Corsair’s Gaming Audio Series SP2500 2.1 speakers

Manufacturer Corsair
Model Gaming Audio Series SP2500
Price (Street) $249.99
Availability Now

Many adjectives describe Corsair’s entry into the audio market—surprising, unexpected, and bold, among others—but half-hearted certainly isn’t one of them. Since we reviewed the company’s first gaming headset last year, Corsair has introduced another headset and two sets of gaming speakers.

We first encountered those speakers at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. While we were intrigued, Vegas isn’t exactly the best place to sit down calmly and assess the fidelity of audio equipment. The fact that the speakers were premiered in a crowded club filled with busty waitresses and inebriated journalists didn’t help.

For the past little while, however, we’ve had a set of Gaming Audio Series SP2500 speakers all to ourselves. We’ve been listening closely and have finally been able to come up with a verdict about Corsair’s latest foray into the world of premium PC audio equipment.

Make no mistake: these are premium speakers through and through. They’ll set you back 250 bucks at Newegg, and that’s for just for a stereo set with a subwoofer. (Corsair doesn’t make surround speaker sets yet.) To give you a nice frame of reference, Newegg stocks a similar set of speakers from Bose… and those cost $26 less than the SP2500. I haven’t been too impressed with Bose products in the past, but they’re not exactly known for being affordable, either. Corsair’s pricing signals bold confidence in its first and only high-end speaker offering. We’ll soon see whether that confidence is warranted.

The SP2500 certainly looks like a premium PC speaker setup ought to look. I would go so far as to call it dashing, especially given the two satellites’ muscle-car-dashboard finish. Of course, looks alone can’t justify the kind of asking price Corsair is demanding—one also expects top-notch sound quality and the ability to crank up the volume enough to make one’s ears bleed.

At least on paper, the SP2500 seems to tick all the right boxes. It has 232W of maximum output power, and it’s supposed to let you use the entire volume range—a feat you can’t take for granted with the competition, Corsair claims. The firm tells us the two satellites feature 3″ mid-range drivers as well as “silk-domed, ferrofluid-cooled tweeter[s].” The satellites are “bi-amplified,” purportedly to prevent audio signal bleed. Meanwhile, the 120W subwoofer plays host to a “custom-designed, high-efficiency power supply unit, the two-stage amplifier for the sub itself, and the four Class D digital amplification circuits for the bi-amplified two-way satellite speakers.”

Are you blinded with science yet?

Since we’re talking about the subwoofer, I’d like to take a minute to point out just how friggin’ large it is. Seriously. I measured the thing at roughly 18″ x 10″ x 11″, which is a little over a cubic foot. If the sub were hollow, it would hold almost nine gallons (or 33 liters) of liquid. Here it is dwarfing a 2L bottle of pop:

Believe it or not, there’s a reason behind those elephantine dimensions. Here’s the relevant graphic and excerpt from the reviewer’s guide Corsair sent us:

The Corsair Gaming Audio Series SP2500 utilizes a sophisticated 4th orders band-pass subwoofer design, rather than the ported bass-reflex design that is commonly used in competing systems. In a 4th order band-pass system, the driver unit is placed in a sealed chamber. This is also known as “acoustic suspension” and allows the driver to create bass tones with very low levels of distortion.
The driver unit fires into a separate, ported chamber, which creates an acoustic filter that only passes a set range of frequencies (hence the name “band-pass”), and rejects frequencies outside this band, significantly reducing audible distortion.

In a nutshell, the sealed-chamber-firing-into-a-ported-chamber design is meant to produce higher-quality and better-defined bass tones than conventional designs. The tradeoff is all that extra volume. At least, that’s what you’ll have to tell yourself every time you stub your toe on this subwoofer.

Getting the SP2500 up and running is child’s play, since only a single cable connects each speaker to the sub. Those cables have plugs that look an awful lot like 12V ATX power-supply connectors, but hey, what else do you expect from a company that also makes PSUs?

Once the speakers are connected, you’ll want to hook up the power, the stereo audio cable (which connects to your sound card), and the remote. Corsair also includes RCA audio jacks, but there’s no digital input. The company rationalizes this omission by pointing out that a digital 5.1 audio stream would have to be mixed down to two channels anyway. A digital connection might yield higher stereo sound quality if you’re using onboard audio, but let’s face it: anyone springing for a $250 PC speaker setup really ought to shell out $30 for a good sound card.

One issue you might run into during setup is trying to position everything without running out of cable length. The power cable is only about 5′ long, and the speaker, stereo, and remote cables are all 6′ long or so. I was hoping to put the subwoofer next to my desk to avoid restricting my legroom, but the cables were simply too short for that to be possible. Next stop: stubbed toe city.

But I digress. Now that we’ve got everything set up and ready to go, let’s take these bad boys for a spin.

Some listening tests

The first thing you’ll notice after switching on the SP2500 for the first time is that the remote features a nice, bright 1.8″ color display, through which you can fine-tune volume and subwoofer controls, select equalizer settings, and choose between several signal processing modes.

Pre-configured processing modes include “theater,” “concert hall,” “stadium,” and “late night,” which tones down the sub and redirects some low frequencies to the satellite speakers. (Your neighbors will thank you.) Corsair also provides special equalizer settings for classical music, jazz, pop, action films, and first-person shooters, to name a few. Incidentally, the bottom surface of the remote plays host to a 1/8″ stereo headphone port, and the top surface has a 1/8″ port for an auxiliary input—both nice touches.

After tinkering with the remote for a little while (hey, spinning that big dial is fun), I got started with some listening tests. I dug up CDs from Soundgarden, Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, Estradasphere, and The Bird And The Bee.

Okay, that last one was technically an iTunes purchase, but the limits of 256Kbps AAC audio really shouldn’t come into play with a PC speaker setup. I have a hard enough time distinguishing high-bitrate MP3s from CD audio with my fancy Sennheiser HD595 headphones. For the record, the SP2500 speakers were connected to my Creative X-Fi XtremeGamer sound card throughout the testing, as are my headphones when I’m not testing speaker setups.

  • I got the ball rolling with some nice and mellow Pacific Northwest grunge: Pretty Noose from Soungarden’s album Down on the Upside. The Corsair speakers produced warm, well-defined bass lines, and the setup sounded positively deafening with the volume cranked up. However, the vocals and lead guitar were kind of mashed together, which tainted an otherwise pleasant experience.
  • Next up was Just Like You Imagined, an instrumental electronic track from Nine Inch Nail’s The Fragile. I enjoyed the punchy bass, the sheer loudness, and the very crisp highs. The mid-range was too faint, however, which made me feel like I was sandwiched between highs and lows with little in between.
  • After that, it was time for a blend of metal and classical music, courtesy of Outlaw Torn from Metallica’s rather extravagant S&M (performed in conjunction with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra). The experience wasn’t as enjoyable as I had hoped in this case; the bass and drums were somewhat over-emphasized at the expense of the vocals, orchestra, and guitars, which all seemed to be squished together. This track definitely sounded better on my headphones.
  • I then gave Estradasphere’s Mekapses Yitonisa (from the album Quadropus) a shot, since I’m a sucker for eccentric instrumental music with unusual time signatures. The Corsair speakers performed well with this song, producing very clean and crisp sound. There was a slight metallic quality to it all, though.
  • To round things out, I dug up Love Letter from Japan from The Bird And The Bee’s excellent Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future. This song, which punctuates vocals with crisp pop beats, guitars, and synths sounded very airy and well-defined on the Corsair setup. My only criticism here is that the vocals came across as metallic, which took away from the tune’s warmth.

My music listening tests over, I fired up Portal 2 and Left 4 Dead 2 to get an idea of sound quality in two of my all-time favorite PC games. In both cases, I enjoyed the clean, crisp sound, and the fact that the speakers generated a broad soundscape that made it easy to determine the position of audible cues coming from the front. Without rear satellites or surround-sound emulation, though, figuring out whether a character or enemy was coming from behind me was a crap-shoot. I’m a little dubious about the notion that gamers would spend $250 on a set of speakers without any positional audio support, but then again, there are plenty of folks who don’t bother with multiplayer. The results of our last reader poll is clear evidence of that.

Finally, I tried out the SP2500 with a couple of movies: Avatar and Tron: Legacy. I commended Corsair’s HS1 headphones for making movies sound just like they do in the theater, and the SP2500 set is no different. Avatar was particularly immersive, with good separation between sounds and a good sense of volume, especially after switching on the “theater” digital processing mode. Tron: Legacy also sounded very crisp, with powerful bass that really made the excellent Daft Punk soundtrack pop. If you’ve got a stack of Blu-ray discs and a nice, big PC monitor, these are the speakers to get. Corsair doesn’t recommend sticking them around a TV, however; the satellites were purportedly optimized for listeners sitting within a two-meter range.

Conclusions

It’s undeniable that Corsair has made a rather showy entry into the PC speaker market with the Gaming Audio Series SP2500. The showiness doesn’t just stem from the $250 price tag and huge subwoofer. One can also notice it in the speakers’ ability to reach deafening volumes without noticeable distortion, not to mention the geeky remote control with its wealth of presets and configuration options.

The SP2500 is also Corsair’s first stab at a new market, and that, too, is obvious from the get-go. The subwoofer is just too large, the cables are too short, and the fact that there are only two satellites makes this setup hard to recommend to hard-core gamers, especially those who play competitively. Some sound cards and integrated audio solutions do offer support for positional audio emulation, but implementations and their accuracy vary, so that can’t necessarily be counted on.

Even from a pure sound quality standpoint, Corsair has left room for improvement. The satellites produce sound that’s a little too crisp, metallic, and flat for my liking, and the various equalizer presets don’t really solve the problem. I expressed similar concerns about Corsair’s HS1 gaming headset, so perhaps the company is shooting for a certain kind of sound profile with its audio products. I would welcome more warmth and depth to the sound, though, and I’m sure other music lovers would agree with me.

All things considered, Corsair’s Gaming Audio Series SP2500 still deserves a spot on your short-list of 2.1 PC speaker setups. Folks who play single-player games will enjoy the crisp, detailed stereo sound, and cinephiles will love the theater-like quality of the audio in summer blockbusters. The shortcomings of this setup are worth keeping in mind, however. I’d expect great things from Corsair’s second stab at the concept, but the SP2500 is no slam dunk.

Comments closed
    • shalmon
    • 8 years ago

    anyone interested in the corsair package should consider these for competition:

    [url<]http://www.logitech.com/en-ca/speakers-audio/home-pc-speakers/devices/7321[/url<] [url<]http://www.klipsch.com/na-en/products/promedia-2-1-overview/[/url<] [url<]http://www.swanspeaker.com/products/products.aspx?cid=5&sid=0&pid=22[/url<]

    • asmallrabbit
    • 8 years ago

    I find it interesting with just a short 2 page review that you have rated these speakers as you have when almost every other review I’ve seen on these to date has rated them as outstanding speakers especially when it comes to music and clarity/quality of sound.

    I’ve owned a set of these for a few months now, and they’ve been absolutely fantastic for me, although I purchased them for around $200 CAD. Is it the price point in the US thats the issue? I see them go on sale all the time here (interesting that they are cheaper here in Canada then the US which usually isn’t the norm) In fact, they are actually on sale for $179.99 CAD from [url<]http://www.memoryexpress.com[/url<] right now.

      • travbrad
      • 8 years ago

      It’s all relative I guess. This price is getting towards the amount it costs for entry-level active studio monitors, which sound pretty amazing for music. I can’t comment on this particular set since I haven’t heard them, but it’s pretty hard to beat monitors for sound quality in my opinion.

      Monitors may lack a bit on the very low frequencies, but I find the “subwoofers” used in those 2.1 setups tend to be very inaccurate anyway (more bass isn’t automatically better). There’s a reason high-quality monitor subs cost more than this entire set.

        • KikassAssassin
        • 8 years ago

        If he’s used to the sound of his HD 595’s, that’s also going to make any set of PC speakers sound like crap in comparison. My Logitech Z-680s are still considered to be good as far as PC speakers go, and I thought they were one of the best things I’d ever heard when I got them years ago, but the difference between those and my HD 595’s is like night and day. The 595’s are on such a completely different level of sound quality that there’s no comparison.

        Is it fair to compare PC speakers to headphones? Maybe not, they’re different types of products that serve different purposes, but I don’t fault Cyril for his opinion of these speakers, because I have the same sort of reaction when I go back and listen to my Z-680s now.

          • insulin_junkie72
          • 8 years ago

          Also since Sennheiser released the 5×8, the price on the older models has dropped like a rock – 595s have been as low as $120 on Amazon the last week or two. Half the price of the Corsairs, although, as mentioned, headphones might not be an acceptable speaker replacement depending on a person’s situation.

    • christopher3393
    • 8 years ago

    “The fact that the speakers were premiered in a crowded club filled with busty waitresses and inebriated journalists didn’t help.”

    Is there a technical explanation regarding how busty waitresses interfere with sound quality or the perception of sound quality?

      • MadManOriginal
      • 8 years ago

      They skew male’s perception of sound toward being ‘more lively and bouncy.’

        • paulWTAMU
        • 8 years ago

        bouncy bouncy bouncy, full of fun fun fun

    • dpaus
    • 8 years ago

    FYI, NCIX.ca has these on sale for $259.99 Cdn – which is curious if their list is $249.99 U.S and the Cdn $ is currently 1.056 above par.

    • DeadOfKnight
    • 8 years ago

    I actually had high hopes for these things, pretty disappointed. But it is their first entry.

    • XaiaX
    • 8 years ago

    I don’t see a discrete subwoofer input, so how can Corsair claim it’s a 2.1 system?

    Have people just decided that “.1” means nothing more than “has a subwoofer” now? The “.1” in 5.1 refers to a sixth, completely discrete channel, but one that is not full-bandwidth.

    So, pretty much no one has a 2.1 system, or a 4.1 system. Having a subwoofer doesn’t give you a “.1” automatically. It’s like saying if you hook up 80 speakers and 3 subwoofers to a stereo output you have an 80.3 system. (Similarly, no one has a x.2 system, since LFE is omnidirectional, that’d be pointless.)

    /petpeeve

      • KilgoreTrout
      • 8 years ago

      I don’t think anyone has decided anything, it just seems like the logical conclusion when you are uninformed. You just educated me on what 2.1 really signifies. Thanks! :o)

    • seeker010
    • 8 years ago

    I wonder how many of the snooty audiphiles who are posting have actually done any ABXing on their own.

      • Captain Ned
      • 8 years ago

      True audiophiles consider ABX testing invalid.

      Seriously. Read Stereophile and The Absolute Sound.

        • paulWTAMU
        • 8 years ago

        but…..look, I just read the conspiricy theory blog. I can’t take anymore disconnected from reality mumbo jumbo. I can’t read audophile crap till the previous crap has been cleared and cached in long term memory

        • phez
        • 8 years ago

        A subjective listening test is invalid for a subjective experience.

        Audiophiles never cease to make me laugh.

        • seeker010
        • 8 years ago

        true audiophiles need to justify spending their hard earned money on phantom gains. some of their complaints are valid. but on the whole, arguments like better/worse rely on subjective, biased testing.

        you want to believe your $1000 cable makes music sound better, and it magically does, creating “a more dynamic soundstage”, as it were. but if you ABX it, take an oscilloscope differential, etc, there would be no difference at all.

        this is no different than AMD fanboys arguing about the subjective benefits of Phenoms over Core i7/i5s or Intel fanboys arguing about the subjective benefits of Pentium Ds despite all the objective evidence to the contrary.

        You can’t tell people they are wrong with their preferences; you can only point out the fallacy when they start spouting it as fact.

          • paulWTAMU
          • 8 years ago

          Do people argue about subjective benefits on CPUs? I mean, I can see arguing that the objective peformance increase is not worth the price increase, but the subjective user experience? WTH?

            • seeker010
            • 8 years ago

            yes. they do. things like, “smoother gameplay”

            • indeego
            • 8 years ago

            [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias<]All the freaking time.[/url<]

    • can-a-tuna
    • 8 years ago

    I hate those frigging wired controller units. That’s why I changed my older Logitech Z-2300 to new Logitech Z623 where volume control, bass and power are integrated into one of the satellites. It was a good choice.

    • jalex3
    • 8 years ago

    so it seems you cant like high quality audio without being considered a “snooty audiophile”.
    I don’t care if you like your shitty phones and mp3, many Don’t.

    put simply you seem to think we love caviar, well in fact I like roast beef so go back to your spam.

    • Bensam123
    • 8 years ago

    “I have a hard enough time distinguishing high-bitrate MP3s from CD audio with my fancy Sennheiser HD595 headphones. For the record, the SP2500 speakers were connected to my Creative X-Fi XtremeGamer sound card throughout the testing, as are my headphones when I’m not testing speaker setups.”

    Not to be a hard critic, but perhaps you’re not the best candidate to do subjective listening tests for audio equipment? :l

      • Firestarter
      • 8 years ago

      Because he can’t tell proper MP3s from CDs? That’s bullshit and you know it.

        • Bensam123
        • 8 years ago

        …you should be able to discern the difference between a high quality mp3 and a CD. He didn’t say between a mp3 and a CD. It makes all your tests completely pointless if you can’t even do that when you are using your personal ability to hear the differences between speakers to grade them.

        It makes it completely pointless and ludicrous to write a review otherwise.

          • Cyril
          • 8 years ago

          I never said I couldn’t tell the difference. I said it was difficult to do so.

          • Firestarter
          • 8 years ago

          I’d like to state again that this makes no sense:

          “…you should be able to discern the difference between a high quality mp3 and a CD. He didn’t say between a mp3 and a CD”

          A high quality MP3 is DESIGNED to be near-indistinguishable from the CD source. It’s called ‘transparency’, as in, the process of encoding and decoding an MP3 should be transparent to human ears and yield the same result as the original CD source. That Cyril admits that he can’t reliably tell these MP3’s from the CD source just tells you that he has human ears and integrity.

          No amount of backpedalling will make up for baselessly accusing him of incompetence.

      • Cyril
      • 8 years ago

      What, because I can’t effortlessly distinguish 320Kbps MP3s from CD audio in ABX testing? Can [i<]you[/i<]? πŸ™‚

        • paulWTAMU
        • 8 years ago

        Yes. I can also distinguish unicorn and fairy farts.

        • Bensam123
        • 8 years ago

        A lossless MP3 and a normal audio CD? Yes.

          • KoolAidMan
          • 8 years ago

          mp3 is by definition not a lossless format

            • Meadows
            • 8 years ago

            Haha, he lost so much there.

          • travbrad
          • 8 years ago

          Ok here ya go. Two of these are 320kbps CBR mp3s transcoded to WAV, two are original wavs (directly off the CD). Which are which?

          [url<]http://www.fileswap.com/dl/mE2enxi/hanging_masses1a.wav.html[/url<] [url<]http://www.fileswap.com/dl/XURheaYR/hanging_masses1b.wav.html[/url<] [url<]http://www.fileswap.com/dl/k6edIFnC/hanging_masses2a.wav.html[/url<] [url<]http://www.fileswap.com/dl/rroZDYrp/hanging_masses2b.wav.html[/url<] I can't tell the difference with my headphones or monitors but who knows maybe you have incredible ears.

            • Bensam123
            • 8 years ago

            Keep in mind if you don’t have a song that varies in terms of content (not necessarily vocals) and a big enough sample size it makes all of this pointless. Cherry picking two specific examples (very short I might add)and then saying ‘test this’ makes for extremely skewed results, especially with subjective testing.

            The clips you posted have very little in terms of content and are roughly the same. They don’t have a lot of variance in terms of tone, pitch, frequency response, and rythem. It’s all pretty much the same mellow trance-ish music.

            That aside, I thought Cyril was referring to high quality audio in general. To put it into context he seemed to be contrasting two extremes to show the limitations of his testing. I misread that and he was instead trying to more closely compare green apples to red apples and state the relative lack of differences when it comes to high end compression and non-compressed formats.

            • travbrad
            • 8 years ago

            Cyril asked if you could EFFORTLESSLY tell the difference though, and you said yes. If something is effortless surely it doesn’t have to be such a specific set of circumstances?

            I noticed you didn’t actually say which ones are which, so I guess it’s not quite as effortless as you claimed?

            I can effortlessly lift 1000lbs, if I have a forklift.

            • Cyril
            • 8 years ago

            Okay, so this is gonna bug me if I don’t try, so…

            I’m gonna say 1b and 2a are the lossless WAVs.

            Drum hits seem to be slightly sharper in those, but my ears could be playing tricks on me. I tried checking out the waveforms, but it’s hard to see any difference there at all.

            How’d I do? πŸ™‚

            • travbrad
            • 8 years ago

            I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you are wrong on both counts. You are right about the wavforms appearing to be identical though. I couldn’t find any difference no matter how far I “zoomed in”.

            You never claimed it was easy though, unlike some people. πŸ™‚

            Obviously some data IS lost in mp3s, but it seems that it’s almost impossible to hear for most people/sound systems.

            • Firestarter
            • 8 years ago

            Welp, may as well delete the article now!

            • XaiaX
            • 8 years ago

            Meh. If you tell someone two samples are different, they will hear differences that aren’t there. This is well established, and unsurprising.

            “Seeing/Hearing is believing” is completely backwards. It’s “Believing is seeing/hearing”.

            I’ve ABXed 320kbs LAME mp3s from wave source before, using foobar and the ABXY plugin. I wasn’t doing ANYTHING else at the time, and I was using a sample that compressed to a pretty high bitrate when using FLAC/APE, so there was a lot of “info” in it.

            So, with concentration and a clean environment with no distractions, I was able to tell which was which. If you had asked me which was [i<]better[/i<], I would've had no damn idea what to tell you, though. Properly encoded MP3 is perfectly sufficient for [b<]all[/b<] real world listening scenarios, barring specific problem samples designed to exploit the shortcomings of transform encoders.

    • UltimateImperative
    • 8 years ago

    18″x11″x10″ isn’t huge; each of my main speakers is about that large, and they’re not very large.

