If you want an easy upgrade to your sound, you just can’t beat a Creative soundbar. Affordable, compact and able to be set up in mere minutes they give an instant and usually very noticeable improvement to your audio, compared to what comes out of all but the most expensive TVs. Soundbars let you fill your room with sound, instead of boxes.
Soundbars are hugely convenient: all you have to find room for is one compact bar, small enough to easily fit beneath your TV, either on the TV stand or wall mounted. You don’t have to worry about wires going everywhere – just one power cable and one HDMI are all that’s required – complicated Wi-Fi setup or eating up valuable space with multiple speakers and an amplifier. Even redecorating is easier with a soundbar.
If you haven’t tried a new soundbar for a long time, you will be amazed at how much better they are today. Improvements in acoustic design and digital sound processing mean that they’re now comparable to separates-based systems and can support advanced audio formats such as Dolby Atmos. Efficient engineering means you get a lot more bang for your buck too – Creative has some incredibly good value soundbars in its range. And especially now, with its Black Friday sale prices!
Buying a Creative soundbar is one of the easiest, most affordable and impressive upgrades you can make to your gaming, movie watching and music listening. The only question is, which one should you buy?
- Free Creative SXFI THEATER headphones (worth £189.99) with every purchase!
Jumping straight in at the top of the range, the SXFI CARRIER may sound like a futuristic military boat, but it’s actually a complete home cinema system in just two boxes. The system comprises a compact soundbar that sits under your TV, and a powerful, wireless, bass-blasting, 10-inch subwoofer. The latter can be secreted under furniture if you don’t want it on display.
Jointly developed with Dolby Labs, this was the first ever Dolby Atmos Speaker System (DASS) and also the first to feature the award-winning Super X-Fi tech.
If you have no idea what that means, don’t worry. Put simply, it means the Creative SXFI CARRIER serves up cinema-quality, room-filling surround sound with massive bass, punchy treble and mids, and easy to discern dialogue. But more importantly, it can do it via the speaker itself or through headphones – Super X-Fi gives a similar experience to Dolby Atmos, but with zero risk of annoying your neighbours when you’re on one of your late-night action movie binges.
The Creative SXFI CARRIER is also nicely future-proofed, with support for 8K video via HDMI 2.1. Dolby Vision HDR, HDR10 and HDR10+ are also supported via the two HDMI inputs. That’s potentially handy if your TV lacks an eARC socket or you have so much kit you’ve exhausted all your TV’s HDMI ports.
What does slightly less than £200 buy you, when you’re shopping for a soundbar? Impressively, in this case: Dolby Atmos, a choice of near-field and far-field listening modes – switch to near-field if you’re using it in a desktop setup – and incredibly simple, one-cable setup, thanks to HDMI ARC connectivity.
It’s very unusual to find Dolby Atmos at this price from a reputable brand and the Stage 360 certainly doesn’t lack power either. With its accompanying long-throw subwoofer, you get a maximum of 240 Watts peak output – compare that to the average TV, which can be as little as 20 Watts.
As well as ARC there are dual HDMI 2.0 inputs – you can connect your Xbox and your PlayStation, or any other compatible media player or set-top box. Not enough? There’s also optical-in and Bluetooth 5.0.
The Stage 360 combines power, cinematic sound and comprehensive connectivity at an astonishing price.
For the gamers, this highly-rated soundbar is extremely compact, and hence ideal for a desktop PC gaming setup, although it also does fine work when paired with a TV and next-gen console. Again, Super X-Fi is on hand to boost gaming immersion and allow you to enjoy all the audio thrills of modern gaming over headphones – all the sound, none of the wall-shaking. Its 16.8 million RGB lighting system also allows you to fully customise the soundbar to fit right into your gaming setup.
When you’re not on ‘phones, the award-winning Xamp tri-amplification tech drives the sub, mid-range drivers and tweeters seperately, with advanced, proprietary DSP letting you use various gaming-specific audio modes – SXFI BATTLE Mode, Scout Mode – to give yourself a competitive edge. You’ll be able to hear incoming threats and neutralise them better than ever before.
And finally, something completely different. This may look like a great value for money, ultra-compact, under-monitor soundbar… and it is that, but it’s also a fully portable speaker. That’s thanks to Bluetooth 5.3 and a 6-hour battery, meaning you can stream your favourite music wherever you go. You can take the Stage Air V2 around the house, into the garden, on trips to the park or even further afield. Measuring just 410 x 94 x 75 mm and very lightweight, it’s the ultimate in audio portability and versatility.
Further connectivity options include USB and an audio line in. And despite its diminutive dimensions, Stage Air V2 boasts BIG audio, massively boosting the audio capabilities of any desktop setup. It can outperform anything in its price bracket.