Before the rise of the Bluetooth speaker, there’s a good chance that (unless you had a surround sound system or decent stereo) your desktop computer speakers were your music-playing lifeline, offering the best audio quality in the house. Creative’s T50 Wireless speakers want to revive those days, bringing some fresh NFC tech to the desktop speaker space without crimping on the audio performance.
What Is It?
A 2.0 stereo desktop speaker set, equipped with Bluetooth and NFC connectivity features.
Who's It For?
Anyone that wants a set of impressive speakers for their PC or laptop that can double up as a wireless system for their mobile devices too, and is prepared to pay a premium for them.
As far as desktop speakers go, the Creative T50 Wireless pair is pretty big. With the left satellite measuring 12.4 x 3.6 x 7.3 inches and the right satellite a little bigger at 12.4 x 3.6 x 7.7 inches, they’re not desk-hoggers in the same way that studio-grade monitors are, but you’ll need to clear some space for them nonetheless, particularly to accommodate their depth.
Considering how dominant they’re going to be on your desk then, the T50s thankfully look very cool. Exposed midrange drivers and tweeters (arranged in midrange-tweeter-midrange configurations) take up the majority of the gloss-black front sides of the angular speakers, with the drivers finished in orange and black details that reminded me of tiger stripes. The right speaker is the busiest of the two; round the front it houses the small circular glowing power and Bluetooth connectivity buttons, an easy-access 3.5mm headphone jack for those times when loud output may be a bit obnoxious, and three metal, chrome-finished knobs to tweak treble, bass and volume settings.
While the front of each speaker has a gloss black finish, the other sides are matte, curving near the tops and sloping towards the back. It’s on top of the right-hand speaker that you’ll find the BasXPort cavities (allowing the speakers to deliver solid bass tones without the need for a dedicated subwoofer) and a discrete NFC logo. It’s here you’ll have to briefly place your NFC-equipped mobile if you want to use the contactless tech to pair the two devices and stream tunes to the speaker.
The NFC feature of the T50s works just as advertised -- so long as you’ve got it switched on on your tablet or phone, just placing the device near the top of the right speaker will instantly trigger the pairing mode. Within a few seconds, whatever was playing on your mobile device can be blaring out of the Creative speakers. You can of course just hold down the Bluetooth button on the front of the right speaker too and wirelessly pair the device manually, should your phone or tablet not support NFC.
Just as the speaker cabinets are solidly built, so too are the audio knobs on the front. Each has just the right amount of friction when turning to make fine-tuned adjustments easy, and feel like they’ll stay sturdy after years of use. They’re not just for show either -- you can tweak the respective frequencies notably with the dials, letting you tune the speakers just how you like them, with a little notch letting you know when they’re set back into their neutral positions.
Of course, it’s the overall sound quality that’s most important (especially as you’re paying close to £180 for the Creative T50 Wireless speakers), but they sound excellent. High, mid and low frequencies retain their clarity whether the volume is dialled high or low, with a warm, full bodied sound produced. While they’re not a match for a dedicated sub in terms of rumbling bass levels, the BasXPorts do allow for impressive bass response when compared to other 2.0 speaker systems. So long as you’re not hoping for low-rider bass levels, the speakers sound wonderfully rich.
And they’re loud too! The T50s can be dialled up to ear-splitting volumes, and manage to do so without any uncomfortable distortion even when approaching the upper limits of the supported volume range. Doing so and watching the exposed cones bounce about is very satisfying -- if you can withstand the noise, of course.
They sound and look great, and the NFC feature sets the speakers apart from other 2.0 systems out there.
I totally appreciate the need for eco-modes on our gadgets, but the Creative T50 Wireless speakers have one of the most frustrating I’ve ever come across. Should your device output no sound for around ten minutes, the speakers will power down without warning -- a setting that cannot be changed. That almost makes sense with mobile devices (maintaining an unnecessary Bluetooth connection could be a slight battery drain), but when plugged into a computer or laptop, it feels more than a little over zealous. I can easily go ten minutes just typing a document or browsing a web page without outputting any sound, which meant I’d regularly not notice the speakers switch off and end up missing loads of the sounds that signify incoming messages or notifications. While having the power button within easy reach on the front alleviates the frustration a little, just upping the power-down countdown to 30 minutes would likely have removed the issue altogether.
-- In a nice touch, if you wirelessly pair a phone or tablet with the T50s while they’re still plugged in to another device over the 3.5mm jack connection, both devices can play back through the speakers simultaneously. While you’ve likely little need for two conflicting outputs at once, it’s nice to know you can quickly throw a track from your mobile to the speakers, safe in the knowledge that you wont have to reconfigure your wired connection once the song’s finished playing.
-- Creative includes an RCA to 3.5mm adapter in the box, giving you the option to use the speakers with devices other than 3.5mm-equipped laptops or PCs.
-- A 1.5 metre cable joins the two speakers. That’s probably just about all the cabling you’d want in a desktop situation, but that may be a little short should you be intending to place these either side of a large television in your living room.
Should You Buy It?
Though the power-saving mode is awfully implemented, everything else about the Creative T50 Wireless speakers is stellar. If you can justify splashing £180 on a set of desktop speakers, and prefer the flexibility of optional wireless connectivity to audiophile-grade monitors, these are among the best you’ll find.
Creative T50 Wireless NFC Speakers Specs
• Dimensions: Left satellite 316 x 91 x 186 mm, right satellite 316 x 91 x 196 mm
• Weight: Left satellite 1.5kg, right satellite 1.6kg
• Connectivity: Bluetooth, NFC
• Price: £179.99