Buying Guide: Select The Best Speakers For You (Part 2) - Creative Inspire A320, Logitech Z313, Creative Gigaworks T20 Series II

11/23/2012 11:26:53 AM


·         Configuration: 2.1

·         Price: $59

·         Power Output: 16w

2.1 speakers don't come cheap, but for under $60 you can get these Creative Inspire A320s, which are, at least, charitably priced.

The system includes a pair of four watt speakers and an eight watt subwoofer. Unlike 2.0 systems, there's no provision here for portability: the speakers are large, and the subwoofer needs plenty of space to itself. The 3.5mm audio jack input means it's instantly and simply compatible with any kind of system, be it pocket, portable or desktop, but there's no mistaking that it's designed to stay in one place.

Description: Creative Inspire A320

Creative Inspire A320

Again, Creative's long association with quality sound means you get a set of speakers that sounds great and, in this case, much better than the low price suggests. As a budget model, the subwoofer is slightly weedier than its appearance might suggest, though, but just because it isn't strong enough to rattle windows, that doesn't mean it's too weak to enjoy. You still get good bass - certainly superior to any 2.0 system. Indeed, if there is a problem it's around the mid-range, which is slightly muted compared to the bass and treble.

The system is also designed to be space-conscious. The subwoofer has a small footprint, the power supply is internal, and the speakers are angled in such a way as to conserve space while giving maximum output that travels upwards (towards the ears, instead of the chest).

There are some features that you might argue are missing, but which are arguably a consequence of cost-saving. The lack of a headphone socket is particularly notable, and while it could be reasoned that the type of desktop systems its aimed out will have their own headphone port on a front panel, that's far from a certainty. If you're a persistent headphone user, you're forced to either buy a splitter or find yourself repeatedly crawling on your hands and knees to replace the jack. Neither situation is ideal.

It's a solid 2.1 system, with a pleasingly low price, but poor mid-range performance and ther lack of headphone socket is enough to make us cautious. Once the initial enjoyment of the sound wears off, the impracticalities might quickly sour your opinion.

Reasonably cheap, but imperfect and lacking some essential qualities

Logitech Z313


·         Configuration: 2.1

·         Price: $56

·         Power Output: 25w

Logitech's Z313 is another entry-level 2.1 system - even cheaper than the Inspire A320. And, as with Logitech's other budget offerings, you won't be disappointed by its performance.

As you'd expect, it's hardly loaded with features and extras, but for its position in the market it's got the mixture spot on. It's more powerful than the Inspire A320, even though it has many of the same design finishes: a subwoofer with a small footprint, upward-angled satellite speakers, and a line-in port for the speaker cables. Setup is simple, because there are no extra inputs or unused ports. Hardly impressive but not unexpected at this price.

The matte surface covering the speakers means you can adjust them without worrying about fingerprints, something that might not seem like a problem until you try the glossy, slightly more expensive examples in Logitech's range, which could drive a neat-freak mad given the ease that they pick up smudges and prints. It's the little things.

Description: Logitech Z313

Logitech Z313

The satellites have a main driver with a bass port located beneath, meaning you get good quality mid-range sound and bass even without the subwoofer enabled. Switch it on, and the quality of the bass becomes even more pronounced. Thankfully, there is a headphone port, which you might have taken for granted before reading about the Inspire A320.

However, that's not to say the design is without its quirks. One admittedly big mistake is that the speakers and subwoofer are connected by integrated power cables. That means there's no way to easily dismantle the system for reorganization or transportation, and worse yet, if you accidentally shear through one of those cables, you're looking at a world of difficulty repairing it. Oddly, even though there are no controls on the satellite speakers, you do get a wired remote with volume and power controls (so you don't have to stoop for the subwoofer) but that does increase the likelihood of tangles.

Despite an odd design, the Logitech Z313 system is actually better than its closest competitors. Aside from the inconvenience of fixed cables, the lack of on-satellite controls is the only element that should give prospective buyers pause. It's unashamedly simple, but between a low price and strong output, it's worth considering.

Good, but not the great system that Logitech produced at the lowest end of the market

Creative Gigaworks T20 Series II


·         Configuration: 2.0

·         Price: $96

·         Power Output: 28w

In many areas of computing, the $80 barrier represents the moment where you crest from budget hardware to mid-range and so it is here. The Creative Gigaworks T20 Series II speakers cost six times as much as the cheapest stereo systems, so it's no surprise that you get a lot more for your money.

Certainly, the design has taken a step up. They're streamlined and sleek, with a clean glossy finish and detachable fabric panels covering the drivers (or not, as in our picture). Setup is a simple matter of plugging in the right cables, but since they're all detachable you'll not find yourself in a tangle if you ever want to move or reconfigure the speakers - something that cheaper examples cut corners on.

The controls all sit on the right speaker, with a soothing blue power indicator and a combined volume/power switch. Further dials allow you to tweak the bass and treble output, and you also get both headphone out and auxiliary in sockets to let you attach additional devices. If you're looking for a stereo setup, you couldn't ask for it to be better designed or more fully featured.

Of course, that would mean nothing if the sound quality didn't deliver, and luckily it does. The speakers aren't huge, but they are loud. Creative's BasXPort feature means each one essentially has its own built-in miniature subwoofer, and that gives it some pleasantly deep bass sounds, but the upper range is just as well-serviced, by separate high-frequency drivers that do a good job.

It's hard to say that they're six times better than the cheapest stereo setups are

The system isn't beyond criticism, though, with an external power pack that makes it potentially cumbersome to deal with, and a shorter-than-average power cable which could cause problems. You'll probably have to keep the transformer on a desktop (or otherwise supported) if your sockets aren't close by.

Description: Creative Gigaworks T20 Series II

Creative Gigaworks T20 Series II

They are also expensive. Yes, they're good quality, and definitely powerful, but unless you're planning to fill a room using nothing but stereo speakers, it's hard to say that they're six times better than the cheapest stereo setups are. It's just about forgivable, due to the good design and output quality, but at this price one imagines anyone that bothered about sound will want a more complete system. Still, if you have something against separate subwoofers, this should please you.

Great, but it's hard to imagine a 2.0 system attracting the attention of audiophiles who would notice the quality

Top 10
SG50 Ferrari F12berlinetta : Prancing Horse for Lion City's 50th
The latest Audi TT : New angles for TT
Era of million-dollar luxury cars
Game Review : Hearthstone - Blackrock Mountain
Game Review : Battlefield Hardline
Google Chromecast
Keyboards for Apple iPad Air 2 (part 3) - Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad Air 2
Keyboards for Apple iPad Air 2 (part 2) - Zagg Slim Book for iPad Air 2
Keyboards for Apple iPad Air 2 (part 1) - Belkin Qode Ultimate Pro Keyboard Case for iPad Air 2
Michael Kors Designs Stylish Tech Products for Women
- First look: Apple Watch

- 3 Tips for Maintaining Your Cell Phone Battery (part 1)

- 3 Tips for Maintaining Your Cell Phone Battery (part 2)
Popular Tags
Video Tutorail Microsoft Access Microsoft Excel Microsoft OneNote Microsoft PowerPoint Microsoft Project Microsoft Visio Microsoft Word Active Directory Exchange Server Sharepoint Sql Server Windows Server 2008 Windows Server 2012 Windows 7 Windows 8 Adobe Flash Professional Dreamweaver Adobe Illustrator Adobe Photoshop CorelDRAW X5 CorelDraw 10 windows Phone 7 windows Phone 8 Iphone