      • Cyril
      • 8 years ago

      This is a PC speaker setup we’re talking about. Everything is relative. πŸ˜‰

    • sluggo
    • 8 years ago

    If the $249.99 price puts you off, I see where Fry’s B&M has an ad for these today: $20 off at the store and a $60 MIR for a $169.99 total. Pretty steep discount for a product that’s been out, what, six weeks?

      • UltimateImperative
      • 8 years ago

      They’ve done something similar with their air cooler: since their release, the A50 and A70 seem to have been on sale at 30-50% off every other week.

    • tempeteduson
    • 8 years ago

    The fourth-order bandpass system sounds fancy, but it’s only one of a number of options, each with their own tradeoffs. There is no free lunch, as they say, especially in audio. You’ll notice that high-end subwoofers rarely employ this design because of the tendency for “one-note” bass. The limited bandwidth combined with high gain (as Corsair probably opted for here) is a recipe for the bass boom that the average consumer seems to like. Just ask Bose, who’s done the same with their Acoustimass series for years. And as with the Bose products, I wouldn’t be surprised to find a hole in the frequency response where the subwoofer meets the satellites.

    [quote<]Corsair also includes RCA audio jacks, but there's no digital input. The company rationalizes this omission by pointing out that a digital 5.1 audio stream would have to be mixed down to two channels anyway.[/quote<] They [i<]do[/i<] know that digital can be used for stereo, right? In fact, only then can a S/PDIF connection support a 16-bit lossless stream; surround sound requires compression schemes like Dolby Digital or DTS.

      • Chrispy_
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]I wouldn't be surprised to find a hole in the frequency response where the subwoofer meets the satellites.[/quote<] Annoying as hell and all too common. I'd take open drivers rather than ported subs any day of the week.

        • floodo1
        • 8 years ago

        Ported isn’t really there bad….at least not standard ported. It’s bandpass that is truly ridiculous. Sealed designs offer the best sound quality no doubt (if you discount dipole setups, but really how many people use dipole?). The problem is that bass can often be weak with a sealed setup, especially in the home. It’s almost a requirement to go with a ported setup to get low frequency bass.

        Bandpass is ridiculous.

        ESPECIALLY when you couple a sub like this to a 3″ mid range speaker. That mid range can’t possibly extend down into the midbass range, so there has GOT to be a midbass issue with these speakers. The sub won’t be going up that high because it’s bandpassed and the mid’s due to their small size can’t extend down to meet.

        Also the nature of bandpass means that it’s almost impossible to have low frequency bass and a nice roll off to match up with your mids.

        Still, Corsair gets props for doing something different, having a sweet controller, and at least trying πŸ™‚ One day their speakers will be as good as their power supplies πŸ™‚ HX series what?

          • MadManOriginal
          • 8 years ago

          ‘Big’ acoustic suspension speakers ftw!

          I’ve sampled some well-regarded compact monitor stand-mount speakers in ported enclosures to create some kind of reasonable bass playback without a sub. While very nice in many ways they still gave off a somewhat indistinct ‘bass haze’ type of sound in the low-end versus large (12″+ woofer) acoutsitc suspension boxes. Damn you ‘lifestyle’ speakers!

    • sluggo
    • 8 years ago

    As a product designed to upgrade a stock Dell machine it probably hits the mark. Nothing makes a half-hearted dual core with integrated graphics scream through games like a lot of bass and a bling remote. But as audio designed for the people who would actually care enough to spend that kind of money? Nah. I’m sorry. Any speaker design that implements a DSP has jumped the shark. All of those effects are available for free with nearly any integrated audio solution, and they require less than 1% of any modern CPU. How does it make sense to put a dedicated signal processor into a speaker system for anything other than in-room calibration? How about taking all the money that was spent on the “effects” and the remote and putting it into the drivers? This is $150 of decent amps, ho-hum drivers, and $100 worth of fail. And yes, I’ve heard it.

      • UltimateImperative
      • 8 years ago

      Well, possibly they wanted to implement the crossover in the digital realm, and decided “what the hell, we already have a DSP, let’s add some effects to the sucker”.

      Biamping the satellites allow you to avoid putting a crossover in them, and you have to implement an active filter for your sub anyway (not practical to make it passive; your inductors would have to be insanely heavy & expensive).

        • sluggo
        • 8 years ago

        I doubt they would choose to implement a DSP just to do the frequency division. Waaay too expensive compared to the alternative – you can generate the five line levels needed with four dual op-amp packages and a couple handfuls of small passives. At most $12, including the PCB and connectors.

