by Sergey Samarin
07/18/2005 | 02:25 PM
Creative Labs got very popular among the PC users not only due to their Sound Blaster sound cards, but also due to their high-quality acoustic systems. Of course, these are high-quality solutions since all the development is done by the experienced team of Cambridge SoundWorks acoustic laboratory, which is actually a direct partner of Creative Labs. Creative is currently offering a broad variety of acoustic solutions, and this list keeps constantly growing.
One of the innovative offerings from Creative, I-TRIGUE 3600 speaker system, is going to be the hero of our today’s review. This system includes a not very big subwoofer and a pair of nice-looking satellites.
As usual, let’s first take a closer look at the list of technical specifications claimed by the manufacturer.
8.5W RMS per channel
Supported frequency range
30 ~ 20,000Hz
Signal to Noise ratio (SNR)
61mm x 88mm x 163mm
180mm x 268mm x 310mm
Wired remote control unit
72mm x 28mm
Having looked through the table above you may have realized that all the parameters of this speaker system are pretty standard, however, once you’ve reached the very last line indicating the price of the solution, you may turn pretty puzzled. Don’t you think that $100 is a little bit too much, to put it mildly, for a 2+1 set? Well, we will do our best to find a logical explanation to that once we go a little bit deeper into details about the peculiarities and performance of the Creative I-TRIGUE 3600 sound system.
The colors of the package follow Creative Labs’ corporate palette. Inside the box you can find the following items:
As we see, the package contains everything one may need in order to connect this speaker set not only to a computer system, but also to a gaming console or an MP3 player. To make it easier to work with this system, there is a remote control unit included. And the user’s manual lists all the major configuration types the system can be connected to.
I-TRIGUE 3600 speaker set
The assembled and ready to go I-TRIGUE 3600 looks exactly as the picture above suggests. If you admire contemporary looking portable devices, you will certainly love the miniature satellites, and the pretty long cables supplied with them will not hinder the proper positioning of the satellites.
I-TRIGUE 3600 satellite
As you can see on the picture above, each satellite has a kind of a flexible joint just above the stand base. However, you shouldn’t be misled by this tricky design swing: this is a purely decorative element and the satellites are fastened firmly in their metal stands.
The unusual shape of the satellites also has a logical explanation. These satellites are designed with the NeoTitanium Tri-Array technology. Here, the Tri-Array stands for a combination of three high-precision micro-speakers, the NeoTitanium indicates the use of spherical titanium diffusers (as you can see each diffuser is covered with decorative metal net, which makes them look very stylish). This construction allows ensuring dynamic and precise reproduction of the sound picture even if the satellites are positioned at a significant distance. Moreover, the acoustic cameras of the satellites are designed using new Acoustic Loaded Module (ALM) technology. This technology is used for both: I-TRIGUE 3600 and I-TRIGUE 5600. As you may have already guessed, the latter system differs from the hero of our today’s review by the availability of the central and two rear satellites.
ALM system schematic
As we can see on the scheme above, the sound pressure inside the camera is spread between the side ports of the satellite following a pretty tricky path. In fact, the phase-inverter ports on the satellites have already become quite common. This solution guarantees better quality of the low frequencies, amplifying them and thus adding to their natural warm tone. However, our satellites do not have any mid-frequency diffusers that could really process the entire volume of the acoustic camera. Therefore, I don’t think that the phase-inverter port can have any noticeable positive effect on the sound quality.
Wired remote control unit
We have already got used to getting very easy to use and convenient remote control unit with any sound system from Creative Labs. I-TRIGUE 3600 is also not an exception. As you see, the system goes with a very nice little unit offering a large volume control wheel with power on feature, bass control, Line In and headphones jack. When the system is on, you will see blue LED indicator glowing.
Headphones jack and additional Line In port
on the remote control unit
Two additional ports on the remote control unit are definitely a good thing to have, because they make it a lot simpler to connect any additional equipment to this sound system. Although Creative engineers had to increase the diameter of the connecting cables, this still are not heavier than the remote control unit: the latter features a special heavy block ensuring its stability on the desk or any other surface. Besides, the unit also has special anti-sliding pads at the bottom, so that it sits firmly on any surface.
The wooden casing of the subwoofer is equipped with the phase-inverter port laid out on the front panel. The decorative panel in the front repeats the shape of the satellites. The low-frequency diffuser is placed on the left side of the subwoofer and is covered with decorative thread grid, which cannot be removed.
Rear panel of the subwoofer with all the ports
The rear panel of the subwoofer carries power connectors, satellite connectors, remote control unit port and audio-In port.
The first thing we would like to mention before we go over to the performance and sound quality analysis is the overall system design. The satellites look just great and make a cool change on your workplace. From this viewpoint, I-TRIGUE 3600 is very likely to be a nice choice for the portable system owners, who would hardly want their sound system to be bigger than the laptop. By the way, the timbre characteristics of this system are pretty well-balanced, although we could still reveal a few flaws in the way the mid-frequencies sound. If we look at the music instruments that take over this range of sound frequencies, we can conclude with all certainty that they do not sound pure and clear enough. Saxophones and cellos sound with evident dissonance, which is definitely far from have a positive effect on the overall sound quality of this acoustic system. The problem actually lies in the satellites design, as they have been constructed with only high-frequency diffusers involved.
As for the subwoofer, I really liked the way it sounded. The bass maintained the structure and even reproduction of the low frequency range. The system is powerful enough to meet the desired goals. We didn’t notice any sound distortions when the system was working at the utmost of its power potential, which given us every right to state that all electronic components of the amplifier are of truly high quality and that the acoustic system design is very thorough and efficient (the design of the subwoofer in the first place).
To get more than just subjective evaluation, I resorted to the EURAUDIO PRO 600 audio-analyzer and an IASCA Competition CD disk designed specifically for this type of tests. Here are the results obtained:
Amplitude-frequency characteristics of the subwoofer
The unevenness of the amplitude-frequency characteristics of the subwoofer is quite common for the systems of this type. The peak at the +10dB results from the operation of the system’s own phase-inverter. Of course, this is not a top-end system for dedicated audiophiles, so we can forgive a lot of small things like this :)
Amplitude-frequency characteristics of the system
All in all, the I-TRIGUE 3600 system coped very well with a number of low and high frequencies, while the mid-frequency range appeared completely messed up, which is especially evident during the playback of complex musical pieces.
Well, summing up everything we have just said about the new I-TRIGUE 3600 acoustic system, we can’t help saying that the newcomer is definitely too expensive. We couldn’t really understand what made it so pricy, especially since it doesn’t even have a digital port. Maybe Creative Labs I-TRIGUE 3600 is positioned for portable system owners, who should have got used to paying extra for the peripheral devices. But if I had been one of them, I would have probably gone with the solutions of Harman/Kardon.
Anyway, maybe there are some users who could convince me of the opposite? I would love to hear your arguments for an against.