I’ve long been curious as to the performance of wireless speakers when compared to the wired equivalents, so when I had the opportunity to test out the new Creative Inspire S2 Wireless Speakers I was intrigued to really compare the quality. With a retail price of £99.99, I was expecting some fairly great things from the palm sized PC speakers, so how did they fare when put through their paces.
Some speaker systems I have come across in the past have been a real pain to set up, and I was a little apprehensive with this being a wireless set up just how complex it could be. Fortunately, there was nothing difficult about the entire process. Once you have plugged it in you must insert the Bluetooth adapter into the desired computer, PC or Mac, and after a few seconds of initializing, the right speaker will display a blue LED, barely visible behind the black mesh, which indicates they’re ready to go.
Before we get onto sound quality, I’d like to start with the aesthetic side of things. In terms of size, the pair of speakers hardly consumes much space on the desk, which make them perfect for use with laptops in small spaces such as on a relatively cramped desktop such as my own. The two speakers come boxed along side a relatively small subwoofer as well which obviously is quite a lot larger than the speakers themselves, but neatly fits underneath the desk without causing any hassle.
In terms of styling, the two speakers have a completely black face with the usual material, and the Creative logo patched onto each. The rest of the body is a contrasting white, which generally provides a pleasing appeal when it comes to looks. The sub-woofer is completely black however which on the face of it compliments the speakers themselves.
The controls are located on the right-hand side of the right speaker and include a power button basic volume controls. There’s also an Aux-In port along side a headphone jack. The Bass control is found on the back of the sub-woofer as excpected.
The first test of the speakers was how they coped with my music collection. Overall the single driver speakers provided a fairly crisp sound and couple that with the adjustable bass levels through the sub-woofer, it’s not difficult to create a profile to compliment your favourite style of music. Personally, I enjoy having a fair amount of bass accompanying my music, and this was not a problem either with the set up handling even the most bass-orientated tracks with aplomb.
One worrying aspect of the speakers is the volume. When using them with my Mac, they are easily controlled using the volume controls on the keyboard, but there is no differentiation between these controls and the ones on the speakers themselves. And with the default volume of the speakers being so high, I have to keep the system volume to an absolute minimum, which causes a small inconvenience once I’ve disconnected the speakers.
On the plus side, the wireless range of the speakers is actually quite impressive, I can quite comfortably move to the next room with my computer and still have the music playing through the speakers, which is certainly important if you just have to nip away for a second with your PC and don’t want any hassle of reconnecting.
So how did they handle movies I hear you ask? Well in keeping with the quality of the music playback, they offer a good amount of bass which creates a deep bass in the action scenes and dramatic playback of the soundtrack, but at times the sound was a little harsh when compared to my Altec Lansing VS2620 desktop wired speakers which I use primarily in my media setup, which were actually a quarter of the price. However, even at high volumes the speakers do tend to keep their clarity when playing back high quality lossless music.
Although not the best sounding speakers I have come across, they offer a substantial improvement over the built in speakers in my MacBook Pro, which is no small feat considering I believe they are some of the best built in laptop speakers I have seen. The Creative Inspire S2 Wireless speakers are hardly inspirational as the name suggests, but they offer a good quality alternative to built in laptop speakers in general when working on a desk.
Although good quality for the most part providing bass and good sound depth, I can’t quite determine the point of spending between 2 and 10 times the price of wired speakers on the wireless alternative. It’s not exactly any less convenient, at a short distance, to have a USB adapter plugged in than a cable in the headphone jack or sound card, particularly when you are sacrificing quality, although admittedly not a lot.
Perhaps it would have been nicer to have the speakers connected wirelessly to the sub-woofer unit, which means the speakers were more portable and versatile. However, in spite of this, the Creative Inspire S2 Wireless Speakers are a good choice for laptop media playback, but I’m just not sure they justify the price tag.