Creative ZiioSound T6 review
The market for computer speakers is a crowded one, but Creative’s ZiiSound T6 set stands out in more ways than one. Boasting USB, Bluetooth and standard analogue connections, they’re among the most flexible PC speakers we’ve come across, and with a price of nearly £400, they’re among the most expensive too.
They’re designed to partner seamlessly with Creative’s ZiiO tablets, and they do that well. In fact, any device equipped with Bluetooth can connect just as easily – there’s even a small USB Bluetooth dongle included in the box for you to connect your non-Bluetooth desktop or laptop wirelessly. The only difference with the ZiiO products is they’re able to take advantage of Creative’s proprietary X-Fi audio processing software, which comes pre-installed.
Whatever way you hook them up, though, there’s no denying they look good. Each left and right speaker consists of a pair of sharp-edged cuboids, and you can rotate each individually to create a pseudo-surround sound effect. The compact “SLAM” subwoofer looks purposeful too, complete with three 5in drivers covered with aggressive-looking metal grilles. At the rear of the sub are USB and analogue stereo inputs and the sub also houses the Bluetooth receiver and DAC (digital to analogue convertor).
Putting the final, luxury touch on the whole lot is its chunky, ball-shaped remote control. Connected to a serial port on the back of the sub, this offers not only volume control, but also buttons for source selection and Bluetooth pairing, plus a pair of 3.5mm audio jacks for headphone and line-in connection. Oh, and lest we forget, there’s also a small infrared remote control so you can operate the speakers from the comfort of your sofa.
It’s all very impressive, but the key is how good they sound, and over the Bluetooth connection they largely delivered the goods. We found it difficult to tell the difference between tracks played via the analogue or USB connection and Bluetooth, and pairing was simple.
The T6s create a remarkable sense of space and imaging around music and soundtracks, if you arrange the satellites correctly, and at the top end of the audio spectrum there’s all the detail you’d expect at the price.
There’s trouble down the range, though: the subwoofer is poor. Although there’s plenty of power on offer, definition and control are sadly lacking, with deep bass beats that sound flabby and indistinct.
A bigger problem, however, is a huge hole in the dynamic range between the upper and lower registers. It often sounds as if there’s a gap in the music, desperate to be filled with powerful vocals, or rich orchestral colour. And this problem afflicts not just music, but movie soundtracks too – listening to these speakers is like biting into a Creme Egg and finding there’s no cream inside. There’s not enough substance.
Put simply, the sound quality of the ZiiSound T6s isn’t good enough. They may be about as flexible as a set of speakers can get, they may sound great over Bluetooth, they may look fantastic. But for output this mediocre, the price is simply too high.
|RCA (phono) inputs||2|
|3.5mm audio input jacks||1|
|Optical S/PDIF inputs||0|
|Electrical S/PDIF inputs||0|
|USB audio inputs||1|
|Wired remote power/volume control||yes|