Long time light user of the forums, first time contributor. I'm not an audiophile but I do appreciate good sound quality, or at least what my ears perceive it as. When researching 2.x speakers to purchase I came across a few products regularly in threads. These being the M-AUDIO AV40, Creative GigaWorks, Bose Companion 3, and Logitech Z2300. Here is my comparison of them. The opinions stated here were echoed by the friend product testing with me.
Each system was attached simultaneously to a computer with multiple audio outs that were each tested to ensure that no output sounded different than another. Also, this means sound comparisons could be done in real time instead of a setup-listen-breakdown-repeat situation. All audio came from CD quality Flac files or DVD. The room tested in is 12 x 14 and is carpeted.
Rankings - The Short of It
Note: if an two items show up with the same ranking, they are tied and the next rank will be skipped. For example if there are two items that rank second, no item will rank third and the next item will rank fourth.
1. M-AUDIO AV40 - $125
1. Logitech Z2300 - $125
3. Creative GigaWorks T3 - $225
4. Bose Companion 3 - $250
1. M-AUDIO AV40
2. Logitech Z2300
3. Bose Companion 3
4. Creative GigaWorks T3
Overall Sound Quality
1. Bose Companion 3
2. M-AUDIO AV40
3. Logitech Z2300
3. Creative GigaWorks T3
1. Logitech Z2300
2. Bose Companion 3
3. M-AUDIO AV40
4. Creative GigaWorks T3
Reviews - The Long of It
The first system we listened to was the Logitech Z2300. On first listen it sounded pretty good. With the volume nob cranked you could feel the base, which says a lot for a system at this price. If you really want a cheap speaker system that can give you some chair rattling when you watch your favorite big action movies, go with this but don't listen to any other system. After listening to our Bose and AV40s, you immediately notice that the speakers are quite muddy. The clarity that even the Creative T3 has is completely lacking. Many reviews say that this has great highs but no mids. I disagree. I would say that this has mediocre highs and muddy mids. I will state though, that if you go to a store and listen to this set and you like the speakers this could be a very good setup for you, especially at this price. This may have had the strongest bass umpf of the group.
This is what I purchased. It had very good sound quality from top to bottom. I feel it was the second best at representing all areas of both music and movies - bass, mids, and highs. In classical and rock music, each instrument could be heard distinctly and accurately. In the deeper stuff, you couldn't feel the bass but what you could hear was accurately represented and had a full sound. As a warning, these have a large desktop footprint, but this didn't bother me whatsoever. I chose these because they not only sound great, but cost half the price of the other system I liked, the Bose.
Bose Companion 3
These were my favorite sounding of the group. They had great clarity and a full sound from top to bottom -- essentially, all the same sentiments on the AV40s. What made these sound better than the AVs comes in two spots. Deeper, harder bass, due to the subwoofer, and a slightly fuller sound, partially due to the sub and partially to something that I could not pinpoint. The bass was rivaling that of the large subwoofer of the Z2300 and the clarity and quality of sound was rivaling that of the AV40s. Also, during a test on one of the action scenes on Lord of The Rings, some of the background fighting sounds came through much stronger (in a good way) on the Bose than on any other system; the others sounding somewhat subdued in this very specific aspect. The only reason I did not keep the Bose is because the AV40s met what I considered to be good sound quality at a much lower price point.
Creative GigaWorks T3
I was really disappointed with these speakers. The overall sound quality here compares fairly well to the Z2300, each having its own merits. This has clear highs and no mids. The Z2300 is lacking some highs and has muddy mids. This has a slightly more accurate sub. The z2300 has a much more powerful sub. I thought at a price point near Bose and with Creative's long standing good reputation for other products, these would meet or exceed my expectation. Instead I found that the subwoofer was weak for its size and the speakers, while pumping out nice clear highs, lacked mids of any kind. Against even the Z2300s this left a feeling that the sound was not full and at a price near the Bose, this is inexcusable. Had I not listened to any of the other systems, I would have thought that these were clear, decent speakers but wouldn't have realized how much sound was missing. With the AV40s' bass boost turned on, you can get about the same punch.
I also tried the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 at Best Buy. I got the feeling they were about the same as the Z2300s. Maybe a little less bass and possibly slightly higher quality highs but not substantial. Furthermore these were listened to in a completely different environment and not side-by-side, as the others were.
Well, disagree or agree, I hope you enjoyed this review. Feel free to post feedback. This has no other purpose than to help those who are going through the same dilemma I did.
- Brandon for a second set of ears
- Tiger Direct for a good deal and prompt delivery of AV40s.
- Fry's Electronics for taking returns on the other speakers without blinking. Had I not already ordered the AV40s from TD, I'd have gone w/ them as a thanks for making the returns so easy.