Creative SBS E2900 Review (Page 3 of 4)

Page 3 - Subjective Audio Analysis

Not the actual test setup placement, but it is a cool looking shot.

Reviewing audio devices require extensively trained ears and lots of experience. Even for audiophiles, it may prove challenging at times to obtain an accurate evaluation of a product without a thoroughly familiar product to use as a simultaneous reference. While I am not going to even try to claim that I am the only trustworthy or best reviewer for sound, it is fact that most computer review sites have editors who are insufficiently trained in reviewing audio equipment. Give them practically anything and all you will read about goes along the line of "good bass, nice midrange, awesome treble, really clear sound, 10/10". While there are many knowledgeable audio reviewers at various respected online media outlets, they are by far the minority.

As I have mentioned in my past audio reviews, there are really no true objective measurements for speaker sound quality. As the reviewer, however, I will put it through a series of subjective tests to try to come up with the most objective rating possible. Yes, it sounds like a paradox haha. Primary tests were conducted over the 3.5mm auxiliary input connected to my Apple MacBook Pro, since that is the most common way to use the Creative SBS E2900. I used an Apple iPhone 12 Pro for the Bluetooth wireless tests.

After sufficient hours of break in time, I put the Creative SBS E2900 to the tests. All tracks are FLAC, high bitrate AAC, or LAME-encoded MP3s.

We at APH Networks are known for being especially stringent when it comes to audio tests, and you may be reading this review to see how we would trash these budget speakers from Creative. But hear me out on this, no pun intended: The Creative SBS E2900 speaker set is actually pretty good. Its balance is tilted towards being bass-heavy, but this is popular with a lot of people, and could be useful especially if you are into gaming. Although these speakers are bass-heavy, it is not over the top.

On the topic of bass, with these speakers being tilted towards the lower frequencies, I was once again surprised by the performance of the included small, budget subwoofer. It is hard to imagine a 5.25" subwoofer that tips the scales at 6.97 lbs with 30W RMS power to be any good, and the reality is it has a rated frequency response that goes down to only 50Hz. The limitations presented by the rated frequency response are obvious in the real world even if you have never read the specifications sheet. The bass does not sound very deep. It was mostly defined, but the higher crossover and amplified low end meant there was a slight boominess to it. Other than that, I said I was surprised by the subwoofer because it sounded otherwise solid, round, smooth, and articulate, which was unexpected for something of this size and power.

When it comes to the midrange, it was decent. It sounded exactly what you expect for something of this size with no surprises. This means we get average thickness, range, and saturation for drivers of this diameter, with voices coming out sufficiently naturally. The midrange was also passably warm and acceptably rich. I found vocals to be clear, although it appeared to be pushed to the back rather placed at the front.

The weakest part of the Creative SBS E2900 speakers was probably the treble. I feel like it could really use some tweeters, because there is only you can do so much with the 3" drivers. I found the treble to be mostly recessed and dark with apparent attenuation. There was a bit of tinniness to them too. In cases where the treble was present, they sounded dull and loose. It was neither wet nor dry -- it was just there. The treble lacked any immediacy with little energy, crispness, or spark. There was no real kick to them. It was clear and clean enough, as in, you can hear they are there, but that was about it.

There is some depth and width in its soundstage. Again, there were no surprises. The SBS E2900 sounds exactly per speakers of this size. Otherwise, the imaging is position-neutral.

Closing off with the auditioning results, the speaker set's layering was acceptable in clarity, definition, and separation. One interesting observation was they made some songs sound like they have been bitrate-reduced; hence its definition was considered “acceptable”. There was also reasonable detail, precision, and resolution when it comes to frequency separation. They were all passable, but nothing exceptional. The sound was cohesive.

At this point, you may be wondering how I could claim the Creative SBS E2900 is actually pretty good at the beginning of this page when I said most of the technical aspects were as expected or average as the paragraphs progressed. I would like to point out they are not inherently contradictory. On an absolute scale, these speakers will obviously not blow your mind. They are not designed to complete against something like, say, the $700 Audioengine HD6. Also, what we consider passable at APH Networks is not the same as what a non-audiophile website considers passable. We have high standards. For something of this size and runs you only $100, the SBS E2900 clearly delivers in accordance with its class.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis
4. Conclusion