Those guys at Creative sure are nice to let us at MightyGadget test their stuff. No honest that’s the truth. I’ve been a big fan of the company since the days when PCs were getting into our homes. Yes i was a young whipper snapper but I loved taking my PC apart and upgrading components and Creative Sound Cards were always the best and when I got my first SoundBlaster Live card way back when I loved it (in other words I have a bit of a soft spot for them). My colleague recently reviewed their ZiiSound D5 Bluetooth speakers, and boy were they good. The price tag matched them however and what Creative are obviously aiming for here is a more affordable, suitable for everyone speaker dock. Anyway enough about that, what about the Creative D200’s capabilities. Click on for more.
Firstly the D200 isn’t a dedicated iPod speaker dock. Anything that has a bluetooth output can be connected to them whether it be a phone, laptop or iPod (however if your device doesn’t have Bluetooth there is a 3.5mm Aux In socket or you can buy a bluetooth adaptor from Creative for your iPod or PC. I used my iPhone to connect via Bluetooth and connected my Archos 605 Wifi to use the Aux port.)
Despite the obvious benefits of Bluetooth connectivity being “wireless”, these speakers aren’t completely portable. They require a mains supply and don’t have a battery option so sadly they’re housebound, but I did enjoy walking from room to room, iPhone in hand changing the tunes. Size wise, the dimension 40.6cm x 10.1cm x 9.3cm aren’t too bulky to move around with you, take to another room in the house or even if you’re taking them to a friends house, however to take them on holiday, un less packed in a suitcase, these aren’t totally suitable.
Personally i like the rounded “sound bar” design of the D200. However despite the glossy, shiny exterior which is great, it picks up dust and fingerprints like no other and i found myself cleaning it regularly (as I do my PS3 and HDTV on one of those black glass stands, anyway……) The front itself is a standard speaker mesh affair with the Creative logo embossed at the bottom. On the rear you have the Power button as well as the 3.5mm AUX jack. Also on the rear is a bass port a must really for any speakers this size so that your bass output is decent, something a lot of small speaker sets don’t have and as a result sound a bit rubbish.
The top of the speaker is the controls, 3 to be precise. Your first is the Bluetooth connect. Press it once and the Bluetooth switches on, allowing already paired devices (that also have their Bluetooth enabled) to connect to the speaker. If you hold the Bluetooth button for a few seconds the blue light flashes faster, this is the speaker is discovery mode so you can connect to “searching” devices and then pair the two. This was pretty easy to pair up with the iPhone, pretty much the same as when you pair any Bluetooth devices together. The other two buttons are your volume controls, they errrr, change the volume.
Now that we’ve paired our device, how do the speakers fair. Creative are experienced masters in their game of sound and the D200, for it’s size and price doesn’t disappoint. Certainly more than capable are the speakers to play in your house whether you’re listening to some music while you work, do chores or anything, the volume levels are great. Even if you have a few friends over for a shindig (that’s a party) the D200 is more than capable of playing at a high enough level to keep everyone entertained without dropping in quality of sound.
Now obviously as we thought with the ZiiSound D5 “does bluetooth really have a good enough bandwidth to supply good quality sound?” Well Creative have proved us wrong again here. I could have the speakers in the kitchen and me stood in the furthest point away in the house upstairs in the bedroom and the sound didn’t drop (around 30 feet away) nor did it effect the quality. Now if you read our review on the D5, the D200 also has the ability to improve sound with the apt-X codec, provided you’re using the official Bluetooth adaptor from Creative. apt-X basically improves the sound quality from a transmitted source to “near CD quality” provided the sound being output is of that quality. I however wasn’t using the adaptor and to be honest although the sound quality on the D5 was great for the audiophile in us, the D200 is more than capable of good quality sound for general use, however if you want a top of the range speaker set then this might not be quite good enough.
Basically the sound quality was good throughout. Playback at what I constitute as a normal volume was great in the mid-range frequencies, the bass was nice for the Rock music sounds I was playing and even at high volumes didn’t lose out too much. The only downer was very bassy music like Dance or Hip-Hop at high volumes the bass lacked a bit but at no point made me think it was “terrible”. The same applied to high end frequencies for classical music. Great up to a certain point then it lost the edge at high volumes. At the end of the day though for the price and it’s size I wouldn’t hold it against the D200 as I’d certainly say it’s better than most if not all speakers of the same size and price in it’s capabilities.
To conclude I’d certainly buy one of these if I was looking for a general use speaker set to play my tunes in the house with. Obviously lacking in true portability and the ability to say charge your iPod/iPhone whatever, it is just a simple 2.1 speaker system. However the wireless technology from Bluetooth means there’s less messy wires etc. Another drawback is that you may need to get the extra adaptor from Creative(£40) to get the full benefit of the speakers. All in all though I thought they were great and is certainly up there at the top of the speakers I’ve come across in the same range, Bluetooth or non-Bluetooth. Another job well done Creative.
The Creative D200 is available now and should set you back around £80