Creative Stage 360 2.1 Soundbar Review – Dolby Atmos Soundbar on the cheap ideal for PC gamers and consoles

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Creative Stage 360 Review Rating

Summary

The Creative Stage 360 is a decent little soundbar being best suited for smaller TVs and rooms. I would say it would work well in a flat or in a bedroom and this also seems like a perfect option for anyone with a dedicated consoles/PC gaming set-up.

Overall
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  • Overall - 80%
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Pros

  • Well specced soundbar with plenty of input and HDMI Arc
  • The subwoofer significantly help with the base compared to other affordable soundbars that lack one
  • Small profile making this suitable for a wide range of placements

Cons

  • Bass can sound a little shallow compared to bigger & heavier subwoofers
  • Dolby Atmos has limited benefit

The Stage 360 is the latest affordable soundbar from Creative, sitting somewhere in the middle of their product lineup and being geared a bit more towards TV use than the gaming focussed Katana range.

At the top of the Creative lineup is the premium SXFI Carrier priced at £900, while the older Stage V2 is under £100.

This sits at a sensible price point of £200 RRP or £180, and I’d say this is likely a sweet spot of pricing, with the more affordable option being a bit underpowered, depending on your requirements and expectations.

Specification

 Stage 360Stage V2
Speakers2.12.1
Dolby AtomosyesNo
Bluetooth55
Soundbar Dimensions565 x 75 x 88 mm680 x 100 x 78 mm
Subwoofer Dimensions422 x 115 x 250 mm423 x 116 x 250 mm
ConnectivityHDMI ARC port, two HDMI 2.0 ports, Optical-inHDMI ARC port, USB port, Optical-in, AUX-in
DriverCustom-tuned racetrack driversCustom-tuned racetrack drivers
Peak Power Output240W160W
RRP£200£100

Design / Features

This is a compact soundbar that will work well for a small TV or will fit comfortably under a monitor as a PC speaker.

The subwoofer is quite light and plugs directly into the soundbar with the built-in cable. With the cable being integrated, there is no option of buying a longer cable should you wish to have a more flexibly installation. It is quite slim and stands up vertically, so it is relatively unobtrusive.

Inputs include two HDMI inputs then one being HDMI ARC which outputs to the TV but also accesses audio back from the TV. This makes it ideal for modern TV, consoles and streaming devices such as the Fire TV Stick 4K. The other inputs are optical or Bluetooth 5.0. Optical is adequate for PC audio, but 3.5mm/aux input would have been a bonus

You have basic controls on the soundbar itself, including the ability to adjust volume, change source and power on the soundbar. The remote then has some additional features, this includes the ability to adjust the bass

In Use – PC Speakers / Home Theatre

I tested this both as a PC speaker using it for music and gaming and then also in my TV room as a home theatre soundbar for console gaming as well as TV/Movies.

Currently, I am using the superb Edifier R2000DB bookshelf speakers for my work PC. They are quite large, and bookshelf speakers are just an awkward shape for the desk. Until recently, I was using an old pair of Bose Companion 3 Series 2.

For home theatre audio, I have a Monitor Audio audio 5.1 system in one room and the Bose SoundTouch 300 in another. I also have the Gen 1 Sonos Beam in my kitchen.

As a PC speaker, this system performs well. Not quite as good as the Edifier or the Bose 2.1, but this is cheaper and in a more convenient form factor. The HDMI inputs also make the Creative more useful with consoles.

The subwoofer is OK, it makes a massive difference compared to cheap soundbars, and you can adjust it up +5 or down -5. With the setting dialled up, it does provide some room thumping bass, but it lacks some of the oomph that my Bose subwoofer had. With the bass box being physically light, it just feels like there is a bit of shallowness to the bass.

For use with a TV, again, this works well. It is a little harder for me to compare here as the two systems I use personally are both considerably more expensive and physically massive in comparison.

It is a significant upgrade from the built-in TV audio, which is likely what most people are looking for when considering this. It is considerably more powerful with far superior bass compared to my Sony TV.

For someone looking for a compact soundbar, either for a small room or to fit under a small TV, this works well. The bass is more dominant than the Sonos beam, but the overall sound quality is not quite as good.

Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 audio

With the soundbar only having two drives plug the subwoofer, the surround sound effects are somewhat limited.

There is a moderate amount of sound separation with a decent soundstage for an affordable soundbar. The height effects are less pronounced, bordering on unnoticeable.

It is quite possible that my experience of the Dolby Atmos was subpar due to my arrangement. In the PC speaker arrangement, I am too close to the speaker to appreciate it, and in my living room, the room is physically too large with high ceilings for this little soundbar to fill out.

I am not entirely convinced of the need for Dolby Atmos on a small affordable soundbar, but it is an added feature that most other soundbars at this price lack.

Price and Alternative Options

The Creative Stage 360 is priced at £180 currently and is £200 RRP.

The older, less powerful Creative Stage V2 2.1 is a bargain price of £85/

You’d have to jump up to the £300 Katana V2 if you wanted the same power output and HMMI ARC compatibility, but it lacks the other HDMI inputs. It looks like it would make a much better PC/console soundbar, though.  

The Sonos Beam Gen 2 is £449, and it is a better speaker overall but lacks the bass and costs more than double the price.

The Sony HT-SD35 2.1 is around the same price but has a higher power output rating and wireless subwoofer; however, it lacks Atmos.

Overall

The Creative Stage 360 is a decent little soundbar being best suited for smaller TVs and rooms. I would say it would work well in a flat or in a bedroom and this also seems like a perfect option for anyone with a dedicated consoles/PC gaming set-up.

I also found that it worked quite well as a PC speaker, having a more convenient form factor than bookshelf speakers or 2.1 active computer speakers.

Looking at other options on the market at a similar price, I don’t think that there is much, if anything, that can directly compete with the overall specification and features you get here.

Last update on 2022-01-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

3 thoughts on “Creative Stage 360 2.1 Soundbar Review – Dolby Atmos Soundbar on the cheap ideal for PC gamers and consoles”

  1. I have a question, my monitor does not have HDMI arc, if I run my PS5 into the HDMI “in” on the soundbar and then from the soundbar HDMI “out” into my monitor, will I still get sound and video?

    Reply
      • Thank you, my monitor is 60hz anyway! Been looking a small soundbar for my desktop PC which I can also hook up my ps5 and switch to, looks like this could be the one for me, only gripe for me is it doesn’t have phono.

        Reply

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