Ah PC Speakers. It wasn't very long ago that speakers were divided into two very distinct categories.
On one side of the coin you had two satellites made out of the kind of plastic you find around frozen food that, if pushed really hard, must just about be audible in all their affordable beige glory. On the other were huge sets of 5,6 or even 7.1 speakers made out of hefty wood with huge volume and costing about the same as a high-end GPU.
Thankfully there are now an array of speakers available that provide decent sound quality, decent looks and are around the £40-£50 mark. Today is the first of three reviews of speaker sets fitting that exact criteria, and we're starting with a set with a lot to live up to, the Corsair SP2200.
Regular readers will remember back in April that Tom reviewed their big brother the SP2500 and loved them so much that we could barely stop him waxing lyrical about them to anyone with a pair of ears. Fingers crossed the SP2200 haven't lost too much in the reduction from £200 to £50.
Pairing a 6" sub to a pair of 2" satellites should leave you in no doubt as to the main focus of the Corsair SP2200.
- Frequency response: 40Hz – 20kHz +5/-5dB, -10dB @ 35Hz
- Total power: 46 Watts total power measured via FTC “RMS” method
- Subwoofer dimensions: 9.1” x 9.9” x 7.1” (23.1cm x 25.2cm x 18cm)
- Satellite dimensions: 5” x 3.6” x 5.6” (12.7cm x 9.1cm x 14.2cm)
- 6” (15.24cm) side-firing, ported subwoofer suitable for desk or floor placement
- Subwoofer power: 30 Watts, measured via FTC “RMS” method
- 2” (5cm) drivers
- Volume and subwoofer output controls integrated in right satellite
- Up-front auxiliary input and headphone output
- Satellite power: 8 Watts per satellite, measured via FTC “RMS” method
I/O and Controls
- Three inputs for maximum flexibility:
- 3.5mm stereo PC input
- RCA stereo auxiliary input for gaming consoles
- 3.5mm stereo auxiliary input on right satellite for MP3 players
- 3.5mm headphone output
- Main volume and subwoofer output control dials on right satellite
- Satellites (Two)
- Power cable
The SP2200 come packed in a very sturdy box that will keep your purchase in prime condition. The Sub box has the speaker facing into the middle, to help ensure that even the most ham-fisted delivery attempt wont damage them. It's the little thing that we always love. Documentation is fairly sparse, but speakers don't require a huge amount of information and the connectivity guide on the front of the manual is clear and handily placed.
As well as the 3.5mm jack and DIN cable hard-wired to the right hand satellite, there are a few other cables to assist in connecting the SP2200 to a variety of sources. Hopefully your version will come with a UK plug or at least an adaptor, something ours didn't.
As is often the case the subwoofer has the cable attachments and the SP2200, whilst not replete with them, at least has enough for the majority of cases.
The subwoofer itself absolute dominates the box. There is no doubt that this will be able to rattle your fillings. The piano black port is a nice touch too.
The satellites come in a separate box within the main package, and the right hand one has the main controls. On/off, volume and bass, as well as an AUX port and a headphone one should you require them.
Testing and Conclusion
With the ease of connectivity the SP2200 were tested on a variety of sources, from iPods, Consoles and of course a variety of media types on a PC.
Without question the overriding brilliance of the SP2500, the ability to be very loud indeed without distorting the sound, has transferred perfectly to the SP2200. At full volume the sound doesn't suffer at all. It's very loud, not "The Who in Concert" loud, but plenty loud enough for even the most cloth-eared of users. The way in which the volume increases without the sound starting to fray around the edges is hugely impressive.
The main problem with the sound quality is the amount of bass. As one would expect from a system with a massive ported sub, and two comparatively small satellite speakers, the bass completely dominates proceedings.
Now their is, as well as the volume, a control to adjust the level of bass. However, this seems to have been designed by the same people whose job it is to make the temperature control on showers. You know how you've got about 300° of rotation but the first 140° are ice cold and the last 140° are like lava? So it is with the bass control on the SP2200.
Starting at the bottom end of the scale there is no bass at all. The sound is so thin and weedy that it reminds me most of recordings of World War speeches or similar. At about a third of the way around the bass starts to appear but still in a way more reminiscent of Motown than anything useful. Then as you reach the middle the lower frequencies start to dominate, sucking all the midrange out of the sound, and the further you go around the less and less midrange there seems to be. So to go back to my shower analogy, the useful bit of the bass dial is between about 10 and 11 o'clock. Below that you've got nothing, above it way too much.
Obviously when producing a set of speakers that are a quarter of the price of their big brother a lot has had to be sacrificed. There is no remote and the satellites are lacking the extra speaker to help the midrange. The former is a tiny thing but the latter definitely affects the balance of the sound quality.
If you love that mid-scooped sound and place a high emphasis on "bassy and loud", then the good price and great build quality of the Corsair SP2200 might be just the ticket. If you want a more well-rounded set of speakers that are as at home with a full selection of audio sources, then you might be best served looking elsewhere. Still the impressive undistorted volume, excellent build quality and ease of connectivity at £39 make the Corsair SP2200s worthy of our OC3D Bronze Award.
Thanks to Corsair for supplying the SP2200 for review. Discuss in our forums.