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Default Thumbs-up for Creative Gigaworks T40 Series 2

March 8th, 2010, 21:28
In connection with my recent Spotification, I upgraded my computer speakers. I previously had Gigaworks T20's, which I liked a lot. The reason that pushed me to upgrade was that since switching to a completely silent computer, I had noticed that there was a slight rustle coming out of the left speaker, which was just noticeable enough to be annoying if there was nothing playing. Now the T20's are happily sitting on my desk at work, where the A/C hums loudly enough to cover that rustle. Since I liked the T20's, I decided to go one better, and get Creative's top-of-the-line 2.0 speakers, the T40 Series 2's. I paid a little over 100 euros for them, and like the T20's before them, I'm amazed by the sound quality for the price.

You can read all about the tech specs in lots of places, so I'll skip that and just write up a few notes on them and how they compare to the T20 Series 1's they replaced.

First, they're pretty big for desktop speakers. They don't look outsize next to a 24" screen, but they would be a bit odd with, say, a 19" one. Despite the height, they're a good deal less prone to falling over than the T20's; they have a broader and better balanced base with rubber feet. They look OK, although I preferred the matte gray finish of the Series 1's; these are finised with a gloss black paint with some blue metallic flecks in them. Not ugly, but perhaps trying a bit too hard. The over-bright blue LED is gone, replaced with a more discreet blue ring around the volume/power dial.

The sound is very similar to the T20's: very crisp and distinct, good stereo image, and surprising range for desktop speakers. For shits and giggles, I tried listening to the first movement of Bruckner's sixth symphony on them, and that was a bit too much for them to handle -- when the orchestra really opened up, the poor little boxes ran out of steam. Unfortunately 2 x 16 W just aren't enough -- big surprise there. Everything else I've thrown at them they've handled beautifully.

Their big drawback is that they're highly directional -- they sound great when you're sitting at your computer, but stand up and walk around, and the sound immediately goes muddy. In this respect, they're not noticeably better than the T20's.

There's one noticeable improvement over the T20's: they sound better throughout the volume range. To get the T20's to properly open up, I had to turn the volume up about three quarters; when played more quietly, they sounded a bit anemic. The T40's sound very nicely balanced even at lower levels.

Are they worth the extra 30-40 euros over the T20's? Yeah, no, maybe. They're certainly not 50% better, more like 10 or 20% better. But then again none of these toys are really *that* pricey. I'm amazed that you can get sound that approaches genuine hi-fi quality -- even in controlled conditions such as you sitting in a chair facing them -- at anywhere near this price. They excel at their intended purpose as desktop computer speakers. They might also be worth a look if you're building a cheap home theater setup in a small room -- if you can figure out a way to hook them up, I'd imagine they'd work great as surround speakers for that. Certainly better than a cheap 5+1 setup.
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