discs last night, the Steely Dan DVD/A: Two Against Nature and Randy Travis's Greatest Hits.

The first reaction was WOW ... these little guys kick out some good music ! The Tyke system has very good overall sound. Travis's voice comes through with authority, and the bass lines are tight, and pretty deep - my ears say to around 35-40 Hz in a LARGE room - 27x24 feet with vaulted ceilings and two openings to other rooms...

In other words, you can expect better response in a smaller room.

More on these little guys over the next few days...
Craig Chase

#2 of 40 Nhan_H

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Posted September 15 2004 - 02:00 PM

Sweet deal, Craig. I just helped a friend setup his Tykes/Kenwood package yesterday during lunch. Didn't have time to fine tune everything, but it sounds pretty good, so far (3.1 hookup). I thought the Pioneer remote and user interface could use some work (Didn't have time to figure all that out in 30 minutes, and I couldn't get the onscreen menu to work....maybe they didn't have one?).

Can't wait to hear the rest of your impression.

#3 of 40 Craig Chase

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Posted September 15 2004 - 02:08 PM

We are watching "The Butterly Effect" tonight. My wife has asked several times now... "Why do you need those Ref 3's and Klipsch... ?" ... Of course, she just points at them, and does not actually know the name...

The Tykes are doing a great job. At levels we normally listen, they do just fine. The floor is not shaking, but the bass is very tight, tuneful... and gives a pretty good foundation.

Dialogue is outstanding... I have listened to several Bose systems... These seem to roughly equal the Lifestyle 35 system...
Craig Chase

#4 of 40 Sean D

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Posted September 15 2004 - 02:33 PM

Hi Craig,
How far apart do you have these little guys spaced?
Are you filling the whole room or using a smaller portion of the room for your listening?
How do you think the Tykes would work out in a 2.1 setup with a receiver and a PC?
Might be a nice desktop option as well.

#5 of 40 Craig Chase

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Posted September 15 2004 - 02:37 PM

Thet are about 8 feet apart, and the room is our 27x24 foot family room... they would easily work as a 2.1 system...

But what do you do with the other speakers ?
Craig Chase

#6 of 40 Sean D

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Posted September 15 2004 - 02:43 PM

Good question Craig.
I was thinking that maybe if AV123 were to come out with a PC speaker system that maybe these little guys might be a good base to start from. They could be used with a PC right now in a 5.1 setup with a receiver and a sound card with a digital out.

#7 of 40 Craig Chase

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Posted September 15 2004 - 02:47 PM

I would like to see them do a powered satellite... the 50 watt amps needed would be CHEAP...

I will also try out the Hsu STF-1, by the way... just to compare the two subs in this large room...
Craig Chase

#8 of 40 CurtisSC

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Posted September 15 2004 - 04:46 PM

Was this a blind test? Posted Image
curtis
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#9 of 40 dave alan

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Posted September 15 2004 - 05:02 PM

Craig,

My wife, as you know, has a Tyke system of her own (she hides the remotes when she's not there and won't give them up when she is there...she's a riot), so I thought I'd chime in.

She digs 'em. Nothin more to say.

They're in the bedroom, which is approx 13X20X8 (2,000 cubes), and sound damn good. I'm still surprised everytime she fires up a flick or MC SACD disc.

It's great to read that someone like you concurs. She looked over my shoulder as I read your first post above and said..."See? I told you they're good!"

Gotta love that. Posted Image

#10 of 40 Craig Chase

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Posted September 15 2004 - 11:07 PM

Curtis - No blind testing here, as this is not a comparitive test. The best way of putting it is they sound much like a much more expensive system than their $399 asking price... They make good music. Too bad there is no Comp-USA system around here, I would snag a set of VT-12's. My hunch about them is that they, as with the Tykes, will give a much higher bang for the buck than a Bose system.


Dave Alan, I am speechless ! Someone else's wife AGREEING with me ? WOW... Posted Image
Craig Chase

#11 of 40 BradJudy

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Posted September 16 2004 - 01:08 AM

Hmmm....this is interesting as until recently I had a Tyke system set up parallel to my Ascend system as well. I had two receivers setup, so I could quickly switch between the setups via remote (563a player as well, H/K 520 on Ascends, Onkyo 501 on Tykes). Yes, each system was calibrated (Ascends crossed @80Hz, Tykes @120Hz) and the two were adjusted for levels when switching between them. Posted Image

My general thoughts are that the Tykes did quite well for the price for most things. Most music was good (I only used stereo, not multichannel), but some pieces must have hit a weak spot as they were noticably off from what I am used to (Johnny Cash and Allison Krauss in particular). I felt they did a very good job on movies overall - I think the center channel speaker clearly has an edge over the others.

As you mentioned, the build quality of the satelites is excellent. I would have liked a slightly more well built sub - it didn't feel quite as nice as the sats. I also felt that the sats benefited from being paired with a better sub (I tried my VTF-2). I highly recommend that you try pairing them with your main sub.

