Creative GigaWorks T40 Series II Speakers

Back when I got my first iMac, I decided that the internal speakers were just about good enough for me not to bother using the computer speakers that I had at the time. and when I replaced that with the current beast[1], I still didn’t feel inclined to improve the sound.

But I’ve been listening to more music on the iMac lately, and I began to think that a speaker upgrade might be a Good Thing. I approached this with a moderately open mind – all I wanted was a pair of stereo speakers – no separate subwoofers to vibrate the floor, no surround silliness or anything like that. And so I started looking, and reading reviews. I hadn’t actually thought of Creative at first – I started looking at some Bose speakers, which looked quite nice, but the more I read, the more I found people pointing at these as a better option at the price. After a bit of dithering, I decided to give them a try, and ordered them from Amazon.

As you’ll see from the image above[2] These are tall thin speakers with nicely positioned front-mounted controls on the right-hand speaker. This was important – recent experience has taught me that having to reach behind things to make adjustments is likely to hurt, so I don’t want to do that.  There’s a mains power supply (brick with separate mains lead, not the wall-wart kind), a lead to link the two speakers (quite wide enough to surround a 27″ iMac with room to spare), and a standard audio lead for connecting to your computer. In addition to the main input at the back, there’s an extra aux in connection at the front, so you can connect another device at the same time as your computer. However, there’s no input selector, so if both things are sending sound at the same time, both will play through the speakers. This seems to be a common feature, and it’s not something I find too annoying. Next to the aux socket is a 3.5mm headphone socket, which is much more accessible than the iMac’s rear-mounted one (which you can’t use as the speakers are connected to it). Above that are three nicely made control knobs – bass, treble and volume. All move smoothly and feel like good quality components. The bass and treble knobs have a distinctly feelable[3] centre position, which is more useful than the faint visual marker. The volume knob doubles as the on/off switch and has a nice blue glow so you can see that the speakers are on.

Setting up involved screwing the bases to the speakers, putting them in position and connecting everything up, which is pretty much what you’d expect.

And the sound? Well, I’m pleased. Getting the volume right is the usual balancing act between setting a suitable level on the speakers and adjusting the computer sound level – given the way different tracks can have wildly different levels, I find it easier to leave the volume control in the 12 o’clock position and tweak the level as needed from the iMac’s keyboard. And there certainly is plenty of volume for my environment. But it’s not just about volume, is it? We want a bit of quality out of our speakers, don’t we? Well, my impressions after a few days of use are that the Creative speakers deliver that quite nicely. You’re obviously not going to get ribcage squashing bass out of such small drivers, but bass sounds are nicely clear, instruments and vocals come through well, and the overall sound is a distinct improvement over the iMac’s own speakers.

As an added bonus, I’m using the aux input for my little digital radio – this is a neat device with decent performance but an internal speaker that is diabolically awful. Think of a really cheap old battery powered radio tuned into medium wave. I did have it plugged into one of those little Bluetooth speakers[4], which made it usable. But plugged into the Creative speakers makes it actually sound pretty good, so I’m nicely covered for 6 Music in the mornings.

And for the benefit of those who can’t see the Amazon-hosted image above, this is what they look like:

Toys

Toys

Camera X-T1
Aperture ƒ/2.8
Shutter speed 1/125s
Focal length 20.6mm
ISO 3200
Taken 18:02, 13 February, 2016

[1] Which I’m surprised to note is nearly three years old
[2] If you can’t see the image, you’re using AdBlock. And quite right too.
[3] This may not be a proper word, but it does describe what I mean, so there
[4] Using its aux input. The radio doesn’t do Bluetooth