Creative Inspire T7900
1st Mar 2005 | 00:00
The price is right, but that doesn't mean it's a bargain
Truth be told, we've never met anyone with a 7.1 surround sound system rigged up to their PC, but Creative's long line of speakers are the OEM audio bundle of choice for almost any new PC, so the T7900s and their antecedents must be in thousands of homes across the country. It's easy to understand why - they're an approachable face to the confusing world of multi-speaker systems, they prominently feature words like 'cinema' and 'digital' on the box, and they offer a ridiculously low money-to-satellite ratio.
All of which means, of course, they're deeply ordinary. For a couple of years, Creative Labs has left something of a gulf between its speaker sets. The high-end Mega and Gigaworks series sound fantastic, unquestionably sitting pretty near or on the top of the PC audio tree, but on the next rung down, the T7900s, are significantly inferior.
So what's the good news? Well, the T7900s are more than acceptable for movies and gaming, the sub packing a respectable punch to sounds of violence. Tweeters in the front and centre speakers means higher frequencies are more discernable than similarly-priced rivals, though it seems almost churlish that they're left out of the side and rear satellites.
This no doubt contributes to our awareness of the spatial gaps between each audio channel. They're an eight-speaker set, thus supporting Dolby Digital EX and DTS:Neo signals, and, handily, a switch on the sub will upmix 5.1 audio tracks if you're not using a 7.1 soundcard.
It's music that's the messiest business on the T7900s. Compared to the clarity of the Altec Lansing 5020s reviewed over the page, there's a real sense of listening through cotton wool with these. Turning the treble up and the bass down reduces the muffling, but you'll end up with something fairly tinny-sounding. Fortunately there's no hissing, thanks to a superior signal to noise ratio.
Creative speakers aren't known for their good looks, and the Eastern bloc angular blandness of the T7900s is no exception. The metal satellite stands make the black, boxy satellites look a little more interesting, but you're not going to be proud to have these on display.
The wired remote doesn't help matters. It's an ugly plastic dongle with controls that would be far better subtly frontmounted to one of the satellites, as with the Altecs. What would also be appreciated are some adapter cables so you could, if you wish, rig the T7900s up to an AV amp or DVD player.
But it all comes down to the price. As we've said before, the T7900s are not bad, merely ordinary, and £99 is hard to grumble about, though you will quickly become aware of their weaknesses. We do hope that Creative launches something that falls between these and its £330 Gigaworks speakers though.