Creative TravelSound review: Creative TravelSound

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Creative TravelSound

(Part #: 51MF5300AA000)
3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Ultracompact portable stereo speaker system; titanium drivers; padded travel pouch.

The Bad AC adapter costs extra.

The Bottom Line Creative's tiny but sweet-sounding portable speaker wowed us.

7.4 Overall

We think Creative's TravelSound portable stereo speaker looks like an incredibly tiny boombox. It's just 6.1 inches wide and 2.6 inches thick, with two inverted titanium dome speakers and a blue power-on LED that give the unit a high-end appearance. You can tilt the TravelSound back to aim the sound up toward your ears and away from whatever horizontal surface it's resting on--a nice feature that most competing models lack. Some users might appreciate the Wide Effect feature, which promises an expanded stereo soundstage, but we preferred the sound with the processing turned off.

The little fella weighs a frisky 10 ounces and comes with an attractive padded carry pouch. We were a little concerned about the TravelSound's exposed speaker drivers; without protective grilles, they might suffer damage if sharply bumped by a pointy object, even while in the provided carry pouch. The TravelSound runs on four AAA batteries or an optional universal AC power adapter ($15). It retails for $69 in the silver finish or $79 for the white version that matches Apple's iPod. Creative's TravelSound MP3 speaker/MP3 combo player (with 32MB of internal memory) goes for around $100.

Mated with our iPod, the TravelSound sounded pretty darn sweet when we played Van Morrison's latest CD, What's Wrong With This Picture? Van the Man's jazzy music is decked out with horns and strings, and a quickie comparison with Sony's SRS-T77 portable speakers made the TravelSound's clear and clean sound stand out. Switching back to the T77, we couldn't help but notice its harsher tonal balance. Neither speaker set has great bass, but the TravelSound's warmer sonics are easier on the ear. The reigning bass champ among portable speakers is Altec Lansing's InMotion , which uses four drivers instead of just two, but it's nearly double the price of this Creative model.

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