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Creative S750 GigaWorks 7.1 Speaker Kit


Product
7.1 Speaker Kit
Date
27th September 2004
Manufacured By
Supplied By
Price
Author

 

Introduction:::...

Have you every stopped and thought about how amazing the human ear is? Despite the fact that there are only two of them, and that they're theoretically much too close together to be effective, they are able to convey sound information to the brain in such an accurate way that the it can the calculate exactly where that sound came from. Left or right, well that's easy because the sound arrives at one ear before the other, but how about directly above, or below? How about dead center and in front or behind? No problem! Those two odd looking growths on the side of our heads funnel pressure waves down the ear canal into what is essentially a quite primitive mechanism from where the magical signal processing begins.

Sounds simple enough, but the amount of processing that goes on in the brain is phenomenal! Even if you're lay down you can judge sound direction, yet in this situation the calculations required are completely different. Not only does your brain need to process the sound, it also needs to factor in your head's position in 3D space. Tilt your head and in theory you screw up the entire process, yet the brain compensates in milliseconds, recalculating the data and correcting the results. Scary huh!

Perhaps this explains why it's so difficult to fool the brain when it comes to creating believable positional audio. Now I might be in the minority here, but I have never sat in front of two speakers supposedly creating any kind of virtual surround sound and heard a sound that I could honestly say came from behind me, above me or below me. Maybe I have an odd shaped head? Maybe my ear canals are too short or too wide, or my ears are at the wrong angle, but the only way I can hear realistic sound from behind me is if that's precisely where it came from.

I'd love to hear real virtual surround from two speakers. For a start it would save me having to completely ruin the look and the ergonomics of my room by having speakers stuck on stands in the middle of the floor, but for me virtual surround just doesn't happen, and I'm guessing it doesn't happen for a lot of other people too.

By far the best way to generate 3D positional audio is from multiple speakers sited around the listening position, and you'd imagine the more you have the better it sounds. Well, that's one of the questions I hope to answer today as I look at Creative's high-end THX certified 7.1 speaker system. Known as Gigaworks, these speakers come with a spec list that has all the credentials to activate the drool glands of even the most choosy audio user.

Here's the tale of the tape, and to save you having to add it up it totals 700watts!

Technical specifications

  • 70 Watts RMS per channel (7 channels)
  • 210 Watts RMS subwoofer
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz ~ 40kHz
  • SNR: 99dB

Warranty

  • 2-year limited hardware warranty

Package Contents

  • Seven wall-mountable two-way satellite speakers
  • One subwoofer
  • One Audio Control Pod
  • One wireless remote control (Batteries included)
  • Six speaker desktop stands
  • One monitor stand (Downward facing)
  • Three 10ft / 3m cables for front speakers
  • Two 16ft / 5m cables for side speakers
  • Two 23ft / 7m cables for rear speakers
  • 7.1 audio cable
  • User manual
  • Warranty and Technical Support leaflet

Before we move on let's just take a look at this mysterious THX certification and what it means.

Created in 1983 by George Lucas, THX was created to "provide technologies and performance standards to ensure the vision of filmmakers and artists is accurately presented to cinema, home entertainment and automotive consumer audiences."

Is Lucasfilm Ltd. protecting its reputation by maintaining standards or is it spinning out a money-making marketing tool?

Well, to begin with I believe the intentions were entirely honorable. George Lucas is a fastidious filmmaker who was simply not happy with the quality of the sound in some cinemas so he introduced a scheme whereby certain standards could be applied that gave a consistently high quality experience from one cinema to another. In 1983 THX was born, and the name cane from his first feature film, THX 1138. Whether that same motivation drives THX today is unclear, but ask a genuine audiophile to listen to some of the poorer THX certified speakers on the market and they'll tell you that the standards are pretty low.

This is the rather vague statement covering multimedia products from the THX website.

To have a product THX Certified a potential client approaches THX with a wish list including type of product, market position for the product, available vendors for components, price target and a desired introduction date. THX then advises the client during the design and development of the product to achieve the best possible audio or visual performance taking into consideration all the stated criteria. THX is unique in that our business is with the entire entertainment industry from creation to presentation in all media and venues, giving us the broadest possible view of the market and the potential for applying innovative technologies that may have escaped the clients notice.

Unlike the requirements for Home Theater, Studio and Cinema categories it seems there are no real guidelines covering what a PC based system needs to deliver in order to become THX certified. It seems you simply have to work with them in order to iron out "unexpected compatibility problems between the computer and its subsystems, complicated set up procedures, non-intuitive user controls and subsystems with performance potential that is unmet"

I might be reading between the lines here but what that says to me is that a THX certified speaker system is as good as it can be, not that it's necessarily good, if you see what I mean.

One thing seems certain, getting your PC line of audio equipment THX certified is a lot easier than it is to do it with cinema, studio or home theater system. It's probably quite expensive too

 
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