Bluetooth speakers, indeed all wireless speakers, will inevitably command a higher price tag than their wired equivalents, so being priced at roughly £50 on various sites around the web, but listing a recommended retail price of nearer to £80, is not too unreasonable. For that price you would by no means expect performance to be outstanding, but equally you would expect a decent experience. So, how do the Creative Labs Inspire T12 Bluetooth Wireless Speakers stack up?
Hardware & Aesthetics
So what do you get with the Inspire T12’s? Well, as expected you get the pair of stereo speakers with bluetooth connectivity and there are no surprised in terms of how to set them up. It’s a simple plug in at power source and the pair of speakers are connected by a single wire of enough length so that you can have them at any reasonable distance. That’s about it as far as setup is concerned with the hardware, the rest is done via the bluetooth device you wish to output audio from, no drivers necessary for OS X or Windows in my experience and it is equally simple to get your mobile phone, iPod, iPad etc. to get connected.
In terms of what’s lacking, the most obvious omission is the sub-woofer, however this is compensated for to some degree by the bass flex technology incorporated into the hardware, which effectively allows for deeper bass by an almost spongy feel on the single driver at the top of the speakers as well as an extra section at the back of each speaker. In fact, you can tell the effect this has on the sound by simply tapping on the plastic while they’re switched off.
So how do they look? Well actually they’re not too bad. Constructed from a solid plastic which doesn’t feel particularly cheap, but my only gripe is that the glossy plastic encasing the front of the speakers gets quite dirty and shows the fingerprints from the very beginning. They are quite hefty, opting for height over width which I have no qualms with as it is generally space saving on a desk, but one has to question the necessity of such a large stature and why, perhaps, they couldn’t have stuck an extra driver in there at the base of each.
Other notable physical features are the plug which allows you to simply clip in and out adapters with a variety of pins so these are perhaps considered great for travelling, though that again would call into question the necessity for such bulk. And finally, there is a 3.5mm audio jack on the rear of the right speaker so you don’t have to have the sound blaring out.
This is where speakers can really come into their own, and I have to say that the T12’s don’t disappoint for the most part. I have said it before and I’ll say it again that I am mostly sceptical of wireless speaker sets and the quality they can produce, but all in all a decent experience comparable to that of budget desktop speakers. Occasionally when listening to music with a particularly high range of pitches they struggled to keep up, occasionally losing clarity at the high notes specifically.
The Bass Flex Technology incorporated into the speakers certainly has a positive effect, and the speakers handle a range of bass with aplomb and if you’re looking for some bluetooth speakers to handle movies, music and games then these will provide you with ample performance to satisfy quite basic demands.
So, is the build quality good enough to represent value for money? Yes. Is the sound quality good enough to represent value for money? Yes. But really only if you are comparing them to their bluetooth counterparts. I remain sceptical of bluetooth and wireless speakers, and without spending literally hundreds on a pair you are likely to receive nothing more than the bare minimum quality you would expect.
As far as I am concerned, there is no market for bluetooth speakers such as this, as they are clearly aimed at a professional, desk environment. When you consider that you can quite easily snag a pair of wired stereo speakers from manufacturers such as the Altec Lansing VS2620 for as little as £20 or £30 and are more impressive than these as far as sound quality and design is concerned.
So how does forking out an extra £50/60 for the freedom of ridding yourself of a single audio cable represent good value for money? I’m afraid not, but if you are in the market for this kind of product, then these Creative Inspire T12 Bluetooth Wireless Stereo Speakers do the trick quite nicely.