What Will $10 Get 'Ya?

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All audiophiles know that for $10,000 you can buy a really great pair of speakers. Nowadays for $1000 a pair you can find some stellar performers. And yes, even for around $100 there are some more than acceptable speakers such as the NHT Super-Zero or Aperion Intimus 4B. But what about for $10? Is there anything besides a couple of cans of Campbell's and a wire to connect them together that qualifies as a transducer for a ten-spot?

The answer is yes.

I subscribe to several discount notification newsletters, which regularly send out notices of special promotions and markdowns. Two weeks ago Amazon had a special deal on a new pair of Cyber Acoustics CA 2018 powered desktop monitors. Instead of their regular list price of $29.99, the CA 2018s were marked down to $9.99. Sold and shipped by JR Music and Computer World, I figured that for less than the price of a mediocre breakfast in Las Vegas I could own my very own desktop speaker system.  So I went for it...

When the speakers arrived, at first I was underwhelmed. These things are pretty darned small. Standing 7 ΒΌ" high and only 3" wide, and all-plastic, they weigh about the same as an iPod! Made in China, the CA 2018 has a single "full-range" 2" driver housed behind a permanent black mesh cloth circular grill cover. If you are familiar with the movie Spinal Tap, think Stonehenge - if the CA 2018 was 7' rather than 7" it would be an imposing and elegant single-driver design, as is, it's cute.

The CA 2018 speakers are powered from a 9-volt wall wart adapter that uses a standard connector. A 46" input cable is permanently attached to the right hand speaker, which houses the electronics, front-panel volume and power controls, and headphone connection. You won't need any speaker cable with the CA 2018 because the two speakers are permanently attached via a modest 42" long speaker wire.

The Good

Because they have no crossover and tiny drivers, the CA 2018 image like gangbusters. Also the CA 2018s have a fairly uncongested midrange. When you are in their sweet spot, which is about 1' to 1 1/2 ' away, they get the midrange largely right. When not over-driven (which is fairly easy to do) the CA 2018 makes a decent one-person desktop monitor. Since they weigh so little and are so compact I could see lots of people using them as a travel speaker.

The Bad

The CA 2018 has no low bass, very, very, little mid-bass, and a smidgen of upper bass. The upper frequencies are also truncated above 5kHz. If you try to play the CA 2018s too loudly they go from good to bad quite rapidly. They only have enough power to be a personal monitor, not a room speaker.

The Wrap

So far, after a couple of weeks of regular use, the CA 2018s have performed without any issues. And they sound pretty good.

Not too shabby for under $10.

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