Corsair SP2500 £199
14th Jan 2011 | 10:01
Corsair sets sail for high-end audio, with surprising results
Corsair SP2500 review: Overview
Corsair's first speakers have to be heard to be believed. They're that good.
You have to hand it to Corsair, it doesn't do things by half. Recent years have seen it branching gradually from the flash-and-RAM business into new areas, and each new product line has been approached with an eye to quality.
Its PSUs, SSDs and gaming headsets may not be cheap, but by gum, they're good.
After the firm's first foray into gaming audio with the HS1 headset, Corsair now has its sights firmly set on the desktop speaker sector, and its first 2.1 speaker system, the SP2500, is nothing short of a revelation.
The set comprises a desktop control unit, two reassuringly heavy satellites, and a truly titanic sub-woofer, comprising six amplifiers, and capable of a room-filling 232W of output.
Setup is a breeze, and the colour-coded PSU-style plugs mean you simply cannot get your left and right satellites mixed up.
Each satellite features a midrange driver and silk-domed tweeter, each of which is independently amplified to avoid signal-bleed between the midrange and treble, and it's a noticeable difference to the majority of desktop audio setups; the sense of spatial separation between unique sounds is excellent.
Likewise, the fourth-order bandpass construction of the sub, which is essentially an internal partitioning system within the box that filters out undesirable frequencies to minimise distortion, leads to rich, resonant and surprisingly detailed bass-tones.
All tidy innovations that look impressive on paper, and mean that the Corsair SP2500 doesn't come cheap – it'll set you back around £200.
So how does the system sound?
Corsair SP2500 review: Verdict
In a word: phenomenal.
We began testing with games, because that's really the sector the SP2500 is designed to compete in, and found a level of immersion you'd usually hear only with a dedicated hi-fi amp-and-speaker setup.
Mass Effect 2's superb ambient soundtrack, coupled with its sharp combat soundscape, is tremendously immersive through the SP2500; separate sounds are properly distinguishable, and the sense of spatial placement is excellent.
Likewise, World of Warcraft's super-detailed audio environments jump to life; just walking around the Alliance capital city of Stormwind is a pleasure, with the clank of blacksmithery and the clop of hoof on cobble nudging at you from the environment. It really adds to the atmosphere.
The SP2500 is great for music too. Most of us have our music libraries on our PCs these days, and the sense of crisp separation the setup offers applies equally to different genres of music.
Run a high-bitrate recording of 'Mars: Bringer of War' from Holst's The Planets suite, and you'll hear what we mean.
The heart-plucking horn sections rise with a breathtaking richness, and the crescendos are almost frightening in their intensity and richness.
Daft Punk's Tron Legacy soundtrack drives the setup's sub as hard as you like, and with the bass cranked right up, you feel cinematic, organ-wobbling levels of bass that simply do not distort no matter high you crank the volume.
The money-shot, for when friends come visiting, is '528491' from Hans Zimmer's Inception soundtrack, with its traffic-stopping WOM-WOMs.
The backlit desktop control unit offers a suite of equaliser options, and different audio sources do benefit from some tinkering to find the most suitable soundstage.
In fact, our only real niggle is with the controller: the viewing angle of the screen is pretty poor, and you're always going to be looking at it from an oblique angle.
It's certainly not a problem when you're simply adjusting bass and volume levels with the dial, though, which is all the interaction you really have with the unit when you're gaming.
The SP2500 will set you back £200, but we can say without reservation that, as soon as you get them up and running, you'll feel completely justified.
If you want high-end PC audio, here it is.
Detailed, resonant bass and great audio separation result in immersive and really professional-sounding audio. High-grade components and thoughtful design drive mean it's a premium product with premium performance.
The limited viewing-angle on the control unit makes detailed menu-hopping harder on the fly, but the simplicity of the unit means you can adjust volume and bass control with your eyes closed.