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With the advent of DVD and in particular DVD ROMs, the retail world of PC speakers has really boomed over the last couple of years. No longer do you need a nice swanky amp and speaker set to listen to your favourite movies, instead chances are that you can pick up a reasonable home PC setup for a lot less money. If you are after a PC sound package then you probably fall into one of two categories, either you want a simple 2 speaker setup, or you want a full blown 5.1 package. There are 7.1 packages available, but it will be a while before they become popular. I fall into the first category; having already owned a nice amp and speaker set, I was looking for a simple set of PC speakers to replace my inexpensive pair that I bought over 5 years ago. When it comes to PC speakers, there are only a few companies that have the monopoly, one of them being Creative who have recently released their T Series consisting of three products (T2900, T5400, T7700). This is a review of their 2.1 package which is called the T2900.    

Creative Inspire T2900

The Specification & Package Contents


Like most Creative hardware this speaker package arrived in a neatly presented box, the equipment was securely packed and the manuals were also easy to find. The package contents include the following:

[*]Two wall mountable speakers with attached 2m cables
[*]One Subwoofer
[*]One Audio Control Pod
[*]Two removable metal speaker stands
[*]Two removable clothe grilles for speaker
[*]One stereo to stereo audio cable
[*]One power supply adapter
[*]One Quick Start leaflet

For the technically minded among you, the technical specifications for this package are as follows. The speakers are dual two-way 6 watts RMS per channel, and the subwoofer is a respectable 17 watts RMS. The Signal to noise Ratio is 80dB and the frequency response is 40Hz – 20kHz. This package also boasts Creative’s unique Audio Control Pod which has an auxiliary line-in, a headphone jack and also a power on/off and volume/bass control. The pod also has M-PORT connectivity which ensures direct links with compatible external MP3 players. It is also worth mentioning that this set also comes with a 2-year limited hardware warranty.

Installation


This is where a PC speaker package really comes into its own. If you have ever wired up a home cinema system then you will know that it can be quite frustrating and time consuming! The T2900 is a complete contrast, in fact it couldn’t really be any easier! I didn’t refer to the instructions, but if you get stuck there is a Quick Start Guide. The guide has useful diagrams and step by step instructions.

After unpacking the system, the first task was to attach the metal stands to the speakers. The stands are optional and the speakers can also sit on the desktop as they are, or can be wall mounted if you wish. There are grooves at the back of the speakers, so attaching them to the wall is a simple task, provided that you have the correct screws. The connectors all go into the back of the subwoofer. There are right and left connectors for the speakers, an audio input which is connected to the soundcard on your PC, two connectors for the Audio Control Pod and a 12V AC in slot. It really is that easy!

Creative Inspire T2900

Aesthetics


My first impressions of this set were that it was extremely stylish. The speakers are jet black, made of solid plastic and look like they are built to last. The speakers are also magnetically shielded, so if like me you don’t have much space on your desktop they are ideal. You can place them near your monitor and you will not get interference. The speakers also each have a removable clothe grille which allows you to change their appearance, and makes them look more retro. The subwoofer is also black and looks equally stylish. The connectors at the back of the subwoofer are also colour coded, so if you are struggling to connect this system together then just match the colours. Every effort has been made to ensure that this is a slick package and it has certainly paid off.

Ergonomics


There’s not much to say about this aspect apart from the fact that the speakers were a little heavier than I expected. They look quite light, but in fact they are fairly weighty, however this isn’t such a bad thing as it proves that they are well made and actually have components inside them! As for size, the speakers are relatively slim and fitted nicely on my cramped desktop. The subwoofer is considerably lighter than I expected and is about the same size as a normal home cinema subwoofer. I placed the subwoofer under my desk and it fitted quite nicely in a corner, and certainly wasn’t obtrusive.

The Audio Control Pod


Now onto Creative’s big selling point, the Audio Control Pod, which is basically a remote acting as a volume and bass control, while also giving you various connectivity options. The pod is about the size of a mobile phone and has two volume controls on the front. The top dial allows you to delicately alter the power/volume, and the lower dial changes the bass level. The positioning and design of these dials allow for easy access and precise control of the volumes. This is definitely an innovative solution and something which I found very useful. The pod also has the much hyped M-PORT which caters for streaming music with compatible MP3 players. The M-PORT is located at the top of the pod and is quite a useful connector if you wish to link up devices without having messy cables all over the place. The pod also has connectors for auxiliary line-in and headphone jack.

Creative Inspire T2900

Sound


All that’s left for me to mention is the sound quality, and the system is definitely not lacking in this department. The speakers each have a dedicated tweeter, as well as a mid-range driver, which is apparently the reason why the sound is much clearer than speakers of the same price range. The highs are particularly smooth, vocals are clear and even gaming sounded much better. There is simply no comparison between this package and my previous £30 cheap set. I tested theT2900 with a DVD, music and games, all of which sounded impressively clear. The DVD playback was audible and precise, while the gaming experience was realistic to say the least! I noticed the subwoofer most while playing games. It can sometimes be a little overwhelming but the majority of the time it was a useful addition. Probably the biggest difference I noticed was in the playback of music. With my previous speakers, listening to music wasn’t really a pleasant experience, however with these new speakers the music was so much clearer and more focused.

Overall


When the T Series was announced by Creative I wondered what all the fuss was about. The series was publicised as “a major step ahead in audio quality”, and after experiencing the T2900 I wouldn’t go against that statement. For anyone looking to get a simple and reasonably priced (£69.99) 2.1 package I would definitely recommend this system. Creative have once again shown that they can be relied upon to deliver PC equipment that is at the cutting edge of technology at an affordable price!

If you fancy reading out the high end Creative Labs Audigy 2 and Inspire 6700  6.1 speakers then click here


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