I bought these speakers to plug into my desktop pc and they have lasted me well and are used on a daily basis. Sound The sound that comes from these i cant complain with its clear and gives you the option to have base if you wish so. I don't get crackling unless i turn it up to the max which isnt a very nice level to listen to music anyway (even for a party). It can be your Dolby surround sound and works well as this so if you wanted this could easily plug into your dvd/bluray player or tv. I turned my pc into surround sound at one point too but this took a little bit more time. Mainly because i didnt know what i was doing :s. I am very happy with the sound and do not regret buying the product. Appearance The appearance isnt bad and it looks nice on a desk however i didnt like the way it looked next to my tv as i dont think it was created for this. The only bonus it could have in my opinion is if the speakers were wireless but at this price i cant complain in any way shape or form. Over view I love this product and i wanted to give a slightly more brief review for those of you who might not understand the AMAZING but slightly complex other reviews.
IN BRIEF ******* Creative Labs is perhaps best known for their Sound Blaster line of soundcards. After all, the Sound Blaster is the product put them at the top of the sound card market. Their acquisition of Cambridge SoundWorks three years ago immediately put them in the upper echelon of speaker manufacturers. The Cambridge SoundWorks name is now used on all their speakers. Creative continues to build up the Cambridge SoundWorks line with the release of two new systems, the DTT 2200 and the DTT 3500 Digital Speaker Systems. These systems shortly followed the release of Creative's new SoundBlaster Live! 5.1 series of soundcards that followed the industry's trend of moving from four channel sound cards to six-channel host- based surround sound decoding systems. As a surround sound solution with support for Dolby Digital, the DTT 3500 remains a freestanding solution to the extent that its connectivity is compared more to that of a small home receiver. Creative describes the system as "a powerful Dolby Digital home theatre speaker solution for use with either a Sony PlayStation 2 console, set-top DVD player, or a PC," going so far as to de-emphasize the nature of the system as a computer audio system. This same sort of philosophy seems to build into the design decisions for the product, as it works fairly independently of the computer system, as opposed to some of the other surround sound solutions that have actually shifted more of their tasks to the computer. The results of Creative's efforts to make the DTT 3500 a standalone system are a number of options in configuring the system. The connectivity for the system is extensive, with multiple types of inputs for both digital and analog sources. Surround sound decoding is also handled by the integrated decoder, so a six channel sound card is not required for this system. The control interface for the amplifier/receiver is based in the theory of providin g options for the user, with a number of input selections and volume controls on the front panel, and an abbreviated selection available via remote control for convenience. The front and rear satellite speakers bundled with the system are going to be familiar to owners of the DTT 2500 system, though the center channel speaker has been enlarged and carries more power. Construction on the satellite speakers is molded plastic, while the subwoofer is in a wooden enclosure. The amplifiers and decoder are integrated into a single table top unit. For a retail price of £195, here's what Cambridge SoundWorks says about their speakers: Specifications *********** RMS Power Total: 89 RMS Satellites: 7W RMS (10% THD) Center: 21W RMS (10% THD) Subwoofer: 30W RMS (10% THD) Frequency Response 20 Hz - 20 kHz Input Sensitivity Not listed Drivers Satellites : 2.5 inch Center: 3.5 inch Subwoofer: 6 inch S/N Ratio > 70dB Dimensions (WxHxD) Satellites: 89 mm (W) x 89 mm (H) x 89 mm (D) Center: 100 mm (W) x 100 mm (H) x 90 mm (D) Subwoofer: 250 mm (W) x 204 mm (H) x 375 mm (D) SETUP ****** Me and My Friend review this set which my friend had purchased, so this is how we start. Opening the box reveals the complexity of the system even before it is setup. It is very tightly packed into its shipping container, to the extent that the inventory list was necessary to find that some parts were still buried in the styrofoam the system came packed in. All in all, it comes out at close to 70 individual pieces, including the parts for the stands. That's just an idea of the task at hand; laying out all of the pieces is worth it in the long run. The system is centered around the decoder/amplifier. There is a strong functional resemblance between this unit and the receiver in a home stereo system; it switches between a number of different inputs and handles decod ing, balance, and volume. The unit is designed for flexibility, with an extensive choice of connections as follows: Creative Labs Digital DIN connection Optical SPDIF connection Coaxial SPDIF connection Front and rear analog inputs These connections are not wired commonly, and each can be selected from the front of the unit or via remote control. This means that multiple sources can be played back at the desktop without routing them all through the computer, much like a home theatre receiver could switch between the TV, VCR, and DVD audio feeds. However, unlike a home receiver, each source would have to have a different type of connection, as opposed to a home stereo that uses mostly RCA and some digital connections. This way, the unit is almost guaranteed compatibility through one connection or another with the primary source, and any remaining inputs could be used for secondary devices. One interesting thing to note is the lack of 6 analog audio inputs for the system, despite the presentation of the DTT 3500 as a complimentary product to the Creative Labs SoundBlaster Live! 5.1 series. It does not require the six channel card as it does all of its own decoding, though at the same time it does not allow analog access to the center channel, or direct access to the subwoofer for the LFE channel, for anyone with a 6 channel card. As a result, in order to take advantage of the center channel and full Dolby Digital surround sound effects, a digital connection to the system is required. For our testing purposes, we used two types of digital connections to the decoder. From the SoundBlaster Live! 5.1 Platinum card in the test system, both the DIN connection and a coaxial SPDIF connection from the Live Drive IR were used. Under Windows 98/ME, both of these connections offer AC-3 data pass thru using software DVD decoders, the desired source for testing the system. Unfortunately, the Live!'s AC-3 pass thru is not curre ntly supported under Windows 2000. Putting together the multitude of parts from the system takes some time, though the final result is worth the time and effort. Included with the package are a number of stands for mounting the speakers, and since the wiring becomes integrated into the stands, some decisions on placement must be made before assembly. There are two options for placement of the center channel - one angled down for placement on top of a monitor, and the opposite angled for placement beneath the screen. The four satellites are interchangeable with desktop stands included for all of them or tripod stands for the rear channels that appear to be the same ones included in earlier speaker packages from Cambridge SoundWorks. The desktop stands are straightforward - they slip into slots on any of the four satellite speakers. The rear tripod stands definitely have "some assembly required," as they consist of a number of plastic parts that must be snapped together. They are not the strongest stands; with little mass, the only thing that keeps them upright is a large footprint. In a crowded room, their floor space requirements are excessive. They require a large amount of space as compared to the size of the speaker they are supporting. A weighted base and single upright support could have offered a comparable solution without taking up the real estate these do. After choosing the stands for each satellite speaker, the wire must be fed through the stand and then connected to the speaker before it is placed on the stand. The end result is that the connection to the speaker is hidden by the stand, which is great for presentation, though it could make troubleshooting difficult. The larger center speaker has a different bracket design from the satellites, which allows access to the connections even while mounted. For connecting the speakers to the amplifier, four 3 meter cables are included for the front surr ounds, sub, and center channels, while two 5 meter cables are included for the rear surrounds. The length of the front cables are sufficient for placement on the desktop, though the rear wires would not stretch across a large room; they limit the listening environment to a smaller range, though a range that is suitable to the magnitude of the system. In an attempt to help the user keep all of the connections straight during assembly, included are labels for the wires and speakers to prevent having to trace wires during troubleshooting or assembly. The 22 AWG wire connects to the speakers via a standard spring terminal at the speakers, and a RCA connection to the amplifier. For anybody looking for more length on the cables, some minor soldering would be involved to create longer cables. Both the gauge and length of the cables is appropriate for a system that only pushes 7 watts per channel, as the speakers can't be too far apart at that power, and heavier wire would not be needed at those power levels. Before the decoder/amplifier unit is installed, the user is offered a choice between horizontal and vertical orientation. Two different faceplates ensure the labels for the controls are readable in either situation, and a base is included for vertical orientation. On a crowded desktop, the vertical option is a good idea, though it does place the volume knob at the very bottom of the unit. Before making the next set of connections, you'll need to choose which input to use for the computer or other devices and run the necessary wires. For digital connections, wires are included for all three interfaces. For owners of a SoundBlaster Live! card, Creative's proprietary digital DIN connection is made through two cables. One short cable adapts the digital minijack on the SB Live! to the DIN connection, and the other is an extension to get to the amplifier. For coaxial connections, included is a single RCA cable for connection to a Live! Drive, digital daughtercard, hardware based DVD decoder, or any other coaxial SPDIF connection. Finally, an optical cable is included to take advantage of connections to consumer audio devices, DVD players, or gaming systems. Analog connections are via 1/8th inch minijacks. For four channel audio cards, there is a tandem minijack cable for connection to the front and rear speaker outputs. Also included is a stereo RCA to minijack cable for connection to the analog connections on consumer audio devices or gaming systems. It's unfortunate that analog connections are not available to the center channel or subwoofer as more and more 6 channel audio cards are available now to access these directly. But with its own decoder the system still offers full Dolby Digital decoding for surround sound. The final connection is the external power supply. The AC to DC converter is an inline design, meaning that there is a tail that connects to the wall and a tail that connects to the decoder/amplifier. Though this is somewhat necessitated by the size of the adapter, it is still a strong decision to have avoided a "wall wart" design that eats up real estate on a power strip or outlet. Once everything is wired up, placing the speakers is all that is needed before sitting back to enjoy the sound. The speaker placement is standard for a small 5.1 surround sound system. The front left and right satellites are placed to each side of the visual source, a monitor would be the most common. The center satellite is then either placed on top of or beneath the visual source for vocal localization. In the case of the DTT 3500, there are two stand options to angle the speaker towards the sweet spot. Finally, the rear satellites should be placed behind the listening position with an equal separation for even stereo image. Their height should be equivalent to that of the front satellites, which is easy to accomplish with the included stands. The subwoofer can be tucked under a desk or against a wall, where the bass will be emphasized due to the acoustical nature of the corners. After this extensive setup, it was time to sit back and listen. Keep reading for what the system could do. THE SOUND ********** Before addressing the system's characteristics, it is important to explain an issue that resulted in the original review describing the system with excessive noise. The original review system was a preproduction model of the system; the production model has corrected the excessively noisy center channel originally reported. Unfortunately, Creative did not inform us that the original system was different from the production model even when we questioned the noisy center channel in the beginning of the review phase. Only after reader response through the discussion in the forums led us to contact Creative again, at which point they informed us that our unit was in fact different.. Switching out the decoder/amplifier unit on the system brought the noise level of the speaker system down to a more expected level. The center channel now sits quietly on top or below the monitor, instead of hissing directly at the user as in the preproduction unit. By solving this problem, it was possible to get a stronger idea of how the speakers sounded that users will be purchasing, should they choose this system. In saying that the noise problem has been fixed, it does not mean that all noise has been eliminated from the system. However, it has been reduced to an almost unnoticeable level, so long as the input is not producing any noise in the system. When the volume is maxed out, as in many speaker systems, there is some underlying hiss. This noise will be present at high listening levels, though the program level overpowers it at the higher listening levels, so it will only be noticeable in critical listening conditions. With the amplifier noise removed from the center channel, it was p ossible to learn more about how clean the inputs were. The quietest input is found using the digital DIN connection for the Dolby Digital / PCM Audio input. The coax and optical digital ins are the next quietest in this category. For the amplifier's Multi-Channel selection, the Digital DIN is on par with the coax connection in the digital section, and the analog connection is fairly quiet as well. Moving on to playback functions with the system let us hear what the speakers could do. The speakers were tested with games, DVD playback, and music reproduction. Some frequency sweeps of the individual channels also lends some insight into what the system can do. The system has a strong presence at the bottom of the frequency spectrum, which is centered around the subwoofer. With 40W dedicated to it in the amplifier, the ported box really provides strong reinforcement for the LFE channel in Dolby Digital. In addition to the dedicated LFE channel, the amplifier crosses over the low frequencies on all of the satellite speakers to the subwoofer. And for anyone who feels the included sub is insufficient, there is a line level connection off of the amplifier to feed an external powered subwoofer. Both the front and rear satellites are the same type of speaker, and therefore have the same tonal qualities. They all exhibit their strongest tonal reproduction in the upper midrange and high frequency parts of the spectrum. Their lowest frequencies are reproduced by the sub, as the small drivers cannot effectively recreate the low frequency sound. The lower midrange frequencies are where the satellites begin to have problems. These frequencies get left behind somewhat as the smaller drivers excel at the higher octaves, and the sound is noticeably affected. The center channel speaker, with a larger driver than the other satellites, performs slightly better in the lower midrange frequencies. It is slightly harsh as it emphas izes the highest frequencies, while the lowest frequencies are crossed over to the sub; this creates a slight dip in the mid frequencies that reduces the warmth of the sound. However, it the higher power center channel and larger driver (changes from Creative's earlier DTT2500 system) are a step in the right direction. They increase the value of this system for movie playback by providing for a strong center channel. Overall, the system is characterized by a dip in overall response through the lower midrange frequencies that reduces the warmth of the overall sound. The small drivers used in all of the satellites necessitates this crossover that makes the response somewhat characteristic of small satellite/booming subwoofer systems. The emphasis on the higher frequencies that follows from the smaller drivers makes the sound extremely crisp, and at higher volumes, the highs can be too loud. ITS FEATURES ************ Included on the front panel are volume controls for the overall sound, as well as individuals ones for the center, sub, and surround speakers. This allows for some adjustment of the relative balance, and the sub can be cranked enough to satisfy most people's desire for rumble. The front of the amplifier also has a number of selection options for choosing sources and effects. Included in the system is processing for Creative Multi Speaker Surround (CMSS), which will upmix a stereo source to simulate a surround sound environment. One of the selections on the front of the unit is to choose between various processing effects, including Music, Movie, FourPoint/5.1 DIN, and Stereo. This could be used by anyone interfacing a two channel sound card, or a stereo external audio device, though for multichannel cards, it will remain set on FourPoint/5.1 DIN most of the time. The next selection on the unit is to choose between digital inputs for Dolby Digital decoding. The choices are Optical, Coaxial, Digital DI N, or Off. Next to these options are the normal listening sources, which choose between Line In and Digital DIN. These would be used for gaming that does not output AC-3 surround data, standard computing sounds, or music reproduction. Currently the only way to get an AC-3 signal out of most computers is through DVD playback. The normal input has to be turned off when accessing the Dolby Digital input selection. The remaining options are Audio Mode, which allows reproduction of one of the sides of stereo through both left and right speakers, Dolby ProLogic selection, and a Mute function for the system. For control of the system even while sitting back from your desk, there is a remote control included with the system. It controls the master volume, as well as all of the selection options on the front panel. In addition, it offers two options only accessible from the remote - a test sequence of noise to check all of the connections and a feature described as dynamic mode. The users manual says this feature will allow the listener to experience the full dynamic range of Dolby Digital as opposed to the normally compressed signal the system evidently uses. The feature does improve DVD playback, though the need for such an override may just be an effort to get all of the other program material above the noise floor. CONCLUSION AT LAST!! ******************** This speaker system is not the most sonically profound system available. It does not have the same transparent frequency response that some systems do, though it does reproduce parts of the spectrum very well. The sub is very strong and will keep things shaking beneath any desk. Crossing over between the satellites and sub seems to drop some of the lower mid frequencies, cutting into the vocal range somewhat. The upper mids and highs are very present; at some points the system is too crisp. However, individual applications dictate to some extent the sonic qua lity needed. It is important to note that this system is not designed to accompany the six channel audio cards that are coming on the market now. Keeping the surround sound decoder outside of the computer is a good idea, and also ensures that this system would be compatible with anyone that has a sound card with digital out. However, for anyone that does not have a digital out, the system would be inappropriate. Though it crosses over the lowest frequencies from the satellite channels, it only offers analog connections to the front and rear stereo satellites. Running the system in conjunction with any card that offered only analog outs, be it a four or six channel card, would essentially turn it into a 4.1 system, which Cambridge SoundWorks already offers, and at a lower price. The strongest foothold for this system is with computer gamers. The system has a sub woofer designed to keep up with explosions and impacts that help make computing a "sensory experience," just short of force feedback. The satellites will keep up as the volume is raised, though they do not have the most even tonal quality. But for most gamers seeking a system that is also flexible for watching the occasional DVD in full AC-3 glory, the sound is satisfactory enough that the system's features are enough to justify it as a strong option. Connectivity is where the system excels. As mentioned previously, a lot of thought went into the decoder/amplifier unit. The Digital DIN connection to a Live! soundcard supports multispeaker surround sound for gaming with the quality of a digital connection. At the same time, it still offers full external Dolby Digital AC-3 decoding, available through the same connection by simply switching the input category to the Dolby Digital / PCM input bank. This signifies that it is a merging of both a gaming and a PC based home theatre speaker system. For gamers, this is important, as an external decoder amplifier that c onnects to any soundcard via an SPDIF connection will not offer the 3D sound features their games support, as no soundcards currently encode Dolby Digital info from the game audio output in order to output via a encoded (AC-3) digital connection. By supporting both standards at once, the only downfall is that the input selection has to be changed on the amplifier in order to access full Dolby Digital; however, this is a reasonable sacrifice for having both functions available to gamers. For individuals that play fewer games at the computer, but use it more as a PC based home theatre system, the sonic quality of the system is going to hold back the DTT3500 from being the best choice. Though its subwoofer will keep up with the LFE channel in the best soundtracks, the vocal reproduction is lacking somewhat. The satellites are a little harsh for reproducing effects and environmentals as they lack the sonic transparency that is desirable for subtlety in the listening experience. At a price of $299, there are other surround sound systems available without the gaming features of this system that will provide higher quality. Likewise, for those whose listening activity is mostly limited to music playback, the system goes above and beyond what is necessary, as its price does not justify its sonic quality alone. In conclusion, the production units of the DTT3500 offer an extremely flexible sound solution for the PC. For anyone needing all of the options it offers, the system will simplify the desktop with fewer connections and the added flexibility of the remote. For individuals seeking pure sonic quality, the system falls somewhat short; there are better values available. For those concerned that preproduction units may have been sold, the problem was discovered prior to commercial release and the systems were inspected and the problem eradicated. Thank You For Reading This Review.
After buying Creative's Live! 5.1 soundcard for my Athlon rig, it was time to ditch my tinny stereo speakers in favour of a decent system. I looked around at Yamaha, Altec, Teac, Videologic and Creative speakers, with prices ranging from £30 to £300! Only Creative offered analogue 5.1 speakers at a good price, a rrp of £100 for their DTT2000 pack. Despite reading a good review, I was worried that these speakers would be tinny and cheap. How could Creative make a profit on selling 5 satelites, a sub-woofer and all that cabling for only £100? A quick trip to Tottenham Court Road in London (Mecca for home PC builders)and I came away with the DTT2000 system for £80. Getting home and unpacking the speakers was a revelation. Each satelite looked like a Bose cube, with a similar weight and high build quality. The sub-woofer was reassuringly weighty and well-finished. Cabling is simple and clean, they even supply little stickers so you can label all those wires. Plug the three jack leads into the 5.1 soundcard and that was it. Setup was simple, power on and alter the speaker settings in software to "5.1 speaker". A simple spoken word "test" confirms that each channel is working. A word of warning, if you live in a flat like I do you must keep the sub turned down. The bass it produces will travel through the building and local health&safety officers will be round in a flash with noise monitoring equipment! The satelites give a very clean sound with no distortion even at higher volumes. The sub is very effective and overall the difference is incredible. Many games support EAX, D3D and some support the 5.1 standard. Be prepared to be shocked playing games like Half-Life as you'll hear sounds you've never heard before with your standard stereo setup. Overall, I can't fault these speakers. A great price, good build quality, piss-easy setup and no niggles or design faults. You'll need a drill if you want to wall-mount the rear speakers, alternatively you can get Creative tripods for £20. Creative also do a DTT2500 system which has a Dolby 5.1 decoder, but this is only suitable for standalone DVD systems which don't put out a signal from a 5.1 soundcard. I'm buying a DVD drive next month so I'll let you know how well the speakers work with DVD movies. The higher-end DTT3500 system is full digital but will cost around £160-200 which I couldn't justify.