Inspire T5900 Acoustic Speaker System: Creative in Search for a Compromise

We would like to introduce to you a new 5.1 speaker system from Creative Labs. It should come to replace the older T5400 modification and according to our experience should suit most gamers or DVD lovers by offering not only excellent sound quality but also very affordable cost.

by Sergey Samarin
12/05/2004 | 10:08 AM

Creative has established a good reputation as a developer and manufacturer of multimedia hardware. Computer speaker systems have always been the company’s priority – no less important than the production of sound cards. Creative’s line-up of speaker systems is so extensive that any user can find a product specifically for his/her needs. The development process never ceasing, the company’s engineers are constantly updating the model range.

 

Thus, the Inspire T5900 system to be reviewed today is to replace the older Inspire T5400 set.

Creative is currently making attempts (and quite successful ones, by the way) to reduce the self cost of its products, groping for the subtle balance between the quality of the audio output and the availability of the systems for all categories of users.

We are going to see today how well-balanced the new speaker system is, but first let’s examine its specification.

Technical Characteristics

Manufacturer

Creative

Model name

Inspire T5900

Type

Active acoustic 5.1 speaker system

Frequency range

40-20,000Hz

Signal-to-Noise ratio (SNR)

80dB

Subwoofer output power

22W (RMS)

Satellites output power

8W per channel (RMS)

Central satellite output power

20W per channel (RMS)

Subwoofer diffuser diameter

7”

Satellite diffuser diameter

2.5” midwoofer, 1” – twitter

Subwoofer dimensions

235x285x170mm

Approximate price

$94

As you can see, the system has rather average characteristics. The range of the reproduced frequencies won’t suit an audiophile, but exactly meets the demands of an ordinary user. I just want to single out the very acceptable diameter of the low-frequency driver, which is going to please us with deep bass.


The box is designed using the company’s official colors

Functionality


The components of the Creative Inspire T5900 speaker system

So, the Inspire T5900 set consists of five satellites, a subwoofer and a wired remote control. I think we should start our acquaintance with the system from the design of the satellites.


A satellite with the faceplate removed

The satellites do please the eye – they can become an embellishment of your desk. The front panels of the satellites are covered with faceplates upholstered with black cloth. These faceplates contribute a lot to the aesthetical qualities of the system at large; removing them would strip the system of much of its charm. This is purely my personal opinion, though. For example, the colorful package of the system depicts satellites without the faceplates. The satellites are not quite up to the current standards: the employed 2.5” mid-range drivers are manufactured by an out-dated technology with the wires outputted to the outside of the cardboard diaphragm. The central speaker and the front pair of the satellites are equipped with rather cheap paired 1” cone-type tweeters to reproduce the top of the frequency range. The satellite cabinets are stuffed with synthetic wool. I didn’t find a band-pass filter board here, like I did in the satellites of the MegaWorks system, for example.

The cases of the satellites are made of robust polystyrene. Each comes with a special stand that looks like an aluminum chassis on rubber soles. Besides putting the satellites on these stands, the front pair and the central speaker can be mounted on the wall – there’s a slit for the screw at the real of panel of each of them. A special chassis accompanies the central speaker, for placing it on top of the monitor (when positioned on this stand, the speaker looks downwards). Floor stands can be purchased optionally for the pair of rear speakers. The rear pair of satellites have clamps for the signal wires whereas the front pair and the central speaker have no clamps, as their wires are firmly fastened in their cases.


The connectors on the subwoofer back panel

The subwoofer is designed with a phase inverter. It is a black wooden box (with sides of chipboard) where the bass port goes out on the front panel, while the low-frequency driver is oriented sideways. The rear panel offers sockets to attach the satellites and the remote control to as well as line inputs for the computer’s audio card.


The wired remote control of the system

The remote control has a volume control wheel, combined with a turn-off switch, and a timbre wheel. Sockets for headphones and an additional stereo source are placed on the side; that’s handy if you always keep the control within reach as you can quickly attach an audio player or anything else to the speaker system. The remote control itself can be fastened to a flat surface with a double-sided adhesive strip enclosed with the Inspire T5900.

Performance

I tested the Creative Inspire T5900 speaker system using the Euraudio PRO600S audio analyzer and following our special testing methodology.


Euraudio PRO600S audio analyzer used in the tests

That is, besides my subjective impressions from listening to this system, I can offer you some objective data – the results of my measurements. To hear the system in action, I attached it to a Creative E-MU 1820 audio card and used a special IASCA Competition CD. So, here are some results I got in my tests:

 

Creative Inspire T5900

Actual frequency range

40-20,000Hz

Relative unevenness of amplitude-frequency characteristics  within the 50-15,000Hz interval

6dB

Threshold frequency for the satellites

~500Hz

Maximum sound pressure level (Max SPL)

99.7dB

To measure the frequency response of the speaker system by its sound pressure in real time, I used a Euraudio PRO600S audio analyzer with an external calibrated microphone. A “pink noise” record was being reproduced by the system as a test signal.

My listening to the system gave me more positive than negative emotions. Of course, I must confess that this system has practically no reserve of power, but the maximum volume is quite enough for a comfortable listening. What’s the most important thing, the sound is reproduced without significant overloads at the maximum volume. My measurements of the sound pressure showed that the SPL value was 99.7dB when the system was reproducing the SPL Competition track.

The subwoofer is of course the best component of the Creative Inspire T5900 system. Thanks to the selected type of the acoustic enclosure, the subwoofer reproduces a good, structured and solid bass. The level of bass, which is adjusted from the remote control, is best set to one third of the scale, if you don’t have an opportunity to control the frequency response with technical means. In this case you’ll have crisp and stiff rather than ill-defined and boomy basses. Well, I now catch myself speaking about listening to music on this system, and that’s not right. The main purpose of the Creative Inspire T5900 is the reproduction of sound in computer games and the creation of the entire audio environment of your workplace. Don’t forget about that, if you want to find more advantages than faults with this speaker system.

Let’s now examine the frequency response of the system as it was measured with the help of the audio analyzer:


The measured frequency response shows
the real range of the reproduced frequencies.

As you see, the real range of the frequencies the system can reproduce does lie within 40-20,000Hz, as the manufacturer specifies. The relative ripple of the frequency response is about 6dB, which is a good result for a speaker system of that class. The system is well-balanced timbrally, but the dynamic range is rather underdeveloped, so classic compositions sound stiffly and unemotional.

Conclusion

So, we’ve examined and tested the new Inspire T5900 speaker system from Creative which is going to become a replacement to the older Inspire T5400 set. My impressions about the new system can be put down as follows: the manufacturer was trying to create a solid speaker system of the 5.1 format, which would be affordable for users with a small budget. And they did find a compromise between price and quality – not at the expense of the latter, by the way! The Inspire T9500 system would ideally suit gamers as well as users who often watch movies on their computers.

Highs:

Lows: