(STAR) By Kap Maceda Aguila - What in the world would your desktop computer have in common with a brand-new car? Well, they both unfortunately come with mediocre sound systems. Stock isn’t always superior.

To be fair, your PC or laptop has seen direr days — not just in computing ability but audio output quality as well. For there was certainly no wisdom for manufacturers to invest in an audio upgrade when computers were only expected then to beep on certain error commands and possibly grunt or click or hiss in monochromatic games.

But those wistful days of dot matrix printers, green screens, and external low-capacity modems are blissfully behind us.

And now, much like cars, it’s all about the after-market, baby. In a never-ending quest to satisfy specific user groups, manufacturers have put forth a cornucopia of choices.

So if you’re an audiophile who’s fussy about the sound of your home theater system, then why settle for mundane computer audio — especially now that you use the PC as an entertainment system, too? I mean, can you imagine watching a DVD at home on your laptop and straining to make sense of all the dialogue and effects coming out of your wimpy speakers? Can you imagine getting the latest RPG title and then cranking up the sound only to hear distortion as the speakers strain to keep up? Time to give yourself a break.

If you have P26,500 to spare, fork it over and invest in a Bose Companion 5 multimedia speaker system. It’s the premium aural upgrade for your PC.

It was love at first listen. I never thought my laptop could sound so... theatrical. While it was equipped with a couple of third party-branded speakers, I had regularly shunned using them — preferring to connect a louder (although not necessarily better sounding) pair of powered speakers I got for a song.

When I first ventured to test the Bose Companion 5, I was doubtful whether it could turn my notebook into that vaunted entertainment center. Bose claimed, in its website, that the Companion 5 would “deliver much of the audio performance expected from a five-speaker surround system.”

I unpacked the Companion’s two magnetically sealed satellite speakers, a small but heavy Acoustimass module, and the so-called “control pod,” a nifty mouse-like desktop gadget that regulates volume and lets the user instantly mute the system. It also houses a headphone jack and connection for a second audio source such as an MP3 player.

You have to hand it to Bose. It was a cinch to set the Companion up — a relief for non-dweebs. And you just plug it into your computer’s USB port, make a few control panel adjustments (complete instructions are available on the manual), and you’re good to go. No need to install programs or drivers. Heck, you don’t even have to upgrade your sound card.

And when you let it rip? Let’s just say my girlfriend Joyce’s jaw dropped.

Of course, Bose’s reputation for great sound is on the line with the Companion, so it presumably stacked up on technology so that any conceivable setup could sound great. Boasting of the proprietary TrueSpace surround digital processing circuitry, the Companion 5 bathed us in delightful sound. “I can’t believe all that sound comes from two speakers,” Joyce shook her head in awe, as her apartment became an impromptu theater.

Signal processing, compression circuitry, and active equalization — these technologies mean delightful aural candy that is crisp, clear, and in your face.

The Acoustimass module (which is also equipped with its own volume control for fine tuning options) was effectively thumping away — overachieving for its diminutive size. Bose says you can hide it almost anywhere within your listening and still enjoy the clean bass and low frequencies.

What that also meant is that 5.1-encoded material can now be exploited on your computer — sans two extra speakers and the wiring that goes with them. It was truly thoughtful of Bose to package the main speakers on sturdy metal stands. The effect on your desktop is simply classy, and awesome. The space-saving design is an added premium for smaller workspaces such as a bedroom or an office cubicle — though I can’t imagine, for the life of me, how you could fully appreciate the Companion 5 in an office setting unless, perchance, you work in a non-corporate, non-traditional environment.

Besides, you have to work, remember?

* * *

Visit Bose showrooms at the Power Plant Mall at Rockwell Center, Mall of Asia, Glorietta 4 at the Ayala Center, The Block at SM City North Edsa, and SM Megamall.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved