For many of us, a simple soundbar under one of our monitor is all we need for gaming and watching content via our PC.
However get your hands on a 5.1 speaker set and everything could well change. Until you can hear bullets whizzing by you in Battlefield 4, a TIE Fighter screaming overhead or the wind rushing past your ears as you plummet from a building, you haven’t experienced what a game should really sound like
- Manufacturer: Creative
- Requirements: Compatible sound card, audio output source
Creative’s A550 5.1 speakers consist of five 5W RMS satellite speakers and a 12W RMS subwoofer. An odd-wired remote is included, which reminds us of the sort of thing you’d find on an old Betamax video recorder, but it’s functional enough, even if it’s just for power and volume control.
The satellite speakers are interesting, to say the least. They incorporate Creative’s Dual Slot Enclosure (DSE) technology, which apparently delivers louder playback by separating the port tube into two individual slots and engineering them to fit into a smaller speaker case.
A video about the technology is available, which features lots of animated blue arrows and clever graphics. In basic terms, the technology allows the sound quality of a bigger speaker to exist in a smaller one.
In addition to DSE, Creative has also added another technology in the form of IFP (Image Focusing Plate). Again, while very technical, it means the satellite drivers are flared at the end to help push the sound out to a wider area. It may sound gimmicky, but it works surprisingly well.
The design of every aspect of the A550 is quite superb. The speakers look great,
Creative’s A550 5.1 speaker set is well priced and well designed. There’s plenty of technology involved, but the cables are a little short
they’re compact enough to fit virtually anywhere, and are all tough enough to withstand nearly any environment you’ll place them in. The sub, too, is of exceptional quality and will take a good kicking should someone with uncontrollable feet sit at your desk.
As for sound quality, it was exceptional. In fact, we haven’t heard anything this good since we reviewed an £800 set some months ago. Every frequency range was excellent, and the sound levels coming from those relatively small speakers was above and beyond what you would expect from such a compact set.
But there are few problems we feel we need to point out. While the DSE/IFP technology is great, it does expose the cones on the satellites. Normally it wouldn’t be a problem, but should someone or something touch them, they could be damaged quite easily. Also, the leads are rather short: around 1.2 metres for the front speakers and 3.5 metres for the rear.
That’s fine for a small office, but not so good for a home theatre setting. Finally, the wired remote is attached to a laughable 1.2 metre cable, which means you’ll have to leave it lying near the sub or in the middle of the floor if you’re planning on using these in the living room.
Those problems aside, the Creative A550 5.1 speakers are a fantastic set. Sound quality is excellent and the price is affordable too.