A crappy pair of speakers you shouldn't even consider.

Oct 6, 2010 (Updated Oct 7, 2010)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:NONE AT ALL...not even the low price.

Cons:Cheap EVERYTHING. Less features than the previous model.

The Bottom Line: There's nothing to look at here. The BXR1221's are so cheap they feel and perform like junk.

I recently purchased the Altec Lansing BXR1221 speaker system for my coworker, who needed a pair of speakers to connect to her projector/ laptop so she could do presentations to a group of about 30 in a room with 12 foot ceilings, 30 feet long by 30 feet wide. Simply put, buying this product for that application was a mistake.

Altec Lansing usually sells a $25 speaker system in Walmart for people who just need a pair of desktop speakers. The BXR1221 is the replacement for the old budget model, BXR1120.


The major differences between this model and the last are in the component shapes. Altec must have addressed complaints that the speakers were easily knocked over by making the new speakers a tube like model similar to Bazooka speakers. The cloth speaker grills will undoubtedly get dusty over time and since they aren’t black like those on the 1120, they will show that dust if you don’t keep them lint free. Altec then made the subwoofer simpler by decreasing its mass from a heavier wood material, to flimsy, hollow feeling plastic. In their defense, they also changed the power plug from a multi-pin connection to a more typical power plug like you’d see on a laptop. This is probably due to them getting numerous returns or exchanges.
More than once, I’ve purchased new BXR1120’s that already had damaged pins out of the box. The new plug design plugs directly into the speaker and feeds power to the subwoofer with what appears to be typical headphone gauge wire.

The build quality of the BXR1221 feels considerably cheaper and flimsier than the BXR1210. 
Installation is simple. You merely unwrap the components and place them on your desk as desired – with the subwoofer on the floor. The speakers are already connected so all you need to do is plug the subwoofer into the AC outlet. Plug the standard 3.5mm jack input into your computer’s sound card or output. Installation took me 2 minutes. 


Even though the BXR1211 boasts the same 15 Watts of power ( 4 watts from each speaker, and 7 watts from the subwoofer), the 1120 is able to get louder thanks to the flatter shape of the speakers and the higher quality of the subwoofer’s material. The BXR1120’s subwoofer alone weighs more than the entire BXR1221 package!

The 1221 is not only lower in maximum output than the 1121, but its sound quality is nowhere near as good. I connected both of these speakers to my iPod and was shocked how much better the sound quality of the BXR1120 was. The 1221 doesn’t even have its own Bass and Treble switches like the 1120. This is truly cost cutting extreme! Altec even took out the front facing headphone jack that would allow you to listen to music through your heaphones or the speakers just by pulling the plug, so as not to disturb a dorm mate.

The maximum output is so low, I can’t even tell you that the speakers don’t sound good at high volumes. That’s because they really don’t “perform” at all. And considering the subwoofer has been made so cheaply this time around, I can’t even say the Bass on this model is good. Its nowhere near as deep as I expected a powered subwoofer to be. Why did Altec go so cheap on this model?

For desktop use, I would still have a problem recommending the BXR 1221 over the 1120. In fact, for a casual listener in say, a dorm room… I’d recommend neither. It would be better, to get a more powerful system like the Logitech X540 or the Klipsch 2.1. But, if you were really on a tight budget, I’d look for the BXR1120 on Ebay.


If I could have gotten more money out of my coworker, I’d have gotten her a better system, but she was going dirt cheap. Buying this model was a waste of money in my opinion and I recommend that you pass these up too. Cheap build quality, lack of features and weak sound give me enough reasons to recommend you totally pass up on this model.

I'm very dissapointed because I've purchased numerous speaker sets from Altec Lansing, including an 80Watt 2.1 system with 4 satellites that I've had for 5 years which is still loud and clear enough to use for presentations. Altec should take these off the shelves immediately.

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