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Yesterday I checked out the Gigaworks T3. Most of you may be aware of the Gigaworks line up of speakers from Creative.


Specs

Logitech Z-2300


Total RMS Power: 200 watts RMS

Satellites: 80 watts RMS (40 watts x 2) @8 ohm

Subwoofer: 120 watts RMS

Frequency response: 35 Hz-20 kHz

Signal-to-noise ratio @ 1 kHz: >100 dB

Satellite Drivers: 2.5-inch polished aluminum phase plug driver

Subwoofer Driver: 8-inch long-throw ported driver with sixth-order bass reflex enclosure

Creative Gigaworks T3


Total RMS Power: 80 Watts

Satellites: 30 watts RMS (15 watts x 2) @8 ohm

Subwoofer: 50 watts

Response Bandwidth 30 - 20000 Hz

Signal-to-noise ratio: >90dB

Satellite Driver: 2 inch

Subwoofer Driver: 1 x active subwoofer driver 6.5 inch + 2 X passive 6.5 inch

Build & Design


Gigaworks are known for their compact speaker systems. The T3 is a 2.1 Gigaworks system and gets the same treatment.


The satellites are two tiny speakers, much smaller than Z-2300 satellites and have a cube-like design, perched on slim stands. The cube houses a two-inch full range driver. They are not phase plug driver as found on Z-2300. The drivers have a unique build and are made of a high quality material. The driver is hidden behind a fabric mesh to prevent dust collection. But they seem better without them on, more like the aggressive performance system that Gigaworks is meant to deliver.


The stand on which these drivers sit isn't the adjustable kind. I think this is good in a way as the full range speakers produce powerful bass that may cause the speakers to change direction. The stands have good rubber feet for a firm grip. Thought the speakers are small and compact the attached metal stand makes it quite heavy.


Now coming to the subwoofer of the T3, which is the main and most unique component of the system. This is a three-way firing subwoofer, so we get three 6.5 inch drivers. But all three are not active drivers. These drivers take up the two sides which contains the passive drivers while the only front one being active. There is no bass reflex port which means the bass will be deeper but the loudness of the subwoofer will be less than a similarly ported subwoofer.


At the rear of the subwoofer are the connectors for both left and right speakers. This includes the volume control and the connectors for the control pod/wired remote. The audio input RCA type and the bass level of the acoustic module are also present here. The bass can be set to a neutral level or increased and decreased. The placement of the bass level knob at the rear is really not the best idea and it should have been placed in the control pod like the Z-2300.


I found control pod of the T3 is a very simple unit. It is wired and with no wireless remote provided. I feel that the whole "premiumness" of the T3 is more or less lost here. The Control Pod looks neat with the use of chrome rings present on it. The wire is long enough to reach up to most desks. There is a headphone jack and a line-In or AUX jack present on it as well making it simple to connect MP3 players or other external sources. In between these two jacks there is a purple LED which lights up stating that its drawing power or the speakers are powered. The LED stops glowing when the speakers are not being used thus sending the T3 into standby. The pod has a neat rubber base to hold onto most surfaces it's placed on.

Features


Gigaworks has always packed something special in all its speakers, and the T3 is no different. While we have seen almost every Gigaworks speaker feature BassXPort, the T3 has a new technology for providing better sound - SLAM. Let's now take a closer look at this new feature.


SLAM is the acronym to 'Symmetrically Loaded Acoustic Module'. This technology, just like BassXPort, is meant to provide better bass. The difference between the two is that BassXPort is meant for standalone speakers that don't have a subwoofer or woofer. SLAM on the other hand is a more enhanced subwoofer. It incorporates one active and two passive drivers into a single subwoofer in the quest to produce over double the bass from a single subwoofer, instead of using two subwoofers. This turns it into a three-way firing subwoofer. The front facing subwoofer is the master driver, while the other two help in creating a pressure barrier to contain the low frequency, so that the thump is clear

Performance


Pushing it through the music and movies test the T3 performed all well. The highs from the satellites are sharp and there was no distortion even at max volume. The mids are cool, though it seems to get a bit too sharp at higher volumes. The mids die out as it gets a bit overshadowed by the characteristic shrilly highs of the Creative speakers. They are present but you can make out the difference. The T3 is crystal clear up to 60% of the volume but after that point it goes off balance the shrill from the satellites take over. On the other hand the Z-2300 remains superbly composed even at full volumes. The Z-2300 satellites are more powerful at 80W RMS (instead of 30W RMS of T3) and produce a far superior natural, soothing & smooth sound with clear detailing on every note which is so pleasant to hear. The T3 system overall is balanced but you need to keep the volume between 10-60% (under 10% it's soft and over 60% it fades a bit with increase in volume).


The 50w RMS subwoofer was able to deliver quite a thump. I dare say that I am seriously impressed with this thump. It's a unique thump though it still needed tuning. The subwoofer has tight bass but the overall bass of the T3 is slightly off because of the full range speakers. They affect the overall bass produced by giving it a rough edge. It can't be noticed at lower volumes but is noticeable as soon as you turn up the volume even with the subwoofer set to neutral. With the bass pumped to a higher level the roughness in the bass gets more profound. On reducing the bass level and going below neutral, the bass seems poor. Overall SLAM has potential and can deliver but it needs to get better. But all said and done the bass is good for the size of the subwoofer.


Comparing it with the benchmark 120W RMS subwoofer of the Z-2300, I was amazed that it completely matched the Z-2300 up to 50% of Z-2300's volume and produced the same slamming & chest thumping response Z-2300 is so famous for. But after that it was as always Z-2300's territory. I am very impressed with the T3's bass.


The performance of the T3 isn't all it's cracked up to be, with good 2.1 systems like Logitech Z-2300 or Z-623 around. It has a slight edge but only at certain volumes, but still loses out on the whole. Its small & compact size is the main factor that limits its performance.

Verdict


The Creative Gigaworks T3 costs $240 in amazon.com with a one-year warranty. In comparison Logitech Z-2300 is available at $115 in the same site. It is like paying double the price of Z-2300 to buy half of the performance of Z-2300. This is a ultra steep price just like any other product from the Gigaworks line up. At this price you'd expect something like near studio quality, which sadly is not the case here.


I have the Altec Lansing MX-5021 and the Z-2300 from Logitech. Both of them are THX certified. The Z-2300 being the better of the two, and a much better buy over the Gigaworks T3 in the price to performance ratio.


Ask me and I'll still choose the Z-2300 for the performance it offers at that price. As for the Gigaworks T3 all I have to say is that the SLAM technology still has to prove its mettle. I won't pay the premium for a technology that can, as of now, only deliver a 0% better performance over a system that costs less than half of its price aka Z-2300.
 
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