Creative I-Trigue L3800
Creative's I-Trigue PC speaker line has never been short on good looks--Creative's design department long ago figured out that black, white, and brushed aluminum look really cool in sparse arrangements. That's where a lot of companies stop, but the I-Trigue line has always boasted powerful, if not always accurate, sound. The $150 Creative I-Trigue L3800s are no exception in the beauty or power departments, and these 2.1 speakers sound crisper than past models, which earns them a higher rating. We still prefer the Editors' Choice-winning, but the Creative I-Trigue L3800s score points with a wireless remote, complicating what was once an easy issue. Where before we would simply recommend the Z-2300s to anyone asking about 2.1 PC speakers, now we must qualify that statement. It you want the best audio quality and the ability to connect to a game console, the Z-2300s still win. But if you really want that wireless remote, you don't lose much with the I-Trigue L3800s.
Like past I-Trigue speakers we've reviewed, such as the, the L3800s feature a frequency response of 30Hz to 20KHz and an output of 9 watts per satellite. Nevertheless, Creative has found a way to make the sound of the satellites mesh more seamlessly with that of the 30-watt subwoofer. Once again, the speakers feature so-called lateral-firing transducers, in which each satellite has two smaller drivers facing forward and a midtone driver facing out, supposedly creating a wider stereo field. This design has always seemed a bit gimmicky; the physical placement of the speakers ultimately determines the width of your stereo image, regardless of the two drivers pointed away from your ears.
Like the I-Trigue L3450s, the L3800s include an easy-to-use, wired Audio Control Pod. The pod, which connects directly to the subwoofer, features controls for volume, bass level, mute, and power. It also has a headphone jack and a 1/8-inch input for MP3 players. It doesn't have a game console adapter, however--a feature we appreciated on the Logitech Z-2300s.
With the bass set just over halfway (a snazzy LED on the Audio Control Pod displays the level), the I-Trigue L3800s proved their musical capabilities on a wide array of tracks. They allowed the subtleties to shine in the very strange mixes on Animal Collective's new album, Feels. They also pumped out the low end in satisfying measures on the world-dance pop of M.I.A.'s "Sunshowers." At extremely high overall volume levels, the L3800s suffered from minimal low-end distortion, but this occurred at volumes most listeners won't often use (we hope).