Markets for multi-channel speakers for PC have not seen many updates for a while. Recently, we got the Creative Inspire T6160, a 5.1 speaker for PC and Creative has promised to bring realistic surround sound to your desktop with this set of affordable speakers.
Design & Features
The Inspire T6160 is a simple looking 5.1 channel PC speaker system with a clean design. The system puts out 50 watts of RMS power- 6 watts from each satellite and 20 watts from the sub. It has a frequency response of 40Hz to 20kHz which is reasonable for a budget system.
Imaging and soundstage was good though at moderate volume, however, it fails to deliver distinctive sound across the whole frequency range.
Each satellite is powered by a single driver which is incorporated with Creative Image Focusing Plate (IFP) design for better imaging and focusing. The satellites are magnetically shielded and they sport similar shape and design. They are lightweight but their plastic enclosures also make the build quality feel a bit shabby. Unfortunately, there is no wall-mount option which makes placing the two rear satellites difficult. Each satellite’s front has a thin and delicate grill cloth fabric which makes their durability questionable - one of the satellite’s grill was already torn when we unpacked it for review.
The subwoofer is well-built and weighs 3.5 kg. It has a down-firing woofer and a flared port tube design. The bass level control and connectivity ports for satellites are at the back. A wired remote control and the audio-in cable are also fixed at the back. This is inconvenient as it restricts sub placement due to the limited cable length. The wired remote has one green LED and a volume cum power on/off switch. There is no aux-in, no headphones-out and no option to up-mix the stereo audio to five channels as in the Logitech X-540 which falls in the same price range. So there are more grumbles than grins on the features and design front.
As usual, I started the audition with Creative’s own Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic with our reference FLAC files queuing up on the Foobar2k player. In music playback, the Inspire T6160 delivered smooth highs and sufficient amount of upper mids. Cymbals and high hats sounded bright and but still could have been more articulate. This was audible while playing tracks like Jack Johnson’s Horizon Has Been Defeated or Radiohead’s High and Dry. Vocals and guitars could have sounded richer with more depth as the lower mid range was lacking. The Logitech X-540 which falls in the same price range performed much better in this regard. But for higher frequencies, the Inspire T6160 has bright and sparkling treble. The Inspire T6160 plays mid-bass well but is not able to reach the deep low–ends. The bass is punchy, warm and has good timing which is good for a budget system. But once again, the Logitech X-540’s subwoofer has much more depth, detail and impact. The bass on the Inspire T6160 is just enough for playing music at moderate volume but towards the louder volume they tend to become boomy. In short, don’t expect an earth-shattering bass from this budget system.
Be it a classical piece, smooth jazz, hip hop or heavy metal, one thing is clear, the Inspire T6160 has bright highs but lacks details, articulacy and depth for the rest of the frequencies. Besides, they sound best at moderate volume as going beyond 80 percent of the maximum volume caused the sound to become badly distorted and painful to the ears.
In gaming and movies, the Inspire T6160 failed to deliver. Movie and game dialogues were not as sharp and crisp as we heard on the Logitech X540. Further, the subwoofer failed to cope up with most of the actions scenes incorporating huge explosions and in one scene the roaring of a plane engine made the sub literally shake. Imaging and soundstage was good though at moderate volume. However, it fails to deliver distinctive sound across the whole frequency range. For immersive gaming and explosive bass experience, the Logitech X-540 is a much better bet.
The Creative Inspire T6160 is an affordable set of 5.1 speakers but its mediocre sound will make you look out for better alternatives.