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Creative GigaWorks HD50 speakers review: Creative GigaWorks HD50 speakers

A decent, good-looking choice for occasional use, but the HD50s don't do justice to DVDs and bass-heavy music.

Ella Morton
Ella was an Associate Editor at CNET Australia.
Ella Morton
3 min read

With music collections increasingly being stored in digital format rather than inside jewel cases and record sleeves, the line between PC speakers and portable audio speakers is getting very squiggly indeed. Creative's HD50 take a bet each way, targeting both iPod owners and those looking to add some good-looking, unobtrusive speakers to their PC set-up.


Creative GigaWorks HD50 speakers

The Good

Smaller than your average PC speakers. Good for both PC and MP3 players. Podcasts, games and pared-back songs sound great.

The Bad

Doesn't do justice to detailed and bassy music. No bass or treble controls. No headphone jack.

The Bottom Line

Good for occasional use and podcasts, but they don't do justice to DVDs and bass-heavy music.

The HD50 speakers are quite diminutive at just over 14 centimetres tall. Finished in shiny white, they're trendy-looking, but not so fashionable that they'll look like relics within two years. The mesh-covered speaker grilles are attached to each unit by six weak magnets, making them easily removable. Beneath each fabric layer you'll find a 5-centimetre driver complemented by a titanium super tweeter.

Unlike the company's taller, cheaper and more PC-focused T40s, there's just one controller: a silver power/volume knob on the front of the right speaker. Switch the HD50 on by turning the knob to the right and an illuminated neon blue ring appears around the dial.

On the back of the right speaker you'll find a neat row of sockets. Cables snake from these to the left speaker, a power supply and your audio source. Creative's proprietary docking station socket also makes an appearance, but as yet there is no compatible dock available in Australia. If you're keen to attach an iPod dock you can always plug one in via the standard 3.5mm audio input. We tried it with Creative's own Xdock and had no troubles. The required cable is even included in the HD50 box.

In order to give the HD50s a thorough musical testing we assembled a playlist of tracks imported at bit rates from 128kbps to 320kbps. At 128kbps, MP3s sounded alright, but fizzing and warping crept in when cymbals and high hats were struck. The overall sound was a little tinny, and background hiss was audible at higher volumes. Things improved when we switched to tracks imported at 320kbps, with hissing at a minimum and songs seeming fuller. The HD50s did justice to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' Red Right Hand, which sounded nicely bassy without excessive reverberation. In Radiohead's Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, on the other hand, bass rumbled at higher volumes and the song suffered from muddiness and a loss of detail.

Vocals sounded consistently good across all bit rates, especially in tracks with sparse instrumentation. Acoustic songs and singer-songwriter material fared best, with dance and production-heavy music coming off worst due to a lack of detail.

Plugging the HD50s into a PC, we loaded up a bunch of podcasts and let them loose through the speakers. The HD50s dealt with podcasts nicely and weren't too bad for gameplay, but the lack of bass meant that DVD audio wasn't too impressive.

Overall, the HD50s deliver better performance than you'd expect from a pair of small, subwoofer-free speakers. They are best for simple audio like voices on a podcast, noises during gaming or pared-back music. Anything more complex tends to suffer a little, and the relatively low maximum volume makes them the wrong choice for a raging party.