          • UltimateImperative
          • 8 years ago

          Reading the documentation, it really does seem like that’s what they did: use cheap amps with integrated DSP, and do everything digitally. The modes are kind of gimmicky, but I guess the compression in “night mode” might be useful.

    • Spotpuff
    • 8 years ago

    Proprietary speaker connections is a bad thing. No reason not to use RCA/regular speaker wire.

    Other than that, I’d be interested to see what they come up with for a 5.1, though my z-5500’s are still holding up fine.

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 8 years ago

      No reason to buy even a reasonably decent speaker system, even for a PC, that doesn’t use RCA/speaker wire. Horribly shortsighted.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 8 years ago

      Actually, there is a reason if you understood what ‘the satellites are bi-amped’ means. It’s still certainly a shortcoming.

    • BiffStroganoffsky
    • 8 years ago

    Sounds like you need steel-toed slippers. Maybe a nice wooden knob on the controller will get you that warm sound you seek. Then again, the knob probably will cost more than the speakers.

    • Meadows
    • 8 years ago

    You mention “deafening volume” several times, and the lack of distortion in such a scenario is indeed a positive sign, but I fail to understand the focus on loudness. There you sound exactly like my mother, she seems to believe that the “quality” of expensive home theater setups stems from the volume, and has no idea what frequency curves, noise, or speaker separation stand for.

    These are very pretty speakers and they no doubt sound better than cheap Chinese lookalikes costing some $50 for a full 5.1 set, but I find it hard to justify spending $250 on what is essentially stereo sound, especially considering the several complaints seen in the review.

      • Aphasia
      • 8 years ago

      Since Klipsch Promedias 4.1 cant really seem to be sold around here anymore, I really hope corsair makes a 4.1 or preferably 5.1 option for the day my Videologic Sirocco Crossfire dies. Had em for more than 10 years or so by now, and I cant imagine exchanging them for anything. The Sirocco and Promedias was about the whole of the shortlist when I went shopping, and I really havent found anything from either Logitech or Creative that gets even close to those options.

      Otherwise my bedroom B&W’s might end being comp speakers in the future.

        • d0g_p00p
        • 8 years ago

        You cannot get the Klipsch Promedias anywhere since it’s a discontinued product. Whey would you want the 4.1 instead of the 5.1? That center channel really makes a difference since it’s the main speaker used for dialog.

        I hear you though, when my Promedia 5.1 setup died I was crushed. Best computer speaker system I ever owned.

          • Meadows
          • 8 years ago

          [quote<]"That center channel really makes a difference since it's the main speaker used for dialog."[/quote<] Right, because dialogue can't be played back on any of the other speakers.

      • Cyril
      • 8 years ago

      I certainly didn’t focus on loudness when testing. I’m not sure there’s much of a focus on loudness in the writeup, either. In the listening tests section, I merely stated:

      – [i<]Pretty Noose[/i<] sounded deafening [i<]with the volume cranked up[/i<]. (This was my first test, and I thought it'd be interesting to see how far I could push the speakers.) - [i<]Just Like You Imagined[/i<] was punchy, crisp, and loud. (This track has a fair bit of dynamic range, starting off quiet then getting progressively more intense, so it's less enjoyable with the volume turned down.) Then in the conclusion, I simply pointed out that the speakers let you turn up the volume quite a bit without distortion, which you seem to agree is an upside worth mentioning. I'm not saying you have to push these things up to 11 to enjoy themβ€”for the record, I value my eardrums and prefer to listen to music at a reasonable volume.

    • d0g_p00p
    • 8 years ago

    These look like great speakers except for the huge flaw. The speaker cables!!! Any speaker set using proprietary or non standard connectors get a instant fail from me exactly for the reason you bumped into. No way to expand the range of the speakers because of the cabling.

    It’s a shame too because these are really nice speakers. Also Cyril like anyone who cares about good audio Bose is a company to stay far far far away from, total garbage speakers from a snake oil company.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 8 years ago

      Yeah the proprietary cables are a big negative but at least in this case there’s some kind of rationale behind it: the satellites are bi-amped which necessitates 4 wires (+/- for both the tweeter and mid-range). Bi-amping the satellites is a pretty nice twist at least, it’s something often seen in pro powered monitors. And they aren’t attached straight to the satellites like some other companies do from time to time *cough* Logitech *cough* Nonetheless, if they are truly proprietary connectors and not even something easily DIY-able by buying a few dollars worth of connectors like ATX 4-pins that’s terrible, or if they are a readily available standard connector it’s still lame.

      • UltimateImperative
      • 8 years ago

      Well, it’s ghetto, but you could always snip the speaker cables, strip the ends, and lengthen them with lamp cord and some twist-on connectors.

    • d0g_p00p
    • 8 years ago

    double post somehow. sorry.

    • thesmileman
    • 8 years ago

    “my fancy Sennheiser HD595”

    You must mean “fancy” like ketchup.

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 8 years ago

      Yeah. Sennheiser’s can be decent, but HD595’s not exactly the high end…

        • insulin_junkie72
        • 8 years ago

        True, they’re no 800s, but on the other hand, when they were the current model they did cost more than all but a small handful of people would pay for headphones (that aren’t Monster Beats, at least, but we won’t get into THAT).

      • Chrispy_
      • 8 years ago

      Look guys, 95% of people don’t even care that MP3’s are lossy compression.
      Of the 5% who do care, 95% of those people still use the $2 made-in-china iPod bundled earphones.

      I guess I’m just having a rant at audiophile snobbery in general. Diminishing returns apply to audio setups, where utopia is a 1:1 perfect reproduction of the original source.
      HD595’s are close enough to the right end of that scale for normal people

      If you’re calling HD595’s “fancy” like ketchup, you probably need to stop snacking on caviar and Dom Perignon to understand.

        • floodo1
        • 8 years ago

        you’re statistics are ridiculous. head-fi.org

          • DancinJack
          • 8 years ago

          Your grammar is ridiculous. grammarbook.com

            • derFunkenstein
            • 8 years ago

            YORE PEDAN-TREE REGUARDING GRAMMER IS RADICULUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!11111one

          • derFunkenstein
          • 8 years ago

          Head-fi is not for normal people. The majority (whatever the size) that listen to music two ways – in the car and with their portable media player. Head-fi is for people that look down their nose with an air of superiority at those who are happy with mediocre.

            • Meadows
            • 8 years ago

            Yet their writing is so extremely poor. I just checked out something they called a “review” and could not finish more than a handful of sentences before having to leave the site.

          • Chrispy_
          • 8 years ago

          “88.2% of Statistics are made up on the spot”

          – Vic Reeves, famous Guinness advert

        • branko
        • 8 years ago

        Also, let us not forget that quality headphones will give you the musical details that a 10 times more expensive speakers will struggle to attain. The price you pay is somewhat less exciting, “punch me in the stomach” bass and a different “spatial feel” of the music – a matter of taste really…

        The likes of Sennheiser HD590 and HD595 are tremendous investment and I’ve been using mine happily for many years, while at the same time NOT using the (more expensive) Mission speakers that I also own. Doh!

      • Firestarter
      • 8 years ago

      The HD595’s are MILES better than this Corsair system, so if the 595’s are ketchup then I don’t want to know what you’d call this system.

      • Sunburn74
      • 8 years ago

      you have to be nuts to compare the 595s to “ketchup”… There are more expensive headsets out there, but the 595s are legendary for being able to give 90% the sound experience headsets that cost 3-10x its price enable. I say this owning one of those very headsets that costs 3x the price of the 595s and everyday I think about selling it and trading down for the reasonable, yet well accomplished and well lauded sennheiser 595s.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 8 years ago

    While this looks slick and Cyril did his best to give his impression, speaker reviews are universally hard to get anything out of for me. If they can be tweaked to give a good, flat frequency response (and it does seem possible) they could be really nice.

    • Dr. Zhivago
    • 8 years ago

    Good review Cyril! Thanks. πŸ™‚

    Ferrofluid is awesome stuff: [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvtUt02zVAs[/url<]

    • dpaus
    • 8 years ago

    But… what about the sibilance?

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 8 years ago

      Four sibilii are included, which smoothes the Fletcher-Munson curve an additional nth order of magnitude beyond the traditional 128x oversampling of the ADSR envelope accomplished through the use of NOS oscillators, increasing 9th order harmonics typically inverted 135 degrees out of phase by the natural band-rejection filter introduced at the flux capacitor.

      The result is a completely life-like representation of your album that was clipped 6 dB after already having been subjected to repeated faulty AD and DA conversions at every stage of the production process. Ah, the wonders of real life science!

        • dpaus
        • 8 years ago

        So…. [i<]that's[/i<] how you tune out the background noise created by your brothers and sisters? Suddenly, siblicide is sounding like a better option.

        • Chrispy_
        • 8 years ago

        Whatever science is involved, I’m sure it always ends up with the captain having to divert power from life-support.

          • dpaus
          • 8 years ago

          Yeah… And none of the biological entities on board even notice, leading one to wonder just how important that power was in the first place.

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