As they stand, I think they are a very good budget setup. With a better sub, I think they could be an excellent system for someone who wants small satelite speakers. Don't expect the same fullness of sound as a larger setup, but I think that goes for most, if not all, mini satelite systems.

#12 of 40 BrianAe

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Posted September 16 2004 - 03:04 AM

I wouldn't assume the VT-12 is comprable, I have heard many complaints about it. I know one guy who bought it at my advice when it first came out and then returned it. Of course better than bose isn't saying much so your probably right. Still, is it competitive with the new Tykes or say the Energy Take 5 system (which is impressive), not from what I have heard.

Quote:
They are not a match for the Ascend/VTF-3 Mark II package, but they are pretty close.


So:

1) The Tykes are close to the Ascends
2) We know from Curtis that the Ascends are on par with the Onix Ref 1s.
3) Many Onix fans will tell you that the Ref 1s "blow away" most non-internet brands in their price range and even above, the fact that they "blow away" B&W 805s is frequently mentioned.

Conclusion: The Tykes are on par or better than the B&W 805s Posted Image

#13 of 40 CurtisSC

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Posted September 16 2004 - 03:17 AM

Quote:
We know from Curtis that the Ascends are on par with the Onix Ref 1s.

hehehe....oh no...here we go Posted Image .....I think the 170s with a good sub are an interesting alternative to the Ref1's....never did a side by side though. The CMT-340's I have heard side by side with the Ref1...and I think for a third of the costs, you get 90-95% of the performance, and at least one characteristic that I think is better.

I have actually heard the VT-12 a few times, and I think it is an excellent setup for HT. I have heard a Take 5, and I think the VT-12 is vastly superior....again, not in the same room or equipment.

Ofcourse...these are my biased opinions.

I have never heard 805s. Posted Image
curtis
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#14 of 40 GregBe

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Posted September 16 2004 - 03:51 AM

Quote:
My wife has asked several times now... "Why do you need those Ref 3's and Klipsch and Ascends... ?" ... Of course, she just points at them, and does not actually know the name...


Craig, you are brave man. If you think you are hearing it now, what are you going to do if the Tykes sound comparable to your wifes ears?Posted Image

Greg

#15 of 40 Brandon-S

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Posted September 16 2004 - 06:20 AM

i must say i love my Tykes, they sound big compared to their size. although i don't have much experience with other speakers, i love my Tykes.

#16 of 40 Craig Chase

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Posted September 16 2004 - 10:04 AM

Greg... This was a laugh on the AV123 forum about the Tykes... My wife, upon hearing them, was pretty happy with the sound, and THRILLED with the size and price... so she asked WHY I need speakers Like Ref3 package/Klipschorns ... When I could get the Tykes for $399...

When I explained the Sears sells clothes was well as Bloomingdales, she understood better....

For those wha read this on AV123, my apologies.

And again, The Tykes are a VERY good system, the fact that they are $399 is pretty amazing.

Even better, they are being paired with a Kenwood 7100 Receiver right now for $499...

Curtis, I am not suggesting that you buy the Tykes... for $399 the Tykes are a great little system.

Brad Judy, My guess is the Tykes have evolved since you bought yours... I have nothing but a hunch based on remarks I have read from earlier owners. The evolution would be a better subwoofer. The subwoofer I am hearing seems to perform better than earlier reports would suggest... and some more recent tests seems to hint at this also...
Craig Chase

#17 of 40 CurtisSC

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Posted September 16 2004 - 10:51 AM

Quote:
Brad Judy, My guess is the Tykes have evolved since you bought yours... I have nothing but a hunch based on remarks I have read from earlier owners. The evolution would be a better subwoofer. The subwoofer I am hearing seems to perform better than earlier reports would suggest... and some more recent tests seems to hint at this also...


I think Brad was given his at the Colorado GTG.

Quote:
Curtis, I am not suggesting that you buy the Tykes... for $399 the Tykes are a great little system.


Hey...bring them the the GTG in Austin so a lot of us can get the feel. They are small enough to pack.
curtis
Manhattan Beach, California

#18 of 40 Craig Chase

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Posted September 16 2004 - 10:59 AM

Post deleted based on the "Life is too short to do this" philosophy...
Craig Chase

#19 of 40 Craig Chase

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Posted September 16 2004 - 11:35 AM

BradJudy... I will be posting the sound of the Satellites with both the UFW-10 and the new SW-10 SE subwoofer from AV123... The SW-10 SE seems the likeliest future upgrade... IF it is a good enough subwoofer.
Craig Chase

#20 of 40 BradJudy

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Posted September 16 2004 - 12:32 PM

Craig,

I picked up my Tykes only a couple of weeks ago, so I assume they are the latest version.


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