Creative Inspire S2 Wireless review
The Inspire S2 Wireless speakers follow the trend of good performing accessory speakers from Creative. We've been impressed with both the quality of construction and the performance from a range of Creative speakers and things are no different here.
A word on the "wireless" aspect however. These speakers are wireless in the sense that you don't need to connect the source directly to the speakers using a wire - they operate via Bluetooth - however the satellite speakers are connected to the subwoofer using wires, the subwoofer plugs into the wall.
That's right, this is a 2.1 system, giving it the slight edge over typical stereo accessory speakers. The Inspire S2 is aimed mainly as a peripheral to use with your computer, but the Bluetooth connection means you can pair it with other Bluetooth devices, such as an MP3 player or mobile phone, so you can play content without having to plug in.
The subwoofer measures 18 x 22 x 20cm and the satellite speakers both measure 100 x 75 x 72mm at their largest, tapering back so they sit on the desk at an angle, projecting the sound up towards you. The right speaker is the control unit and is permanently wired to the subwoofer. Down one side it features power and volume controls, and a headphone jack and aux input. The left speaker plugs into the rear of the subwoofer.
These controls also let you control pairing to the source, so you'll have to dive into the instructions to find out exactly what the different colours of LED mean and how you trigger pairing with a second device.
The subwoofer has an independent volume control dial on the rear, meaning you can really jack up the bass if you want to, or turn it down if your internal organs are starting to shake. The build quality overall is good, with a solid construction throughout. Although the speakers are compact, they don’t look or feel cheap, which is an important factor.
On to that wireless connection. If you have Bluetooth on your PC, you can connect to the speakers using Bluetooth - a relatively simple process. Creative do, however, include a USB Bluetooth dongle in the box, which will automatically pair with the speakers on connection. We tried both with the dongle and without on a MacBook and found that the dongle by default operated at a higher volume, so there wasn't the need to turn everything up to 11.
It is nice to have the choice, however, and if you are going to be taking your laptop on your travels, it’s worth playing around to see whether in-built Bluetooth or the dongle offers the most hassle-free connection. Ultimately we decided the dongle was our preferred option and if you are going to be sitting at your desk, you might want to opt for the wired version of the Inspire S2 speakers, which come in at £30 less.
No cable is supplied for the aux input, but it is there as an option for those that want to hook-up a wired device, such as a standard iPod.
The performance from the speakers is very good. Across a range of games, music and video, the subwoofer adds that missing depth to proceedings, with the two satellite speakers providing a surprising amount of punch given their small size. We've been impressed with Creative speakers before, and the Inspire S2 are no different.
Set up on a desk, great spatial separation can be achieved to take advantage of a wider sound-stage and we were impressed with the surround sound effects generated on various movies we watched. Unfortunately the cables that connect the satellite speakers to the subwoofer are only 150cm long, so if you want to hide the subwoofer under the desk, you won't have the freedom to put much distance between your speakers.
In reality this means that you might have to find space for the subwoofer on your desk, unless you are using some sort of tiny computer desk.
Impressive audio performance make the Inspire S2 speakers a pleasure to hook-up to your PC, providing good surround sound quality. The wireless aspect is slightly misleading, so it is worth considering whether you actually need that wireless connection, or whether the cheaper wired equivalent speakers will meet your needs.