After reviewing the creative stage the bigger brother to the air which you can read here if you so wish, I am now taking a look at the sister product creative stage air. The biggest difference between them both is that the stage air version only comes with the sound bar. Will the missing base unit have a detrimental effect over the sound stage envelopment or can the sound bar really produce low frequencies for bass?
Before we go deeper into how the product envelops us in sound, let us look at the product as though it were on the shop floor. On the front of the packaging, Creative showcase the soundbar from a frontal position also noting a blue tooth connection, a 3.5mm audio connection, USB/MP3 player, 20-watt peak, 6-hour playback, and big bass. They call the speaker Stage Air Compact Multimedia Under – Monitor Soundbar. There is nothing on the side of the box to discuss, so moving to the back of the box, Creative have duplicated the front image on the back, paying close attention to the flexible connectivity connections which allow you to enjoy movies, music, games across Bluetooth, AUX-IN or USB/MP3 player sources.
Features or Tech Specs
- We have Bluetooth version 4.2
- Operating frequency 2402-2480 MHz
- Operating range up to 10 meters
- Supported Bluetooth profiles A2DP (wireless stereo blue tooth) AVRCP (Blue tooth remote control)
- Supportive codec SBC
- Supported audio formats MP3
- Lithium-ion battery 3.7v 2200mAh (8.14Wh)
- Input 5 volts
- Speaker power 5w x 2.peak 20W
- Frequency Response 80Hz-20kHz
- SNR 72db
The product comes with the soundbar obviously, USB charger cable, AUX cable and a user manual which can also be downloaded online. Do you think that Creative have provided with enough information about the product to make an informed decision? What about the price £45.00, I got mine for, bargain for a product from Creative, and if you know about Creative then you know their products excel when it comes to performance and build quality.
Opening the product up and checking out the contents you will find that the cables are pretty damn short and personally, I feel that the charger cable should be a lot longer and come with a traditional mains plug. The guide is simplistic and does what it says on the tin.
The first impression of the product when removing from the packaging is the weight, the speaker has substance to it giving me the impression of good quality components. I also noticed rubber feet, this will help keep the soundbar in place on different surface types. Removing the plastic clear film around it my heart sank, why? shiny surface and we all know that shiny surfaces can attract dust like a fat kid to cake. The Soundbar measures 16 x 3 x 2.75 inches and fits rather comfortably under my monitor, same as the Creative Stage Soundbar.
Holding the soundbar and taking a look, the black metal grill houses the drivers and the sub, with a Silver Creative logo. Taking a look at one of the sides you have the controls, for power on, volume up and down and Bluetooth sync. Looking at the back we have a USB connection, DC-5V micro USB connection and an AUX connection for sound in. The soundbar is missing an optical connection is a shame, but no real loss. With the majority of the speakers are I use, are connected using a 3.5mm audio connection and wireless for headphones. Now they class this as an under-monitor soundbar, however getting the speaker under a monitor will be down to monitor stand itself.
Using the soundbar is simple, I used it first with my mobile phone and listened to Spotify and some youtube videos, the speaker performed well, something like a bass unit, lower and mids were heard over high frequencies. I listened to a number of amazing tracks from Trance, Dance, Techno and Bass, ACDC Thunderstruck slot right where it needed to be as well, love the track from battleships, OK not the greatest movie, but love the track. Putting the device on a PC via Bluetooth I was able to turn on Dolby Atmos and experience how the speaker produces a 360 degree sound stage. Now, this speaker does not come with with a dedicated bass unit, so it has no way of producing a bass that will blow your mind and shake the room during those intense bass sequences in movies and music. The envelopment of sound is there, but, it simply cannot output enough watts to really emphasise the surround sound experience which is a shame. There was no way to attach the speaker under the monitor and to the pc, the damn 3.5mm audio cord was damn short. Then again so was the micro USB cable to damn short, lucky for me I have plenty of other cables around the house much longer and can easily allow me to connect the speaker to a mains extension system that also houses USB ports.
When testing the speaker through the pc I played games such as Metro Exodus, Forza Horizon 4, Ace Combat and Resident Evil 2. All with Dolby Atmos on, listening to sounds that surround you is always amazing, and having the speaker close to you and a level suitable for you, it does an OK job. Headphones, like the SteelSeries Arctis 7 does a much better job when producing a true 360-degree audio experience with bass that rumbles in your ears. Not using Dolby Atmos, the speaker is still good, but it still lacks the high tones which make listening to classical music somewhat odd, as it lacks depth.
If you thinking of running the speaker via Bluetooth only you will be happy to hear that the connection is great. Now we already know that the cables are too short, but they are cheap to buy if you need longer, but the speaker has an internal battery which can last up to 6hrs, this is dependant on many factors, level of sound, connection and such.
I tried using the speaker in the living room with my TV set up but it was impossible to fill the room with audio, the speaker just could not hack it. Stupid idea, but hey who knows it might have worked. Then I tested the speaker with a USB-Stick and listened to tracks directly through the USB-A port.
With the speaker being so cheap, it is easy for me to find faults, but for the price, you can never expect the same quality audio as you would get from a more expensive system, like a THX Certified system. So what are the faults, no equalizer settings, no remote control, cables are too damn short and the higher tones struggle to be heard. The speaker is only good in close proximity and can not fill a room with an amazing sound stage, which is a shame. Now, why should you get it, anything is better than crap PC speakers and the lower and mids are great for techno, trance, and bass music. Then you have the price which is cheap and cheerful.