Corsair SP2200 2.1 Speaker System Review

nVidia_Freak - 2011-03-03 14:12:27 in Speakers/Headphones
Category: Speakers/Headphones
Reviewed by: nVidia_Freak   
Reviewed on: March 17, 2011
Price: $90

Introduction

Corsair, Corsair...we certainly have been seeing a lot of each other, haven't we? I went into this treating it like the usual fling, and, even though you were the best I've ever had, I didn't think anything of it. But then...but then I saw you again. It wasn't as exhilarating as the first time, but there was a curious feeling. After we were finished and you had left, I realised that you were different from all the others. I realised that the feeling I had experienced wasn't mere ecstasy from the throws of passion. No, it was more than that. I didn't just want to do it. I didn't want just anyone, I wanted you. I wanted you. I...needed you. (editor's note: he can't help it, he's a Harlequin Romance novel writer deep down inside).

O! Corsair, come into my arms and allow me to hold you tightly. Don't you feel the Unrelenting Jet emanating from my Fountain of Love? Do you not have the same feelings for me that I have for you? O!, I know that you do, I can feel it - I know it. Say unto me that which your heart desires you to. Hold nothing back, for our connection runs far deeper than imaginable. Corsair!, I cannot cannot contain the amount of love I have for you, and, I cannot adequately express my true feelings through the archaic use of speech. Together our two bodies must make one! My Ship seeks Port and I know that you will oblige. O Corsair! O! Oh! Ooooooauuugh! (editor's note: good Lord, I'm blushing just reading this!).

...nine months later...

Sweetie? Sweetie, are you awake? Can you hear me? Do you remember what happened? You were in labor and things got complicated. The doctors had to perform a cesarean section to get the baby out. The surgery went fine and you're all patched up and you gave birth to a little baby girl. We're mommy and daddy now! The doctors let me bring her in so you could see her. She's all wrapped up in a blanket right now, but, well, here, have a good look at her! Isn't she beautiful? I know we decided if it was a girl that we'd call her Marianne, but, well I was thinking, why don't we name her...SP2200? I think that's a more fitting name, don't you? Yes, that's what her name will be. My little SP2200... Doctor!, we'd like to formalise the birth certificate!

 

Closer Look

As you may have guessed, today I'll be taking a look at Corsair's most recent creation for the audio sector: the SP2200. The SP2200 is a 2.1 speaker system, meaning it has 2 satellites (2) and one sub-woofer (.1), thus 2.1. Corsair claims that the SP2200 delivers everything its got with 46 Watts. By no means an exuberant and likely embellished figure, but also by no means minuscule.

 

 

 

 

If you're familiar with Corsair's audio products, this layout should look familiar. One side of the box contains tech specs while the other contains some marketing. Again, only available in three languages: English, Spanish, Italian.

Power doesn't necessarily correlate to quality of sound reproduction, though Corsair's modest figure of 46 Watts doesn't make this claim so suspicious. Unfortunately, Corsair immediately goes on to tell me that the subwoofer alone uses 30 Watts, which leaves 8 Watts for each satellite. Something tells me the SP2200 is going to be somewhat bass heavy...

Certainly smaller things are easier to conceal and place, but, in the case of speakers, smaller drivers do not always adequately reproduce the sound spectrum well.

So, Corsair is still pushing their reliability title, and though I can neither confirm nor deny their claim, its memory and power supplies are certainly well regarded.

  >

Closer Look:

The Corsair SP2200 satellites and subwoofer in the flesh. Also in the box are:

Interestingly, both information foldouts present their information in eight languages: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Japanese, whereas the warranty guide and 'Stop!' sheet provide their information sans Chinese and Japanese. Of note are the information foldout and warranty guide. The information foldout provides several tips for getting the best sound from the SP2200 in various situations. These are, briefly:

Facing the subwoofer toward you will direct the bass more in your general direction, and keeping the port clear of obstructions gives the displaced air room to move, increasing the richness and deepness of the bass.

This is more of a safeguard against soundcards with low-quality parts that might not take to gain adjustment so well, or may clip at higher output levels.

The previous ties in with this, because generally, high end soundcards will use quality parts and high end audio processors.

The warranty guide states the terms under which the warranty will be honoured by Corsair. This is Corsair's standard two year warranty that will be honoured so long as the user does not tamper with the product in any way.

 

 

The satellites for the SP2200, although seemingly large for the size of driver they house, are at least photogenic. The protective mesh that cover the drivers are removable should they need to be for any reason. As can be seen, they latch onto four holes that each contain screws that hold the driver to the housing. Although this voids the warranty, it's nice that Corsair gives the user the option to fix problems themselves. As someone that likes to tinker and fix things on my own, this is very much welcome. The right side satellite contains the master volume control and a separate volume control for the subwoofer. Along with these controls are two jacks. One of them is a 1/8" stereo TRS output jack for headphones should you want to use those instead of the speakers, though this is hardly ideal. The other is an auxiliary 1/8" stereo TRS input jack for use with other devices.

 

 

The subwoofer is also very photogenic and features a 6" side-firing driver. The subwoofer also houses the majority of the SP2200's inputs. From top to bottom these are:

Though I understand why the 1/8" TRS auxiliary jack is on the front of the right satellite - to make using it with portable devices easier, I think it would look just a little nicer on the back of the subwoofer with everything else. That said, the SP2200 can handle inputs from three separate devices. The third input is in the form of a male 1/8" stereo TRS plug that emanates from the right satellite. Normally this would be used to go to a computer's soundcard, but, just as with any of the inputs, with adapters, anything is possible.

 

Specifications

Frequency response 40Hz - 20kHz +/- 5dB
Total power 46 Watts RMS
Subwoofer 6" side-firing driver
Subwoofer power 30 Watts RMS
Satellite 2" driver
Satellite power 8 Watts RMS per satellite

 

Features:

 

All information available on product box and online from Corsair at http://www.corsair.com/audio/speakers/corsair-gaming-audio-series-sp2200-2-1-pc-speaker-system.html

 

Just a quick note on the frequency response before I move on. A variation of 5dB is given for the frequency response from 40Hz to 20kHz. What this means is that the left and right channels are in specification so long as they reproduce those frequencies within 5dB of each other. This is a very loose requirement and at worst presents a very noticeable difference in sound output levels between the two channels.

Installation

Installing the SP2200 involves plugging in some cables and the most cursory of glances at the cables and plugs tells you what goes where. Obviously the system needs power, so plug the power plug into a main and plug the DC adapter into the subwoofer. The satellites must also be connected to the subwoofer. The jacks on the subwoofer are labeled clearly so this is very easy too. All that's left is to choose what input (s) the SP2200 will use. In my case, I used the auxiliary RCA stereo pair to connect the SP220 to my EESI Juli@.

 

Testing

Comparison Speakers:

Testing  Media:

 

Music:

My first impression of the SP2200 was that it was rather bass heavy, very boomy. So much so that it overpowered the rest of the audible frequencies. Increasing the overall volume made midrange and treble more audible. However, the amount of bass simply became a direct assault of my auditory canals. This, of course, was the impression using the the default volume level for the subwoofer. After fiddling with the subwoofer volume level, I discovered a happy medium at approximately 1/4 of the knob's turning arc, the position of which can be seen on page two. I noticed, however, that the potentiometer that should control the subwoofer's volume does not. It performs a function more like a low-cut filter, and turning the knob more to the left increases the position and steepness of the cutoff point. This has the effect of changing the sound signature of not only the subwoofer, but also of the satellites. (editor's note: sounds more like a crossover switch)

No matter, that is the setting at which the SP2200 was tested at. At this level, the overall sound signature becomes much more enjoyable. Bass is mildly flabby, but not boomy. Midrange is only slightly honky, thanks to the unusual function of the subwoofer potentiometer that also effects the very small 2" drivers in the satellites. Normally that driver size is ideal for a general purpose tweeter, not for as a midrange driver. With the bass level steeply curbed, however, they output much less of the midrange than the subwoofer. Overall I would call this signature slightly to the lower end of average.

There was one other problem that was particularly noticeable. As mentioned on the previous page, the SP2200 is marked to be in specification if the drivers perform within 5dB of one another. This is an easily noticeable difference in sound output levels, and it was very noticeable when the master volume knob was positioned at less than 1/4 of the knob's turning arc. Below this point the right channel is much lower in volume than the left, and at below 1/8 of the turning arc the right channel nearly cuts out entirely. Between 1/8 and 1/4 of the turning arc are the sound levels suitable for quiet listening, and unfortunately, the severe imbalance makes listening at these levels nearly impossible.

 

Movies:

Movies aren't so involving with the SP2200. Newer movies often have audio that favors bass, and, as mentioned, the bass must be turned down quite a bit on the SP2200 to prevent it from being overwhelming and boomy. Unfortunately, this means that the overall volume must be turned up rather high to have a traditional movie experience. Fortunately, because most movie audio is intentionally very quiet so that any dramatic, loud moments are emphasized, means that quiet listening of movies is possible. Simply note that you might have to increase the volume to hear quiet parts.

 

Games:

Gaming with the SP2200 isn't so bad as I thought it might be. Certainly having the bass level trimmed considerably helps. Many newer games, mostly FPSs, are similar to movies in sound signature in that bass is emphasised. But again, the testing level used with the SP2200 mitigated most of that. With FPSs, quiet gaming won't be possible simply because of their nature. Guns sound punchy, if somewhat exaggerated. Decreasing the overall volume will make this less of a problem, but, then positional cues and subtle sounds and dialogue will be missed. Fortunately, the SP2200 does feature a 1/8" stereo TRS output on the facade of the right satellite so you can easily switch to headphones when needed.

Conclusion

Corsair's SP2200 is its first venture into desktop audio, and it's rather average. There are a few things things I think could use some fixing. First, the size of the drivers that the satellites use is very small at 2" across. This size of driver is more suited to reproduce treble and very upper midrange but these small drivers are being asked to cover not only that, but the entirety of the midrange down to mid-bass. This makes for a somewhat honky sound signature. Second, the subwoofer potentiometer should only control the volume level of the subwoofer and not the bass output of the satellites. Although this abnormality ended up working in favour of the SP2200, that's just not how it's supposed to work. Third, the tolerable variance between drivers at 5dB is very high, and in the case of the sample I received, very noticeable. This had the adverse effect of making low level listening and gaming very difficult since the volume must be increased to mitigate the obviousness of the channel imbalance.

On the other hand, with bass level at approximately 1/4 of max. the SP220 becomes a much nicer speaker system that is small and attractive and that can be connected to three devices at once. The SP2200 is a decidedly average speaker system, and I would recommend it if you have the ability to use it at moderately high levels. The only problem then is the price. Currently it can be had as low as $90 with most places selling for approximately $100. As a moderately powered 2.1 system with a few drawbacks, I don't feel it's worth so much money. Were it priced somewhere around $70-$75 I would recommend giving it chance. If you can find it for that much either used or on sale, try it out. Otherwise, let it pass.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: